Celebrate Wintry Weather With A Moody Dinner Party Look

Disclaimer: I received a free Social Studies x Absolut Espresso Martini kit from Social Studies to try out and review. All opinions are my own.

The inevitable has happened—the thermometer has hit the 40s and 50s, and it is (mostly) staying there. A North Carolina winter is here! While this may not be the best news for some, I am all for these chillier mornings and cozy evenings. The empty silence that winter brings is a welcome respite from the hustle, bustle and leaf blowers of other seasons.

And of course, as winter weather settles in, so does our Christmas decor. Sam and I are slowly building up our Christmas decorations, so our home isn’t all-the-way Christmassy (yet!), especially after moving into a new house this summer. One of those gaps in festivity is our dining room, which, aside from being painted an already fairly festive hue of deep green, has only a Christmas tree-adorned table-runner.

So, I was excited when Social Studies reached out and asked me to try their Social Studies x Absolut Espresso Martini kit. Social Studies creates and rents out these beautiful dinner party sets that include everything you need for a night of fun, except the food. The Absolut Espresso Martini kit looked moody, cozy and just a touch festive—it seemed like a great way to bring some wintry cheer into the dining room, at least for the night.

The kit arrived in a few large boxes the day before the party, and all the decor was safely packed away in them. And boy, was there a lot of decor in there! There was cutlery, dinnerware and serveware all tucked inside, plus table decor and linens and supplies for after dinner drinks (this kit was created in partnership with Absolut, so it was only fitting!).

Once the table was set and our cat Pigeon had only tried to knock off a few things, the dinner party began! It was sweet night shared with a few friends, and was filled with some delicious food and drinks. The Absolut Espresso Martini kit from Social Studies definitely brought the vibe up a few notches, and it was really interesting to see how much a well-set table can change a room.

Ready to rent this look? Check it out on Social Studies’ website. Or, if you want to grab a few DIY tips from this tablescape, keep reading!

1. Get Your Set-Up Done First: Even with the suggested layout that Social Studies provides for its tablescape kit, it still took a while to lay things out exactly how I’d want them. So, I’d imagine it would take even longer if you were piecing together the look yourself. I got the table finished before I started cooking, and knowing that the table was done (even if the potatoes were not!) made me feel like the party was still ‘ready.’

2. Use Candles: I feel like candles should be a requirement at any dinner party between the months of October to March. Not only did they look great, but they make the table feel so much more intimate too. If you can, snag some black candlesticks like the ones Social Studies have. They were such a cool addition!

3. Mix-and-Match: I loved how the table set-up from Social Studies wasn’t all matchy-matchy. It made the table feel much more elegant and intentional. To get this look yourself, use a base color that a few major table items have (like your dinner plates and table runner), and use one or two complementary accent colors that repeat themselves throughout the look.

Please Stop Doing This To Mid-Century Houses

My husband and I are hoping to buy a house at the end of the year, which means that, naturally, I must check Zillow 3 times a week, “just in case.”

While procrastinating on Zillow, I have noticed a disturbing trend among the entry level mid-century ranches that are so common in this area. No, scratch that. I’ve noticed multiple disturbing trends, many of them courtesy of “house flippers.”

Teeny tiny wall remains. Courtesy of Zillow.

Please Stop Tearing Down Walls

Stop removing all the walls! Stop it! Not only are you left with weird little baby walls, you’re also stuck with an empty void of a room instead of what used to be 2 or 3 neat little compartments. Some of us don’t want to have to tune out the clanging and sizzling in the open-concept kitchen while we’re simply trying to read in the also-open-concept living room. And you know what would help with that? Walls. Why is everyone so scared of them?

Hardwood flooring versus scarily-colored vinyl—who will win?! Courtesy of Zillow.

Please Stop Making Ugly Kitchen Updates

Stop making the same 2 updates to every single mid-century kitchen: hideously colored vinyl plank flooring and subway tile with black (?!) grout. Please note that I have nothing against vinyl plank flooring or subway tiles—they are both affordable and accessible ways to bring good design into your home, which I am all about. However, I ferociously oppose flooring that is the color of a sickly tree. I am also vehemently against grout that makes small tile look even smaller, making an already busy space look even busier.

Is it white? Gray? And the darker color: navy? Black? No one can be sure. Courtesy of Zillow.

Please Stop Painting Everything Black + White

Let’s just chill out with the paint, okay? I get that white paint is trendy (and I am all aboard that trend train), but must we repaint everything white? The fireplace, the cabinets, the exterior, the trim, the brickwork, the doors—is nothing sacred? And just as equally guilty is the color black. I feel like house flippers think that adding pops of dull black against a cheap white makes a space look ‘modern’ and ‘edgy’—it doesn’t. It just makes the home look like a Rorschach Test. All I’m asking for is that we embrace a little bit of contrast and texture.

In Conclusion…

I’d like to clarify that I have nothing against renovating old homes—I am not one of those Mid Mod purists whose last words will be “Give me clerestory windows or give me death!” (Though clerestory windows are beautiful.)

I just wish that the renovations that were done didn’t all look the same. This seems to be a problem more with the flipped sub-$300k homes, rather than the pricier ones. Which makes sense, as you would (hopefully!) care more about the details if you were selling the home for twice as much.

All this is to say that in a housing market full of open-concept living areas decked in unnaturally-colored vinyl plank flooring, I’m just a girl standing in the middle of it, asking for some hardwood.

Anyways, back to Zillow.