Caring about family and friends—and helping those in need—can change our lives forever. For Jackie and Mitch Nathan, spending time with loved ones and giving to charity are what bring them the most holiday joy. The satisfaction they get from doing good helps make the season their favorite time of the year.
“It’s our family and longtime friends that make the holidays so special,” says Jackie. “We love to spend time with them and make memories as well as help others in need.”
Based in Davie, Jackie is sponsorship sales/business development director for the Food Network & Cooking Channel’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, and also an event/sponsor manager for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Mitch is an attorney and sports agent with a specialty in basketball for the Creative Artists Agency, handling on- and off-court projects for big-time basketball stars like former Miami Heat point and shooting guard Dwyane Wade and current NBA players from top teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic.
Jackie and Mitch were just toddlers when they met—through their mothers who were living in the North Miami area. They later reconnected at Cooper City High School and began dating, continuing their relationship through college at University of Florida. “When we started dating, our parents also reconnected,” Jackie says. “Mitch’s mom even showed us ‘mommy and me’ photographs she had saved from back then. At that point, I knew that this relationship was meant to be.”
In 2013, they married in Aventura. Both had demanding high-profile jobs that kept them moving around the country. Much of their work requires travel—Mitch has clocked 100,000 miles in a recent year; Jackie takes three to four annual trips—so their marriage can be hectic. “Some years we have been like ships passing in the night,” Jackie says.
But their lives changed after becoming parents. Their son Ryan,18 months, is now their top priority, with both sets of supportive grandparents stepping in to help when travel or work interfere with parenting. “Our parents are amazing and super with Ryan,” Jackie says. “We are blessed.”
When they are home, Jackie and Mitch manage to find time for entertaining, hosting at least 10 parties a year; every other weekend when possible. “Hosting guests is similar to how I service and represent my basketball clients,” Mitch says. “I anticipate their needs and remain hands-on like we are in a fox hole.”
Many of their close friends are also from as far back as elementary and high school. “We love that our friends have been the same for much of our lives,” Jackie explains. “Entertaining them is a passion whether it’s casual and small like a Saturday afternoon grill, or more formal and sophisticated for a dress-up at night. Our parties are full of life—never stuffy or boring.”
For the holidays, the Nathans have continued the traditions that each learned while growing up in a home with parents who regularly entertained. Mitch says his parents often threw theme parties, and always December holiday bashes. “My mom and dad love and appreciate the setting for a party and took great pains to put the rooms together properly so the guests feel engaged and happy,” he says. “It was all about being inviting and comfortable.”
For Jackie, the holiday parties in her parents’ home were filled with warmth, love, and connection. She remembers decorating her parents’ house using snowflakes and dreidels that she made in school, and gathering around a big table for everyone to dine together. Her mom made brisket and pecan pie, her grandmother baked Magic Bars (crumbles, coconut, and chocolate chips). To preserve the memories, they always took pictures in the backyard. “My parents’ home was a place where people liked to be invited to celebrate the holidays,” Jackie says.
Adds her mother Denni Eisen: “Our most valuable moments were when we celebrated the holidays together in our home. This was always important and meaningful to us, and we love seeing the tradition continue with the next generation.”
Now that they’re throwing parties of their own, Mitch and Jackie host events in their beautiful indoor/outdoor home separated by floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to the patio and swimming pool. It’s a team effort: Jackie decorates, sets the table, and makes sure guests are comfortable, while Mitch serves at the table and always takes down everything at the end. “I like to keep my wife happy,” he laughs. “It is easy for us to entertain together because we grew up with the same values.”
For their latest event, the couple invited a group of close friends to their outdoor “Winter Wonderland” theme. The decorations, created by Kelly Murphy of Events on the Loose with help from Richard Grille Events, included silver inflatable holiday trees, modern snowflake collectibles, large white lanterns, romantic candles tinted with golds and blues, and an earthy Menorah. “We went for a beautiful holiday feel that was not over the top,” Murphy says. Various sitting vignettes and conversation pits—high top tables and chairs and wicker couches—were spread around the deck so friends could talk while remaining safely socially distanced.
Each year during the holiday season, Jackie and Mitch’s party benefits No Kid Hungry, a national campaign run by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit designed to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world. This is a charity close to Jackie’s heart: It’s a beneficiary of some of her festival work, and a cause she believes in. She asks her guests to make a direct $50 donation through a social media charity page.
“We are all fortunate that we can feed our families and share in these celebrations,” says Jackie. “It is a small way we are able to give back to people in need during the holidays. It makes us all feel good.”
As guests surrounded the patio, Mitch ushered everyone to the bar for the evening’s signature Champagne sparkler with rosemary and pomegranate.
“The Nathans are great hosts because they are so giving,” says Phil Bottfeld, CEO of a Florida real estate firm. “I have known them for a long time, and I can tell you that they are genuine.”
Guests mingled and munched on a yummy appetizer of assorted cheeses including triple creme brie, gorgonzola, and manchego mixed with pomegranate, honeycomb, and figs arranged on an artisan cheese platter by chefs from Peacock’s Pantry. “We picked these cheeses because they work well with the Winter Wonderland theme,” says chef Danielle Peacock.
For the dinner, Murphy’s romantic tablescape was reminiscent of a snowy scene from a rustically elegant cottage in the mountains of North Carolina. The coastal table made of reclaimed wood whitewashed to offbeat perfection was a perfect scene-setter with Napa whitewashed wood chairs. “Our idea was winter with a modern rustic bohemian theme,” says Murphy of the 15-foot table set for eight. “The table setting looks like silver but it’s actually modern porcelain.”
Combining the aesthetics of the wood with a blend of modern, earthy, and enchanting tabletop items, Murphy used a mix of organic silver and white dinnerware including Verona chargers, square and rectangular Kyoto plates, Trieste platinum salad plates, Dragon Fly flatware, and a mix of clean- lined Arianna wine stems with dramatic cornflower blue Debutante goblets.
Four birchwood centerpieces with fir stems and eucalyptus added more of the natural winter forest look to the design. Mixed and matched with mosaic candle holders and lots of other candlelight, the scene combined romance with holiday charm. “It looks so elegant,” says guest Staci Abelow, a compliance business analyst. “I feel good tonight because we donate to this charity, and it is close to Jackie’s heart. Plus, this is the first time I have dressed up since February!”
Guests gathered around the table for warm farro, cherry, and walnut salad, citrus fennel slow-roasted salmon filet with fresh dill, and winter-roasted beet salad. “We use fresh, local sources and chose the holiday menu for easy, outdoor entertaining,” says chef Peacock.
The meal was served with a choice of three wines from Wade Cellars, a California vineyard owned by basketball star Dwyane Wade. While enjoying the dinner, guests talked about everything going on in their lives. One couple was preparing for a new baby, two other friends recently found new jobs, one shared a new promotion, and all told stories while skipping down memory lane. “Some of us realized that we were wearing dresses that we wore to each other’s weddings or rehearsal dinners,” Jackie says. “We had such a great evening.”
Dessert was bite-sized bittersweet chocolate tartlets with crushed pistachio and Mediterranean salt served on delicate Marais platinum plates. Rich and indulgent, the guests raved. “I love this chocolate—I am a fanatic with a sweet tooth,” says Shaina Bottfeld, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. “Jackie and Mitch never disappoint.”
As the evening drew to a close, the mood remained festive and nostalgic. As old friends felt that they had lived many lives during this challenging year, they were thrilled to share their adventures during this holiday fete.
“I have known Jackie since the second grade,” says Arielle Weyrauch, a CPA with the Bank of Montreal. “Everything about tonight was extra special, including the small details which Jackie made perfect.”
As an unknown wise soul once said: “Make new friends, but don’t forget the old; one is silver, the other is gold.