Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module

Cool Yule

A peek inside a Chicago power couple’s refreshingly mod holiday party

For the past four years on Christmas Day, fashion-savvy public relations exec and entertaining maven Amanda Shipp (formerly Amanda Puck, host of WTTW’s Check, Please!), along with her equally groovy husband, Gregg (co-owner of HiFi Personal Fitness) have opened their ’60s-inspired Wicker Park loft to about 30 of their nearest and dearest.

On the menu are three varieties of chili, a snappy signature punch, and a whole lot of style. “We’re traditional in that we love Christmas and we love to share this time with our family and friends, but we live a modern lifestyle, and the way we entertain is an extension of that,” Amanda says. Here is a look at the Shipps’ hip-meets-homey Chili-Chili Bang-Bang party-broken down to its essential parts.

Photograph: opposite mcarthurphotography.com
styling by: Andrée Mcarthur  hair and makeup by: Lillian Sakamaki

cool chicago couple amanda and gregg shipp
Every year, the Shipps bring out their modern white Christmas tree and decorate it with retro ornaments from their youth. The reproduction Eero Aarnio Bubble Chair is festive all year round.

Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa

Bold Missoni china and other colorful touches enliven the tabletop.

The Accouterments

Amanda sets her table with Missoni floral china and limited-edition D.L. & Co. black porcelain plates emblazoned in silver with a 19th-century illustration of a human skull, custom-ordered through Jake. “It’s a tough and pretty look,” she explains. “And of course we love our Chilewich blue placemats from Barneys New York and our Saint-Louis Cristal colored wine glasses from Bernardaud.” The centerpieces consist of crimson and white Gerber daisies from Alice’s Garden, arranged in low vases. “We also set out several of my mom’s crystal candleholders from the ’70s and wrap tinsel around all of it.”

The Warm-Up

As their guests scurry in from the cold, the Shipps greet them with shot glasses full of hot soup-tasty butternut squash and apple bisque.

Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa
Kartell gnome tray
A hand-painted technopolymer gnome stool, designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell, holds aloft a tray full of hot soup.

Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa
The transparent red Ero/s/ chairs, designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell, are from Orange Skin.

The transparent red Ero/s/ chairs, designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell, are from Orange Skin.
Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa
Chili is made in Le Creuset pots, then dished up into floral-pattern Missoni bowls from Barneys New York.
Chili is made in Le Creuset pots, then dished up into floral-pattern Missoni bowls from Barneys New York. Right: A Crate & Barrel wedding-present punch bowl, CB2 glasses. Below, right: Under the photo album, a shaggy ottoman from CB2.

The Spread

Growing up Italian on Staten Island, Amanda recalls that whenever her huge extended family gathered, “the antipasto platter was always insane.” It’s no surprise, then, that the adult Amanda is a diehard proponent of large spreads-or that she married a man with similar leanings. While their main course is chili, the Shipps don’t stop there; they also set out copious hors d’oeuvres, including:

Mini BLT sandwiches on bread from Red Hen Bread
Tuna crostini inspired by Avec. “It’s a fresh tuna salad with tuna from Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop. The tuna is sushi grade, but I cook it all the way through, then blend with a white balsamic vinaigrette, herbs, and some white onion, and serve it on crostini,” says Amanda.
Trader Joe’s frozen spanakopita is their secret weapon. “They’re delicious and so easy-they’re a staple at all of our parties.”

As for the chili part of the bang-bang, the Shipps offer vegetarian, meat, and house-special options, all of which they leave in big pots on the stove throughout the day, so guests can serve themselves. Last year, the special was a spicy Moroccan-style vegetable chili (see recipe).

The Keepsake

After every holiday party, the Shipps order a photo album from shutterfly.com and turn it into a little scrapbook, recording that year’s blowout for posterity.

Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa
shaggy ottoman from CB2
A hand-painted technopolymer gnome stool, designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell, holds aloft a tray full of hot soup.

Photograph: Tyllie Barbosa
fruit punch

The Drinks

The Shipps are passionate about their punch. Every year, they create their own recipe and name it. They make it in advance, making sure the fridge is stocked with refills, and set it out on the kitchen island along with other serve-yourself options. “This way, no one has to tend bar,” explains Amanda. On the cocktail menu this year is a festive mix involving blood orange juice, pomegranate cinnamon syrup, and Snow Queen vodka (see recipe). Naturally, as a punch lover, Amanda loves her punch bowl-a wedding gift, from Crate & Barrel. “It looks like a disco ball and I got these cute little glasses from CB2 to go with it. They were like 99 cents,” she says.

Cool Yule

Recipes for Cool Yule

Share

Edit Module

Advertisement

Edit Module