We are less than 15 days away from the most important and festive 15-day holiday for billions of people around the world. That’s right, Lunar New Year — a time of celebration, gathering with loved ones, traditions and beliefs — begins on Tuesday, February 1 and will welcome the next animal on the Chinese zodiac, the tiger. To help you step boldly into the new year, we’ve teamed up with none other than Peter Som to bring you the Lunar New Year Box — an entertaining kit that includes everything you need to commemorate the occasion in style!
A few weeks back, Peter and our very own Jess Latham hosted a Lunar New Year dinner party with a small group of friends in Brooklyn (where the table was set with the box, of course). Keep scrolling for some swoon-worthy photos and major inspiration…
The hosts and their guests came decked out in their finest “Red & Gold Glam” attire with red symbolizing good fortune and happiness and gold, wealth and prosperity.
Peter, Jess and company dined on friend rice, dumplings, steamed pork buns, steamed Chinese broccoli and hot & sour soup. For dessert? Peter’s Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats, of course! Satsuma mandarins adorned the table (citrus fruits are believed to bring good luck and fortune), festive music played in the background, and good laughs and conversation were enjoyed by all.
Early last month, on a brisk December evening in Nashville, a group of fabulous (and fabulously dressed) women gathered to celebrate the launch of Kiss Kiss, Wink Wink, a funky — and also fabulous — limited-edition rug made in collaboration between Libby Callaway’s The Callaway Collection and Alyssa Spyridon’s Relic Home. The event, co-hosted by Social Studies and aptly named “Surrealistic Soirée”, was truly an affair to remember; here’s how it all came to life…
“I knew that if I was going to pull this party off in the way I wanted to, I really needed to lean into the eccentric side of the theme, while still making it pretty”, says Libby. To achieve this delicate balancing act, the dinner party’s mirrored banquet tables were set with Gossamer — a look that effortlessly blends simplicity (pebble and cream colored stoneware plates) and statement (matte black flatware and candle holders) — and then dressed in quirky yet elegant details.
Vintage French aqua blue wine glasses, a sea of black and white candles in varying shapes and sizes, and small vases filled with blooms created a symphony of color and texture, and elicited audible “oohs” and “ahhs” throughout the evening.
Before sitting down for dinner — an unexpected meal of fried chicken and biscuits by Chef Andrew Carmellini of The Dutch and Carne Mare — guests gathered outdoors for drinks and other delights including tarot card readings courtesy of Hayley Bidez, aka Violet Guide. What commenced was more of a surreal psychedelic fashion show after-party than traditional cocktail hour, with guests fully understanding the “dress to inspire” assignment (a prerequisite for an invite!), each strutting in wearing their finest “Cocktail with a Twist” attire.
The outfits were almost as impressive as the group of badass women wearing them — creative entrepreneurs including visual artists, musicians, fashion designers, vintage dealers, chefs and authors. “My Nashville social circle is full of hard-working women who are devoted to making our community a better place to live, work and have families”, says Libby. The evening offered them a fun and fantastical escape from the day-to-day grind of running businesses, motherhood and the like. The music inspired dancing, the food and drink, delightfully curious flavor combinations and the company, conversation that flowed into the wee hours.
The talk of the party was, unsurprisingly, the rug, whose lips and eyes print was inspired by a scrap of printed velvet left over from a vintage vest Libby thrifted over 20 years ago. “I knew I wanted the design of my rug to have an edge — nothing too pretty or cute. I wanted quirky and cool.”
In my humble opinion, mission accomplished. A product of passion, inspiration and creative collaboration, The Kiss Kiss, Wink Wink Rug is one of those perfect statement pieces: bold, colorful, cheeky — an instant conversation starter and ideal addition to any home, space, or… soirée (#winkwink). Shop it here before it’s going, going, gone!
This Lunar New Year, we’ve teamed up with award-winning fashion designer and beloved culinary creator, Peter Som, to help you ring in the Year of the Tiger in style with our Lunar New Year Box. A one-stop shop of tabletop essentials and decor, this entertaining kit commemorates the beauty and tradition of a holiday that is recognized by over 1.5 billion people worldwide.
Lunar New Year marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar, and is a time of celebration and gathering with loved ones. One of the centerpieces of the holiday is a large dinner where sweet rice balls are served as a symbol of family unity, which is why we’re thrilled to share with you Peter’s take on the traditional dessert. Follow along as Peter teaches our very own Jess Latham how to make his signature Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats…
3 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1½ tbsp Five Spice Powder
½ tsp Kosher Salt
10 oz Mini Marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
1 cup Roasted Salted Peanuts
1 cup Roasted Sesame Seeds
Edible Gold Leaf Flakes (optional)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter for approximately 2-3 minutes, until deep brown in color.
Add five spice powder and salt and stir to combine.
Remove pan from heat and add in the mini marshmallows, stirring until smooth.
Pour the Rice Krispies into the bowl, then add in peanuts and mix to combine.
Form mixture into balls and coat with sesame seeds.
Garnish with gold flakes, serve and enjoy!
For more of Peter Som’s recipes for Lunar New Year and beyond, click here!
This holiday season, Social Studies is partnering with Ketel One Botanical to bring you Winter Blooms, an at-home entertaining kit designed to elevate your holiday get-togethers and awaken all five senses. Please drink responsibly. Whether a water or a Spritz, make your choice delightful.
To help inspire your next purely delightful celebration, we’re taking you behind the scenes as connector, collector and vintage connoisseur, Libby Callaway, preps for a Winter Blooms soirée of her own. Read on to see how she set the table, made the Spritzes, and became the host extraordinaire that she is today.
I did a massive 18-month home renovation that ended two weeks before Covid locked us down. A lot of the reason I overhauled my home was to have enough room to entertain properly. Once I was in, I was ready to start having folks over, until the unthinkable happened. I had been planning to host a massive 50th birthday party here in April 2020, but of course, any big gatherings were put on hold.
Still, I couldn’t resist the urge to have folks over and show them the new space, so I started with one-on-one Sunday brunches, graduating to hosting dinner parties for four to ten folks on my patio. Eventually, those came inside, to the dining room table. I love to cook, so I rarely get things catered. I dig a buffet, so I usually go that route to start and then pass dishes as time for seconds rolls around.
My parents and grandparents all entertained frequently when I was growing up. My mom’s mom—my Granny—was a traditional Southern cook who lived on a beautiful farm that was a frequent gathering place for immediate and extended family. She could make a last-minute lunch from her garden for 40 without breaking a sweat. She and my Papaw also hosted huge covered dish dinners for their church in the summertime that would sometimes attract over 1,000 people. They just set up a long line of picnic tables by the creek, filled coolers with ice, and brought out serving utensils. The crowd took care of the rest. It was truly remarkable to watch them do this, with smiles on their faces. There never seemed to be any angst, just joy that they were sharing their space and breaking bread with others. From them, I learned a lot about grace under pressure and infusing all of your gatherings with kindness.
My dad’s parents’ home was much more prescribed, with china, candle light, and, for many years, service. We always sat in the dining room when we went to dinner at Grandaddy and Mildred’s. While meals at the farm were loose and boisterous, the ones “in town” were more formal, but equally as warm and welcoming. They were my earliest exposure to fine dining, and I loved them for their ceremony.
My mom and dad’s parties could hit on both ends of my grandparents’ entertaining spectrum, but usually landed somewhere in the middle. They still have small dinner parties, which I believe are their preference, but in their heyday, they went big, turning their party-perfect first floor and gorgeous courtyard and garden into gathering spaces. Their last big hurrah was five years ago, when they hosted my sister’s wedding, a backyard dealio for 300. I am a better host myself for having been exposed to my parents’ ways of entertaining.
1) Takeout can look pretty if you plate it in an interesting way.
2) I think the purpose of dinner parties is to mix it up. I always try to seat people next to folks they don’t know. I’ve met some fabulously interesting folks at parties that way, whom I might not have spoken to had we not been sat together.
3) I subscribe to my dad’s maxim of never hosting a party without booze. Social lubrication!
The Ketel One Botanical Spritz is a favorite because of its low alcohol content and delightful flavor. The recipe is easy to make, delicious, and a fresh tasting beverage for all. Plus, that grapefruit and rose petal garnish combination is a taste sensation!
Someone smart, wry and observational – a great conversationalist with terrific style. A 70s or early 80s Susan Sontag comes to mind.
Party song: Dreamweaver by Gary Wright
Dress Code: After 5
Icebreaker: “OMG, I want you to meet someone.” I am a consummate connector.
Best party ever: My 51st birthday “May Day” party, complete with a custom-built maypole, traditional dance, and 45 women wearing long dresses and DIY flower crowns.