Lindsay Kinder, founder of FOOD LA LA, shares the tiny tricks for hosting the perfect holiday soirees.
San Francisco-based Lindsay Kinder offers tips for holiday soirees.
Spoiling friends and family with magical moments is welcome year-round, but the holiday season calls for pulling out all the entertaining stops. Lindsay Kinder, founder of San Francisco-based Food La La (food-la-la.com), is an expert at removing the fussy from fancy. After studying under Susan Herrmann Loomis and master chefs at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she founded her San Francisco-based culinary and cocktail experience business. Here are her tips for hosting the perfect party this holiday season.
ENTICE THE SENSES
“I like to transform the home into a full entertaining experience,” says Kinder. “From the moment your company arrives, you can begin to thrill them.” Kinder begins with a simmer pot to fill her home with a warming and welcoming scent. “Fill a large pot with water, then add one sliced orange, four whole cinnamon sticks and a handful of cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer—uncovered—and let the scent of spiced orange add a cozy touch to your home. Just be mindful so that the pot doesn’t run dry; replenish the water as needed.”
Kinder’s approach to tables? Don’t forget all surfaces, including bar carts and coffee tables. “I love a festive table, and during the holidays, greenery goes a long way,” she says. “If you don’t want to purchase a full garland, snip a few branches from the back of your Christmas tree, and arrange them down the center of a long dining table, over a bar top or bar cart, a kitchen island, or even along your coffee table—tuck in mini brightly colored ornaments, tiny battery-operated lights, bells or festive produce like oranges and pomegranates.”
CREATE CONNECTION VIA STORIES
When we host friends and family, we’re inviting them into our world in an intimate way. Parties are gifts we give to our loved ones, and offering some personal notes about what inspired the details of the party goes a long way in making an unforgettable event.
“Whenever I host, I try to share a story about something I’m serving—the food, cocktails or even the serving ware,” says Kinder. “These stories create a beautiful experience and lasting impression. During the holidays, it’s usually the fig and olive tapenade that was inspired by my time working the grape harvest in France or the glass-etched cake stand that belonged to my grandmother, which now displays a dreamy pile of French macarons. Stories, even the simplest ones, help connect your guests to the experience you created. Everything has a story; ask just a few questions, and you’re bound to find yours.”
Holiday treats always add allure to room decorating, especially coffee tables.
DON’T NEGLECT DESSERT
Macarons entice all of the senses. “In bright shades, the pillowy meringuebased cookies are a stunning centerpiece for a dessert buff et. Each bite of a macaron is a little luxury,” says Kinder.
“Sugar plum vibes are a must, especially during the holidays,” she says. “I almost always serve French macarons for dessert. I love to see the pile dwindle to crumbs as the plate is passed around the table. Macarons can be made well in advance. They even freeze well, making dessert one less thing to think about the day of the party.” Kinder says another festive option is homemade olive oil ice cream, which also can be made well in advance; she loves Bona Furtuna’s (bonafurtuna.com) organic olive oil.
REMEMBER AFTER-DINNER COCKTAILS
“An after-dinner drink creates such a special moment,” says Kinder. “Dessert has been served, and guests might be wondering if they should mosey toward the door. But offering a special spirit for one last toast reignites the energy and welcomes in the best after-hours vibes.”
Kinder says her in-laws introduced her to vanilla rum in St. Barts, and then her dad and stepmom made their own homemade version, which Kinder and her husband serve often: Split open two vanilla beans and add to a pretty bottle. Fill the bottle with rum and cap tightly. Shake the bottle occasionally, and let age for four to six weeks.
PROVIDE A MEMORABLE SENDOFF
Just when guests might think the magic of the evening is done, you can delight one final time with a thoughtful and small treat to be discovered after guests have left the party. “The valet from a favorite restaurant in Los Angeles once left warm chocolate chip cookies in my cup holders, and it inspired me to think of a way to bring this last little pinch of magic to a home dinner party,” says Kinder. “Package up small truffles or cookies into parchment bags and sneak them into your guest’s coat pockets or purses. They’ll find them on the way home—or even better, the next day. The truffles from Sixth Course Dessert Boutique (sixthcourse.com) in San Francisco are my favorite. They’re like little wild-flavored jewels you can eat.”
Kinder is a pro at mixing holiday libations.
Linsday Kinder suggests a spiced rum sip to make spirits bright.
With every detail considered and unexpected luxuries scattered throughout, a cocktail party made for mingling is sure to make spirits bright this holiday season. Here’s a recipe for Ellen’s Vanilla Spiced Rum.
• 750 ml rum: Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva (Ron Antiguo)
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2 vanilla beans, split
• 1 small cinnamon stick
• ½ cup white sugar
In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar with ½ cup of rum. Cook until sugar dissolves, then cool and pour the rum back into the bottle. Add vanilla beans and a cinnamon stick. Place the bottle in the window (or sun) for two months, then boil ¼ cup water with the white sugar and cook until sugar dissolves. Cool and add the simple syrup to the bottle of rum. Let the rum sit in the window (or sun) for a few more weeks, then strain into a decorative bottle. Serve in small glasses at room temp or with a single ice cube.
Photography by: KATHLEEN SHEFFER PHOTOGRAPHY