Kicking off the Holiday Season with Sonoma-Cutrer Wines & A Favorite Things Party

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This post brought to you by Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards. The content and opinions expressed below are that of 11 Magnolia Lane.

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they can also be stressful and busy. It seems like I always have intentions of doing much more entertaining than I actually accomplish. This year I set out to change that by getting a jump start on the season with a special pre-holiday Girls Night Out.


I hosted a “Favorite Things” party for my girlfriends in conjunction with Sonoma-Cutrer Wines, and it was the perfect way to kick off the holidays. If you haven’t heard of a “Favorite Things” party, you ask each guest to bring the same small item, something they consider their “favorite thing”, as a gift for each of the other guests. I kept my guest list fairly small to keep the total gift expense down and limited the gifts to $5 each. It was an absolutely fabulous way to spend some good, quality time with the girls just before things get really crazy.

Entertaining can be stressful so I made sure to keep this as simple of an event as possible. I already had festive holiday decor in my Dining Room and I purchased most of the food, because there is too much to do right now to spend the day cooking! I served Sonoma-Cutrer wines, which have always been among my very favorites, offering both the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. It can be hard to select a wine to serve when entertaining, you don’t have to be an expert at ‘wine tasting’ to be confident in these wines, these are exceptional, high-quality wines which my guests loved.

The menu was “girls night out” friendly, I had some spanish tapas-style cheeses alongside grapes and crackers which paired nicely with the lighter Chardonnay. I also served some heavier appetizers like a baked brie with bread and my favorite goat cheese crostini {the best three ingredient appetizer ever} which went perfectly with the Pinot Noir.


I also served some traditional hot appetizers like spanikopita and feta tarts, these were simple as they just needed to be heated in the oven. Of course we also had desserts including a lemon tart and a variety of cheescakes. Both paired perfectly with the Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed while we relaxed and opened the gifts.


Since I knew each guest would be receiving a pile of new things to take home, I made a personalized tote bag for each of the guests. I purchased these inexpensive navy greek key totes at Michael’s and added a large gold monogram from our ETSY store.


Not only was each gift unique, each guest had created their own spin on their packaging, you can see all the creativity displayed on my Dining Room table. After we finished eating and catching up, we each took a turn sharing what we brought as our “gift” and why we selected it.


The gifts ranged from gourmet chocolates to a scented candle, framed bible verses, coffee, monogrammed coffee mugs and jewelry. Waking up the next day was a bit like Christmas morning with having all these new little treats to enjoy!

This party is definitely among my new holiday traditions. While I still have a long to-do list for the coming season, having some time to relax with friends, catch up AND enjoy some new treats was a spectacular way to kick off the holidays. Pairing these beautiful wines with the event was just the icing on the cake for the evening, it made my role as hostess simple and easy.



There is enough to stress about during the holidays, but selecting a wine isn’t one of them. If you are entertaining, or just need a perfect hostess gift or holiday gift, the Sonoma-Cutrer wines are perfect. Add a pretty bow, and you’ll be set with a lovely gift. You can even Shop Online for Sonoma-Cutrer Wines, perfectly simple!

The holidays can be a blur, in a good way of course, so taking a night to slow down, enjoy some lovely wine and good friends was the perfect way to kick off the season.


Here is part two with more about the gifts for the party. I am sure some of you are curious about the “favorite things” gifts that were exchanged.

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  1. Amy, We, I kid you not, had the Cutrer Chardonnay at dinner last night. It is a really Chardonnay, not oaky with some nice fruit. Great party idea. I can’t believe you can host a Christmas party before Thanksgiving. You must be the most organized person in the world.

  2. Such a great idea, Amy! Of course, your decor looks beautiful and the timing perfect since the room was ready. I’m so glad you shared the wines too ~ always interested in recommendations. Your appetizers sound delish! I’ll be looking forward to reading more about the gifts. Everyone had such beautiful ideas for wrapping.

    Enjoy your Sunday!

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