Well, well, let’s ring bells! Let’s send up skyrockets! Well, let’s turn on all the lights in the house.
If you’ve been following our Party Planning Checklist, you know that it’s high time to start thinking about the look and feel of your holiday soirée. Need a Snowball Shot of inspiration? We asked 10 of the nation’s best party pros—the go-tos for celebrities including Beyoncé, Madonna, Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, and Lynn Wyatt— to share their top tips for holiday 2017 entertaining. From decking the halls with dahlias to rockin’ around a Christmas tree adorned with ballet slippers, this holiday season will be all about glamour, whimsy, and fun. So gather ‘round and listen in as the fête experts reveal that they’ll be hauling out the holly, as well as artichokes, sweetgum pods, and just about anything that shimmers!
Photo: Carolyne Roehm
Diana Gould, Diana Gould, Ltd., New York
Trending this season are a lot of candles and silver elements. Think tablecloths of silver or white sequins, silver-edged white napkins tied with silver streamers, and silver-sparkle plates. For centerpieces, we’ll be doing frosted snowy-white branches trimmed with tiny lights and garlands of crystals hanging from the snowy boughs to give the impression of shimmery snowflakes. We’ll add faux snow at the base of the arrangement and nestle tons of silver mercury glass candles in the “snow.”
Richard Flowers, The Events Company, Houston
This year’s décor will feature lots of natural candlelight with beautiful and eclectic votive candle cups intermingled with traditional fresh flowers, vintage ornaments, and fruits and vegetables, like pomegranates, brown pear, crab apples, and artichokes. Family parties will be all about feeling young again and will be designed from a child’s perspective, offering interactive opportunities with snow and Santa and his sleigh and reindeer.
Photo: Van Wyck & Van Wyck
Bronson Van Wyck, Van Wyck & Van Wyck, New York
We need an escape these days, so we’ll be seeing really creative and whimsical Christmas trees—trees that weave in personal family ornaments with a theme. It could be a tree covered in antlers (which animals shed in the fall and early winter following breeding season) for a mountain house, ballet slippers for a young ballerina in the family, or red Chinese lanterns sourced from your local Chinatown for a twist on traditional Christmas red.
Susan Zackin, Z Event Company, New Orleans
I am infatuated with mixing fur, leather, and distressed woods with metallics for the holiday season. The combination of textures and finishes makes the play of light more romantic and sexier than ever.
Photo: Le Basque
Alex Muguerza, Le Basque, Miami
There’s a return to classical Romanticism in both florals and food for the holiday table. Look for traditional and locally-sourced garden flowers and greens that are delicate and fresh. Dahlias are also having a resurgence—they’re showstoppers. Buffet presentations—especially elaborate dessert tables, displayed in the manner of the famous French chef Marie Antoine Carême—are also enjoying a revival. Incorporating traditional holiday treats, like Omelette à la Norvegienne and Baba au Rhum along with pièce montées of fruits and bavaroises, is a scrumptious and sophisticated reminder of past delicacies. Gamefowl is also back on contemporary menus—it helps root the holiday celebrations in the history of the occasion.
Frank Alexander, Frank Alexander NYC, New York
This holiday season, we’ll be designing with natural woods, snowy whites, and verdant greens and adding in touches of metal in copper, silver, or gold. We’ll also be using birch bark candles, sweetgum pods, white peonies, and touches of faux snow to create little winter scapes on the tabletops. Black and white prints and images of snow-covered trees in Central Park will play into the look.
DeJuan Stroud, DeJuan Stroud, New York
For large events with elaborate ceiling treatments, detailed place settings, and carefully styled centerpieces, the color palate will be simple—just white and platinum. But for smaller events, we’ll be using a riot of rich colors, like scarlet, violet, emerald, persimmon, and aubergine. The smaller the party, the more color I’ll be using.
Jen Hartley, Caribou Club, Aspen
This holiday season will be about do-it-yourself food and beverage stations that become conversation pieces and a fun part of the overall party experience. We’re also seeing a trend toward comfort food with a healthy twist—created using the finest local and fresh ingredients.
Alison Awerbuch, Abigail Kirsch, New York
We’re seeing a lot of informal party formats where people are standing and moving in a free-flowing manner as food is served throughout the event or sitting in lounge areas or at communal tables. Our menus will consist of fun, out-of-the-box wintery offerings, like our Brussels Waldorf with smoked chicken, pecans, and apples; our Onion Soup-wich with truffled Gruyère cheese and caramelized onion jam; and our Winter Lobster Rolls with pickled apple and squash. For dessert, we’ll be serving our Warm Apple Pie Bites, Cinnamon Ice Cream Pops, and Mini Peppermint Milkshakes. Craft beer bars will also be a hot trend, where guests start with a craft brew and mix and match house-made bitters, dusts, and infusions that incorporate flavors like orange, cranberry vanilla, coffee cocoa, and pomegranate peppercorn. For formal events, look for lots of shimmer!
For the icing on the cake, Todd Fiscus of Todd Events and Avant Garden in Dallas, has some evergreen advice.
This has been a crazy year, and we’re seeing a return to no-fuss-no-muss entertaining so we can focus on just being together. That means informal get-togethers in smaller groups—for example, inviting your friends over for chili and s’mores around a fireplace or ordering in Chinese food and serving it in sparkling to-go boxes. In other words, put down your damn phones this season and enjoy being in the moment with the people you love who love you back.
Need help planning your holiday soirée? Check out Les Pages, our city-by-city directory of the nation’s best event companies.
Holiday 2017 Entertaining Trends
Welcome Quote and Photo Mashup
Welcome photo: Vera-Ellen (1921–1981)
Welcome quote: Holiday (1938)