Holiday Decorating Secrets From the Pros
- Next1 of 10Courtesy of Annie Campbell
- Previous Next2 of 10Courtesy of Mindy Weiss
- Previous Next3 of 10Courtesy of Lulu Powers
- Previous Next4 of 10Photo by Buff Strickland
- Previous Next5 of 10Courtesy of Annie Campbell
- Previous Next6 of 10Courtesy of Hollyflora
- Previous Next7 of 10Glo
- Previous Next8 of 10Courtesy of David Stark
- Previous Next9 of 10Photo by John Labbe
- Previous Next10 of 10Courtesy of Fête
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Party Tricks1 of 10
By ELLE DECOR
Premier event planners and designers let us in on their secrets for the most memorable holiday hosting yet.
Luxe Lighting2 of 10
"No matter what kind of celebration, lighting makes all the difference," says Beverly Hills-based Mindy Weiss, who plans events for celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Ellen DeGeneres. Weiss suggests using tapered candles in classic white for a timeless feeling—but adds that any size or type will work—and points out that flattering lighting also deserves a close-up: "Polaroid cameras are a fun and inexpensive way to document the night," she says.
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Fruitful Flair3 of 10
Will and Jada Smith, Madonna, Bill Clinton, and Arianna Huffington enlist L.A.-based Lulu Powers for parties with glamour and panache. But Powers' tip for a memorable table doesn't require a blockbuster budget: "I always like fruit on the table—it adds a layered look," she says. "Red pomegranates make everything come to life, and pears or green apples can be used for holding nametags."
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After-Party Entertainment4 of 10
Camille Styles, the mastermind behind a beloved lifestyle blog and event-planning brand, suggests a nostalgic diversion for both decorative effect and party-starting atmosphere: "Set out a stack of board games, cards and dominos for some classic fun that'll keep guests of all ages thoroughly entertained," she advises. "For this Christmas Day celebration, I trolled eBay for vintage boxes of Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit—much more charming than the shiny and new versions."
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Self-Serve Bar5 of 10
Actress Emma Stone and fashion designer Jenni Kayne come to L.A.-based Annie Campbell for intimate and thoughtfully executed soirees; Campbell often pulls from her own family rituals to add a personal touch with a modern twist. "My mom always served old fashioneds for holiday parties—she would say that the first round was on her, and then set up a bar where guests could help themselves for the rest of the night," she says. To update the tradition, Campbell suggests a wholly self-serve model, which helps her to focus on her guests rather than their glasses.
Beyond Tradition6 of 10
Holly Vesecky and Rebecca Uchtman of Hollyflora attract A-list clients (actors Jason Schwartzman and Will Ferrell) with their wild arrangements. For the holidays, they recommend orange and bright pink, with vibrant linens to match. "We bring color in whenever possible," says Vesecky, who recommends incorporating fiery marigold garlands (sewn together with an upholstery needle and monofilament) for a break from the typical red, green, and white. "Orange and fuchsia are such warm and welcoming colors that they easily make sense with spiced cider, pine cones, and persimmon tarts," she says.
Greener Display7 of 10
Los Angeles's Paige Appel and Kelly Harris of Bash, Please have cornered the market on personality-first celebrations with an artistic bent (just ask model Josie Maran and actress Emily Deschanel). For the holidays, the creative duo are most enthused about handmade accents such as paper-cut leaf garlands. "There are fantastic shops on Etsy that make paper-cut garlands and leaves for purchase," says Appel. "Lay the leaves over a burlap linen or a wooden table for contrast, then place branches or greenery for a finishing touch."
Places Please8 of 10
"I look at every party item and ask myself, 'how can I make this a special moment?'" says David Stark, whose fashionable clients include Zac Posen, Louis Vuitton, and Tory Burch. The style expert swears by escort card tables to add a sense of occasion, with a high-impact but low-maintenance treatment: "Instead of lining up a series of standard cards and envelopes, at holiday time, I use bags of jewel-like fresh cranberries on a tray. Pick them up at the supermarket, pour them in the tray, and you have instant, fabulous holiday decor. It's as easy as that."
Edible Apps9 of 10
The man behind over-the-top affairs for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump (not to mention his own King Kong–themed nuptials on the top of the Empire State Building), Preston Bailey isn't one for passing up a theatrical opportunity. For the holidays, he suggests a magical reveal: "Create floral arrangements on top of small boxes by pinning fresh flowers to ribbons, pine cones and faux berries," he says. "Then, line the inside with edible leaves, add a cold appetizer, and place at each setting. Guests will sit down to their first 'present' and discover their first course inside!"
Rethink the Buffet10 of 10
Co-founder of New York's prestigious event planning and design production firm Fête (with husband, Josh Brooks), Jung Lee is known for an elegant and refined aesthetic. Her unlikely tip for a meal with polish? Go the way of the buffet. "Food stations are easy and interactive for family and friends, and when presented the right way, can actually make things feel more sophisticated," she says. Lee recommends "Sticking to all-white porcelain serving pieces so that the food stands out."
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