Wallpaper: Osborne & Little “Zirconia”/ID Collection On model: Badgley Mischka Collection dress, $795/Neiman Marcus; Hervé Van der Straeten ring, $290/Neiman Marcus; Shears, stylist’s own

How to Host a Holiday Party

Cater to your guests for an unforgettable affair.

What is the first thing you do when planning a get-together?

I always check the social calendar to make sure there isn’t another big event on the same evening.

What are some common mistakes people make when entertaining?

We all make entertaining mistakes. Stay calm, and remember to put your guests’ feelings first. And make sure there is plenty of TP in the powder room! 

What are the elements of a good party?

An eclectic group of guests, easy access to a drink, and something clever to spark conversation. For a twist on the traditional guest book, I set out a bowl of clear glass ornaments—the inexpensive kind you can buy in bulk—and a mint julep cup filled with metallic Sharpies. I ask guests to sign and date them. The ornaments will hold great memories for you as you pull them out year after year.

With descriptors like “festive cocktail” showing up on invites, how should a host address the dress code?

I love the effort to provide cute descriptions for attire, but truthfully, I think guests prefer you take the guesswork out of it for them. I’d rather have a straightforward guide than a guessing game.

Do you have any tips on hosting at a restaurant?

Make it feel festive by adding place cards, flowers, and a party favor.

What items should a host/hostess have on hand at all times?

A fun playlist, candles, Champagne, cheese, crackers, and truffle honey. 

How do you do gracious when friends/family come to stay?

Plan in advance to give them a bit of independence. Make them a house key and map out some things they might enjoy, like shopping, dining out, or museums. Set up a coffee maker and snacks in their room. This way, they won’t have to track through the kitchen all the time. If they ask what they can do to help, don’t say “nothing.” Give them a light task so they can contribute.  

Any specific party tricks you pull out at every gathering?

I always try to do something connected to the guest of honor. It can be simple or silly, but I find it’s a nice way to honor someone. I’ve created a baby-shower menu based on a mother-to-be’s cravings. (We made it yummy, I swear!) Once, I sought out a birthday girl’s favorite Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine served chilled, which introduced the guests to new things.

What about the neighbors?

If you’re having a big party, it’s nice to drop off a baked good or a little token of holiday cheer with a note letting them know your block might be a bit busy. 

Is there a best piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding entertaining?

A friend of mine in Paris is famous for his dinner parties, and one evening after his guests sat down, he realized the caterers forgot to put out the napkins. They thought fast, filled a tray with linens and went around, placing the napkins on everyone’s lap. My friend made up a story about how Napoleon always placed his napkins that way and he wanted to bring it back. Everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed. He admitted he was joking, and no one ever forgot it. The advice: Just go with it and be creative. Don’t let formality get in the way of a good time with friends. 


Calligraphy: Jen O’Neal of Halo Calligraphy 

Catering: Cassandra Fine Catering for formal meals; Superfly Pies for pizzas; plating takeout from Cafe Istanbul or Ziziki’s; Trader Joe’s for pick-up hors d’oeuvres

Unique finds: Etsy

Invitations and stationery: Bell’Invito Stationers and Ellis Hill 

China/tabletop: Madison 

Go-to for big events: Todd Fiscus 

Event photographer: John Cain Sargent of John Cain Photography


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