DAY 1: TRIM THE TREE
According to the Italian Christmas tree traditional standards, dads put up the tree, moms set the lights, and children hang the ornaments. The topper of the Christmas tree (responsibility of the youngest in the house) may vary between a star (representing the comet that signed the location of baby Jesus to the Three Kings) and an angel (Gabriel, the Annunciation messenger).
Decades ago when trees were first introduced in Italian homes, decorations consisted of oranges, clementines, candies, twine, candles and lanterns, and any piece of colored glass. We celebrate this tradition with our beautiful Murano glass ornaments.
DAY 2: TOAST THE SEASON
Two Italian sparkling wines caught our attention as we prepare to toast the season, each to be enjoyed alone or with a variety of dishes. We thought the reddish tone of these wines with our green crackle champagne flutes were the perfect pair!
The first, simply called Flor, was created at the Bastianich winery, founded in 1997, which strives to understand the history and culture of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and take it to a new level. Restaurateur Joseph Bastianich with his mother, the renowned chef Lidia Bastianich, bought a vineyard in Buttrio, a town in the Colli Orientali DOC. The family is very precise in their winemaking, controlling yields so that each individual vine produces one bottle of wine. They employ traditional manual methods in the vineyard and create wines that express the character of the land.
Rose-pink in color with aromas of strawberry, minerals and hints of vanilla. Strawberry centric with white pepper and floral hints complimented by energetic bubbles and a refreshing acidity, finishing super dry and crisp. [Even the bubbles are dry!]
Our second sparkling wine named the “Centenario” Grasparossa di Castelvetro amabile (sweet) wine of the Chiarli winery is honored by the Lambrusco di Grasparossa DOC certification. This is a typical product of the Emilia Romagna region. This wine is produced with 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa grapes of Castelvetro. It is an amiable wine with an intense red color with a wide fruity scent. The lively and effervescent foam has a charged pink color. A slightly sweeter choice!
DAY 3: CREATE A KIDS TABLE EVERYONE WILL WANT TO EAT AT
It’s finally December and the spirit of the holiday season is getting in to full swing here in the U.S. For most of us, Thanksgiving officially kicks off the festivities, and for some, it even begins as early as Halloween. But no matter when your family traditionally welcomes the season, it’s a magical and wondrous time for the little ones in our lives.
Ask anyone you know and they’ll probably be able to spout out one tradition that their family has had or continues during the holiday season. While the origins of this special time are based on religious and spiritual beliefs, many traditions celebrated are born from families creating memories in their own way and then sustained for years to come. It’s something that brings us together in familiarity and comfort.
Italians also understand this and base many of their traditions on bringing family together and creating a meaningful experience their children will remember and share for the rest of their lives. They also celebrate within their own cultural timeline.
It is not only Santa who brings Christmas gifts. Right across Italy, on January 6 - marking the end of the holiday season - there is a visit from la Befana. This translates literally as ‘the good witch’, and legend says that on this date she would fill stockings with candy for the children.
Our kid’s table is filled with fun and tradition including stickers, card games, stockings from Befana filled with candy and the book that tells the story. Bright and cheerful espresso cups and salad plates and silverware just their size! Complete with pizza, fruit kebabs and of course the traditional struffoli. Recipe found here.
No matter what you have planned this season, we hope you all are lucky enough to spend just a small bit of time seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child and creating new traditions and memories for years to come. The pure joy, laughter, and whimsy children evoke is the most simple yet poignant way we can think to embrace and celebrate the season.
DAY 4: WARM THE COCOA
Italian hot chocolate — also called Ciccolata Calda — is rich, thick, and decadent. It has an almost pudding-like consistency and big, bold chocolate flavor. And it’s nothing like that dried stuff you mix with warm water or milk. Create some of your own and let your family and friends choose their favorite toppings!
DAY 5: BAKE FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Whether made for your family or as a gift, everyone will enjoy this Ciambella Italian Lemon Sponge Cake for breakfast, dessert or a special snack! Our red Rosso cake plate with any of our cake servers is the perfect combination.
DAY 6: CELEBRATE FAMILY
This merry table evokes a feeling of being in a cozy ski lodge nestled in the Italian Alps, sharing a feast after an active day in the mountains. Creating a beautiful table doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.
What was our inspiration?
To start with, I knew I wanted to use a base of tartan plaid from the beginning but wanted to be certain it wouldn’t conflict with the dinnerware or overtake the table. My vision was to find a runner allowing us to leave some of the table exposed. I couldn’t find the right runner, however I found the perfect plaid at our local fabric store instead. Rather than laying it in a straight line down the center of the table, we draped the fabric casually and slightly askew, which gave it a more informal and relaxed tone.
Once the plaid base was in place, it became clear that the remaining elements should be clean in color and shape to support the theme and to offset the more busy design of the plaid. We started with large glass votives and plain white pillar candles to add some height and weight to balance the plaid. Hearty yet beautiful magnolia branches add a perfect hint of green, keeping it traditional yet unexpected. Finally, the addition of twinkle lights provide a festive quality to complete the table setting.
Let’s break down the winter table a bit by looking at a few distinctive elements. Let’s begin with the place card.
Many of our items can serve multiple purposes, so get creative and try a few things out. For example, our Rosso espresso cups have found another use besides serving up a caffeine jolt. Try trimming some juniper greens and placing them in the cup with cinnamon sticks. Or you can use other greenery that’s just as elegant and fragrant. It’s a simple project that looks quite festive on any table. By turning the place card “on its side,” you can add a fun twist that takes the table from everyday to special occasion in a matter of minutes.
Next, let’s look at layers and color.
The plates stacked below are a mix and match of the Montagne Invernali collection combined with pieces from Rosso and the rich green of the Frutta Laccata charger. Combining and layering collections with different shapes, sizes, and colors is a simple way to add interest and depth to the table.
Using simple layering techniques with seasonal fresh elements and festive tableware make this an easy option for your winter dinner party!
DAY 7: GIFT THOSE WHO GIFT YOU ALL YEAR
On Day 7 let's check out 7 gift options for teachers, friends, neighbors, family and anyone special in your life that you want to gift this season!
- Fill a Rosso gravy boat with special chocolates, ours were Venchi Italian gourmet chocolates.
- Tie on a festive bow and fill a Rosso mug with hot chocolate or seasonal coffee and Nonnis biscotti for dipping
- Pair a gourmet olive oil with our POP check olive oil cruet and POP Circle salt and pepper shakers. Perfect kitchen and table accents.
- Hit your local bakery and fill our Fabric bread basket (complete with microwavable pouch)
- Pick up some fresh pasta at your Italian market and deliver with a POP pasta bowl and Condotti pasta server
- Perfect for holiday entertaining our POP Christmas platter is a unique shape and looks great with our small Rosso bowl for dips or anything you can dream up
- Bring a smile to a cook in a winter kitchen with our Montagne Invernali spoonrest and Condotti Serving Spoon
Hopefully these suggestions have sparked your creativity with endless combinations and possibilities!
DAY 8: HOST A COOKIE EXCHANGE
So special to share recipes and celebrate together during the holidays. Pizzelle are wonderful cookies that taste good and look beautiful! Our have just a dusting of powdered sugar but they are delicious with Nutella, melted chocolate or jams. Everyone will love to take some of these home!
DAY 9: ENTERTAIN FRIENDS
Whimsical fun and easy to put together, nothing says Christmas like POP! Our POP collection is wonderful year round but we have added some Christmas to the mix and pulled out every color in it for a cheerful holiday table. A greenery mix for texture down the center with simple white carnations and a bowl of ornaments mix with colorful Via Veneto flatware and Tivoli glasses to make a truly celebratory table.
DAY 10: LIGHT THE WAY
Light our Christmas candle! Pure freshly cut Christmas tree. The strong scent of Fir balanced with a touch of sweet nectar. This wonderful scent fills the Murano glass votive which will have a beautiful glow as it burns. The glass vessel can be cleaned and reused.
DAY 11: SHARE A DISH
There is a wonderful tradition that says that once you have eaten what was offered to you in the container, you should never return back an empty container as a mark of courtesy. Often, people bring in food to others who are ill or in crisis or simply because they want to share the good food with them. While they would never want to bother you cooking or buying something in order to return the dish, but if you manage some time off and fill it with some special treats from your end, it would only make them happy, don't you think? Not just that, it would also continue the trail of unspoken love and care which was initiated from their side. There is no need for you to go out of your way to get/cook the most exotic dish to be given in return. Some biscotti with a little thank-you note works just as sweet.
DAY 12: GIVE AND GIVE BACK
Our angel plates offer the opportunity to gift a beautiful plate while also giving your support to a wonderful cause.
The Angel Plate (Piastra Angelo) is commissioned to honor those afflicted with Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder afflicting young girls. They are known as Rett angels, and here we honor them as such. This is a one-of-a-kind gift, limited in number and signed by the artist. All of the profits go to Rett Syndrome research. Visit www.rettsyndrome.org for more information on ways to support the cause and thank you for your support.