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Guest Author: Zainab Alsalih of Carousel Events

Tips for Entertaining
During the Festive Season

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Ambiance and Décor

Creating the perfect ambiance is very important while entertaining.

Your guests should always feel like a tremendous effort was put into planning the party. No detail is too small to be overlooked. Setting the mood for the evening will start from the minute they walk through the door.


Lighting should always be warm and not too bright. I rely a great deal on candlelight; you can never use too many candles. Candlelight bathes the area in a warm hue; it’s soft and comforting. 


When it comes to décor, you need to have a theme in mind so that it does not look haphazard. You need to have a common element to tie in your decorations whether it’s a personalized element or a colour. Flowers, herbs and fruit are a great way to decorate your dinner table. 

How do I create a festive atmosphere?

It’s very simple! All you need to do is introduce some festive colours in your centrepieces and napkins. Again, using seasonal herbs and fruits such as bay leaves, chestnuts, pinecones and winterberries is a very inexpensive and beautiful way of getting into the festive spirit.

Keep it simple!

Sometimes we tend to overthink our dinner parties but we must remember less is more. Your menu should be rich in quality not in quantity. When it comes to décor, work with what you have around the house - you would be surprised at what you can come up with. When it comes to your flatware and glassware do not be afraid to mix it up. It's OK to use different metals, colours and patterns as long as they are coordinated.  You can always apply a creative ‘mix and match’ approach. Instead of flowers, which can be costly at times, use citrus fruits in pretty bowls and vases to decorate your table and twine with rosemary sprigs to add a beautiful touch to your napkins.


Your menu ultimately depends on the format of the party that you are planning on hosting.

If you are planning an intimate party, where everyone is seated at a dinner table, then a plated dinner and/or family-style sharing platters of main courses, side dishes and appetizers would work nicely If, however, you are planning to invite a lot of people and you simply cannot accommodate them all on a dinner table, or the atmosphere is more relaxed where people are lounging and standing around, then you would have to consider serving finger foods and canapés which are easier for people to consume without being seated at a dinner table.

Canapés and Finger Foods

Canapés and finger foods are the rage at the moment, from mini tacos, sliders, pizza bites, and mozzarella and tomato skewers; these little creations will not only wow your guests, but also make for a more fun party atmosphere. We find more and more people trying to stay clear of formal affairs and sit-down dinners. People love to eat, dance, and socialize rather than be confined for an hour-and-a-half to a rigid table for the duration of the meal. Last but not least, always make sure to include a few vegetarian options.

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About Zainab Alsalih and Carousel Events

After having a fruitful career in banking, Zainab tapped into her creative flair, founding Carousel Events in Dubai in 2008. Carousel is a bespoke event design and wedding planning company based in Dubai . It has become the Platinum standard in event and wedding planning and has grown to international acclaim through events such as Engage20! Dubai.

One of the most respected international authorities on luxury events, Zainab has been featured in renowned publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Martha Stewart, and Vogue. She is a regular speaker at global wedding and event conferences.

Through Zainab's attention to detail and her personal grace, Carousel has become one of the most highly sought-after and recognized boutique wedding and event design firms in the world. Most recently, Zainab has introduced Carousel Casa to her long list of accolades. 

curated gift sets and local treats

Charcuterie Boards (handmade)
Charcuterie Boards (handmade)

Charcuterie Boards (handmade)


Custom boards are now available in heat treated maple (left) and walnut (right) wood and in both shapes shown in photo (left: large, right: medium with handle). Handmade in Vaughan, Ontario. Slight variations in colour and wood grain are normal as these are made of natural wood.

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