JEWELS OF THE DESERT: NEW YEAR'S EVE INSPIRATION


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to pair up with a friend whose style I admire immensely (Joanna Meyer of Baked by Joanna), and between the two of us we concocted this wildly colorful yet serene, jewel-toned end of the year celebration. We've been waiting patiently (or not-so-patiently, ha ha) to share this with all of you reading this here, AND with all the readers over at the lovely Smitten Magazine, who is doing us the honor of sharing our images and words today over at their always-inspiring site!

This party inspiration shoot is all about sharing a small, intimate New Year’s Eve. The holidays can be such a whirlwind of huge parties, we really loved the idea of a small gathering of a handful of your nearest and dearest instead of a big bash. This could easily be a romantic dinner, a reunion of best friends, or even a family get-together….anyone you want to start the new year with! We chose our dramatic, private desert setting because the vivid colors of the sky as the sun dips below the mountains provided the perfect backdrop for our lush, warm, jewel-toned gathering….and besides, can you imagine a more beautiful spot to watch the last sunset of the year from?


Glitter-bombed, oversized, shiny plastic parties are fun, but they're another conversation for another blog; our styling concept for this shoot was all about natural materials and ingredients. Everything from the florals to the hand-passed snacks and even the dishes they're served on was inspired by the warm, the tactile and the real. Warm wood and gold tones, ceramics and jewel-toned glass struck just the right notes for our desert rendition of 'Auld Lang Syne'. After the sun heads down for the last time in 2015, it's all about great conversation, raised glasses and some really stellar shared small plates for dinner.


[ See our full menu with recipe links plus many, many more images after the jump... ]



This cranberry, rosemary and gin concoction tastes like a perfectly chilled Christmas tree, and was my holiday go-to cocktail pick all season long....get the recipe here, in my Thanksgiving post.



The full menu for our 'Jewels of the Desert New Year's Eve' follows (seen here on hand-calligraphied, individual menus, dip-dyed in a saffron hue for an extra pop of color at each place setting)...

Pre-Dinner:

Crostini:
Blood Orange + Beet Relish

Endive Cups with Persian Jeweled Rice

Dessert:
Wine Poached Pears with Sweet Mascarpone

Midnight Toast:
Champagne + Saffron Sparkler

Elegant, shareable dishes like our long crostini board with kale pesto, blood orange & beet relish, and goat cheese with dates and honey make up not only the main course of the meal, but the centerpiece of the table as well. Ours is loosely inspired by the lush, table-dominating creations of Heirloom L.A., a favorite of Joanna's and mine, whose signature crostini spreads have inspired endless hours of inspired brainstorming between the two of us. Saffron-hued rice studded with ‘jewels’ of pomegranate seeds and pistachios (looking for the recipe? Find my take on Saffron Jeweled Rice here in this recent post) echo the vivid color scheme, and the deeply red wine-poached pears we served up as dessert complete the meal perfectly. Finally, how do you re-invent the champagne toast without venturing into already very well-traveled territory? My answer was simple: CANDY. A sparkling wine cocktail made vibrant with saffron rock candy and pomegranate seed garnish is the perfect toast to a colorful 2016!


Hearty Kale Pesto (see the recipe here) and Saffron Jeweled Rice in pretty little endive cups (find the recipe here) are some of my new favorite party treats, pretty much ever.


Joanna's amazing Beet Hummus is rich, earthy and wonderful....and it's live on her blog today! Get the recipe here.







Warm Feta with Honey and Dates hits all of my pleasure points at once: Salty, YES. Sweet, YES. Cheese, YESSSSS. This elegant little dish couldn't be easier to put together....and it's another one of Joanna's lovely inventions! Get the recipe here at her blog, Baked by Joanna.



Lastly, we really couldn’t have pulled off this shoot without the contributions from our amazing vendors! The long, rustic farm-style table from Tremaine Ranch helped to literally set the stage for our dinner, while brass flatware from Fancy Lou echoed our rich warm tones with just a hint of sparkle. Lush, asymmetrical florals by Hoot & Holler added a touch of drama to the table, while classic wine goblets and champagne flutes in an unusual black finish, sourced from our favorite shop FOUND by domestic bliss, brought elegance and mystique to the scene.



HERE'S TO A VIBRANT 2016!!