Each December, we all become instantly preoccupied with cooking, shopping, wrapping, and catching up with out of town guests. While it comes from a good place – wanting to show our loved ones how much we care – it can be easy to focus more on the stress of it all than the actual time together. That’s why each holiday season, we prefer to take a slightly different approach to entertaining than we would the rest of the year.

This winter gathering, designed by Jolene Greenbaum Peterson of Laurel & Rose, was inspired by the desire to celebrate at home. It’s sophisticated and cozy, a combination that is irresistible. Also, it’s feels festive without being too kitschy! The winter white tablecloth contrasts against the vintage black-amethyst glass vessels, velvet ribbon, and lush, richly colored floral designs. Each place setting is adorned with delicate ilex berries, which tie in the alternative holiday look.

If you’re hosting over the coming days or weeks, Jolene encourages you to “first look to your kitchen and cabinets before designing your next holiday table. If you can find the ‘basics’ in your own home, it is much more fun (and financially rewarding) to tie in a few unexpected elements to dress up a table and leave a lasting impression with your signature style.” The outcome feels personal, approachable and effortlessly chic – and you don’t end up breaking the bank.

An added bonus? Custom cookie favors (by Tee & Cakes) and an invigorating tea (by Prema) – both of which can be prepared long before guests arrive, so you can focus on your friends and family. You can find the recipes on our In the Kitchen column now. In the meantime, check out Jolene’s top entertaining tips for a successful soiree:

TOP 5 TIPS FOR THE PERFECT PARTY FROM JOLENE GREENBAUM PETERSON, OWNER OF LAUREL & ROSE:
1. PRIORITIZE YOUR SPENDING: 
When you begin the planning process, it is important to have three priorities (for example, flowers, nice wine, or a truffle dish) that are non-negotiable and to be realistic with everything else. Think about the space that is available to you, the time you have to prepare for the party, and what you and the guests will enjoy. Do a few things wonderfully (like splurging on professional flowers, a really special tablecloth, or handmade little favors), and guests will be impressed.

2. BUILD IN TIME FOR YOU:
As early as possible, start a list of things to do from now until the end of the party. Often times, people end their list with the morning of the event, but try to write to do’s for the day of as well. It is easy to let the day of the party slip away from you when hosting people, so make sure you give it some thought.  Set a loose schedule for yourself and ensure you have time penciled in to do a last minute clean up, shower, get ready, and still have a time for a calming glass of wine before guests arrive.

3. KNOW YOUR GUESTS… AND THEIR DIETS:
In today’s world of dietary restrictions, allergies, and sensitivities, it is important to know your guests and make sure you consider them all when preparing a menu. Because there is a good chance guests will have “plus ones” who you don’t know as well, keep the menu simple with a few unique showstoppers. Guests will remember the thoughtfulness and creativity.

4. WELCOME THEM WITH FOOD & DRINK:
Whether you are cooking or a caterer is doing the bulk of the work, there will always be last minute things to do even as guests are arriving (one more candle to light or a few garnishes to add). Give yourself a little time by preparing a self-serve bar (complete with ice and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options) and stationary hors d’oeuvres like gourmet cheese, crudités, and charcuterie. Guests will appreciate the instant icebreakers.

5. CONSIDER PERSPECTIVE:
Dim the lights, create a perfect playlist (at least twice the length of the party), and design a warm, welcoming ambiance. The key to a great party is to achieve the feeling of effortlessly cool. The easiest way to do that is to test things out ahead of time. A few days before the party, set the table, light the candles, push play, and try to experience things from guests’ perspectives by walking into the space and actually sitting down at the table. You should be confident with the mood you created so you can relax and enjoy the day of the event!

CREDITS:
Photography: Rachel Havel
Styling: Laurel & Rose
Floral Design: Prema
Tea Recipe: Prema
Linens: La Tavola Linen
Stamped Cookies & Recipe: Tee & Cakes
Yaks Fur Chairs: Yonder Floral and Design House
Wine: Cured