Holiday Series: New Year's Eve Dinner Party Hosting Advice from The Pastelillo Lady

I can't believe that the holidays came and past and we are approaching the New Year. I hope that you and your family had a Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and/or Kwanzaa. With the holidays behind us it's time to celebrate the welcoming of the New Year! 


As I wrap up my Holiday Series, I had the chance to sit down over some coffee and chat with Liz Morgan, better known as The Pastelillo Lady. She is an expert when it comes to entertaining and loves to serve delicious dishes to her guests.

Liz Morgan, owner of The Pastilillo Lady

Liz Morgan, owner of The Pastilillo Lady

"Growing up in a Puerto Rican household, eating pastelillos was a treat," she explained. It wasn't until after college while living in her first apartment she asked her mom for her pastelillo recipe. She practiced and mastered making pastelillos. Eventually, people started asking her to make pastelillos for them, then it grew to people asking her to make pastelillo for their events. That was the beginning of The Pastilillo Lady.

If you are not familiar with pastelillos, Liz explains them as Puerto Rican empanadas but the reason they're different is the ingredients. She says she adds olives, onions, peppers, and blend of vegetables with a "secret sauce", then simmers the meat to add to a thick dough which is then pinched and fried. 

The pasteilillo lady

The pasteilillo lady

As she prepares to host her own party for the holidays, she says the look of a dinner party is essential to a successful party, everything from the food setup, music, and good wine & spirits of course. 

Photo by  Joseph Gonzalez  on  Unsplash

There is a specific menu she likes to stick to when throwing a dinner party but she says her favorite dish is pernil, which is a popular Puerto Rican pork dish roasted for 12 hours resulting in tender meat and a crispy skin. 

The Benefit of Having a Party Catered. 

There's a lot of components to hosting a successful party. Confirming your guest count, prepping your home, decorating your home, selecting an outfit, having the right music, and the list goes on. With a long to-do list sometimes preparing a full menu can be exhausting. So I asked Liz, who caters events, what the benefit is to have a party catered. Liz mentioned that although she enjoys cooking she thinks it's important to enjoy your party. When hosting you don't get a chance to sit down and enjoy the food, have a drink and be stress-free. She says the benefit of having your party catered is it gives you the chance to enjoy your company, instead of being in the kitchen. When she caters to her clients she preps, serves and provides as necessary dinnerware. 

Buffet Style or Sit Down

Liz explained that if you're hosting more than 10 people the intimacy of a sit-down dinner is lost and suggests to do a buffet-style. "When I think of dinner parties, you have a table and you have to be able to seat everyone at the table if you can't have everyone sit down at the table do a buffet-style," she told me.

Liz's Top Tips For Serving a Menu For a Large Group?

"Always overcook and purchase to-go containers." Guests are usually happy to take food home. "It's never too much of a good thing. Your guests get to go home and remember their experience through the food," Liz mentions. She also mentions having a variety of food is important because not everyone has the same taste.

"Invest in a server," she says. "If you're not going to have a caterer, invest in a server." She says it doesn't have to cost a lot. It allows you to enjoy the party and your guests. Some of the tasks your server can provide are refilling drinks, serving your guests, cleaning up, and taking out the trash. 

To contact Liz email her at or follow her Instagram Page @the_pastelillo_lady for pictures of her yummy pastelillos!

As I write my last blog for 2017, I want to personally thank you for taking the time and reading my posts. Wishing you the best in 2018!

Bonne Année!

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Holiday Series: Last Minute Dinner Party Decor Ideas

Dinner parties are great moments shared with friends and family over food and drinks. However, before your guests taste your delicious food and drinks it's the decor and ambiance that sets the tone to your party. This is especially key with the holidays. 

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When you're hosting a dinner party, the decor extends past the dining table. It starts from the front door then to the sofa and even extends to the powder room. With the holidays a few days away, I've selected a few simple yet stylish accessories that will set a festive tone before your guests arrive. Some of them you may already have, if not I've attached the links below to purchase directly.

Simple Holiday Decor Ideas. 

Simple Holiday Decor Ideas. 

Wreath. Set the tone with a wreath. This season I am in love with the Winter Berry Wreath. Nothing gives a warm greeting like a wreath hung on your front door as guests enter.

Ornaments. Ornaments can be used beyond your tree. Switch out your coffee table centerpiece or foyer console centerpiece for a bowl filled with ornaments. This will add a festive accent as guests are coming in. If you have little ones you may want to get shatterproof ornaments. 

Layers of Candles. As many of you know I am a candle lover, especially when decorating for a party. Use a series of gold, silver or mercury candle votives on your foyer table, coffee table, kitchen island, and in your powder room for an intimate ambiance. Then use pillar candles on your dining table or tall candlesticks on your dining table if you are having a smaller sit-down dinner. For larger parties, add the pillar candles near the buffet and around the sitting areas.

Festive Accent Pillows. Extend the holiday decor to your living areas by adding accent pillows to your existing sofa and chairs. Remember to mix your pillow sizes, this adds visual interest. For example, if you have a large 20" square pillow add a smaller, square pillow in front of it and a shimmering rectangular kidney pillow in the middle. To shop the gold & ivory sequence pillow click here.

Table Runner. Whether you are using your dining table for an intimate dinner for 6-10 or as a serving surface for the menu of delicious dishes adding a textured or patterned table runner can create the base for your focal point. Click here to purchase the table runner above. 

Tray. A dinner party is the time to dust show off your best serving tray. I love this round, gold tray above because it is the perfect base to hold wine glasses as guests arrive. It can turn a set of simple clear glasses into a festive collection. 

Florals. Add a vase with fresh cut flowers and place on your table runner with your candles. This will add a fresh and organic layer to your decor. I choose a grouping of hydrangeas in a glass vase but you can also re-pot poinsettias as a table centerpiece.

Before you go and purchase last minute decorations, first go through what you already have. The great thing is these items are easy to find last minute and will elevate your party. Please share photos from your parties on our Facebook page. 

Joyeux Noël!

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Holiday Series: Dinner Party Advice from Local Experts

I hope that you had a lovely Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Now that the holidays are approaching the dinner gathering is not over. It has just begun! I wanted to take the month of December and share a series about hosting dinner parties! I personally love hosting dinner parties inside and outside the home. I believe that hosting a dinner party is another way to connect with others to create lasting memories.

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When you are hosting a dinner party there are many components that go into the final outcome. During my Holiday Series blog posts, I will introduce you to different experts, from food bloggers to event planners that will share their expertise, tips, and ideas to help you create an impressive party! 

There's a level of comfort when you sit down with others and share a meal. It brings laughter, cheers, and great conversation in a festive setting. Whether you are having a group of friends over or sitting down with extended family members for dinner the overall setting is important. I am starting off the series by sharing some questions that you should ask yourself before planning.

What is the Purpose? This may be a basic and strange question but I believe that knowing the purpose behind throwing your party will eliminate some stress and pressure. Is it to share your love and appreciation for your closest friends? Is it to show off your cooking skills to your family members? Is it to have a fun holiday dinner with your girlfriends? Or it may be to say thank you to your staff for their hard work all year. Determining the purpose will dictate the formality, agenda, and planning of your party.

What's the Budget?  Yes, the "B" word. Just like starting a design project, before planning your dinner party you have to first decide how much you want to spend. This will determine decisions like, if you hire a caterer vs. preparing the food yourself, hosting at home vs. renting an event space or inviting 20 guests vs. inviting 10 guests. Once you determine your budget then you can start planning the scale of party you can host.

Who Are You Inviting? Hosting a dinner party for the holidays can mean a large or small guest list. This goes back to your purpose. If you just want to throw an intimate dinner with loved ones then creating a guest list of your closest friends and family members is a great place to start. 

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There are a lot more questions you can ask yourself before planning but I know you will find answers from my Holiday Series' Interviews. I hope you enjoy the series and please share pictures of your beautiful dinner parties on my facebook page

Stay connected to my blog for the upcoming interviews!!!

À la prochaine,

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P.S. Is there a question you have regarding dinner parties that you would like answered? Send me over an email at and I'll make sure it's answered in the series.