Recipe For A Party

Published: Friday, January 22, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 1:24 a.m.

A Vintage Florida Coffee & Dessert Bar

Courtesy of Leah Sherer, Celebrations Catering | Photos by Erica Brough



Baked Goods — gingerbread men, nut breads, miniature carrot cakes and pecan pies, panettone, raisin bread, holiday cookies, biscotti — baked and frozen in advance or purchased

Candies — assorted chocolates from Thornebrook, chocolate coffee spoons, mint candies and fresh peppermints, orange or citrus candies

Sugar-free alternatives — assorted fresh fruit, including skewers and lots of strawberries


Coffee — Sweetwater Organic Roasters Espresso, caffeinated Kona blend, imported decaffeinated blend, a decaffeinated flavored coffee

Teas — hot water, teas, regular and herbal

Fruit punch — with or without alcohol, with a fruit juice ice ring to keep it chilled

Ice water — several pitchers on a cloth-lined tray

Milk products — whole milk, skim milk, half & half, eggnog and whipped cream

Flavored creamers — assorted flavors, including butter rum or hazelnut

Liqueurs — Amaretto, Kalhua and Irish whiskey

Flavored syrups — assorted flavors, including toasted marshmallow or dark chocolate

Condiments — white and brown sugar, raw sugar, artificial sweeteners, honey, sugar cubes (try special sugars like demerara)


Hot beverages — several pump air pots or thermoses, for coffees and hot water

Creams — assorted cream pitchers or small vases

Condiments — small colorful bowls or baskets

Food — assorted tins, holiday platters and trays

Guest plates — assorted saucers and small plates

Guest cups, mugs and glasses — assorted sizes – use espresso and demitasse cups or small mugs. Glasses and punch cups work well for cold beverages, but check before using with hot liquids.

Flatware — assorted forks and spoons placed in decorative coffee tins or baskets

Napkins — cocktail-size paper napkins in a small basket

Serving utensils — assorted small tongs, plus punch bowl and ladle


Table coverings — vintage tablecloths or fabric pieces, vintage wrapping papers, burlap

Accessories — vintage holiday tins, bowls, containers, post cards, platters, candles

Conversation starters — vintage thermoses, framed coffee labels, trivia books, Florida collectibles, citrus crates for height

Nature —pine cones and garlands, oranges and citrus fruits, fresh flowers, potted herbs

Vases — assorted small containers to hold a few flowers, instead of one large arrangement

Frames — assorted frames for beverage and food labels — use vintage papers fonts


One Month Before

1. Make a list of dishes and decorations you need to purchase and hit the thrift stores. Most of the display items listed here need not cost more than $1 per item. Have fun with the colors and patterns. Don't worry about matching everything or what decade it came from — the assortment itself will express the vintage look you want. Don't put too much emphasis on collecting the "perfect" accessories and serving pieces; the party setup should be fun and inspirational. Once the candles are lit and the holiday music is playing, the chips on the china become invisible.

2. Wash all serving pieces and store in a dust-free container.

3. Make a list of all food and beverage items to be purchased or made.

4. Purchase tea, liquors and syrups.

5. Print and frame labels for beverages and food.

6. Locate large, decorative items that you can use to bring height to your table. Citrus or wine crates are perfect for the vintage Florida theme.

7. Gather some "not-so-perfect" tablecloths, burlap or strips of holiday fabric. Don't feel the need to hem – frayed edges will add to the theme.

8. Secure hot beverage air pots or thermoses by borrowing, purchasing or renting.

Three Weeks Before

1. Cook all baked goods and freeze them.

Two Weeks Before

1. Prepare table – place larger items that you will be using for height on the table first, then drape them with tablecloths and fabrics.

2. Do a dry run with all of the serving pieces to be sure there is enough room and so that you have time to play with decorations. Stacking cups, plates, mugs, and flatware in an eclectic rather than organized style helps carry out the vintage theme. The look of the overall table should be a bit chaotic and colorful, exciting for the eye, inviting guests to sample the plethora of flavors and textures, while admiring the atypical selection of tableware. If dust is an issue, cover entire table with a large sheet when you are done.

One Week Before

1. Purchase coffee, chocolates and candies, and all items that can be purchased ahead.

2. Make fruited ice ring in a bundt pan – fill with chopped ice and strategically placed fruit, pour juice over the ice and freeze.

3. Pick music and gather CDs — preview any borrowed music, so there are no surprises!

4. Prepare candles and candleholders. Check lighters!

Two Days Before

1. Purchase liquid creams, flavored creamers and whipped creams.

2. Purchase fruit and baked goods.

One Day Before

1. Slice and prepare items that do not need refrigeration and place them on serving platters. Cover tightly.

2. Make punch recipe in gallon containers and chill.

3. Cut up fruit, place in zip top bags and refrigerate.

4. Load music CDs into player.

5. Check camera for batteries.

Morning of Party

1. Put coffee into brewer. Prepare various types to be ready to brew and label each.

2. Put dry condiments into display bowls and baskets.

3. Place flowers into various vases, set them aside and add to table last.

Three Hours Before Party

1. Begin brewing coffee. Make several batches of different types and empty each pot into pre-labeled, pre-warmed containers.

2. Empty bags of fruit onto the platters already placed on the serving table.

3. Place any remaining food items into display bowls or platters.

4. Boil water for the hot water dispenser

5. Place framed labels onto the table to identify food and beverages.

6. Place ice water and punch into their respective containers on the table.

7. Add the smaller decorative pieces and candles to table display.

8. Place milk products into serving pieces.

9. Place flower vases on table.

10. Change clothes and turn on the music.

11. Dim the lights and light the candles.

12. Take a photo of your work.

13. Relax and enjoy the party!

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