When Nicole Gibbons and I met in the (ahem) 1999, we became fast friends – basketball games and dinners with our friend, Lizzie, where we tried to be oh-so grown – I want to say apple martinis and cosmopolitans were part of this wanna be “Sex in the City” equation. The reality is we were young and attempting to figure it all out, but even amidst this collegiate conundrum, she echoed the same image of polished perfection that she does today. A timeless black turtleneck, a chic berry lip stain, a poise and panache that let you know she was going to do some fancy pants things, and look damn good doing them. Low and behold, Nicole has become a highly coveted style guru with her eponymous design firm and fawn worthy blog, So Haute. In just a few weeks I am moving into a new home and will likely be enlisting the help of Nicole for some design pointers, but in the interim she’s going to share some holiday entertaining tips with you. Why, you ask? Because she’s fabulous, she’s kind, she’s an old friend, and she’s about to become one of your new favorite people. Take it away, Ms. Gibbons….
“The holidays are fast approaching and ’tis the season for entertaining at home. If you’re daunted by the task of hosting a gathering for the holidays or haven’t had time to pull it together, here are some simple do’s and don’ts for making even the most impromptu gathering feel perfectly planned and utterly chic.”
- DO – Welcome Your Guests in Style
- DON’T – Serve Dinner
- DO – Keep the Drink Selection Simple, but Serve One Killer Signature Cocktail
- DO – Focus on Presentation
- DO – Set the Tone with Great Music
- DON’T – Go Overboard with your Decor
- DO – Enlist Help
Spruce up your front door with a fabulous wreath, even if you’re in an apartment! A little seasonal greenery is an inviting way to welcome guests to your home in style.
A dinner party requires a lot of prep and has many components to consider such as menus, place settings, seating and centerpieces. If you want to simplify your prep immensely, throw a cocktail party instead! It’s much easier to serve cocktails than it is to prepare an elaborate meal. Plus, everyone has a great time when drinks are free-flowing!
Serve an all-purpose red and white wine which are surefire crowd pleasers and then add a festive signature cocktail like cinnamon spiced eggnog, a peppermint martini or a fizzy holiday punch which is a great option for a large group.
Accompany your cocktails with store bought snacks presented beautifully on white, crystal or silver serveware. When I’m throwing a last-minute cocktail party, some easy and inexpensive go-to snacks include mixed nuts served in cut crystal bowls, kettle corn served in a stunning silver plated bowl and a simple cheese plate served on a white platter or wooden serving board that features a soft cheese like a brie; a sharp, blue cheese like a gorgonzola; and a firmer, aged cheese such as cheddar, with dried fruit and a few sprigs of rosemary for garnish. A beautiful presentation will make even the simplest store brought snacks appear super fancy.
Take the time to curate a fun playlist that will set the tone and help create a joyous holiday atmosphere. No time to create a playlist? Try the Soul Christmas station on Pandora. It’s one of my favorites and you’ll find everything from old classics such as Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” to contemporary songs like Mariah Carey’s iconic rendition of “All I Want for Christmas.”
Instead, create a festive atmosphere with ambient lighting and fresh flowers. Strategically place votive candles and twinkling fairy lights throughout your home which will add a warm glow and a bit of holiday sparkle. Add a bouquet or two of fresh flowers near your drinks and snacks spread, which is a great way to add color and life to your space. A simple bouquet of red or white roses is a great option and can usually be found at your local grocery or drugstore.
If you can, find a bartender or server through a service such as Task Rabbit who can help with serving drinks, replenishing snacks and clean-up. This way you focus solely on entertaining your guests. If you can’t hire help, be sure to have everything prepped and ready ahead of time so you’re not running around when guests arrive and enlist a trusted friend to help out so you won’t be too preoccupied to enjoy your own party.
Hero image via: Nicole Gibbons