Date: December 3, 2019 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
A lively collection inspires a laid-back holiday gathering
It doesn’t take much to transform JoBeth McElhanon’s west Little Rock home into a winter wonderland. With a base of neutrals and greens, the addition of a few pops of red and an abundance of nutcrackers make the place come alive for the holidays.
However, JoBeth, owner of event styling company Lilias & Olive, hasn’t always leaned on the classic Christmas color palette for the holidays. “I’ve had really neutral Christmas décor for years where everything was gold and white, maybe with some gingham,” she says. But when her 3-year-old son, Harrison, took a shine to her nutcrackers last Christmas, she couldn’t help but go with it. “I had not gotten them all out and displayed them like this in a really long time, but he just loved them,” JoBeth says. “The red in them really dictated the colors I used.”
To that end, JoBeth used the collection—displayed both on the entry table in the foyer and on the kitchen table—as a kick-off point for an easy holiday gathering. “I wanted something very simple; something where you could ask the neighbors over and tell them to bring their kids,” she says. In addition to a nutcracker centerpiece on the kitchen table, she used a paper table runner and placemats for quick clean-up. On the menu are an ice cream-based punch and iced muffins, both of which are perfect for a morning gathering anyone can pull off in the midst of a busy month.
Around the Table
The table and chairs in JoBeth’s breakfast area are indicative of her timeless aesthetic. The classic bamboo-back chairs once sat around a glass-top table, which she recently swapped for this wooden style. “Once we had a toddler in the house, we pulled in a farm table, and I mixed that with a bench that was easy for him to sit on,” she says. “This was also the first year we didn’t use a real garland, but faux. Things evolve once you have a family.”
Cast of Characters
JoBeth’s first nutcracker (seen on the far right of the kitchen table display) was given to her by her mother at age 11. “It was the first year to have The Nutcracker ballet in my hometown, Blytheville, and I played Clara,” she says. Over the years, she has been gifted more soldiers to add to her collection and picked out a few she thought her husband and son might like, as well.
For the tabletop, JoBeth was inspired by the classic ballet’s Land of Sweets. “There’s a lot of different candies representing the different dances,” JoBeth says pointing to chocolates, coffee candies, and peppermints scattered on the table. “When I’m planning an event—whether it’s for work or at home—there’s always a story, and I like to hide little bits of that throughout the design,” she says.
Quick-and-Easy Peppermint Mocha Punch
1 pint peppermint bark ice cream
1 pint chocolate ice cream
3-4 cups cold brew coffee (Tip: Use decaf for kids!)
whipped cream, peppermint sticks, and sprinkles, for garnish
Scoop ice cream into a large bowl and cover with coffee. Stir until slightly melted. Serve topped with whipped cream, peppermint sticks, and sprinkles. Sip and enjoy!
Spruce up store-bought muffins with homemade icing! Find JoBeth’s recipe for Brown Sugar Cinnamon Icing on our blog.