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I don’t know about you, but I am definitely getting into the holiday spirit, at least that early holiday spirit where the idea of the holidays is still fresh and fun and novel, and the stress of it all hasn’t really hit yet. When hearing a Christmas song in a store brightens your day, instead of making you yell, I can’t take it anymore. You know that part of the holidays that I’m talking about? Yep, I am definitely there. But I know the other part is coming. And this year, I am determined to have a merry freaking Christmas no matter what. So today, I’ve got a guest who’s going to help us all make one part of the holidays a little less stressful. Let’s get to it.
Hello, gorgeous. Welcome back to the everyday style school, the podcast that gives real lifestyle advice to real life women. If you’re new here, welcome. I’m your host, Jennifer Mackay, Mary. I’m a wardrobe stylist who’s been dressing everyday women for over 20 years. I’m also the founder of everyday style, where we are on a mission to inspire women to love the way they look and give you the tools to make getting dressed easy. If you’re a longtime listener, Hey, girl, hey, thanks for hanging out with me again. I so appreciate you. Alright, this is not the episode that was supposed to come out today. What you were supposed to hear is a finance expert talking about changing our mindset around money, and how to start becoming financially literate. It was a wonderful conversation. And I am just so excited to share it with you very, very soon. But a funny thing happened. And here’s a little behind the scenes peek at everyday style HQ. I plan my podcast content pretty far out. It helps me make sure that I’m talking about timely things that I’m not rushing at the last minute, and that those pesky trend episodes Don’t sneak up on me as they often do. I’m telling you three months just flies by I don’t know where the time goes. Anyway, a few days ago, I was planning podcast episodes for March and April. I told you I plan early. And I went into our guest application forum to see if there was anyone that I just really needed to talk to anything I really needed to bring to you. And lo and behold, today’s guest was in there. And she wanted to talk about holiday entertaining. And one of my favorite topics of all time, cheese boards. I will do anything, anything to talk about cheese boards. So I emailed her and I was like, Hey, could you talk tomorrow? And it just so happened that she was free. And so here we are. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to move a few things around. So in January, we’re talking about money and I guarantee you’re gonna love that episode too. But today we are talking about making holiday entertaining. Easier. I’m chatting with Melissa Guccione who is the principal and lead organizer of Melissa Guney organizing based in San Francisco, California. She’s also the co owner of union Larter, an award winning wine bar and little vine, a wine and cheese shop. Also in San Francisco, she helps families incorporate more order style and fun into their busy lives. I know I need more order style and fun in my life. And if you do, too. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Here’s my conversation with Melissa. Hi, Melissa, welcome to the everyday style School.
Hi, Jennifer. I’m so happy to be here.
Well, I am so happy to have you here. Because like I said in the opening talking about cheese boards is one of my favorite things in the entire world. I literally could live on cheese boards and salad for dinner. That’s it. I don’t even I don’t even want real food anymore. I just want cheese boards and salads. That’s it.
That serves as well. Yeah, my
kids aren’t really quite as down with it. So you know, we still have to have pasta and things like that. Okay, so let’s first talk about you. And you have like many, many businesses. I do, yes. Tell us what they are and a little bit about how you juggle all of them. Yeah, it is
something isn’t it. I am a lifelong entrepreneur. And I’ve run other businesses even other than this, but I’ve been mostly in food and wine for a really long time. My husband and I opened our wine and cheese shop little vine, which is in San Francisco. We opened that 12 years ago. And then we have a wine bar called union Larter, also in San Francisco, and that’s been around for nine years. And my first business was actually a cocktail catering company. So I had a whole party throwing thing going for many years. And now I am a professional organizer, which it’s helpful to have kind of all these little bits of information from all the things that I’ve done in organizing, so it’s all come together really well. And I don’t know how I juggle it all. I mean, I last I think being an organizer and having an organized mind you kind of make a formula and you can apply it to things. But it’s definitely not always easy.
You know, that’s really interesting because you and I have a mutual friend, Melissa Krueger, who has been on this show a couple of times, I don’t know, Melissa, and I have a running text thread all day, every day, we literally text all day, every day. You want to hear what she said about you. And I’m gonna read it because I don’t want it to be I don’t want to I don’t want to paraphrase it. What she said is, she is lovely, and a joy to talk to, you’re going to have so much fun. So that’s like, that’s like your five star Yelp review. So
But Melissa, she has multiple things that she does. And I am always like, how do you do it? Because I have a hard enough time getting all my work done for like one business. And she has all three, four. And maybe it is maybe it’s the organizer mind that can just do that naturally. So hats off to you ladies, because I’m you know, I’m keeping it together with one.
All right, great. Well, thank
you. Thank you. Thank you. So I read your your form that you submitted to, to be on the show. And I was like, yes, we need to talk about cheeseboards. But I also really want to talk about entertaining because I think entertaining is something that we want to want to do. Right? Mark Twain? It’s a quote by Mark Twain that says a classic is a book that everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to read. And I kind of feel like that with Entertaining. Entertaining is something people want to want to do. But we don’t always want to do it. Because it’s stressful, and it’s hard. And it’s like, What will people think of us? And am I doing the right thing? Am I gonna have the right amount of food? And am I gonna have the right amount of wine? And oh, my gosh, how am I gonna make it all happen? And then there’s the cleanup? Which that stops me in my tracks? Because I don’t know, why are there always just platters sitting around for days after I have no idea. So today, you’re going to help us unpack some of that and do it a little bit better and easier and less stressful so we can actually enjoy it. So can you kick us off with just a few tips for simple holiday entertaining? Yeah,
I’d love to. And I love how you kind of laid out the chaos. Because I think that’s what happens in our minds, right? The How am I going to do this? How am I going to clean it up? So much? And then it just becomes like, well, you know what, just forget it. The holidays are practically over, right? And we’re in the beginning. Just forget it, or whenever you want to have a party. And so what I think is I you know, I’ve seen this so much doing catering in my shop where people come in and like, I don’t know, take a breath. And I always say remember your Why. Why are you doing this? Is it to just be with your friends, is it to make connections with some new friends or meet the people in your neighborhood. Try to take it off the kind of so much work and it needs to be so perfect. And again, the social media thing that makes us always feel like we’re failing. What if we did this old school, we kicked it like our parents did, where it was just some gin and tonic and some chips out. And I don’t literally mean that but or that you couldn’t literally worse. Yeah, I mean, I would actually think that was really fun. But maybe we’re overcomplicating things so much, and then we’re not doing it. And I think it’s really fun and really worthwhile to do it. So that is my first thing to just get people in that mindset of like, No, I you know, let’s just give it a try. I will always say that cheese is the simple trick to a great party is again working in cheese for so long. I can say one thing for certain people love cheese, and you can make cheese look really, really pretty. So there are a lot of really simple things that you can do with cheese. I think that it can be a very much like wine just a very complicated overcomplicated thing for people where they think oh, you know, there’s all these different regions and how do you pair it with the drinks? And I just always want to say you know what, take all of that away. What do you like, what is your favorite cheese? We don’t need to make a plate with 15 different ones. You can have two or three or even one, sometimes one great cheese with a bunch of fruit and crackers and all of that together. It can look beautiful, and people will love it. Just get something that you really like and think is really good. And I think that also fits into the feeling of guests like a relaxed and happy host. Right. I think that I think we’ve all probably been into that party where the host is so frazzled, that it’s like, oh my God, should we go? Right?
Yeah. Or we’ve been the host that everyone is like, she’s so proud. You don’t have to raise your hands if that’s you, but, but ya know, I get it, I get it.
It’s so true. So you pick the things that you like, because then you bring their enthusiasm to telling people about them. Because you know, again, I think we’ve got some cheeses out like, oh, small talk. What’s this cheese? Where did you get this? Like, oh, I got it, because I absolutely love it. If you had it, you got to try it. That’s fun.
Yeah, I just think that we have been getting back to that that social media thing that you were just talking about. We believe that we have to have these over the top, charcuterie boards, right. And this whole, like, I have to have 15 different cheeses. I was watching tick tock yesterday. And this woman, I was actually kind of feeling good about my house, it looked clean. It was Oregon, you know, like, everything was going well. And she showed this like garland hanging trick. And then I started look at my house and like, I have nowhere to hang that garland. Maybe we should move like I started to get so into it. Like I don’t have that kitchen that everyone has. I don’t have, you know, and then I was like, Oh, should we move. And I went from like feeling good about it to literally thinking I needed to move because I didn’t have the right place to hang garland, or take the perfect Instagram pictures. And it’s like that with entertaining to like, I don’t know, what will people think of I just put a block of cheddar on on a board with some crackers. People will be just fine to eat the block of cheddar and I like in my heart. I know that but it’s really difficult. It’s really difficult when you see, I think is it the cheese board Queen on Tik Tok on Instagram. Oh, my gosh, everything is so beautiful. But you look at that, and you’re like, I don’t know how to cut cheese in the shape of you know, the North Star or whatever. I should just give up now. We just need to I think that’s so right, we just need to bring it back to basics and understand that people just want to be there to, to connect and have a nice time and whether or not they’re impressed by your cheese cutting abilities or not. You know, I just I really liked that getting away from the whole social media thing and maybe making just a rule for yourself. Like I’m not taking any pictures. I’m not going to even worry about posting on social media.
Well, no kidding. I mean, that’s a that’s a great idea. And I think sometimes the people I’m talking to, they don’t even seem to maybe be the type that would, it’s still just sort of seeped into our subconscious that this needs to be very important and needs to look because those things are out there now. And I’ll say, so few people have skills like this person that you follow, you know, anyone who’s got it, they spent a lot of time on it or paid someone a lot of money to do it.
Well, that’s very true. I mean, that is a skill. That is a skill. It’s kind of like all of us in the 2000s, early 2000s 1990s trying to recreate everything Martha Stewart did, and you spend so much money and end up with something that looks nothing like Martha’s version right? Now, it’s the same thing. It’s the same thing. And I do think you know, the cost of entertaining is something that people do, do consider and putting a really elaborate, spread together. You go and buy six or seven different cheeses, all of a sudden you’re like, Oh, shoot. Now I’m $150 into cheese. I’ve got nothing left. So keeping it simple helps on a lot, a lot. A lot of friends. Oh
yeah. And I was just thinking this too. I am good at making cheese boards. I’m in the business. But I tried to do something for my family when I was visiting them in the Midwest a couple years ago, where I wanted to recreate this flat Christmas tree shaped thing with berada. And it looks so beautiful in the picture and I’m like I’m gonna give this a try. I have the time and I’m messing around with it. Well, of course I know this but those things that are taken for photos, they’re taken right away. And Martha Stewart had stylists so of course the brightest started to melt all into it and wilt the basil and you know in like 20 minutes the whole thing looked like a big mess and I was very disappointed but it’s like even I have to remind myself Yes, we’re not food stylists this is for parties. Well
and food styling so my background is actually in the restaurant industry. I spent my early career yeah as a restaurant trainer but I have been on food shoots. food you eat doesn’t look like that. Because you know the milk is glue. And we spray hairspray on things to make them shiny and it like real people food doesn’t look like that and lighting counts for a whole whole whole lot. So yeah, we got to lower expectations, man, it’s all about
to all about lowering expectations. It’s really killing Everything, it’s killing the fun.
It really it really is. I know though there are people because I am one of them, making things beautiful is part of the fun. Like, it’s part of the stress, but it’s also part of the fun. And I guess people like me just have to manage that, like, what do you want to be Jennifer? You know, do you want the pretty Cheeseboard? Or do you just want to chill out and have a nice time? And maybe sometimes I just need to choose chill out and have a nice time. That’s an okay answer to I
completely agree. And I also think with parties, well, you know, you we know, you would have the whole outfit picked out. So that would be strong. Maybe not having lots of different things you need to work on for a party to because I think that can become a thing of, Oh, well. Now it’s flowers and decor, well, I need to do the cheese and the meat boards, oh, that’s not enough food, we also need to have X, Y and Z. And now we need to do we need a full bar. And it becomes this whole thing where, to me a nice, simple get together could be just a cheese board, and maybe a few other little snacks with it. And maybe you serve one special cocktail, or one red and white wine or one champagne, that you can make a cocktail out of keeping it simple. And those things could be set up very pretty, like very elegantly. But not this enormous elaborate spread. Yeah, that
whole do less do better sort of thing. Yeah, that’s a great idea. So what are some of the things you see people stress about the most when they come into your shop? And they’re, or they’re planning, catering, whatever it is, around the holidays? What are they most stressed about? I
would say one of the biggest stress questions I get is I don’t know how much to buy. Okay, especially with alcohol. Okay. And I can say and I had a beverage catering company, it is really tricky. Yeah. The wisdom was always the rule is two drinks for the first hour and one drink for each additional hour per person. This depends on your friend group. That seems like for me, I’m middle middle aged mom, that seems really high. And I’ll say having worked in, in what a in the industry doing so many weddings, weddings, yeah, probably that’s right. But for having you know, a small get together a cocktail party or whatever at your home, we all know there’ll be people that pop by for one drink for an hour, or they don’t they don’t drink at all, or they don’t show because they’re getting got sick. So I think some of those old school rules again, can really trip people up like I have to have so much and this is so overwhelming. But the last time I had a party for my friends, who I think is a fun group of people I had like 12 with, we drink like two bottles of wine total. It’s like, what a rager. But I only say that to less can be more you know, your own friends. You don’t need to have everyone covered. And I also see this as, Oh, this guy, he only drinks, you know, dark rum. It’s like, he’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. You can just offer the things you want to offer. And if they don’t like it, these are grown adults. They don’t have to have it always have non alcoholic options. Obviously, you want to have something for non drinkers. But I mean, I remember that if somebody they Oh, they only drink sparkling water they It’s okay. Really late for one night. Yeah, you don’t have to be a mind reader on this.
So with no rules being the rule, how do you plan?
Yeah, how do you plan? I would say again, it’s very helpful if you can go into a wine shop and talk to somebody. Somebody that has, you know, that really actually has salespeople, so I know Costco, great prices, but you’re not really gonna be able to talk to anybody about it. That’s something that helps a lot at our shop is that we can talk through okay, well, what are you doing? Oh, we’re having we’re actually having a dinner party. Okay, dinner party, count on three glasses of wine per person. Oh, you this person is, you know, 27 and have been a party for 30 years. We probably we need to talk about more. It there’s just so many variables. But I still I like to go to this place of like, say you want to make a specialty cocktail, and batch out a big thing of it. Which is a really fun thing to do for a party that goes over really well. So there’s one that I like to do around the holidays like a special Margarita, or like a Paloma, which is kind of like a grapefruit Margarita. And you make the whole thing and a batch and then you put it in a pretty little glass and you can put a sprig of rosemary and it looks holiday easy. Everyone loves it. Now, how do you know if you’re going to have enough to top one? So I would say How about two per person and when it runs out, it’s run out and you can have a few bottles of something else as the backup or maybe you’re serving red and white wine as well. And they switch to that again And first come first serve. Because there’s just no way of knowing. Yeah.
So my trick was always around Thanksgiving, I would go to Trader Joe’s and they had this cranberry Prosecco, just called Seco. And it made like a wonderful cocktail that we would haven’t Thanksgiving. I just my case a bit. So then I just had plenty on hand. They discontinued at this year, and I am just, and it was cranberries. It was like perfect holiday. It looked pretty in the glasses. Yeah, they discontinued and I’m like, I don’t know, I don’t know. There is no replacement. And it was really inexpensive. But everybody loved it. And if I ran out of like stuff to make the cocktail, we just start drinking that it was great. It was fantastic. But you know, life will go on. I am certain that life will go on without my cranberry Prosecco. But
it was That’s a great tip though. I’m gonna look into this for you. I’m gonna see if I can find something else to substitute because that sounds like a great drink. Apparently, there’s
a pomegranate Prosecco at Costco haven’t someone I was complaining about my whole Seco disaster. And they’re like, it’d be okay. There’s there’s one at Costco that I might check out. But even just having just a case of Prosecco. One hand, it’s, you know, a little sparkly. You can do a lot with it. Yes. And if people don’t drink it, I’m fine having it. Like, it’s something that I would drink. So, yeah. Again, pick things you like, pick
things you like, yes. And when somebody is really in a tailspin, also about wine, that’s a great place to start. What do you like? It’s rare that when somebody is really like lost, that they’re going to say something super weird and esoteric, or to be like, most people aren’t going to like to drink a brandy or something. Right? Right. Let’s also thing else,
if people if people say what can I bring? Hey, bring a bottle of wine, then then you have plenty backup, backup backup. Okay. I know that your your Is it your main business? Where would you call your main business? Is your main business organizing it? How do you how do you define that?
I know my main business is organizing around. Yeah. Okay.
So since your main business is organizing, are there tricks to organizing your holiday entertaining to make it easier to pull together? I don’t know about anybody listening. But it feels like there’s this law where there’s nothing to do. And then you have to do everything. And the one thing I always forget to do is go put makeup on myself. Right? So then I’m just mad because I’m at my own party without mascara on. And that’s a bad day for me. But what can we do? How can we organize the whole process a little bit easier, so that everyone gets to put mascara on and feel fantastic and not be like a sweaty frazzled mess when people are walking in the door?
Yeah, that’s so key. I think it has to do with checking in with yourself even before the party planning begins. And I know I’m really talking about how I want people to throw parties. But is this a good time to be throwing a party? Is life so frazzled? That, you know, it’s kind of like my, my best self really wants to do this, but is my realistic self just going, this is going to be so much and I just have this feeling the day of I’m going to be freaking out because I’m traveling the next day or so to kind of check in?
How do you know though, because sometimes I’ll put things on my calendar when it’s like, this seems like a very good idea. And then the week of it’s like this was a very, very bad idea. So how do you how do you kind of future proof your your date, because you have to pick it far enough in advance, especially during the holidays to get it on people’s calendars because things just fill up? So quickly? How do you how do you do that?
I mean, how do you do it? That’s $100 question. It’s, I think experience. I think for me, it’s also kind of just that feeling inside. I’ve gotten better at knowing like I know I’m talking about this two months in advance, but I have a feeling I’m not going to want to do this. Okay, so I can kind of look into this. The other thing though, is when that happens, and you’re on that road, and again, your best self and good intentions for this is great. And then you have this crazy week. Jennifer, how do you feel than the day before the day of? Are you feeling still really frazzled? Or is it sort of like oh, now I’m getting excited about this party? Definitely
both. Definitely. So
that’s good. If it’s a whole feeling of dread, that’s definitely something to look at for future planning. But I would say and I know this can be really tough for us busy moms. Get help. That’s that’s a really good indicator for me where I’m not taking on too much. Now. I’m overwhelming myself too much. What can I offload? Which and I was such a holdout on this but that fantastic thing where they deliver your groceries. I don’t always do that. But hey, that isn’t optional. It costs a few bucks. And sometimes that gives me peace of mind, because now I don’t have to go do that one errand, or that friend who’s always saying, Can I help? Can I help? And I’m, I’m, I don’t know, I hope that’s okay to say I’m from the Midwest, I feel like I got this Midwest thing where it’s like, no, I need no help. You’re there to have fun. Now, you know what, actually, I could use little help. Could you just pick this thing up? That doesn’t necessarily mean saying, Oh, sure, I want you to be there before the party and help and clean up and do the whole thing. It can just be one little errand. Taking some of that off. Once I started to realize that was an option really changed things for me,
that is such a good point. And as a Midwesterner, no, I need no help ever, I will figure it out, you know. But on the flip side, when you offer someone help, and they take you up on it, you feel special and important. You know, you’re not offering out of obligation. This is something I always have to remind myself, when I offer to help people, it’s not out of obligation, like my fingers crossed, hoping people say no. Like, it’s because I actually want to help. And when somebody says, yes, it makes you feel important, it makes you feel like you’re led into that space where they they know that you’re a good enough friend that that they can rely on you. And so I think we have to change our Midwestern thinking, to flip that a little bit and say, Wait a minute, no, this person really does want to be there for me, they really do want to help me. And not only will it lighten my load, but it makes them feel good, too. So let our Midwestern kindness work. Both of our favors. Yeah,
very well put, you know, and I was thinking that too, that it for me, it was a mental shift of if somebody wanted to help, not resentment towards them, but kind of almost this thing of like, what, like, I can’t do it. Like, I can’t do it. Yes. And then smiting that to being like, no people, just like you said, people want to help. And I think back in the day, my husband and I were really well known for our dinner parties. We used to throw such fantastic parties, and we had businesses and a kid. And that doesn’t happen as much anymore. But that was something we were known for. And we were really good at it. And we enjoyed it. I had plenty of friends that I know, they would be like God, I don’t even I can’t really reciprocate. Like, this isn’t my thing. And I was like, I get it. So I think sometimes also, that offering to help is truly coming from a place of being like, I can’t, you know, with friends, it’s not about payback. Right? But I can’t do that. But here, how can I help you do it?
Or even you know, if people aren’t in the position where they can host or have things? Or maybe they just don’t have the bandwidth? It’s a way for them to, to feel involved to feel like they’re doing something in that vein. So yeah, I think just trying to change the thinking of you know, it’s not they’re saying I can’t do it, because that’s my first. No, I got it. I got it. I don’t need anything. You know, what, what do you think I can handle it? That goes up for me first. But then I think when I offer people hope it’s not because I think they can’t do it. I think, I think a lot of things and not one of them is they can’t do it. Sometimes it’s oh my gosh, they’re doing so much. And I just I want to give a little back, or Wow, that looks hard. One person shouldn’t have to do all that. Whatever it is, it’s not that I think somebody can’t handle it. It’s just that I want to do a kindness. And I have to remember, that’s what people are saying to me too, with, with their offer of help. Yes, definitely. Alright, so we’re checking in with ourselves, we are trying to put things on the calendar that we’re actually going to want to do when they roll around. And then we are taking help when it is offered. What else can we do to organize and playing a little bit to make entertaining easier?
Yeah, I’d say as a professional organizer. And what I see in people’s homes, some of it is just practical tips. Like having that box or boxes or shelves that has all of the party supplies on. That’s one thing, but the trick is calling it I am so surprised how often I go into people’s party supplies. And I’ve got you know, the something you believe from 1989 napkins in there, you know, and three folded napkins from a birthday party 20 years ago, you know, there’s all of this random stuff. And it’s fun to look at. And I get that people really like these things. And I think for a lot of party throwers, that’s such a fun part of it is going to the store and finding the quote, you know, so I fully understand that but call it how to look at it are the end of that party, and your last kid has turned five now. You don’t need to put the five year old napkins back in the party supplies. Why don’t you use them? For dinner for the next week, or if it was a bunch of them. I know here in San Francisco, the bide nothing stuff, I always see things on there like I have a ton of supplies from a fifth birthday party that are brand new. Do you want them? Consider getting them out?
Why did we do that? Why do we do that? Why do we keep like seven napkins and an open package? Are you ever going to have a birthday party that just has seven people? Yeah, you use
your regular napkins. So I know, I know. So that is to say you’re not alone if you’re doing that. But I feel like when you pull those supplies out, and it’s so filled with all of this junk that you aren’t going to use. That’s one more barrier to entry. Right? That’s the thing that I’m always trying to help people with. We want to keep this lean and mean, you pull it out, it’s the things you like to use, it’s going to be useful for you. And that is a huge lessening of that mental load of Oh god this box now just can’t just can’t forget it. One
of the best things smartest things I’ve done ever. When I threw my sister’s engagement party on an all 100 years ago, I bought like Restaurant Supply silverware, I bought forks and knives and spoons, and I have just a nice holder from honorable home goods or something. But you know, it’s not high, high quality, heavy flatware. But it’s reusable. That stuff is the easy stuff to wash, right. But I have not bought disposable flatware for a party. Since that engagement party and they’ve been married. I mean, her kids turning 15 in December. So it’s been it’s probably been like 17 years, I have not bought disposable flatware. And I keep it out all the time. And it’s what we take onto the deck in the summer, like when we’re grilling, but it’s been so nice. And I know that I have saved a lot of money over the years, I it feels good not to throw something away. I’m not above and a paper plate like a plastic plate. It happens. But to not be just constantly throwing and throwing and throwing. It’s been great. And then I just have like a little, you know, little mini kind of tub by the sink and people throw it in there. And it’s silverware, it’s easy to wash. That’s easy one. That’s not the hard part. But that has served me so well. Over the last seven, honestly, 1718 years to have that. And I’ve never ever, ever had just like four blue spoons left.
I think that is such a great practical tip. And I can say because I live in a small apartment in the city. If I have parties at my house, it’s usually not for more than eight or 10 people. I use my regular plates, I use my regular glasses. And and I that might be a very obvious thing. But to me it wasn’t because I think I had this old school party mentality of like, oh, let’s get this and that. It’s easy. It’s not a huge deal. And I think also sometimes people think, Oh, what if they go back and get more food and they need another play and people adapt? Let’s give people some credit, they can figure this out. Or they lose their plate, you know, we find them another plate. It’s not necessarily a big deal. Or people put their little cheese on the napkin. It depends on how you’re serving. But I think that’s crazy environment. Environmental impact is good. But I think too, I just hate the clutter. All of those things. And I think it’s easy for people to forget that they have hundreds of plastic forks of all different colors in that box somewhere. And it’s like, oh, we’re at the store. Just gonna get another one. I mean, really, I have seen Yes.
Or you buy the like the mixed pack. And then all you have left or you only needed forks or you know, it’s it doesn’t make any sense. Like we buy that stuff when we go camping. And every few camping trips. It’ll be like, Okay, this is just the hodgepodge collection and you might have a tiny white knife and a blue fork or whatever, like just just suck it up and, and deal with it just it’ll be fine. Everyone will be fine with mix mismatched flatware, but for anybody who wants to go buy stuff that they can reuse over and over and over. They have it at Sam’s Club actually so cheap. It’s so cheap. It’s I think it’s like $7 for 25 forks or knives or spoons, like so cheap, so cheap. And I discovered that one of my daughters has every once in a while been throwing away a spoon at lunch. Like she’ll take yogurt and social tickets. But she’s been taking like my nice everyday flatware. So now I’m like nope, you take the party stuff. Because if they get tossed, it’s not that big of a deal. So anybody who wants to invest in reusable flatware, Sam’s clubs, I think they probably have it at Costco too. But so
I mean that the cost, the cost analysis of that’s really good. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And her her party was big. I think I bought like a set of 50. And I still have most of the forks, all of the knives. And spoons are just a spoons are disposable in my house and I don’t care what they’re made out of. I don’t know what. I don’t know. I don’t know if you have a teenager but I don’t buy a lot of flatware I guess the advice I can give by a lot of spoons disappear. Oh, great. Okay, so now we’ve got we’ve we’ve checked in, we have gotten help. We are not hoarding small collections of a first birthday napkins. What would you recommend we have in that party supply box? Like what? What’s good to have on hand?
That’s a good question. Because in a way, as I say that I’m not even sure what you need. Because if you’re calling a lot of these things that are for specific parties, you know, if you’ve got like kind of a standard, which I do, which is like one of those just small, I’m holding my hands up my normal podcast, a small cocktail napkin disposable napkin, but I use white ones, that would be something simple cutlery like you’re talking about, maybe platters. And actually, I guess I get into maybe some of the bigger things that you would use for entertaining, or you might have around something else that I see a lot of our, you know, the sterno, the big buffet things or big roasting pans you need for Thanksgiving, the huge coffee makers. Those big yes, church style coffee maker heat
your coffee to a million degrees? Yes, I don’t, I don’t understand. I don’t
know that. And you are already you’re beating me to the punch here. Because sometimes people have these things. And it’s like, oh, cool. Like, why do you have this? Oh, I don’t know, I don’t even like the copy because it heats it to a million degrees. Maybe we can get rid of it. And I live in a city where storage, we don’t have as much storage. So sometimes those questions are really, really good. If you have a place with tons of storage. Maybe this is just not an issue. But if it’s worth considering I’m sick of looking at this thing. Oh yeah, let’s just get rid of it. Do it. People don’t drink coffee like they used to either. Unless you’re having really huge parties that you’d need something that they you might be able to use just a regular old coffeemaker for a party. I also like to remind people having come from the catering world, you can rent these things. Yes. Right. All those sternos If you only do it well, you know, for the family reunion when it’s your year, every 10 to 15 years just rent them. Yeah, it’s you don’t have to deal with the space and I’m sure price wise, I know that can be a little one’s better than the other but I think sometimes the idea you can even give it back to them dirty. At least the the rental company I used to use, which for the cleanup was pretty cool. Yeah, put it in there and they haul it away.
That’s amazing. Yeah. Okay. Okay, so I get you, right, it does depend on how much space do you have? Because, you know, I’ve had houses where we have no space for platters, and then you just kind of tend to collect to fill the space that you have, you know, and I have found for me, I have a lot of storage in our basement when it goes in the basement for storage. I will never ever look at it again. Right, like it’s just going there to die. Yeah, that’s it. Sometimes I’ll go down like, Oh, I forgot I had that. So I bought another one. So you kind of have to know yourself, you
know yourself. And that’s it. That’s great that you do I was just gonna say that you do know that about yourself. I think I always like to bring this up though. And I brought it up before about all of the paper products is that feeling that you go into atrophy when there’s just so much and then you don’t want to deal? So if you’re starting to have that feeling about all of this, I I’ve been in homes that have platters I think maybe people like to give platters as gifts. There’ll be 75 platters and it’s really beautiful. But you don’t live in a Crate and Barrel. This seems like a lot. Maybe every time you open that you’re like I don’t even know where to start like what do I even get? Yeah, maybe a good time to look through and think about getting rid of some of them.
Yeah, if they’re pretty decorate your dining room wall with them, put them on hooks and decorate with us. Yes, I went very, very minimal and I only buy white platters, white or wood and then everything goes together and then I found this set of like three white platters and just graduated sizes. No matter what I need one of those works.
You have got it figured out. I absolutely love that plan. And that’s actually a big party throwing tip that I have is to only use plain white platters or wood, nothing with too much of a pattern because also it makes food look kind of crazy. It’s hard to make a cheese board on a heavily patterned platter as pretty as those platters can be. It just doesn’t look good with food on it. So White love it would beautiful or marble symbol. Yeah,
and it goes with everything. And, and you can have a whole lot less stuff. Look, I’m more. I’m more of a minimalist than I thought I was. Look at that. Yes,
if you’ve got some great energy.
I love I honestly love entertaining. I really do. And one of my love languages, which is odd is cooking for people. I’m not like a spectacular cook, but I love doing it. But I can cook a mean appetizer. That’s where I exist. Well, appetizers and salads. So make sense. So I want you to cheese forks and salads.
Yes. But that’s where the fun is. When you go to a restaurant. Do you order appetizers? Because I’m always like, the main courses look boring. Let’s just order appetizers, I
would live off of an appetizer menu. I have no use for like a chicken and mashed potato dinner like No, thank you. I couldn’t know that. That’s what I feel like I have to cook for my kids at home. Give me something you know, small and fun and festive.
And flavorful. Yeah. All right, so
party’s over. Now we gotta clean it up. This is the worst part. This is what keeps me from again, those white platters are going to be sitting on my counter for like three or four days, just because the loads of dishwasher. Yes, loads that we’re gonna have to do is just crazy. How do we make cleanup easier?
Yeah, and that’s a tough one. I think that’s where you use your when people are asking if they can help. Sure you can help take
these fishes home and wash them.
if you don’t like people offering to help that’ll cure it on to help you anymore.
I’ve loaded up this grocery bag for you. Oh, what is it? It’s dirty digital. I love that. Well, this is also a Know thyself moment, because bringing those big plastic platters, cheese platters, which trying to give tips. So we don’t need to do that just because it can be a lot more pretty than that. But maybe that’s how it needs to be for you to have a party. And maybe that’s okay, maybe it is a lot of disposables. I think that getting together and finding ways to connect and be around the people you love is so important that we shouldn’t get so caught up in the must dues. So I know that that might not be environmentally the right answer. But sometimes you got to do what you got to do. And if that is going to be so stressful for you to deal with all of those dishes everywhere, then, let’s just make it easy. It’s fine. Again, everyone’s gonna love it. Throw it all in a garbage bag, and you’re done. All right. Permission permission. Yeah.
So Thanksgiving, I host it is not my jam. Right? Because it is the opposite of my cheese word appetizers. It’s housewife dinner, right? It is all just real food. No, thank you. But I host and then I have to clean up and this year is really wrestling. That has been a shortcut of mine. I buy just nice, really nice disposable plates. You know, they looked like I had that has been my go to for a couple of years just because there’s so much Thanksgiving. And you know, I was like 14 people. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. Oh, yeah, this year. I have my mom’s China. It’s one thing that you know, I came to me. And I’m like, if I don’t use it now, like what’s the point of having it if I don’t use it. And then I was like, but I gotta hand wash dishes for 14 people. So I will just go and hold her China every once in a while and just look at it or maybe break it out for a family dinner. But everybody coming on to my house on Thanksgiving, you’re probably going to be eating on a plastic plate because I just can’t I just can’t do the work for a party. I don’t really have. I love I do love Thanksgiving in my family. But it’s not. It’s not. I would much rather have them over for a holiday appetizer cocktail party. But that’s not a holiday that I get so cool. I will cook the Thanksgiving dinner but everyone’s seen on plastic plates. They’re gonna be nice, but that is kind of my concession to making it easier and making it not as stressful or overwhelming. And, you know, now that you said it’s okay, I feel very good.
I absolutely love it. You’re owning it too. Because yeah, with thanksgiving you have all of those random sized dishes in the gravy boat and things that have to be hand washed it so that is a cleanup nightmare that it has to be. That’s the worst day of the year for sure. But I think it is. Yeah, but honoring your mom’s China in that way. To me that’s really charming how you even worded that? They’d say maybe having a look. There’s maybe a platter or a butter dish. That’s a couple of small pieces that you just have in there. So you can have that presence. But that’s fantastic. Make it your own. Doesn’t have to be that way. And, you know, I remember back when I was a kid and I had a very small, immediate family, we would have a few people over fit for Thanksgiving. But you know, the China came out the silver had to be polished before and it’s very old school, no child of the 70s. That’s just kind of how it was back then. But I love that now it’s like, well, I don’t want to polish silver like who does this anymore. We don’t have to we can make this our own. It doesn’t have to be those old traditions. And especially as younger generations are taking over the the doing all of the work. Maybe it’s time to set up some new ones if those old ones are still around, and they are not serving you. I
remember at Christmas time when we were little and it was me and my sisters and my two cousins. We had to wash all the Christmas dishes before we could open presents. That was the rule. But it was all the China and all I mean, everything had to be hand washed. Wow.
Those were the longest
hours. Hard that is like my uphill both ways story that I tell my kids when they’re like complaining about having to throw the plastic plates away at Thanksgiving. I’m like, Do you realize how many all the glasses every gravy bowed, hand washed, dried and put away before we could open presents. pure torture. That is today have no idea how they should die. I have no idea.
I’m so sorry, Jennifer.
I will survive. I think it made me a stronger person who doesn’t want to wash dishes? That’s what it did. I do not want to watch China. Alright, so rumor has it you have you have a secret simple trick to wowing any crowd? Yes,
I do. Lay it on us. Triple cranberry, three words triple cranberry. Everyone loves it. And I get that that might not be the most creative, you know out of left field pick. But people practically lick the plate that is on, people will talk to you about it as months go by oh my god, that cheese you had. So it needs to be triple krem not double, which is also good.
This is different than it is the little wheel of brie, you’re gonna find or the big wheel of brie, you’re gonna find just regular regular grocery story.
That’s right. And even a regular grocery store. If you just make sure you ask for triple crab, they may have it, it basically just means that the breed was injected with extra cream. So it’s one of those when you cut into it, it just like oozes out, and you want it to be good and ripe. And you get one whole you know, you get a big wheel you get a small wheel, they’re made in France, California, there is one excellent one made in Minnesota, my friend called bent River, it’s really really good. If you have that you put it on its own little you know, or platter dish, whatever. That’s white, surround it with some fruit. Get some rosemary sprigs or something green, which is one of my tips for making a really great cheese board. So simple. You pull it out of your flower arrangement out of the backyard. Just something there was some green on there. People will love it. You can’t you can’t lose with break.
Do you do anything with it? Do you heat it? Do you add anything on top?
I do not. I know that you can do those things. And if you don’t really good, nope, take it out of the fridge to three hours before that’s really key because you want it to get real easy inside. And if you can go to a place that has a cheese counter. You know, even Whole Foods doesn’t have to be a specialty cheese shop. Just you can talk to them and say I’m serving this tonight. I’m serving in two days. I want this to be perfect. They will help you find the right one because it’s just like picking picking a fruit you know you feel it. Picking an avocado of how gooey it’s going to be. Okay, a winner and then you can always put and this is another easy cheese plate trick. Put a little dish of preserves on the side. Pretty much anyone you want Blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, you know any kind of buy preserves, I mean jelly or jam. Let’s face it, it’s all the same really. You just put it in a pretty little dish with a pretty little spoon and people will love it.
IKEA lingonberry be IKEA lingonberry jam because it it’s a little different than you would just get with a regular strawberry or whatever. It’s crazy cheap, it lasts forever. And people love it and they’re like oh this is so different. It’s IKEA like very jam. So there you go that
feels very holiday to which is very well and if you’re in and I think Even Trader Joe’s now has big jam. That’s a traditional favorite, you know, get creative, I would say there’s, I feel like there’s not much you can do to mess something like this up, you know. And again, to get out of that, that atrophy of I don’t know what to do. It’s like, just give it a shot. I used to say one day, if a producer’s listening, I could make like a reality show where I could just show up at someone’s door and be like, let me in your refrigerator, and I’m going to make a cheese board. Like you just pull out you got the little pickles, or you cut them funny, you know, and little, little shapes, or there’s just so many different things you can do to throw a cheese board together that people really love.
That wouldn’t be a really be a fun, tick tock series.
There you go.
Maybe you’d have to warn, you know, ask people can I come to your house instead of just showing up but it would be really fun. I love it. All right.
So like this is some bougie show. What are you up to here?
Why are you at my house? It’s six in the morning lady.
I would watch that. I would 100%. Watch that.
You know, let’s face it. The Food Network is running out of shows. So
they really are. I have I have seen worse things on TV. I really Agreed. Agreed we ought to make it happen. Let’s you know what I think what you need is another thing to do. Right? Because that is true that she shocked the wind by the organizing business. I think you need something else to fill your your spare time like a side hustle. Maybe?
I know I’ll think about it. Think about it. Tick tock star, maybe my future. Alright,
so I have a question that I ask everyone as we’re wrapping up. But first, I want you to tell people where they can find you. For
all Yes. For all the things so all three businesses are on Instagram. And should I list off my handles before and we’ll be in the show notes. Got it. So at Union Larter is my wine bar. At little vine SF is the wine and cheese shop. And we have a really great wine club, actually. So if you’re looking for a fun Christmas gift, or a gift for yourself, have a look, we ship all over the country. And then my businesses at Melissa gagne organizing,
awesome. And again, we will have all of those as well as websites, all the good stuff in the show notes. So people if you’re driving, don’t stop and, and write things down or pull out your phone. Okay, so our last question that we always ask is, for our busy women listening to this show, what is the one thing you want them to take away from this conversation?
Oh, just relax and have your friends over. And make it be with the things that you really like, and the people you really love? Have the cheese, have the wine, have all of the things that you love, and they’re gonna love it too. But just relax. Keep it simple. And
have your friends over. I love that part. Because I think we have made things so difficult that we’ve stopped doing that part. And that’s what that’s what our parents didn’t do. They serve the gin and tonics and the chips, but they had their friends over. So yeah,
yes, you’re right. And that it was it seems like it was very different. Yeah,
maybe we need to get back to that. You know, we’re not gonna smoke around our babies or some of the things they did. Yes. We’ll borrow that little tidbit.
Have the children mix the drinks? They frown upon that these days, but okay,
no, well, funny story. We lived in Northern Virginia, where there are tons of wineries and that’s what we used to do on the weekends, and my sister lived there and, and we live there and our kids are the same age. So weekends would be spent at the wineries, our children. You know, instead of like playing restaurant, our children used to play winery like that was their pretend we were at a park and they’re like, Mommy, will you play winery and I was like, I’m getting judged so hard right now. And there was this park with this little cut out. And I think kids were supposed to play like ice cream shop and they would serve you fake, like ice cream mulch, you know? And my children were serving us fake glasses of wine. I was the proud mom moment. Yeah, I was,
oh my God, but in a way I’m so impressed.
I always wanted to be
well, in my playing winery, too. I didn’t know how far back they were going if they’re like tilling the soil and they’re like trim and trim in the binder,
not just the things they saw. drinkin
boring. Oh my god, that is hysterical. And I love that. On
that note, thank you so much for spending the time with us today. I really, really, really appreciate it.
Thank you. This has been so fun.
I hope you enjoyed this conversation and that it helped you get excited about the upcoming season. Friends, let’s all make the holidays, especially entertaining. A little less stressful this year. And remember bird that the point of all of it is to connect with people and make joyful memories, head over to the shownotes to connect with Melissa. And while you’re there, sign up for my free, simple holiday style masterclass that’s taking place. This coming Monday, November 20. I will be sharing a few tips and ideas for having a fabulous holiday style, no matter where you’re going or what you’re doing, even if you’re just staying home. Alright, I’ll see you next time. And until then, remember that yes, the holidays matter, but your everyday matters too. So get dressed for it.
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening today. If you’re loving the everyday style school podcast, I’d like to invite you to become a member of the style circle. It’s our monthly all access membership that gives you everything we create to make style easy, so you can save time and money have easier mornings and more confidence all day long. You get our seasonal capsule wardrobe guides, all of the master classes we offer and our exclusive members only podcast, the everyday styles will extra credit. Plus, you’re invited to the Facebook community where you can get even more style support and inspiration. I would love to get to know you and support your style journey. It’s just $19 a month, less than the cost of a clearance shirt you’re never going to wear. Come join me and make your everyday style easier.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai