By Laura McAlister
With three young children, entertaining isn’t always easy for Katie Baker Bolton. But she doesn’t let that stop her.
Her Vestavia Hills home is the site for many parties, and with decorations she’s collected over the years and a few easy go-to recipes, entertaining is simple, she said — even when she has a 16-month-old, four-year-old and eight-year-old to keep up with.
“We do like to do a lot of entertaining,” said Katie, who owns Bakers Lamps & Linens along with her mother, Diane Baker-Clelland. “It’s chaos. I try to work on things after they go to bed.
“It’s always a last-minute throw-it-together, but it’s fun. And when you’re entertaining other people with their children, they’re pretty forgiving.”
Both Katie and her husband, sadfd’s, families love to entertain. So throughout the years, the couple has collected lots of decorations for different themed parties.
Most recently, she set her home up for a Halloween get-together with a sit-down dinner served in the dining room and a dessert bar in the kitchen.
To get her home ready for the fall holiday, Katie placed both real and artificial pumpkins as well as potted mums around the front door, which is covered with a faux black spider web. It’s more economical, she said, to have a mix of fresh and artificial pumpkins, especially when you’re dealing with 90 degree weather in October.
For her Halloween dinner party, she decorated her dining room table with a simple color palette of black and white, with cheerful touches of orange and purple. The centerpiece was a cauldron filled with mums and flanked by candles – some with a simple black and white stripe, others in Halloween colors.
The place settings were made up of whimsical black and white checked Mackenzie-Childs dishes atop silver ceramic chargers. To keep a light feel to the setting, Katie used black and orange cloth napkins with beaded napkin rings.
“I just love those dishes,” she said. “They’re just kind of fun, festive and light-hearted.”
To keep the dinner uncomplicated, Katie said she usually chooses basic hors d’oeuvres like Texas caviar, a black-eyed pea salsa, that can be made a day ahead. A raspberry salsa sold at her shop is also a hit with party guests, she said.
For the main course, they often grill outside. The home has a large back porch and pool area perfect for gatherings on cool fall evenings.
“We do grill a lot,” Katie said. “It’s just easy, and there’s not as much mess to clean up.”
In the kitchen, where guests usually end up congregating, Katie set up a dessert station on her kitchen table.
A simple strip of burlap fabric served as a runner. Katie combined potted flowers with cut ones to reduce the cost of her centerpiece. The potted plants also leave her with something to use after the party is over.
“I used cut roses and potted pansies, because after the party I can just put the pansies on the front porch or wherever,” she said. “I actually used glass and wire candle holders to put the roses in. I like using natural things.”
A broomstick-riding witch hanging from the chandelier above the table completes the Halloween theme in the kitchen.
While a dessert bar may sound daunting, Katie said it’s easy with a few simple treats and recipes.
One of her favorite dessert recipes is for brownies. Katie uses a store-bought mix – she prefers Ghirardelli – and prepares it according to the instructions on the box. Instead of baking the mixture in a cake pan, however, she uses a mini-muffin pan. Before baking, she places a Rolo in the center of each brownie.
“They’re so good,” she said. “It’s my go-to recipe, a real crowd pleaser.”
She added Halloween staples, like candy corn and store-bought slice-and-bake Halloween cookies, to complete her dessert bar.
While the majority of Katie’s party decorations are in the kitchen and dining room, Halloween decorations can be found throughout the house.
In the living room, a large, furry spider is perched on a painting over the fireplace, and glittery purple candles and small pumpkins decorate the mantle.
Katie said their decorations seem to grow along with the family each year.
“We’ve really just collected a lot of stuff over the years,” Katie said. “I try to add a few at a time each year. I might wait until the end of the season, so I can get the best deal.
“We just like doing it. All our families enjoy entertaining.”