Inspired by the refined, luxurious feel of an English hunting lodge, we decided to host an English country dinner. Though it may seem like a Christmas dinner party inspired by a traditional English hunt would be time–consuming, it's relatively simple to pull off with a bit of planning, the right basics and a hearty menu. Though easy to prepare, the food is sumptuous and memorable: a classic soup and roast of pheasant, complemented with a rich Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon. Pottery Barn's entertaining essentials make it simple to present and serve the meal with style and ease.
English lodge style originated in the late 1880s when fox hunting became a favorite pastime of wealthy Englishmen. Lodges are typically grand and masculine in style, and very comfortable. Furniture and accessories define rooms within larger rooms, with the dining room often being one of the most dramatic spaces in the manor. Colors, which are decidedly festive, are inspired by the hunt — hunter green, which represents the forest, blue for the sky and rich red for the scarlet–colored hunting jackets. You can recreate this dramatic atmosphere at home by following our stylist's example and using a few design basics from Pottery Barn.
Whether your home is grand in scale or a more intimate size, it's easy ÿ with the right dinnerware and accessories — to create a cozy, welcoming lodge feel however you live. To start with, you'll want to set the scene by paying special attention to English hunt colors, particularly red and green with burnished metallic touches. We chose gorgeous dinnerware notable for its artful mix of glazed stoneware, pewter and colorful porcelain, all in keeping with the lodge palette. A combination of red Cambria Dinnerware mixed with printed porcelain plates, subtle red and green linens, and our weighty Decade Glassware Collection keep the look rooted in the lodge style — handsome, warm and luxurious.
At each place setting, there's a homemade English cracker, a charming party favor that's easy to craft. This is the perfect before or after dinner treat, because when it's "cracked" open, it reveals small candies or trinkets. When accented with a monogrammed tag, it becomes both place card and a memorable party favor. Above the table, a chandelier handcrafted of faux antlers exemplifies the English hunting theme.
In keeping with the attitude of the hunting lodge, the perfect menu features the most tender and savory game meat. With that as a focus, keep the rest of the menu rich but simple with a few classic side dishes. Start with high–quality organic game meat such as pheasant, quail, deer or rabbit. We recommend pheasant because it's easy to prepare yet a rare and special treat for most. Visit your local farmers market for fresh herbs, a winter vegetable such as acorn squash or Brussels sprouts, and many of the soup's ingredients.
How to Make English CrackersHere are directions for making a party cracker using a solid cardboard tube center and white card stock to reinforce the ends of the cracker. The finished cracker measures approximately 10 inches in length and has a fillable space measuring 2 x 4 inches to hold the surprise gift.
Required Supplies & Equipment
Required Supplies & Equipment
1. Insert rollers into each end of cardboard tube. Lay assembled rollers and tube on back of wrapping paper making certain tube is centered across length of paper. Apply a small drop of glue from glue gun to bottom middle edge of paper and roll tube back over glue.
2. Place snap under front (leading) edge of roller–tube assembly, making certain snap is centered across length of paper.
3. Roll wrapping paper onto tube to within a half inch of paper's end. Make certain paper rolls evenly onto tube. With glue gun, run a narrow bead of glue along back of paper about a quarter inch in from top edge. Roll paper over glue keeping glued seam pressed against work surface for several seconds to allow glue to harden.
4. While holding paper cylinder in middle, remove roller from each end of cylinder.
5. Roll end stiffener into slightly smaller diameter cylinder than cracker and insert into end of cracker until even with outer edge. Do not cover snap during this procedure — it must remain free in end of cracker.
6. Spread stiffener out firmly against inside wall of cracker end and glue into place with glue gun. Repeat step on other end of cracker.
7. Using thumb and forefinger, gather one end of cracker between tube and reinforced (stiffened) end. Securely tie a 10 — 12 inch length of curling ribbon onto the gather of the cracker using a double knot.
8. Insert gifts/messages into open end of the cracker. When filling your crackers, make certain you do not push the cracker snap into the center of the cracker.
9. Gather the end of the cracker, as before, and securely tie a 10 — 12 inch length of curling ribbon using a double knot.
10. Check the finished end of the cracker to make certain the snap is located near the outer rim of the cracker and not too far down into the cylinder. Reposition with fingers as necessary. Your cracker is now finished and ready to be shared with your party guests.