Holiday Cheer Chat with Alice Fay

The Holiday’s are officially in full gear, and if you’re anything like me, you’re wondering how your going to throw the best get together of the season…on a budget, in an apartment, with not much to offer. Thanks to the fabulous Alice Fay, Fairmont Chicago’s resident Martha Stewart extraordinaire and Wedding Specialist, people will be drooling over your ability to host in such a
spectacular way! Alice shares her advice for prepping a party in a small apartment and her tips & tricks are sure to make planning this years gathering a breeze!

Alice’s personal, annual Cookie Exchange has inspired Fairmont Chicago to begin their own annual Chocolate and Cheer Cookie Exchange (more info. here) This is a definite, do not miss, event this Holiday Season!

Before our Q&A, get to know Alice a little better:
“Ms. Fay recently served as Catering Manager of the historic The Fairmont Copley Plaza and has also worked at luxury hotels in St. Louis and Washington, D.C. From gala weddings to intimate social gatherings, Ms. Fay has the event-planning expertise to produce breathtaking special occasions. She prides herself on getting to know her clients so well that she is indispensable, allowing them to enjoy an excellent experience that is seamless, sophisticated and stress-free. Furthermore, Ms. Fay serves as a wedding expert in the media, including providing planning advice on, a food and entertaining website. She also recently served as judge on the Throwdown with Bobby Flay series on The Food Network.”

Event by Alice Fay at Fairmont Chicago

We all know that the Holiday gatherings can get awfully expensive- when decorating for a party, where should you save and where should you splurge?

Use items you already own and love…don’t buy paper plates, pull out all of your fun dishes and use them, fill a favorite vase with seasonal fruits, cookies or the leftover trimmings from your tree as decor. You can never have too many votive candles, they make every event festive. Splurge on rental glasses if you don’t have enough…bonus is you don’t have to wash them!

For the bar, come up with a fabulous signature cocktail, have some beer and wine – you don’t need a full bar. For the cocktail, either have a batch pre-made or set out the ingredients with a little how-to-make menu card.

Try to make as much of the food as possible, it can be so expensive to purchase pre-made items and guests appreciate anything homemade – it doesn’t hurt to be married to a chef to pull this off!

What are your tips & tricks for entertaining in small apartments?

Think Breakfast at Tiffany’s…the more, the merrier! It can be hard to move around freely, re-arrange furniture and use every surface to display food and drinks. Put signs next to all of the food items so that you don’t need to explain everything to each guest. Place nice, large baskets around with a little tag “Dirty dishes here please!” – this keeps everything looking neat and tidy.

What is your favorite Holiday to decorate for/entertain for? Why?

Absolutely Christmas! Everyone is happy during the season of giving! I started having an (almost) annual Christmas gathering back in the early 90’s and it has evolved over the years and is now known as a “don’t miss” event! I love a theme and I carry it through. I’ve been doing woodland birds for the last decade or so – I keep everything natural and woodsy and there are birds everywhere, I even decorate penguin and chickadee cookies for my cookie buffet.

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What do you love most about the Chocolate and Cheer Cookie Exchange?

What’s not to love about wine, chocolate and cookies?? It’s the perfect start to the most wonderful time of the year, I especially like that it is a play on my personal favorite part of my own party, a giant cookie buffet with an opportunity to wrap up some sweets in a beautiful package and spread the cheer. I have a friend who makes up a package for her hairdresser each year!

What are your tips & advice for people trying to break out in your industry?

Be detail oriented, creative and enthusiastic – for the most part, we’re planning fun events – have a great time and be informed of what is happening in food and beverage, be relevant and inspiring!

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