After a string of casual New Year’s Eve celebrations the past few years I was in the mood for something, well, utterly fabulous.
Our friends, Clayton and Sarah had mentioned that they wanted to make a croquembouche cake, and were just looking for the right occasion. So when one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Jenny Bernheim of Margo and Me, shared photos of her rehearsal dinner in France — complete with a croquembouche festooned with roses and sparkling candles — I knew we had to host an art deco soirée to ring in the New Year. Drawing inspiration from Jenny’s glamorous French celebration, we started calling friends and planning out the details.
Last year David and I celebrated NYE at Maison Premiere in New York City and I loved how they filled the ceiling of the restaurant with hundreds of pearlescent balloons. We recreated the effect in our entry hall, with the tedious exception of blowing them all up with our own lungs since there was a run on helium, and taped them to the ceiling. (It worked!)
We had to rearrange our entire apartment to accommodate our 10-foot long antique dining table, which I styled with white linens, an assortment of my white and gold antique china, and mint julip cups overflowing with peonies and garden roses in rich berry hues. To further create a festive atmosphere, David compiled fireworks celebrations from around the world into a short film, which he projected on the wall throughout the evening.
At 7 o’clock we welcomed our guests with a cocktail hour in our bedroom. (City living, you know!) Even when we’re in black tie, we want to keep the tone light not stuffy, so we served my favorite absinthe cocktail, the Eccentric Billionaire (recipe here), and caviar courtesy of Water2Table with crème fraîche on potato chips. At Christmas I received a set of crystal champagne coupes from my family, and they were the perfect Daisy Buchanan-approved way to sip our champagne.
All of our guests collaborated on the French-inspired dinner menu which unfolded slowly over three courses and was accompanied by some of my favorite California cabs and a lot of French bubbly! From the chilled pea, mint and crab soup, beef tenderloin from Olivier’s Butchery, and lobster on the half shell, to the warm mushroom salad, roasted potatoes and homemade bread our dinner was the most elegant potluck I’ve ever experienced.
As it approached midnight we brought out the pièce de résistance, a towering croquembouche made by Sarah and Clayton, (recipe here) which I sprinkled with peonies, thistles and garden roses left over from the floral arrangements. It was the perfect way to count down to 2016, surrounded by family, friends and a festive French confection. We continued to stuff our faces and pockets with cream puffs as we threw on coats and ran to the roof to enjoy the fireworks and toast the New Year!