A Winter Engagement Party

My computer and I have been enjoying time apart over the holidays. Remember all that kitchen time I was missing earlier in the month? Well I’ve made up for lost time this past week.

I’ll be keeping this short because I still have a house full of family, kids and dogs, but I wanted to share a few photos from the engagement party Danny and I hosted for my sister and his brother recently.

It was the perfect excuse to throw a party and I had so much fun working with a rustic winter theme – right down to the vintage toboggan that I turned into a buffet table. Whether you are hosting a winter dinner party or a big New Year’s Eve celebration you’ll find some good ideas in this post.


Why use a sled? Why not? We scrubbed it spotless, propped it on wooden crates and set up the entire buffet of finger food on its wooden base. It worked! Just one more example of how you can work with what you have when entertaining.

We feasted on a cheese platter with homemade cheese crackers and fruit crisps, shrimp cocktail with my horseradish sauce. Classic Gruyère Gougères were served, of course, and spicy sweet potato samosas. Maple-glazed, bacon-wrapped chicken skewers, mini meatballs, and a generous vegetable crudité with homemade hummus wrapped up the buffet.

Winter sangria party punch

We went through two gallons of my Winter Sangria with Citrus & Pomegranate. If you’re on the fence about making this for your New Year’s Eve celebration, do it. It’s a real crowd pleaser.

A Winter Home Bar | Simple Bites

We offered craft beer, select wines and a variety of non-alcoholic drinks, and kept them cold in a galvanized tub filled with ice. I had rented some stemware to ensure we had enough to go around and we had guests label their glasses with a non-toxic wine glass writer.

A Winter Engagement Party | Simple Bites

There must be cake at an engagement party, right? I used my Lemon Layer Cake as a base for this tiered engagement cake, only I whipped two tubs of mascarpone into the lemon curd for a filling. A simple adornment of fresh cypress was the only decoration.

A Winter Engagement Party | Simple Bites

For the cake topper I slid two costume rings onto mini deer sheds (Christmas tree ornaments, actually) and added a little more greenery. All in all, the actual cake decorating took about five minutes and my sister loved the final result. I love rustic cakes!

A Winter Engagement Party | Simple Bites

For a simple decoration, we tucked winter greenery and cranberries into jars, topped them up with water and floated a tea light on the top. We scattered them around the house and lit them just before the guests arrived. The overall effect was pretty – although the tea lights kept going out for whatever reason.

A Winter Engagement Party | Simple Bites

On one of our morning walks, I gathered the winter greenery above and arranged it in a enamelware bucket for a rustic bouquet. I was on the fence about the whole thing (hideous or charming?) but my sister convinced me to let it be. We did add three blooms from the florists for a pop of colour.

After that, the guys hung string lights, we picked a playlist for the Sonos sound system and the party was on! It was a fabulous time.

Congratulations to Miranda and Michael. They are perfect for each other and we couldn’t be more excited for them.


We’re going to be ringing in the new year with friends and our kids in a casual gathering that will probably include homemade pizza, fireworks, ice cream and board games. The boys are excited to stay up late, although I doubt if they will make it until midnight.

For more inspiration, here are 8 Fun & Simple Ways to Entertain on New Year’s Eve.

How will you celebrate the New Year?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Wait. So your sister is marrying his brother? That’s so neat!

  2. What a wonderful party idea. I loveeeee that black dress!

  3. Looks like a beautiful party! I love the cranberries and greenery 🙂 And how fun that you sister is marrying Danny’s brother!

    We will be celebrating with friends from church, but will likely be ringing in the New Year at home with just my hubby and myself after we put the kids down. NO WAY they last until midnight at someone else’s house! 😉

  4. Lovely! And if your sister & hubs have children, your kids will be “double first cousins” : )

  5. Looks such a fabulous party! Hurrah for Mike and Miranda!

    It’ll be a quiet New Year’s for us- good food and a bottle of Nova 7 and each other.

  6. I LOVE after Christmas day parties….it stretches out the season- we are having an open house this Sunday

  7. What did you use for the outside of the cake?
    I know you left it plain when you used for baby shower. So instead of the piped frosting and lemon curd you used the whipped the Marscapone and the lemon curd this time.

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