So Much to Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through

So Much to Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through

by Thomas Nelson

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Celebrate life's joyful moments with inspiration from Katie Jacobs of!

Create beautiful memories for your family and friends with help from Katie Jacobs, a stylist for Reese Witherspoon's lifestyle brand Draper James. In this essential guide to entertaining, Katie reveals her secrets for throwing fantastic parties for any occasion, from a casual backyard movie night to a lavish holiday party. Using Katie’s inspiring ideas and make-ahead tips, you will be so organized that you can minimize the fuss, enjoy the time, and celebrate too!

Brimming with creative party themes for every season, inspiring décor ideas, and delicious recipes, So Much to Celebrate is the perfect book for anyone who appreciates good times, good food, and good celebrations. 

Katie Jacobs is a stylist for Reese Witherspoon's lifestyle brand Draper James, Pottery Barn, and Beaufort Bonnet Company, among others. A fourth-generation Nashvillian, she's been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living Weddings, Nashville Lifestyles as well as on Inspired By This, Fashionable Hostess, and The Scout Guide. Katie is also a photographer, graphic designer, and foodie. Learn more on Katie's food and lifestyle blog,

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718075194
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 03/06/2018
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 724,771
File size: 50 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Read an Excerpt




Warmer weather ushers out the long, cold days of winter, and sunny days are a welcome friend that everyone rejoices in. The season's clean slate and fresh blooms inspire parties featuring lighter menus and sunny decor. Tablescapes displaying natural elements bring the outdoors in, showcasing the earth's beautiful bounty.

There's nothing more blissful than enjoying the first flush of lovely weather with the ones you love. My favorite way to spend a springtime afternoon is with my daughter, Emmaline, at the botanical gardens, giggling and watching the geese as we sit on a vintage quilt laid in the grass. We love to pack a picnic of simple sandwiches, fresh fruit, and lemonade and bask in the sunlight for as long as possible.

Whether you're enjoying an intimate outdoor picnic for two or a porch-side dinner party for ten, spring's cheerful sun-filled days are reason enough to celebrate.


Sometimes inspiration comes in the most unexpected places. Last spring I toured a local design showhouse and noticed that nearly every designer had incorporated beautiful, lush green ferns into their spaces. Not only is greenery a simple way to breathe life into an interior, but for me, it sparked the idea for a fresh and simple spring luncheon. Invite your girlfriends for a chic ladies' luncheon featuring relaxed white linens, fern centerpieces, and a delicate lunch to celebrate the new growth that will soon be breathing life into the long, cold days of the past winter season.


I always try to host events that are both elegant and relaxed. In lieu of traditional plates, I used wooden paddles to serve soup and sandwiches alongside petite white macarons. Crystal candlesticks with long white tapers peeked through lush ferns planted in a collection of vintage white pitchers, and champagne was served in handblown glass flutes. Everyone loved the watercolor and calligraphed place cards that were attached to fern branches casually draped across each place setting.


When throwing a party like this one at your own home, don't be afraid to rearrange a room or two to achieve the desired look. Change up your seating by adding a bench. Don't worry about silverware and glasses matching perfectly, and plant ferns in white containers that you already have — pitchers and colanders make for elegant and unexpected centerpieces.

Switching out art or having something new made specifically for the affair will take your party to the next level. I splurged and commissioned the watercolor and calligraphy painting "Over the River and Through the Woods" to use for the invitations. Then I framed the painting and placed it above the fireplace for the party.


While the decor often takes center stage, the food is what guests will really remember. Be sure to coordinate your offerings with the theme of the event. Zucchini soup with crème fraîche and cilantro, cucumber tea sandwiches with lemon and dill, vanilla bean macarons, and homemade coconut cake not only mimic the green and white decor, but will also leave your guests gushing. paired with cucumber water, fresh green tea with mint, and champagne, toasts will abound.


Luncheon items are super simple to make ahead. I like to set the table in advance with plates and bowls, and then during the party, when everyone is seated, I serve the warm soup to each guest by pouring it out of a pitcher. Tea sandwiches can be made the morning of, and a cake the day before. Put out beautiful glass pitchers filled with tea and water so guests can help themselves.


This recipe has become a year-round dessert that always feels appropriate for any function-snowy in the winter and light in the spring. At our wedding, in lieu of a traditional wedding cake, my husband, Brent, and I chose fourteen different 9-inch round cakes in various flavors. Each cake honored a member of our immediate family and was displayed on a tree stump or antique cake stand. The bride-and-groom's cake was a coconut cake that was adorned with my grandparents' antique cake topper. This cake (with cream cheese icing and a hint of almond extract) always takes me back to our wedding day.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
Makes 1 cake, approximately 12 servings

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, and mix until just incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of the coconut.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.

5. Transfer the pans to a wire rack. Once the cakes are cooled, invert them onto the racks, then reinvert, top side up. Cool completely. While the cakes are cooling, make the icing.

6. To make the cream cheese icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extract. Add the powdered sugar, and mix until smooth.

7. To assemble the cake, place the first layer on a serving platter. Using an offset spatula, spread the top with ¼ inch of icing. Top with the second layer, another ¼ inch of icing, and then the third layer. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the remaining icing, and cover with the remaining coconut.


Exceptional days, like birthdays and Mother's Day, require special attention. There's nothing like making breakfast in bed to show someone just how much you love him or her. It's a beautiful break from the regular routine and the perfect way to start a day of celebration.

My family loves to curl up in bed together. We usually pile in and watch a movie, or if it's someone's birthday, we all jump in together in our pj's and open early-morning gifts. On Mother's Day I'm treated to breakfast in bed that we all end up sharing. Since I'm the one who loves to cook in our house, I usually give my husband a little help by making pancake batter ahead of time so it's ready and waiting in the fridge for him. I've also been known to set out a breakfast tray the night before as a hint!


Make this pancake batter ahead of time, and store it in the refrigerator so it's ready to pour on the griddle first thing in the morning. You can also cook the pancakes, let them cool, and freeze them. That way it's easy for little hands to pop them in the toaster to heat up for a special breakfast.

2 cups all-purpose flour
Makes approximately 18 pancakes

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk, 6 tablespoons butter, and vanilla until combined. Whisk the yolk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy.

3. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk until medium peaks form. Mix half the egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula. Gently fold in the remaining whites. The egg whites should not be fully incorporated into the batter. Store the batter in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use, or use it immediately.

4. To cook the pancakes, heat a griddle until hot, about 350 to 375 degrees. Add the remaining butter to the hot griddle. Add ¼ cup of the pancake batter, and let it set. When bubbles begin to form, lift the pancake; if it's golden brown, turn it over. Cook until golden brown on the remaining side.

5. Transfer the cooked pancake to a plate, and keep it warm. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Garnish with fresh fruit, and serve warm with maple syrup.


Ask me what my favorite holiday is, and Easter is my immediate reply. When I was a little girl, I always looked forward to wearing a new Easter dress (some years even included a matching hat), the Easter Bunny bringing baskets full of gifts and candy, and lunch at my grandmother's house, followed by an Easter egg hunt in her garden. Easter evokes images of children loading baskets with candy-filled, pastel-colored eggs hidden in the yard, so why not host an Easter egg hunt that's all about the kids? Easter is the perfect time for family to come together to celebrate the rebirth and new life that come each spring.


I invited friends and family over for an afternoon of sweets, and I decorated child-sized tables so the kids felt right at home. I set each place with mini Easter baskets and place cards made from handblown watercolor eggs. Kids loved finding their seats, and I sent the baskets home with each child as party favors.

Deciding on decor was easy. I wanted to celebrate the abundance of spring by decorating with bright and pastel Easter egg colors and using fresh flowers like cherry blossom branches, tulips, and daisies. I grew wheatgrass in glass containers to resemble a springtime lawn and tucked in a few speckled eggs to bring the Easter egg hunt to the dessert table.

Nowadays, most people can take high-quality photos right on their phones. Take advantage of this and put together an Easter Day photo "booth" so everyone can take pictures in their Sunday best. Use a brightly colored sheet or tablecloth as a backdrop, and decorate the edges with fresh garland and ribbon. I adore the halos made of ivy and daisies that my friend Steve McLellan made for the girls to wear for photos and during the egg hunt.


When you're hosting a party that includes a large activity (like an Easter egg hunt), keep the menu simple. Time these events in between meal times. A midafternoon social means you don't have to plan a large menu. Sweets or light snacks will suffice. Just be sure to include an idea of what you plan to serve on the invitation so guests know what to expect and don't show up expecting a meal.


I put Easter Bunny cupcakes at each place setting for the kids to dive into as soon as they arrived. Chocolate eggs held in egg-shaped candy dishes didn't last long, and a speckled hummingbird cake thrilled adults.

When we headed outside for the egg hunt, I surprised guests with extra treats—Sweet Darling Patisserie's Flower Cart filled with macarons. After everyone had their sugar fix and picture made, the kids ran wild collecting eggs scattered throughout the yard. Parents gathered outside as every last egg was snatched up!

If it's not in your budget to have dessert catered, make your own tiny creations and display them outside on a table topped with cake stands at varying heights. Lemon whoopie pies with lavender icing (page 44), brown butter Rice Krispies treats (page 47), and key lime coconut bars (page 93) will delight kids and adults alike.


This Southern cake has become one of my family's favorite Easter traditions — maybe because it's my favorite and I make it each year. Isn't that how all family traditions begin? I can assure you that no one's complaining!

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Makes 1 cake, approximately 12 servings

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour four 8-inch round cake pans.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

4. In a separate bowl mix together the banana, pineapple, pecans, and coconut. Add to the egg mixture, and stir until well combined. Add the flour mixture, and blend well.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.

6. Transfer the pans to a wire rack. Once the cakes are cooled, invert them onto the racks, then reinvert them so they are top side up. Cool completely. While the cakes are cooling, make the icing.

7. To make the icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, and mix until smooth. Divide the icing evenly between two bowls. Add 2 to 3 drops of blue food coloring, if using, to one bowl of icing, and mix until the color is evenly distributed (add one drop at a time until you reach the desired shade).

8. To assemble the cake, place a layer on a serving platter. Using an offset spatula, spread the layer with 1/4 inch of white icing. Top with the next layer, and repeat the process until all four layers are stacked. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the remaining white icing to create a crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake until the icing is set. Ice the sides and top of cake with blue buttercream, and smooth it using a warm metal spatula.

9. To make the speckled decoration, in a small bowl mix together the cocoa powder and vanilla. Stir well until the cocoa is completely dissolved and the consistency is like thin chocolate paint. Cover your work area with wax paper. Lightly dip a basting brush or new paintbrush into the chocolate. Holding the brush with one hand, gently flick the bristles with your other index finger to splatter the chocolate paint. Practice first on your wax paper until you get the hang of it. When you're ready to start speckling, hold the paintbrush fairly close to the cake, and start splattering. Move up, down, and all around to completely cover the cake. Top the cake with decorative eggs.


Excerpted from "So Much to Celebrate"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Katie Jacobs.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction, ix,
Fairy-Tale Fern White Linen Luncheon, 2,
Breakout: Breakfast in Bed, 8,
Easter Egg Hunt, 10,
Mother's Day Tea Party, 18,
Breakout: Brides Who Brunch, 24,
Fourth of July Pool Party, 50,
Backyard Movie Night, 56,
Breakout: Hostess Baskets, 62,
Milkshake Social, 64,
Autumn Tailgate, 98,
Breakout: Wine-Tasting Party, 106,
Pie Party, 108,
Harvest Picnic, 119,
Breakout: S'mores Bar, 127,
Gingerbread House Decorating Party, 158,
Whiskey Tasting, 166,
Breakout: Gift Giving, 172,
Cookies and Cocktails, 174,
Breakout: Kids' Parties, 179,
Menus, 204,
Acknowledgments, 205,
Sources and Credits, 206,
Photo Credits, 209,
Recipe Index, 210,
About the Author, 214,

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So Much To Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
LivingaFitandFulllife More than 1 year ago
Celebrate joyful moments with So Much To Celebrate by Katie Jacobs from Thomas Nelson! As someone who loves hosting family and friends over for joyful occasions, So Much To Celebrate by Katie Jacobs from Thomas Nelson is right up my alley. This book absolutely beautiful and looks wonderful displayed. I also love that it's filled with fun ways to entertain. The photographs are beautiful and I love that it gives me new ideas for my next party. So Much To Celebrate by Katie Jacobs from Thomas Nelson is a terrific book for those that love to host! I received this book for free in order to post my honest review. All opinions are my own.
connywithay More than 1 year ago
“It is my hope that the family suppers, holiday parties, and informal gatherings found in these pages will inspire you to live a little more life together with the ones you love,” Katie Jacobs’s writes in the introduction of her book, So Much to Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through. ~ What ~ This two-hundred-and-twenty-four-page oversized hardbound targets those who enjoy entertaining throughout the year. Containing approximately 70 recipes, the book has full-color photographs of prepared food, entertaining suggestions, and decorative displays gracing its pages. After an introduction, this book is divided into 4 sections of the year’s seasons. Each season contains 4 to 5 entertainment ideas with 1 to 2 of them including “breakout” topics. Averaging 17 recipes at the end of each section, the back of the book has menus, acknowledgments, sources and credits, recipe index, and the author’s biography. Most of the suggested entertainments begin with overall information that often includes the writer’s personal experiences, followed by Get the Look, The Menu, and Enjoy the Party divisions that are short and to the point. The recipes also begin with a paragraph with the ingredients listed in used order along with serving size on the right side of the page and numbered paragraph directions on the left side. Occasionally, there are highlighted Make It Ahead tips. ~ Why ~ This book is geared for those who love to host, cook, and entertain. I like cookbooks that have colorful photographs of completed dishes, and this book does that for every recipe. Some of the notable recipes are hummingbird cake, lemon whoopie pies with lavender icing, peanut butter pretzel milkshake, peach Caprese salad, key lime coconut bars, orange ricotta donuts, charcuterie platter, pomegranate Thai chicken enchiladas, salted caramel chocolate pecan pie, chicken and bacon corn chowder, and peppermint cheesecake. ~ Why Not ~ Those who do not entertain or have a caterer design and run their events may not be interested in this book. Some may feel the book is limited as it only offers 17 recipes each for spring and summer, 20 for fall, and 15 for winter, covering the gambit of breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and drinks. The decorating recommendations are sparse and generalized. ~ Wish ~ I wish the book listed preparation time as well as caloric content as many of the recipes contain high fat and high carbohydrate ingredients. I was surprised Thomas Nelson is promoting a book that has strong alcoholic drink recipes that involve champagne towers, margaritas, wine-tastings, and whiskey parties. ~ Want ~ If you want to entertain or throw a party and need assistance putting the meal plan and decorations together, this may be a good book for the newbie or one looking for alcohol party plans, but it will offer only a few new ideas and recipes for the seasoned entertainer. Thanks to the Blogging for Books for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.