On the last season of Real Housewives of New York, Dorinda Medley infamously took a holiday get together in the Berkshires and “made it nice.” Earlier this month, Texas-based lifestyle blogger Camille Styles paid Dallas a visit to demonstrate how to do just that, but without all the bickering.
The blogger’s event (put on with the help of Cointreau) was truly a work of art, filling Design District restaurant Oak with three artful tablescapes that took attendees through the upcoming months of holiday entertaining, from fall to New Year’s Eve. As we worked our way around the chic setups (festive cocktail in hand) we caught up with Styles to see how she “makes it nice” during the holidays, and (most importantly) easy.
Choose Your Focus
Whether it’s a great signature cocktail, a delicious homemade appetizer, or a standout centerpiece, I always start my planning by figuring out the two or three really special details that I want to put my energies towards and make the wow factors. It’s important to not try to do everything. You don’t want to be running around on the day of your party and not able to enjoy it with your guests.
I live by the master to-do list I make at the beginning of planning any gathering. It has a shopping list, a budget list—basically everything I have to do between now and the time that the first guest walks through the door. I put it somewhere that I’m going to see it and follow that list to the letter.
Set Up a Cocktail Bar
It’s a fun thing but it also makes life easier for me as the host. Mix up a big batch of cocktails in a punch bowl before the first person even arrives, and then just let them help themselves. Guests get to have a part in the creative process and make my life a whole lot easier.
Serve Food Family Style
I’m a big fan of serving food family-style when possible. I love the look of a table that’s filled with big, abundant platters of seasonal food. And again, it makes it easier on me as a hostess when guests can pass food around a table and get involved, serve each other, and have that experience together.