Hosting Tips

How to Throw a Holiday Party That Looks Way More Expensive Than It Actually Is

By Camille Styles
christmas sangria

Cozy fur throws, flickering firelight, and champagne glasses clinking — these are the sights and sounds of the type of evenings I look forward to all year long. To ring in the holiday season at the studio with our friends, we teamed up with Target to create all those festive vibes using their Threshold and new Project 62 home collections for holiday. I invited my guests for festive cocktails, elevated (but easy) hors d’oeuvres, and a cozy-meets-luxurious take on holiday decor. Keep scrolling to get inspired – and shop all the glittering pieces that your friends will not believe you scored at Target.

photography by Kristen Kilpatrick, flowers by House of Margot Blair, food styling by Mackenzie Smith

We set the stage in the living room by decking it out in shades of gold, bronze, and silver. Everything sparkled with the warm magic of holiday cheer and it’s so pretty, we’re tempted to leave up the decor until New Year’s.

Shop: Metallic wreath, greenery garland, faux fur stockings, cane back chair, faux fur lumbar pillow, wood side table, small bottlebrush tree, large bottlebrush tree

Tip #1: Choose a color palette and stick to it throughout all your holiday decor.

Staying consistent with colors (from the tree to the stockings to the table centerpiece) is the easiest way to get a cohesive and “designed” look on a budget, and determining your palette before you begin to shop for decorations will help you achieve a well-edited selection of pieces that you’ll look forward to unpacking again year after year.

Shop: Camille’s top, skirt

Tip #2: Equip your bar cart with all the chic and functional tools guests will need.

Not only are bar tools crucial to mixing up craft cocktails, but putting them on display is the perfect way to add sleek metallic touches to the bar. Target has a variety of shakers, jiggers, and bar spoons that are as pretty as they are useful, so set them out on your bar cart where they can really shine. Edible swizzle sticks like candy canes, cinnamon sticks, and sugared cranberries add a fun touch to the holiday bar.

Shop: Bar cart, deer bust, rose gold shaker, wine decanter, whiskey decanter, gold-rimmed pitcher

We served up a Christmas sangria, eggnog cocktail, and a champagne cocktail we called the Cherry Sparkle. Keep reading for the recipes!

Shop: Jenn’s dress, champagne coupes

Cherry Sparkle Cocktail

  • 3 maraschino cherries, plus 3/4 oz syrup from the jar
  • sugar
  • 3 dashes angostura bitters
  • 2 brown sugar cubes
  • 1/2 oz Cherry Heering or cherry liqueur
  • 4 oz chilled champagne

Moisten the outer rim of a coupe with 1/2 oz maraschino cherry syrup and coat with superfine sugar. Sprinkle the bitters over the sugar cubes. Add the Cherry Heering, maraschino cherries, and the remaining 1/4 oz of maraschino cherry syrup to the coupe. Top with the champagne and add the sugar cubes.

Tip #3: Monogrammed cocktail glasses will make sure that guests don’t mix up their drinks.

This solves an age-old cocktail party problem, plus it’s the perfect personal favor for guests to tote home with them and enjoy all season long.

Shop: Monogram glasses

On the buffet, we served up:

  • pomegranate topped brie
  • grilled shrimp cocktail on rosemary skewers
  • prosciutto wrapped breadsticks with figs
  • warm mixed nuts with herbs

Shop: Let’s Mistletoe banner, hammered gold bowl

Shop: Three bowl serving tray

White poinsettias are an unexpected addition to a statement-making holiday floral arrangement. House of Margot Blair created the floral stunners throughout this party using some of the most gorgeous ruby red peonies of the season.

Shop: Black marble serving tray, Be Merry serving tray, black marble cheese knives, deer appetizer plates, metallic runner

Tip #4: Adding lots of faux greenery garlands to your space adds a woodsy vibe.

It’s my favorite way to infuse any space with all the classic Christmas feels, especially when adorned with little pinecones like these. I love this metallic wreath, and we tied it above the fireplace with a simple ribbon. Command hooks did the trick for hanging all the other garlands throughout the rest of the bungalow.

Shop: Suruchi’s dress, Jenn’s dress, Camille’s top skirt

I warmed up the living room with cozy pillows and textured wintry throws that look and feel handmade. Go ahead and layer them on!

Shop: Hammered gold tray, metallic votives, antler candelabra, Tis The Season pillow, Let’s Mistletoe pillow, knit pillow, faux fur throw

After indulging in a few appetizers, everyone dove into the Christmas cookies for a sweet bite to end the evening. If you’re looking for a new recipe, scroll through our 27 favorites right here.

Tip #5: Host an ornament swap.

This is such a fun way to get guests mingling, and everyone leaves with a gift they can hang on their Christmas tree. I asked each guest to bring an ornament to the party and swap with another guest for a festive takeaway.

Shop: Felt animal ornaments, metallic ornament set, mini metallic ornament set, Sugar Paper wrapping paper

Get the recipe for our Christmas sangria here!

Everyone loves games! Keep the party going by setting out a few games that’ll get everyone mingling and ensure there’s never a boring moment. Classic selections like Jinga, Scrabble, and even a couple decks of cards are all you need for instant entertainment.

At the end of the night, each guest left with a holiday cocktail kit so they could continue the party at home. Just add your favorite liquor to these premixed cocktail syrups for an easy way to whip up your favorite drink.

Shop: Monogram glasses, cocktail syrup, metallic ornament