ASPIRESIDE Chat: Entertaining

H3K Design

‘Tis the time of year to gather family and friends for cocktails and feasts. It’s also the perfect setting to showcase your hosting prowess with perfected playlists, signature spirits, decadent dishes, and decorations that will keep the conversation purring and the mood just right.

Every entertainer loves to make a statement, so for this issue, ASPIRE DESIGN & HOME asked designers and tastemakers how they make their own. From centerpieces to parlor games, their tips are sure to make your own holiday event a memorable one.

Howard Hawkes & Kevin Kemper | Palm Springs, CA
H3K Design
Every fab party has two elements: continuity and libations. The food you are going to serve – small bites, full dinner or maybe simple deserts. Whatever avenue you choose, be sure to have continuity and a theme. Don’t have chips and salsa next to a charcuterie platter, or chocolate tarts alongside sausage bites. Keep it simple and related, such as a charcuterie platter neighboring endive bites. Your guests won’t be left scratching their heads over what to eat. Another great tip, if it’s in budget, is to hire a bartender or server. This ensures guests won’t be clamoring for a cocktail, and prep and cleanup will be easy breezy. Most of all, it allows the host to mingle and talk with guests instead of trying to remember how to make a vodka gimlet. Money well spent!

Trudy Dujardin | Westport, CT + Nantucket, MA
Dujardin Design
A dinner party should feel festive! I love the glitter and reflection of vintage-cut crystal and the mix-and-match Murano glass goblets that I’ve found in my travels. A colorful idea is to add the beautiful Tutti Frutti Goblets by glass artist Robert Dane of Nantucket. My centerpieces are not always flowers, but often objets d’art or treasures that I’ve stashed away for a special occasion. The table’s focal point could be small sculptures, carved shore birds, Russian artifacts from my father – such as samovars in Russian brass or a bronze “troika” – or, because I live on the coast, lots of seashells. Set the table with those pieces, and it’s a party. They add the sparkle and set the mood.

Roxy Te Owens | New York
Society Social
The number one thing every event needs to make it memorable is the perfect playlist. It’s not a party without music! To make it extra fun, reach out to your guests ahead of time for their favorite songs. I assure you everyone will have a good time! Also, when entertaining, I love to set a table. Even if you’re not sitting down to a formal dinner, a thoughtfully decorated table for apps, drinks or all of the above will always impress your guests and encourage them to dive right into whatever you’re serving up!

Gideon Mendelson | New York 
Mendelson Group
Entertaining family and friends at home gives me tremendous pleasure. I happen to love to cook, so food is always the center of attention. The food has to be easy – nothing fancy or fussy – and should make everyone smile. Creating a relaxed atmosphere is also critical and that starts with the spirit of the host. Nothing is worse than showing up at someone’s house and feeling that the host is under stress. If you’re hosting, plan ahead so you can enjoy the party when the first guest arrives. Invite outgoing and interesting people that like to have fun. Music and wine is also key, as well as soft lighting. A fresh herb arrangement from the garden in the summer or a fire in the winter will add to the ambience. If you make it look easy, your guests will feel at home.

Vanessa DeLeon | New York
Vanessa DeLeon Associates
My party list will include guests that will make the party fun, diverse and entertaining. I start out by sending a unique invitation that contains clues, and a key that fits into a treasure box. Because all clues are different, each guest must persuade others to share their clues; it’s a great icebreaker for everyone at the party. One time I taped the treasure box to the center bottom of my coffee table. Curious about what’s inside the treasure box? Sorry, I have to keep it a secret, but it is definitely a memorable hunt.

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ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, ASPIRE creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, ASPIRE explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.