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How To Throw A Cozy Winter Brunch Instead Of Leaving Your Nice, Warm Home

How To Throw A Cozy Winter Brunch Instead Of Leaving Your Nice, Warm Home

Stay indoors and follow these expert tips from a NYC chef-and-interior design duo.

Going outside in the winter is really hard. What shoes to wear? How cold is it? What if your space heater misses you?

Instead of braving the elements, circumvent these issues by throwing a winter brunch and making everyone come to you.

Here are interior designer Becky Shea and chef and former Homepolish editor Matt Powell’s top tricks and tips to recreate the lavish winter spread they put on at a SoHo loft earlier this season.

1 Pay Attention To Seasonal Harvest

Powell and Shea always make sure to cook in harvest, as it enables you to buy readily available ingredients in their freshest state.

It also helps you to cater the menu to the mood, and embrace winter with hearty foods and spiced cocktails.

“Winter calls for root vegetables and ingredients like allspice, cloves and cinnamon that warm us from the inside out and help lull us into hibernation,” Shea says.

2 Embrace Your Dark Side

It isn’t sunny outside, which means a theme of pastels, Gerber daisies, and rainbows isn’t going to work.

Take a page out of Shea’s dream journal, and go for something bold and cosmic, dark and moody. And really commit to it — from food to flatware.

“By keeping all the elements in the same tone, we were able to create cohesion with the tableware, flowers, interior space, and food,” Shea says.

For flowers, Shea chose Garden Roses, Eucalyptus, Ronia Black berries on twigs. The black-rimmed Soie Tressée plates are from L’objet ($50-$130, L’objet), paired with navy plaid napkins from Crate & Barrel ($4.87, Crate & Barrel). The dining table is a custom-order American Walnut live edge table with steel integration from Becky Shea Design.

3 Prep With Friends Ahead Of Time

Who said you have to do all the work? “Prepping with friends and loved ones ahead of the actual RSVP time makes the experience so much more fun and cuts the time in half,” Shea says.

Inviting your right-hands over turns party prep into an actual party, but do also make sure to plan the menu a week or two in advance, in case you have to change plans when your grocer runs out of nutmeg.

To still get that “wow moment,” your tabletop should be set, appetizers ready, and main courses roasting as other guests arrive.

To help you recreate this spread, Shea says the Hasselback Butternut Squash can be roasted up to 4 hours in advance, wrapped in tin foil, and then reheated right before serving.

4 Hit The Five Senses

Shea and Powell called the pears their “hero dessert,” as the fruits had quite the role to fill.

“We strive to hit all five senses in our experiential designs for tablescapes,” Shea said. “[T]hese pears played the perfect part of stimulating your smell, sight, touch (texture), and most importantly, taste senses.”

The pair topped off the brunch with some classic Frank Sinatra tunes to fit in with the warm, NYC-centric vibes.

5 Remember Everybody Loves a Goody Bag

“We love to surprise guests with a little take-away gift as a thank you for spending time with us and as a token of our relationship,” says Shea.

For this brunch, Powell and Shea baked rosemary shortbread wreaths the night before and wrapped them in canvas bags with ribbon to give guests “something to enjoy later in the night when they return home or the next day as a reminder of the fun event.”

10 Items To Toss Or Donate At The Start Of The New Year For A More Organized Home

10 Items To Toss Or Donate At The Start Of The New Year For A More Organized Home

Our New Year’s resolution is to maybe stop hoarding.

A new year is here, and you probably have big goals, and overflowing buckets of ambition to achieve them with.

To make room in your home for that bright, new you, here are ten household things you should really leave behind in 2017.

1 Worn-Out Linens And Textiles

Towels that look gross are gross (must! mold! mites!), so you should throw them out. Ones that are just worn out can be donated to a local animal shelter.

Meanwhile, extra bed linens, tablecloths, and cloth napkins can be donated to your local aid organization. Take it a step further, and reduce the number of canvas bags, shoelaces, and random bits of ribbon and string tangling up your space.

2 Outdated Tech

It goes without saying that floppy disks, VCRs, and CDs should be long gone. Ditto extra USB sticks, chargers for obsolete phones, clunky last-gen laptops, and so on. These items can all be recycled and repurposed into shiny, new gadgets. Don’t let nostalgia woo you into holding onto old your third generation iPod nano or Blackberry either. That said, make sure to backup any important data on your old tech devices, and wipe them clean of personal info before passing them along.

3 Extra Or Expired Toiletries

This will be good for your skin and your home.

Any gross makeup or expired lotions — so, that four-month-old mascara and sunscreen from spring break 2014 — needs to go. The same goes for old perfumes, as the scents begin deteriorate over time.

Take any tiny, unused hotel toiletries you have at home and donate them to a local women’s shelter, and see if you can pass off any opened products to friends or family. One person’s acne-inducing face wash can be another friend’s skin savior.

4 Books

We don’t mean the classics. We mean bad coffee table books you got as gifts, textbooks from freshman year, self-help books that weren’t any help, and books that weren’t worth reading once (let alone twice). Your local library will be happy to have them.

5 Wire Hangers

Wire hangers are no good for your wardrobe. You probably got them for free from the cleaners. Get rid of them.

6 Unwanted Clothing

If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in a year, donate it to make room for new love. You can recycle old sneakers through Nike and old glasses through big box stores, such as Walmart or Target.

Also, it’s hard to let go of the belief that you will eventually find the other sock, but you must move on and trash orphaned socks. Any underwear that makes you uncomfortable or feel schleppy must be tossed, too. This is an act of self-care.

7 Kitchen Spices, Protein Powders, And Odd Condiments And Bottles

I’ve personally had a packet of collagen powder that I can’t work up the gumption to try in my kitchen for eight months. If the same goes with you with any spices, protein powders, and condiments — clear ‘em out.

Help your kitchen and your liver by pouring lingering odd alcohol down the drain. Because the only idea worse than salted caramel vodka is letting it sit on top of your fridge for another year.

8 Paper Products

Throw out old cards, or rip out the signed parts and store them in a scrapbook. Any business cards, paychecks over two years old, and bills should also be digitized, then chucked.

Depending on their age, you can sell vintage magazines online or donate them to a local library. Also, be ruthless about any unhung posters, wrapping paper scraps, boxes, and product packaging you may have. A box isn’t worth the real estate it takes up.

9 Old Pillows

Old pillows are bad for your back and your skin. If they don’t pass the pillow test, it’s time to toss them.

10 Extra Serving Ware And Kitchen Tools

You hated that teacup your Aunt Susan gave you on Hanukkah seven years ago. You still hate it, and it has got to go.

The same goes for leaky travel mugs, plastic containers missing lids (or vice versa), and any tools you have unnecessary duplicates of. This isn’t The Great British Bake Off; you only need one set of measuring spoons.

In the end you just might clean out enough stuff to maybe try open shelving.