Holiday Party 2021 + News from the Contractor

Hi Everyone,

Today’s post is more of a newsy-type blog post. You know, how people sometimes call blog posts “newsletters?”

I could never figure that out because why on earth would anyone be interested in my news.

Nowadays, a lot of you are interested in my news. Some of you don’t care one way or the other. And, several subscribers have already unsubscribed. lol, I still love you anywaaaaaaay. Have a nice liiiiiiiiiife…


So, instead of me wasting your precious time any further, I’m going to jump right in to tell you about my holiday party 2021 and a few things I learned.


Oh, wait. Forgive me, please. We need some music to get in the mood!

This is the album I played for the party. I found it via Youtube, which I can play on my TV.  The TV is connected through a sometimes temperamental receiver connected to surround sound speakers in the den. However, I’m not complaining. The previous owner left it all for me.


YouTube video

Michael Bublé. He’s the 21st-century Robert Goulet and blessed with a silky rich, resonant baritone voice. And, a disarmingly sweet, boyish upper register. Plus, he’s quite easy on the eyes. Sigh…

If you prefer, you can listen and look at this charming retro-style video where you can also see Michael singing “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.”


As most of you know, I began preparing for my holiday party 2021 in mid-November.


A lot of that was because I needed so many essential items. You can see most of them here.


  • The table pads
  • Table cloth
  • paper or plastic napkins, plates, cups, forks, spoons
  • tree, garland, ornaments, lights, candles, holders
  • Plus, my dress/petticoat, and headband
  • firewood – Three different kinds.
  • Oh yeah, the toolset.


And, numerous shopping trips for food.


Lucky for me, my place doesn’t need a lot to look festive.

Laurel, we know that. Please can we see your holiday party dress? Pretty please? You better have a pic of you in that darling reindeer dress!


Yes, of course. I know you’re busy right now.


holiday party dress 2021

Sorry, this is the least out-of-focus one of me standing up. I wish you could see the long sash with the big bow in the back. The party was already underway, and about half of the ladies were there.


This next one is a better photo.


Me - Holiday Party December 2021

Ugh. I was so rushed at the end; I didn’t even have time to put a pair of hose on. And, those shoes only made it through the first hour. lol.

Please find out about the dress here.


First of all. It is true what everyone says when it comes to parties.


Women don’t eat much.

Here’s my new rule. Provide half as much as you think you’ll need, and you’ll still have double what is actually consumed.


I might not go to the trouble of making roasted chestnuts unless maybe you soak them in water for at least two days first.


And, even then, I’m not sure. Most of the chestnuts are very difficult to get out of their shells after roasting. And, yes, I did make Xs in the shells.

If you make them and they come out whole, I would cut in halves or even quarters. I did a final roast with a bit of butter and salt. Hang on; I will get some to snack on while I’m writing.

Actually, you can warm them up in the microwave a little, and they’re quite delicious.

Here’s the nutritional info on roasted chestnuts.

Okay, I’m enjoying the chestnuts this afternoon. I would make them ahead of time and freeze them, so you’re not too taxed come party-time.


Why did I make chestnuts in the first place?


The group of women is called “The Chestnuts.” That is after Chestnut Street on Beacon Hill. And our holiday party 2021 was called “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”

I just went and brought the bowl of roasted chestnuts into the den so that you could see them.


roasted chestnuts - sugared cranberries


Next to the chestnuts are sugared cranberries. They are also yummy and easy to make. Plus, they look festive to snack on or use as a drink garnish.

I also had a yen to make those 1″ sweet and sour cocktail meatballs. And, no, I did NOT use grape jelly.

That’s disgusting.

So, to make my life easier, I looked to see if I could find some ready-made meatballs. Well, I did, from Tarzhay. I was skeptical, except the reviews waxed poetic. I had them delivered along with a couple of other things.


There was only one problem.


They are micro meatballs. Lol. They would be suitable to put in a soup or a dish, but I couldn’t serve them as cocktail meatballs.

So, Wednesday night, I spent two hours making 88 of them.  Way overkill.

Even after a friend took a cup of them home, there were still 58 left.  I did try passing them around. However, those that tried them liked them, they said.

By the way, I made them gluten-free, and you’d never know it. I found some gluten-free panko bread crumbs. They are like tiny little crackers, so I threw them in the blender to make them a little smaller.


Then, I craved to make a chocolate, mocha, chestnut cream cake; also gluten-free.


I don’t have a problem with gluten, but some of the other chestnuts do.

As I don’t want to burden those interested in baking with recipes, I’ve posted the recipe for the gluten-free, mocha, chestnut cream cake here.

Oh, one of the women had two pieces and then begged me for the recipe. I figure that many of you are on gluten-free diets and might like to try this cake.

Incidentally, it’s gluten-free, not calorie-free. haha. But, it is a rich, satisfying cake and made with chestnuts!!!

And, if you’re not on a gluten-free diet, please check out my best ever chocolate cake recipe.


holiday party food table

My friend Lisa came to my rescue and brought over the fixings for numerous charcuterie boards. She ended up making two, but really, one was more than enough. The second one, in the den, wasn’t even touched.

Nobody went in there the entire evening except for me to deal with the music.

Suzanne Christmas Tree 2021

But, you could still see the Suzanne tree through the door. This is so funny. I was just looking at the photo and thought. What? I promised them I was going to get rid of the wire. What’s wrong with me? And then, when I zoomed in, I realized it was a mirror leaning against the wall.

Where did Joe go? I put Joe on the floor next to the Zuber screen. But, he’s back in his spot now. I don’t know if he’s going to make it. But, I’m trying not to think about it.


Where’s the headband, Laurel?


Well… I didn’t wear it for the party. I had my party hair and done by Giselle, my favorite stylist at the Dry Bar around the corner. It looked too goofy for this event. But, I wore it earlier today.

Let’s see your party hair, Laurel.


Selfie - Chestnuts Holiday Party 2021

I went all wavy for the party. I didn’t have time for much make-up either. The flush was from running around all day long! So, you can see that the scars from the accident are barely visible now.


Anthropologie candle centerpiece

Here, you can see my tabletop with a beautiful Anthropologie candle; plus, the table runner and new table cloth, and votives. It worked out beautifully, I think. Sorry, this is mid-party and not a staged-everything-perfect-styling.

Lisa, also made a beautiful Christmas punch, but I forgot to take a photo of that and a photo of the meatballs, which I think taste like the ones I had as a child. So, maybe you can see a subtle retro theme going on?

gluten-free chocolate cakeHere’s the cake. THIS, they ate. There was only about a quarter of it left at the end.

delicious no-cook, egg-free rich chocolate creme

To entice you into checking out the recipe, the cake is filled with this sick (the good kind of sick) no-cook, no eggs, chestnut, chocolate, slightly mocha, filling. I’m sure it has a name, but I don’t know what to call it other than pudding. The recipe for this is here, too.

holiday party 2021 textbook fire

Sorry, someone left their backpack behind the chair. I edited it out of the one of me in the chair.


Now, for the fire.


On the day of the party, Lisa and I were working mad and were nearly all set up. It was 4:30. The party started at five. I’m not dressed, and the fire hasn’t been made.

Of course, I can’t find the lighter or the match sticks I have—Grrr… so typical. Ten minutes later, Lisa found them in the kitchen on top of the microwave.




Luckily, I ordered some duraflame logs with the baby meatballs. I stuck one on, added some excellent pine kindling, and with a baby-soft whoosh, the entire thing lit almost like it was a gas fireplace. Then, I added a small apple-wood log also ordered online. Smells great. I added one more log a little later and had a lovely carefree fire for the entire party.

Phew! Dodged a bullet there!

Yankee Gift Swap Holiday Party 2021Here we all are having what they call a Yankee Gift Swap. I gather this is a New England thing. I won’t go into it here. But, everyone had a lot of fun.


A couple more things.


See the chandelier in the entry? See the light bulbs? There are three of them. That was another blinding nightmare. These candles are actually nightlight 3-watt incandescent bulbs. Yep. THREE WATTS is all they are.

I spent some time in the kitchen the last half hour, and there were always at least four other women in there. Could it have been the soft lighting? Or, maybe it’s because that’s where the wine was. lol


Laurel, did you forget about the contractor?


Yes, I forgot. ;]


What did he say? Did he look at you like you had six heads when you showed him your “unkitchen?”


No, he looked at me like I had three heads.

I was just kidding. Actually, he was super friendly and liked my ideas and drawings – a lot, he said.

Therefore, my next step is to write it all out. That will take some time, but I’m going to start working on it on Monday.


Friday morning, I dragged myself out of bed and went to our weekly coffee group at the far end of Beacon Hill.


It’s funny, but I’m no longer “the new girl.” There are two brand new lovely women who live near me, and we all walked over together.

On my way home, I took photos of a few of the gorgeous homes in Beacon Hill on Lime and Brimmer Street. I was going to go out today, for more, but…

one) it was raining

two) it was raining


Beacon Hill holiday door

I believe this lovely is on Lime Street.

38 Lime Street Beacon Hill Holiday 2021 - gorgeous door

38 Lime on the corner of Brimmer St. is almost definitely the most photographed door in Beacon Hill. Of course, it is! And, the owners have exquisite taste.

And then, the three classics on Brimmer Street.

Brimmer Street Red door #1- holiday 2021

Red door #1

Brimmer Street Green door - holiday 2021

The lovely green door.

Brimmer Street Red door #2- holiday 2021

Red door #2.

You can also see these doors in this post about the Doors of Beacon Hill in the spring and summer.

And, from last year in December, this post mostly shows evening shots of the gorgeous Christmas Decorating in Beacon Hill.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post about my holiday party 2021!

And, I hope your holiday season is filled with warmth, great health, and love!



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45 Responses

  1. Christmas?
    That came and went for me when my BLIND elderly cat went missing…for two weeks(!!!)
    He followed another cat to someone’s doorstep and they called me. Thankfully it was someone I’d talked with.
    I put up over 250 posters a mile out and had crawled (through cold and rain) around, in, and under every conceivable spot a cat could hide. I couldn’t breath, eat or sleep the entire time. I’m still in recovery mode.
    So I’m glad SOMEONE celebrated the season!
    You are glowingly lovely despite the last minute rush around! I always say the more food, the better. Hopefully you had some to-go containers to send food away with others.
    Thank you for the music. It’s perfect. And peaceful.
    Happy New Year, Laurel…may it be a prosperous and fun-filled year for you.

    1. Oh, how horrible. I know the feeling, but only for a few minutes, not two weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine. Thank God you got your kitty back! I gather he’s in the doghouse now? ;]

  2. In the words of Lady Mary, “Heavens, we are a party!” And you and your jeweled home were beautiful and brilliant!

    You ended the year on a sparkly note – many thanks!

    Wishing you the treasures of health and happiness in 2022!

  3. Wow! What a fabulous fête! You look gorgeous, but more importantly, you look happy :] How wonderful that you’ve connected with so many friends; that’s a true blessing! Thank you for all you do to share beauty, humor, and goodness in this world. Wishing you a lovely holiday and all the best in 2022!

  4. Hi Laurel,

    What a lovely home you have, and your party looks like it was so much fun! You looked wonderful in your sweet dress! I’m really glad that you are so happy about your move to Boston and that you have found new friends. I think it’s wonderful that you enjoy decorating for Christmas and celebrating the entire holiday season as you wish. Thank you, as always, for the entertaining and informative posts. Happy New Year to you!

  5. Congratulations on a beautiful, successful party! I’m so thrilled that you are happy and settling! You looked beautiful in your dress! Merry Christmas and blessings for your future!

  6. What a lovely success! There’s nothing better this time of year than friends bonding. You in that wonderful dress, and your home just perfectly warm and inviting…gorgeous.
    Thank you for your gifts to us year ’round, and the best of the season to you and yours, Laurel.

  7. Lovely party! Lovely home! And I love your festive and fun party dress. I also love the green and white print pillows on your sofa. Could you share the source, or fabric designer and pattern?

  8. Hi Laurel, It sounds like your party came together beautifully–of course we had no doubts. I agree with Marguerite that vacuum-bagged, shelled chestnuts are great, but if you want to roast them in the shells easily, try my mother’s method: You have to make the X’s in the shells. Then put them in a shallow pan, an old one that you don’t mind burning a bit. Cover the raw chestnuts with water. Heat to boiling and let the water slowly boil away. When it is gone, turn down the heat and let the chestnuts roast and dry in the pan, even until the shells show the first signs of charring, and giving a stir now and then. The result is delicious and (relatively) easy to peel chestnuts. The shells should be dry and crisp at the end, so if some of the nuts are hard to peel, just give them a squeeze and the shells will crack right open.

  9. You’ve marked another milestone with your party – everything perfect. Moving to Boston was obviously the right move. Your flexibility and gift for friendship was essential to such a successful transition.
    My warmest best wishes to you, Laurel, for a happy Christmas and a New year filled with good health, love and laughter.
    , love and laughter.

  10. Laurel you looked beautiful. You make me want to move to Boston. I love that you had such a festive gathering and all the gals appeared to be having a great time.Nothing like a fire, some tasty treats, vino and laughs. Good for the soul. Can’t wait to see your future construction!Healthy and happy New Year!!

  11. You looked absolutely lovely, Laurel, and obviously the party was a great success. That is a killer cake! Warmest holiday wishes!

  12. That dress! You wore it beautifully! You looked fabulous. I felt like I was there, just waiting for my slice of chestnut cake to be handed to me. Haha. Thanks for sharing your delightful event. Merry Christmas. 🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

  13. Laurel, you left me wanting more! Gorgeous, fun, festive. You and the apartment.

    Peace, happiness, and good health in the new year!


  14. Laurel,
    I love your hair that way. Everything looks gorgeous. What a fun night. I peel my chestnuts using the following link. http:judespassions/ cook and peel method. Merry Christmas!


  15. Hi Laurel! What a treat to (vicariously) attend your holiday party! It looks like you’ve made some lovely new friends in Boston, and I couldn’t be happier for you. You’ve surely deserved a life filled with love and peace and friendship.
    Everything( esp. you!) looks wonderful and so enticing.

    Thank you for making my Sundays start on such a high note- I ALWAYS make myself a cup of tea and then go and ‘visit’ with you.
    All the very best to you and your family for a healthy, happy and peaceful new year. Thank you for everything!

  16. Such a beautiful post. You looked lovely and your dress was gorgeous, of course! Merry Christmas and have a wonderful new year!

  17. Laurel, you pulled it off, and you and your home looked great! You could be a movie star and you looked adorbs in your reindeer skirt–so cute! Wishing you a wonderful next New Year, and thank you for all you teach and show us!

  18. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Both you and your beautiful home. You may have mentioned this but where did you get those perfect double lamps n your fireplace? I LOVE them!

    Happy holidays!

  19. Laurel, I like to read your blog post on Sunday mornings with my coffee and I was really anticipating “hearing” about your party this morning. I was so disappointed when it didn’t show up but was delighted to read it with lunch.
    Your festive decor and food look perfect! And your guests appear to be having such a good time. I’ll admit that I had reservations about the reindeer dress but you look so lovely and the dress is pretty. I’m so happy for you that your party was a success and that you have made new friends and a refreshed life for yourself.

  20. Lovely post! I always enjoy your newsy posts as much as the teaching ones. It looks like you had a wonderful time! Everything was gorgeous! I wish I could join the chestnuts, but it would be a looong commute from Ohio. Thank you for sharing, and being a teacher and friend. Happy Holidays!

  21. Your place looked fabulous for the party. So glad you’ve found a great group of friends in Boston. I have to admit that I’m jealous, Laurel! We are in lock down again here in B.C. due to a serge in COVID cases. Max 10 people at personal gatherings with physical distancing observed. I’ve had to cancel my Boxing Day party 😕. Oh well. I’m having a small family gathering for Christmas dinner and making roast lamb because it’s dead easy. Many blessings for a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for another year of inspiration and beauty.

  22. Oh Laurel, I am SO happy for you. What a lovely place you have landed, full of friendly, interesting people, (and excellent medical care,may you never need it!) . Your wonderful home and you look lovely and that table runner will be perfect for all year. I love how one can see people in the mirrored panel of the mantel. Just wanted to tell you that for your next Chestnut event, roasted, shelled chestnuts exist and are available in vacuum packed pouches in both TJ’S and local groceries. They are a key ingredient in a very easy shaved brussel sprout salad from the Wall St Journal, which only has shredded brussel sprouts (TJ’s) , lemon juice, parmesan cheese, olive oil and said shelled , roasted readily available chestnuts. Totally YUM and will be devoured, yes, even by women. I make it all the time just for me. Can’t wait to see your home progress into an even more perfect setting for this chapter of LaurelLife. Wishing you health, joy and Peace to you and your family.

  23. You look absolutely beautiful. Great party and love seeing the familiar, favorite furnishings. I want that rug!

  24. beautiful. Had dinner at my friend Debbie’s the other night. I always enjoy other people’s Christmas decorations, no matter how complex or simple they are. I like my Christmas decorations, too!!

  25. I love that you have found so many ladies nearby for friendships! What a wonderful thing, living in Beacon Hill and strolling around the neighborhood, with good friends to boot. I’m really happy for you, though I know you created this and it wasn’t just blind luck!

    I have a girl’s night game night group, and we are all eaters! Perhaps we know each better and aren’t self-conscious about it, but we have always been a group that isn’t afraid to eat the food. Maybe it’s a Texas thing – don’t hold back!

    Looking forward to the remodeling process and watching you vicariously. It is going to be stunning. Perhaps you can have the same group back next year (or year after) so they can see the changes.

  26. Everything is so beautiful and festive! I love your dress and hair! You look wonderful! Your home is so pretty, and so inviting. Thanks for sharing your party. Best wishes for Happy Holidays!

  27. What a lovely presentation of holiday simplicity and food. More lovely were the smiles radiating from your photographed guests, and then you in the cool reindeer dress. BTW, I purchased the gorgeous table runner you used – spectacular isn’t it?! Thank you for the link in a previous post. So great to see (and hear) you happy! Job well-done, and to share it all to boot, you are a high achiever Laurel. And your scarring appears to have vanished – wow – that is quick. You are a beautiful lady!

  28. The night of your party I was making some holiday preparations and happened to think,”Oh Laurel’s party is going on right now!”, as if you were a close friend. Having been to your neighborhood back in the summer, I feel like I know exactly what you’re talking about. Everybody looks so relaxed and like they’re enjoying themselves. Good job!

  29. Laurel, so happy your party was a success. You’ve made a lot of friends in just one year and your place looks so welcoming and festive. Can’t wait to see the kitchen reno. I always look forward to your blogs. Merry Christmas!

  30. Thanks for letting me attend vicariously! It looks like it was a swell party, and you looked MAH-velous, my dear.
    Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a glorious New Year filled with all your joys.

  31. Great party, and that reindeer dress!

    I would be the fat lady at your party who eats lots of meatballs, drops her backpack behind the chair, and sits on the floor. So invite me next time if you want the meatballs eaten ha ha.

  32. Hi Laurel! Your home looked so lovely for your Chestnut party and you looked gorgeous. I love your hair and the dress is so fun and festive. Thank you for sharing your party photos.

  33. Hi Laurel,
    Getting your home & yourself party-ready can be exhausting. But you seemed to have pulled it off.
    Your look beautiful. Your food looks yummy. And your place looks very festive. I’m so glad you pulled it off.

  34. Your home and party look so festive, and you look beautiful. Most importantly, you look happy. Moving your life was a huge risk, and you stuck the landing. I’m so happy for you. Congratulations and happy new year!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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