Our home is small. You could say it's freakishly small, but I prefer to call it cottage-like. (That makes it sound so much cuter.)
So hosting my big, fat, Cuban family for holidays is often a challenge. We have to move furniture around to make room for everyone. Can I just add right here that even though it's kind of a challenge, it's my absolute pleasure to have my house full of the noisy people that I love best.
In the past, my sister, Alina hosted Nochebuena. She had the largest home which made it easy to accommodate the small army that constitutes my immediate family. But last year she downsized and so the Cuban Christmas Eve defaulted to us.
Did I mention that our house is freakishly small cottage-like?
But, lucky for me, I'm married to Mr. Creative Guy. (I sometimes have a few good ideas myself, but that's not important right now.)
Challenge Number 1: I happen to like everyone to have a place at the table. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to think everyone feels more at home when they have A Place. Plus, there is nothing that I love more than a beautifully set table.
Challenge Number 2: Place settings for 24, plus the kids' table. I like my tables to have a certain amount of uniformity. And yes, I do happen to have lovely white buffet dishes. If I were hosting a buffet... But this is Nochebuena I'm talking about. And I wanted to seat everyone. *Eric does face-palm*
I should add right here that I have amassed quite a nice collection of Christmas dishes over the years. I like our Christmas morning table nicely set (for the 6 of us) and Target has had some beautiful place settings in the past. (Have you started doing the math yet? You know what's coming next, right?)
We have managed to art direct the settings for enough of our kids' plays that we know a thing or two about creating a mood.
Mr. Creative Guy wrapped our Patio Cover in stage canvas. (See the 26 foot backdrop we painted for Lucy's Spring Musical here. We just happened to have lots of this stuff left over, but that's not important right now, either.) And he bought a square of carpet to cover the patio slab.
This room addition made it possible for us to seat 12 people, plus set up a drinks table. Genius.
Which then just leads us to the setting of the tables. This is where it got good....
I was able to set up Christmas Themed Tables. ("You did what??") I know. Shut up.
There was The Snowflake Table. So named for my (ancient!) red snowflake table cloth & napkins. I found a ton of these glittery snowflakes and hot glued them to old acrylic napkin rings. That table got gold chargers and the gold rimmed goblets. (The small shot glasses are for Creme de Vie....of course.)
The Rustic Reindeer Table got its name from the cute little metal reindeer holding the placecards. (Actually, I didn't name it. The people who ended up sitting here started calling themselves the Rustic Reindeers. The wine was flowing by then and everyone was getting creative....) I found the reindeer at Crate & Barrel. They were really ornaments, but I yanked off the string and called them placecard holders. No one was the wiser. (Certainly not after the wine started flowing, but that's not important right now, either....)
I already had the plates and the red glasses. The little cherry-jingle-bell napkin rings were from a long ago Nochebuena that my mom had done. I am so glad I inherited these. They just make me happy.
The Ornament Table is the next one. I love these dishes. They are simple and elegant and they just scream "Merry Christmas." Plus the red chargers look amazing under the red-rimmed plates. The placecard holders are little ornaments. Sadly, one broke the morning of the setup. Of course, being the hostess, it happened to be mine. Ooops. ;-) The gold-trimmed glasses have my parents' names on them and were from their 50th anniversary celebration. Again, happy to have inherited these.
The next table was The Poinsettia Table. These dishes look spectacular with crystal and those silver chargers. The white glasses with the red rims were another wonderful find.
What's fun about my home is that, besides being freakishly small cottage-like, it has white beadboard and red leather furniture. Almost like it was meant for Christmas celebrations.
Kids! I almost forgot....we have a Kids' Table, too. There are 7 great-grands. But only 5 were in attendance. We covered our coffee table which obviously worked best with the kid-size chairs. And provided an activity - in this case - cookie decorating. The basket held frosting and sprinkles and all of that kind of stuff. I added some noisemakers to their places. (Dollar bins are ideal for these sorts of things.)
I was quite pleased with the results. Instead of my house appearing freakishly small too cottage-like, it felt cozy and like it had 5 different neighborhoods.
I couldn't quite get over how serendipitously it all came together.
I know you're wondering... where in the world did we manage in this freakishly small cottage-like atmosphere, to put the Christmas tree?
I love my family. =D
Do you host your family for Nochebuena? How do you do it? Tell me.