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Hosting for the Holidays with Burn & Bloom

We got the chance to hangout with our good friend Kelsie from Burn & Bloom and watched her work her magic as she set the table for a holiday home dinner party. We chatted all things hosting & got to spend time at her beautiful home in Costa Mesa, California. Her passion and love for hosting and saving a seat for someone is inspiring and comes from a place that is raw & real. Her tips on hosting go beyond the size of your space and are helpful for anyone in any season of life.
Read through to learn more about Kelsie & tips on hosting at your home during the holidays.

Let's start with an icebreaker question, what is your favorite artist right now, or most played playlist?

Oh, good question! This is going to sound so cliché but truly my repeat playlist these days is my very own Burn + Bloom one on Spotify! I created it for background music during my events but as people kept asking about it I've made it a public playlist and my personal fav, that you can listed to here :) Currently looping the song Grows Old by Third story.

 

Tell us a little about yourself! Where do you call home etc?

Costa Mesa, California is where I happily call home. A dream that became a reality 8 years ago. Although raised in the Midwest (Michigan), I was born with a West Coast heart. I still drive around town with a silly smile on my face just because I am so grateful to live here. I'll be in dead stop traffic doing a happy dance because I'm stuck on... the PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY! My mom and sister followed shortly after -- calling ourselves winter refugees :) I live in a 1950's beach bungalow with my love, my fiancé, my baby daddy, Max Cutrone and our two year old baby boy, Levi Blume. What sold us on the house was the backyard. It's at least twice the size of the actual house which meant double the hosting space and as an Event Designer + Planner it meant a permanent place to play!

 

 

When did you know you had a love for hosting & the design and creativity that comes with it?

 

I have always been the party person amongst my friends so to no one's surprise I made it my full time job. I've been an entertainer since childhood :) Oh, the embarrassing and endearing stories my family could tell you. In my early adult years I was the one asked to host or plan friend's birthday parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, and any kind of social event. I've co-led summer camps, facilitated a month-long accredited class to Ireland for college students, and on my own accord, random weekend getaways + road trips, sister excursions to South Africa, van life in Australia, a series of mountain top outdoor dining experiences, the list goes on! It might be because I'm a 7 on the Enneagram. It might be because I was simply made to live life to the fullest. But after traveling the world over, I've come to find that for me... a full heart is a full table.

 

 

From candles and florals to tapestries and linens to handmade ceramics and eclectic glassware to mouthwatering food in front of you or a chilled glass of bubbly in hand, my love affair with it all is only to facilitate these moments... when the outside world fades away and you, maybe for the first time that day or that week, are present. With your tastebuds. With your friend next to you. With the sound of a crackling fire in the background or a cackling family member a few seats away. Where the entire purpose of the evening is to simply be where you are. To savor. Not only the food but the fellowship. This is where true connection can be found. To first drop in and then pour out. How often this can be achieved if only we prioritize it. Sunday night suppers, monthly get togethers, or even a dinner for two. Never underestimate the power of the table. As Reagan said, all great change begins at the table. And I must say, the table has changed me.

 

Several years ago, I began intentionally hosting and designing dinners after planning my own wedding actually. Except my wedding day never came. It was one of the hardest seasons in my life where I walked away from a relationship, and a life that was so dear to me. On the "big day", instead of putting on a white dress, I slipped into a floral one. Instead of walking into a reception, I walked onto a deck overlooking Topanga Canyon with a long table filled with my closest friends. We toasted to what was, and what wasn't. Recognising that fires in our life ultimately bring forth new life. From burning to blooming, we all cycle between the two, season after season. This is what inspired the name of my business, Burn + Bloom. And it was this powerful moment I decided to intentionally set the table on a regular basis, for all. To rejoice with those who are rejoicing and to mourn with those who are mourning. Connection became my driving force. Creativity, my therapy. Authentic conversation, primary. A broken engagement turned into hundreds of new engagements, at the table, with men and women around the country, and the world.

 

 

What are your top 3 tips + tricks for hosting?

  1. Thrift! If you want to host your friends but are short on dinnerware (like I was) head to a local second hand store! This is where I have gotten most of what I have. Everything is roughly a buck each and you can find some rad one-of-a-kind pieces that make your table stand out and your bank account stay intact!
  2. Not great in the kitchen or can't afford to feed all of your friends? Have everyone bring a dish to pass! I've found it's fun for guests to bring something and by the end of the night people are swapping recipes and sharing stories behind their grandpa's legendary baked potatoes.
  3. Forage! Grab your kitchen scissors and head out to the neighbour's... I mean... your garden :) I love picking what's in season, which blooms are best or greenery that's rich in colour. I'll grab clippings from the guys trimming a tree down the street or even picking fruit to add to the tablescape.

If someone said, I have a small home, how can I still be the hostess with the 'most -est', what would you tell them?

You know the saying, size doesn't matter! I love picnicking in a park, golden hour at the beach, and front or backyard hangs! If you're in a small space and the weather isn't hospitable, do what I do! Moroccan style around the coffee table :) My home is so small we literally cannot fit a table inside. Thankfully our backyard is huge and we live in Southern California so we use our outdoor table heaps but on those chilly evenings and for a more intimate setting, we pull some pillows around the coffee table and we sit on the floor, the couch, wherever, and make it work. Some of those evenings have been some of the best. Don't let space, size, season, or your savings account deter you from hosting a dinner party :) And remember you are the hostest with the mostest because of who YOU are. People are coming to be with you, not to be wow'd by your culinary expertise or floral design. They want to spend time with you and are honoured to have received an invitation :)

 

 

How do you stay grounded in this busy season & with hosting many people?

Ah, yes. So quickly rituals and sabbath can go out the window with the holiday season near, to-do lists extending, and relatives in town. For me staying grounded is sacred space that must be prioritized. I cannot give what I do not have. May that be my energy, my time, my attention, my love. Especially having a toddler running around, quiet moments are rare. With boundaries, I build time into my day where I can pause and be present for myself, so then I can be present and show up for others. I used to be a morning person until my little guy became one so now before bed is my check-out to check-in time. I turn my cell phone off, I read through a little meditation book I'm going through, take two minutes of silence + stillness and pray. This actually helps me sleep so much better too! Hosting truly is so life-giving to me so I very rarely feel drained after, I usually am filled even more, but that is with having time alone each day. If I was running on empty I would burn out so quickly. We must fill ourselves so that we can overflow to others. What fills your cup?

 

 

You and your family are so beautiful! What holiday traditions do you have ~ are there certain things woven into the way you host?

Thank you! Well, we are a very new family so traditions of our own haven't quite gotten their groove yet but the last two years we have hosted Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and it has been a JOY! On Thanksgiving we have everyone write down something they're thankful for and then put it in a jar. Then during dinner we pass the jar around the table and each person takes a turn pulling a slip of paper out and reads it aloud. We guess whose it is and then whoever wrote it has the opportunity to then expand upon it if they want to. It turns into a beautiful evening of storytelling and gratitude. I love moments like this that draw us back to the heart behind the holiday.

Thank you Kelsie, for your words, sharing your heart and truly inspiring us to set the table to matter the occasion.
~
The Slowtide Team
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