As any planner knows, coming up with unique decor, food, drink and overall ambience to fit the objective of a gathering is always a challenge, but a welcome one if you do it mindfully and with intention, according to Deb Gee, experience designer with Lululemon.
Weaving the season into events is a great place to start.
“The way the seasons and mindfulness work together is looking at what mother nature offers us—the canvas to work with,” she said. “It’s a beautiful jumping off point to influence and inspire us.”
For Gee, winter is a time of connection and laughter, but also restoration and transition.
“It’s a time when we go from being highly active in summer and fall and get a bit more contemplative, so that inspires me to look at gestures of stimulation and excitement but not overdo it,” she said.
“Ultimately, it’s a celebration of the end of the year—honoring the self in the sense of how far we’ve come, and it’s also about being able to give and receive,” Gee added.
With that in mind, she said it’s important to start with personal daily rituals of mindfulness and bring that awareness and intention into your planning.
Gee outlined several tips for pulling off winter events that set a memorable, mindful tone.
Ambience and Decor
Winter can be a dark time of year, so think of color and lighting versus being moody and broody. It’s a good time of year to do something bright.
For decor, create warmth with throw blankets, some colorful cushions, faux furs and lots of textures.
Place nice oil diffusers in hallways or washrooms with scents of the season, such as peppermint, rosemary, vanilla, pine and nutmeg.
Use food as decor by incorporating lots of real greens, herbs and plants for natural greenery. You can also use dried spices to add beautiful texture and color. For tablescapes, don’t be afraid to mix and match. Use metals, serving plates and spoons in different sizes and consider glassware in different colors.
Food and Drink
One of nicest ways to celebrate is with a family-style feast at a long table, where guests can connect and break bread together. To really challenge your chef, have all of your side dishes be vegan, and then there’s something for everyone. For example, I once did a 1,000-person turkey dinner.
All of the side dishes had to be vegan. I challenged the chef and culinary team to come up with side dishes that had no gluten, no dairy, no meat, and they were absolutely delicious.
For beverages, create a beautiful, festive water station so guests stay hydrated. It’s a time of year for over indulgence, so water is important. Add seasonal ingredients that double as decor, such as cranberries floating in a jug of water or blood orange. Add sprigs of rosemary or mint or lay them out at the water station.
It’s also a beautiful time of year to infuse your ice cubes with fresh herbs, such as rosemary.
Create a bar cart for guests to curate their own drink. If they wanted to have a cozier experience, they could select a lovely spirit and sit in a quiet contemplative space or have bar carts set in areas with smaller, cozy connection spaces for people to mingle over a snifter of brandy.
You can also set up a dark hot chocolate bar with all the fixings. Use natural pieces of wood, bark, pines. Allow guests to curate their own hot chocolate beverage with the ingredients.
Winter is a busy time, so think of gifting people with something they can really use. Some of my favorites are gluten-free banana bread, olive oil, maple syrup and spices for hot mulled wine.
Other great options are essential oils they can put in diffusers like peppermint, or even scented candles, to recreate the ambience of the event at home.
A recovery kit is another great gift for this time of year, with cozy socks, a silk eye mask and bath salts. A cashmere scarf draped over the attendee’s chair is another beautiful touch.
[Related Content: Deb Gee's Daily Ritual Tips for Winter Wellness]