We have an annual Christmas dinner with a few close friends at our house a week or so before Christmas day. The gathering began a few years ago (how many years? I lose track these days...) as an informal get together of just a few couples who have been our friends since we moved here 15 years ago. We wanted it to be adults only as we have spent lots of time with with these families over the years with kids and this one time we wanted to have a quiet, grown up dinner with good, uninterrupted conversation.
Over time we have begun to include the kids again as many are in college or have graduated from college. So, the no kids rule has been stretched a bit - we still do not invite the little ones, and it is great fun catching up with what all the older kids - actually young adults - are doing now. Fortunately they actually seem to enjoy us, too! However, the numbers have grown and what was once about 8 people (just 4 couples) is now almost 20.
Each year the menu is different - sometimes more complicated than others. The point has always been to keep it simple and make the focus on friendship and time together. The meal can vary from chili and cornbread with margaritas and beer, to seafood gumbo and specialty drinks. Knowing exactly how many people is often a challenge as different families have different things going on each year, and some children come home with friends or significant others(whom, we of course, include!) So, we add two folding tables to our dining table, which normally seats 10. The most we have fit around our make do gigantic table is 20, and this year we had 19. I pull out different sets of dishes and do my best to put together a pretty table without a lot of planning or preparation. This year I found beautiful orange roses and used them along with some greenery and candles. The top picture is the table for the party. The dinner was on the 23rd so I left it decorated for the next night as well!
Both nights were very sweet and great fun and I am still enjoying my orange roses. I will clear the table later this weekend and look forward to another Christmas dinner, or two, in 2010, in the blink of an eye, I am sure!