Nearly sixty years ago (and don’t tell her I said that), my mother Fleur arrived to New York City from Stockholm, Sweden and began a sacred family Swedish Christmas tradition. Stuffing sixty people into her small L shaped apartment, Fleur and her Swedish roommates (all of them Stewardesses for Pan American Airlines) doled out Swedish meatballs, salmon, herring, and glögg — warm, mulled wine which dangerous alcoholic. The party helped my mother survive her first Christmas away from home and her family. Having grown up with this tradition, I started it myself upon marrying Marc.
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Each year, we invite our dearest friends to a Swedish Smörgåsbord! I love hosting the party since it essentially forces me to get organized for Christmas. I do more baking, cooking and decorating than at any other point during the year. We’ve gone as high as 60 guests. This has required renting tables, chairs, plates and even cutlery. Meatballs have been burned, and potatoes have been left in an oven that was never turned on. But get enough alcohol and holiday cheer into people and they don’t seem to mind this minor mishaps.
Swedish Christmas Party Decor
Like Fleur, this year I confronted our family’s first Christmas in a foreign land. As happy as we are here, I miss a lot of things from home. I miss the proximity of family, venting with my close fiends, the energy of the NYC and its dynamic people. Our party was comprised mainly of newer friends who I have met over our past five summers here. Since we arrived less than two months ago, I lacked a lot of the crucial elements needed to host a dinner of this size. Two days before I scoured the stores frantically in search of frying pans, napkins, sheets and candles — you get the picture.
Here you see photos of this first Barcelona Smörgåsbord. Traditional Christmas dinners allow you to go all out with decor! On our tables, I placed white IKEA twin sheets (yes, and this is certainly a no worry solution), red IKEA runners, IKEA candelabras (mine cost under 10 euros each – love that), and some of my family heirloom ornaments including wooden Dala horses from Dalarna. Some red berries in simple water glass completed the look. I wavered between red napkins and these linen ones, which I purchased from Zara home, and decided to go for the linen since it added a more muted, contrasting element.
We had three tables in total and 30 people, 10 at each.
Meanwhile, things were bustling in the kitchen. I baked a double recipe of almond cookies and made the meat mixture for 120 Swedish meatballs, which I fried in butter a few hours before the party. I waited to add the creme for the sauce until an hour before; this helped the meatballs stick together.
The day of the party, two couples sent these gorgeous flowers. Floral arrangements here tend to include an assortment of leaves, creating a very natural look.
In keeping with prior years, I asked each couple to bring a dessert for our dessert buffet table. A good friend whipped up a gluten free carrot cake! This is a fun tradition since it takes the pressure off the host, involves the guests, and allows everyone to sample a few different sweets.
Several hours later, the guests seems satiated with food, wine and conversation.
To top off a wonderful night, the parents of one of Lachlan’s friends sent us this lovely card.
When the last guest left, I fell into bed — exhausted, happy and grateful.
This holiday season, even if you feel like an amateur cook (like me), try something new. Throw a white sheet on your table, stick some candles on there and a few ornaments (if you don’t have anything in particular , and invite over another couple, a neighbor or some of your girl friends. Entertaining warms the home with the spirit of the holidays. Once your friends have left, you’ll have the memories for months and years to come.
Enjoy the holidays and make sure to enter our IKEA giveaway below!
With love and gratitude,
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