Holiday Recipes and Styling Tips for a Winter Wonderland Dinner Party
  It’s the most wonderful time of the year and we’re here to share holiday recipes, wintery styling tips and dinner party secrets from the pros. We recently caught up with the dynamite team behind a winter wonderland...
by Alyssa Brown


It’s the most wonderful time of the year and we’re here to share holiday recipes, wintery styling tips and dinner party secrets from the pros. We recently caught up with the dynamite team behind a winter wonderland dinner party at Mattei’s Tavern and they shared not only the inspiration behind these gorgeous photos, but lots of noteworthy advice for hosting your own holiday dinner party. Whether you have a handful of guests gathering at your house or you’re hosting a bigger party at a venue, there’s plenty you can learn from these pros.

Read on below to find out how Wild Heart Events founder and creative director Jaime Kostechko uses family heirlooms to set a holiday table. Le Petit Chef, Denisse Salinas shares her recipe for oat milk horchata white Russians (yum!) and roasted parsnip soup. And, seeing as we enjoy sharing hot tips and tricks, there’s plenty of prep advice in the mix too.

What was the design inspiration behind this holiday gathering?

Jaime Kostechko (Wild Heart Events): 

Inspired by the history of Mattei’s Tavern (managed by Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals) that was built in 1886 and an iconic part of Los Olivos, we aimed to create an occasion that embodied the warm, charming feel of the location and it’s reputation for being a gathering point for both locals and travelers alike. We brought in vintage glassware and candlesticks as well as hand crocheted doilies as an ode to former times. The feel of the newly redesigned bungalows is so warm and cosy yet clean and bright. Our goal was to mirror this in our tablescape by using throws and furs on the chairs as well as beautiful handcrafted ceramics for the serving wares. Hand-gathered centerpieces remind us of childhood memories of foraging for local greenery to adorn our holiday tables.

What food and drinks were on the menu? Can you share any recipes?

Denisse Salinas (Le Petit Chef):

Any styling tips you can share with us?

Jamie Kostechko (Wild Heart Events):

– We always recommend using the china and linen and glassware that has been waiting for such an occasion to make its appearance. If you don’t have time to steam press your napkins, simply tie them in a loose knot to give your place setting some added texture without the extra work.

– Mugs work as great vessels for soup as well, and add to that warm, down-home feel.

– Feel free to get creative with your tablescape and items that have been handed down through generations. Here we used grandma’s knit doilies as a table runner of sorts, ornaments in bowls make beautiful centerpieces, or even set a grazing board down the center of your table to act as both a beautiful centerpiece and appetizer course!

– When foraging greenery, don’t be afraid to cut branches with budding fruits, olives, etc., they give an added textural element to the centerpiece. Aim to gather different types of greens and flowers for variety and shape in your arrangement. Foraging from aromatic plants has an added bonus! Rosemary, thyme, basil and other herbs play to your senses for that added holiday feel!

Any styling tips you can share with us? [cont.]

Gretchen Ulrich (Otis & Pearl):

– Gone are the days when everything needs to be the same set or style! Liven up your table with different patterns of glassware which will help guests keep tabs on their glass as they mingle.

Do you have any tips on hosting during the holidays and how to make everything go smoothly?

Denisse Salinas (Le Petit Chef):

– The more you can do in advance, the better!

– Shop for groceries early and on off-peak hours if possible to avoid crowds: the first hour open and last hour before closing are typically the least busy at the grocery stores.

– Set the table, write place cards, prepare floral arrangements, create a music playlist and label your serving dishes with sticky notes (so you know which dish will be served on each platter) ahead of time so you can focus on cooking the day of.

– A timeline is your best friend when hosting a seated dinner: start with the serving time and work backwards from there to determine what time certain things need to go into the oven and what can be made the day before.

– Give yourself a major head start in the kitchen: wash and chop your vegetables a day or two before (think onions, carrots, garlic, etc.) to save yourself tons of time the day of. Things like pie, tart and cookie doughs, soups and salad dressings can also be made days ahead of time.


Do you have any tips on hosting during the holidays and how to make everything go smoothly? [cont.]

Jamie Kostechko (Wild Heart Events):

– Plan ahead and make it a group effort! Involve the whole family: children love setting the table or foraging for greenery, let the young adults hone their chopping skills, assign someone to making a playlist, place cards, and don’t forget the bartender!

– Last minute trips to the store are never fun, so do your shopping and prepping in advance!

– Lastly, don’t be afraid to dig the antiques out of the garage and use them for special occasions! Get creative!

Book your next event at Mattei's Tavern →


Venue: Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals & Mattei's Tavern | Coordinator(s): Jamie Kostechko of Wild Heart Events & Taylor Lockhart | Photographer: Lindsey Drewes Photography | Chef: Denisse Salinas of Le Petit Chef | Floral: Breanna Goettler of Wild Poppy Floral Design | Decor: Gretchen Ulrich of Otis & Pearl & Kristen Cramer of Global Eye Art Collective | Table: Aaron Fisher of Fisher Family Rentals  

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about the correspondent
Jamie Kostechko
Event Designer
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
Jaime has her bachelors from UCSB in sociology, forging her path handling events and décor within the hospitality and wedding industries since 2008. She is one of the leading bohemian event designers with features in People magazine, Vogue, Domino, Loverly and Popsugar. Jaime is a presenter and mentor for the inspire design conference in New Orleans and the curator of the Jam Event. - Website

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