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Emily Henderson

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by Jess Bunge
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Welcome back, guys! (If you missed my first post yesterday, head here). Okay, so I did the impossible and had more than two people in my apartment at one time. It was thrilling, fun and most importantly full of holiday cheer (the extent of which might have been aided by the multiple servings of holiday adult beverages). Like I said, fun day. But let’s back up for a sec. When Emily asked if I wanted (in addition) to shooting my apartment for the holidays, throw a little party, my initial thought was, “Sure, I have missed having an annual holiday party.” But then I stopped and asked myself, “can I comfortably fit enough people to have a real ‘party’??” I decided that I wouldn’t let the space restrictions of my home restrict my inner holiday party animal. So now without further ado, welcome to Bunge’s Banging Holiday Bash (working title).

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I know I talked about our fun with the cocktail portion of this event (which I will get to in a minute), but first, I want to discuss the other very important part of a small gathering…the food. Aside from that stunning cake Julie made herself (and yes Sara conducted an official British Bake Off review in which Julie received a handshake; I have never seen the show but I am told that is the response you want), everything was purchased from my favorite grocer, Trader Joe’s. Maybe you’ve heard of it??

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I want to make it clear that I am NOT a cook or someone who even enjoys cooking. So back when I lived in New York, my roommate and I threw an annual “Classy Holiday Party” (which ironically usually never ended up very classy. I blame her grandmother’s fisherman’s punch). She was in charge of food and drink and I was in charge of decor. A true dream for me. However, I live alone now and had to do it all (okay Julie really helped but I had to think everything through). My initial stress luckily lessened the closer I got to the freezer section of TJ’s and the goat cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates and brie-en-croute entered my cart. I then wanted to make a small cheese board. We picked out two kinds of cheese (one soft and one hard), an assortment of sliced meats (came in a variety pack), salami, rosemary nuts, seasoned olives, honey and my favorite rosemary raisin crackers. I really like rosemary. Lastly, to make sure we had a least one veggie, I made my favorite brussels sprout saute kit. All easy and affordable.

HOT DECOR TIP: Vary the heights, materials and colors of your serving platters and bowls. The marble stand and marble lazy susan were perfect because the material spoke to each other but the heights were difference. Then the gold bowl picked up the gold in the marble stand and the black two-tiered stand (no longer available) added some much-needed height and contrast to the whole look.

Are you ready for a drink yet?

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Unless you have a straight-up “wine only” gang of friends then do yourself a favor and batch at least one cocktail. Trust me when I say it’s a huge space and time saver during a party. For my shindig, in particular, I was pretty darn excited when I found the perfectly sized beverage dispenser for my open bottom shelf. Small spaces are always a challenge, so really try and look at your space and think creatively. Maybe there is a surface (like in mine) that you might not have previously realized is a great opportunity for a “party station.”

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In case any of you are wondering what that delightful cocktail is, it’s called Jingle Bell Cranberry Paloma by the ever-talented Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. It was super easy to make but I do want to disclose that to get the dispenser that full (with no ice) requires a lot of servings…like upwards of 24. But her site is insanely useful and you just put in the servings you want and the recipe automatically adjusts. No math required.

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Also in memory of my old holiday parties, I made mulled wine. Again, seriously so easy to make and also very affordable. Thank you cheap red wine. Here is the recipe I used from Gimme Some Oven. Guys, it’s foolproof and makes the whole space smell amazing. What is also amazing is that beautiful and super affordable cast iron dutch oven.

But now let’s get to the party and a fun game if you are into that sorta thing…

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There’s my normal face! (You’ll get that if you read yesterday’s post). Now, I just want to be clear that I have no favorites when it comes to my wonderful coworkers, I just literally couldn’t fit all of us in the space and have enough room for Sara to work her camera magic. Also, the rest of the crew came over after work so no food or drink was wasted in the making of this blog post.

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Recently, while listening to Whitney Cummings’ new podcast, Good For You, she talked about the Freudian Subconscious Test (I don’t think that’s the official name) that her therapist told her to do with her dates. It’s incredibly fun, usually very accurate and probably best played with a close group of friends…or I guess a date to get some eye-opening intel. We played it and couldn’t stop laughing. Guess who said a monkey?? Ha, I’ll NEVER tell. What happens at a Bunge Bash, stays at a Bunge Bash. It’s also why I have a notepad. I don’t take random notes during parties, I promise. Here are the three questions:

1. Favorite animal (not your family pet)?

– List three reasons/adjectives why.

2. Favorite article of clothing?

– List three reasons/adjectives why.

3. Favorite body of water?

– List three reasons/adjectives why.

The animal is supposed to represent how you see yourself, the article of clothing is supposed to represent how others see you and the body of water is supposed to represent how you view sex. Spicy, I know. Again, best with a small group of friends and will likely tell you what you already know but hey why not have a fun conversation starter?! It’s a party, after all.

In case you are in need of some entertaining tools and a little decor, here is what I used:

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1. Glass Modern Beverage Dispenser | 2. Serving Spoon | 3. 2pk 10″ Taper Set of Candles | 4. Stoneware Salad Plates | 5. Marble Serving Stand | 6. 5qt Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven | 7. Rough Aluminum Bowl | 8. Marble Lazy Susan | 9. 5pc Flatware Set | 10. Ladle | 11. Natural Acacia Dip Bowls | 12. Copper LED String Fairy Lights

A party like this is an easy and great way to spend a little more quality time with the people in your life that you care about. So hop on over to Trader Joe’s, stock up on those brie en croute, grab a bottle (or two…or three) of cheap red wine and talk about your innermost selves. It will be a blast and likely no one will get emotional…unless I’m there because I sort of have a reputation for being sentimental. It’s a genetic issue I’m working through. Anyway, I hope you have learned some party tips or were reminded that throwing a small party can be easy and most importantly fun. If you have any great tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years, please leave them in the comments. And once I live in a non-city-sized home, I will have you all over for round two. Shall we call it Bunge’s Banging Holiday Blowout? Title recs are also welcome. Happy holidays everyone. 🙂

Love you, mean it.

***photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp, styling by me with help from the one and only Julie Rose

  1. Cute post, Jess! I love seeing your lovely little apartment! More, please:)

  2. The party looks like a great sucess. I’d love to know where the black candelabra is from ?

    1. Jess!!! I absolutely love everything about your nest! You have created such a warm, comfortable , sweet home. Never apologize or feel bad about living in a small space. From
      my experience, almost everyone is drawn towards those places! There is something innately comforting being together a little closer! I bet your spot is where all your friends love to be. Thanks for letting us have a peek~ Happy Holidays❣️

    2. I’d love to know where the black candelabra is from too. It’s such an interesting piece.

    3. Yes, I’d love to know where the candelabra is from too. It’s such an interesting piece.

    4. yes, i’m obsessed by that black candelabra! so beautiful!

    5. It was! The candelabra is from Ferm Living and i love it so much.


  3. Love this post! And how you’ve decorated for the holidays – so cute. Can’t wait to see the bed nook!

    1. Thank you!

  4. Hot tip: if you like mulled wine but cringe at the thought of simmering away its precious, precious alcohol, mull cider and then add wine to each cup as you serve. In the result: (1) your beverage remains festively boozy; (2) adding room-temperature wine brings the cider to a drinkable temperature immediately; (3) you don’t have to add sugar because the cider is quite sweet; and (4) your guests can adjust the cider-to-wine ratio to meet their preferred levels of sweetness and booziness (including zero booze, for the non-drinkers).

    1. ohhh this is smart!

    2. agreed! so smart



  6. This is so helpful And beautiful! The party looked so festive and warm and welcoming! I’m definitely drawing inspiration for a Christmas gathering we are hosting. Separately, I really appreciate you and your guest with no shoes!!! Can we do a blog post about entertaining and asking guests to remove their shoes? In other cultures it would be rude to walk in wearing your shoes. In the U.S. it feels rude asking people to take them off? What’s a girl to do?

  7. Did I miss the second post yesterday? Of your kitchen decked out? I can’t find it.

  8. Such a perfectly timed post! I was just wondering how I was going set up a party we’re hosting. This helped me envision it better and I already bought the drink dispensers from Target! I love the decor and the whole apartment design. Everything looks special and personal but in a relaxed, unfussy way. Same with the holiday decor. Great job and thank you!

  9. I love this post and your party tips. Never let a small space stop you from hosting! I live in a small urban house, and most of my friends have bigger houses in the ‘burbs, but I’m still always the one to host. I think it’s because I don’t pressure myself to be perfect (it never will be) and accept that being together is the most important part. I’d also suggest that it’s cool to assign a dish to a friend or two. We all have those foodie friends who love to bring things! This supplements the amount that you have to provide, adds variety, and encourages social interaction around the dishes that people bring.

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