Christmas Delights - Festive Hosting with Very Vanilla

I am so excited for the festive season and all the opportunities it brings for getting together with family and friends!

As an avid, self-confessed feeder – if you ever come to dinner at our house you will know that what should just be a single main course, turns into multiple dishes, sides and accompaniments – and when it comes to dessert, I always like to make sure there’s something for everyone – not to mention dessert after the dessert (because everyone needs a macaron and shortbread with coffee, right?)!

My innate love of hosting has undoubtedly spilled into my work, and one of my favourite things to create are generous, styled dessert tables that are full to the brim with a delicious mix of flavours and textures. So, it was a huge treat to create this festive afternoon tea party – Prop Options style – using the full Original Scandinavian Birch range!

I love this natural wood range – the stands are elegant in shape yet relaxed in style, so they lend themselves brilliantly to every type of venue and are hugely popular with my couples as well.

For this set up, it was my first time using the cupcake and afternoon tea stands – and I love that the same natural elegance and skilled craftmanship has gone into the structure and style of these statement display stands too. Careful consideration has gone into how each tier fits together, with seamless screws, and both are generous in tier sizes and the space they offer between each tier – no squished cupcakes or awkward arm twisting required!

The cupcake stand is extremely generous in size making it a brilliant statement cupcake tower in place of a traditional wedding cake – and it’s strong enough that you could also place a cake on the top tier without worry – or as I have used it here featured within a dessert table displaying all manner of delicious, sweet treats.

After spending a very fun afternoon playing with these gorgeous stands, I wanted to share some of my top tips for making the best use of the Birch range this festive period – whether you’re hosting for a crowd, just yourselves or creating a cosy, decadent dessert display for a winter wedding!

1. Give it some shade

I opted for dark wood because I love the rich, deep contrast of this shade against softer, neutral tones – the soft beige linen tablecloth provided a brilliant canvas to showcase the stands beautifully. Think about layering additional colours too – in this set up, the rich green tones from aromatic Rosemary and pine added a touch of freshness, alongside the fresh clementines, and I added some dusky pink candles to keep the whole feel light and soft.

2. Play on heights

Use different height stands to create focal points on the table – Prop Options stocks a fantastic range of birch cake boards alongside their stands. These come in the same finish as the pedestal stands. I use these underneath cake stands and serveware to create extra height. If you start with height at the back of the table and cascade down, your guest’s eyes will follow this same elegant sweep of all the delicious items they are about to dive into. It’s worth remembering that Prop Options also creates bespoke heights too, so you can purchase different height stands – and their Birch stand bundles come in different height and tier options.

3. Dessert grazing for all the senses

As is the case with wedding cake flavours, there are guests who naturally gravitate towards something tich and decadent and others who prefer something light, so when thinking about which dessert items to make, I always try to include a lovely mix of both. Also try to incorporate textural aspects – for example, adding shortbread and white chocolate soil to a soft lemon posset, to provide light relief and balance against the heavier elements.

Whichever Prop Options cake or display stand you choose to grace your dining table this festive season, I hope you have the best time celebrating, get to relax after what I know will have been a hectic season and have some time to recharge ready for everything that 2024 brings!