Inspiration found; an ornament exchange party / by Suzanne

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Next week we're hosting an office party of 30 people in our home. I know what has to be done but I need inspiration.

One snowy evening last week I bundled up and headed a few blocks away for an ornament exchange party at Cindy's. Inspiration found.

Every year in early December for the last ten years Cindy's been welcoming about 20 neighbourhood moms into her home. I wrote about it here and here.

Having a camera makes you pay close attention to elements that make any gathering a pleasure to attend - good lighting, good company, delicious food and drinks, and a host enjoying herself.

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Welcomed, warm and cozy inside. Fire, lots of greenery, ornaments, candles and lights.

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Offerings of wine, fizzy water, and a special drink - cranberry juice and champagne plus naughty drink markers.

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Savoury eats are served from the beautiful walnut topped island in the kitchen - pickled this and that, canapés, delicious cheeses, fresh figs, grapes, nuts, crackers and an inspired vegetable tray.

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Desserts are served in the dining room. Some are sneaked away in napkins for children's lunches the next day. Cindy doesn't mind.

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We end the evening with the ornament exchange. It's an opportunity to give and receive with added elements of randomness and surprise - the drawing of the numbers from Cindy's hat and then deciding which wrapped ornament to choose from under the tree, not knowing what's inside.

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