“Hosting an open house, which allows guests the flexibility to stop by over a set time period, is an excellent format for entertaining during the busy holiday season. The key is to set up your table and bar in advance and to plan foods that for the most part don’t need to be heated but can be served at room temperature instead. I will cook a few family favorites myself, but then I supplement with things that can be picked up in advance.
Standard fare for us is always tuna carpaccio from Mt. Kisco Seafood and ready-to-serve platters, like crudités and crab dip from Susan Lawrence. I also set up a serve-yourself bar with one or two special cocktails, like Manhattans in pitchers, so guests can do as they please. All of this leaves me little to do on party day but set the mood: dim the lights, hit the playlist, light the candles, and enjoy my friends and family. Cheers!”
–Susan Carlson, Susan Carlson Interiors
photo by adam kane macchia
“Have a stylish, rolling-bar cart stacked with your favorite drinks and glasses ready to serve your friends and family in any room of the house — great for parties or drop-in guests. Feel free to add your favorite flowers or holiday keepsakes to add to the decor.”
–Tami Wassong, Tami Wassong Interiors
“A strong mantle can be a big focal point for holiday décor that is more effective than bits of this and that around the room. I start with several artificial garlands that I wrap together and then add lots of fresh greens from the yard. This gives you a really rich backdrop for large-scale ornaments and lots of lights.
If you can add some height, with hurricane lamps or weighty, tall candlesticks, all the better. And you can never have too many lights or candles in my opinion. A series of battery-operated candles marching up the side of a foyer staircase is a dramatic and atmospheric touch.”
–Carey Karlan, Last Detail Interior Design