Hosting Tips

Style in Spades :: Holiday Open House

By Camille Styles

December is upon us, which means it’s time to break out the bubbly, hang copious amounts of paper garlands and swipe on the reddest lipstick you can get your hands on… party season has officially begun! I started the season early (tough job, right?) by partnering with kate spade new york to throw a series of holiday soirées with the festive factor turned way up. I’m beyond giddy to start unveiling the merry, sparkly and fizzy details, with tons of takeaways to inspire your own fête-ing this season. First up? A cozy-by-the-fire “holiday open house,” full of tartan plaid, hot cocoa and yes, the ultimate s’mores. Click through for all the details shot by Buff Strickland, including the kate spade new york pieces that inspired the entire look.

What a ham.

Although an open house lends itself to a mingle-while-you munch menu, I always add one show-stopping entree item to the buffet. It provides a major wow-factor and something hearty for hungrier guests. And it doesn’t get much more classic “holiday” than glazed ham served with cranberry mustard and thyme-scented scones.

kate spade new york fair harbor large platter.

top & scarf by kate spade new york.

Upon arrival.

Since an open-house style gathering is a come-and-go affair, schedule it on a weekend afternoon from, say, 3 – 7 o’clock. And don’t forget to designate a place for coats, hats, gloves and handbags! A cleared-out coat closet or even a rolling rack set up in a guest bedroom does the trick perfectly. Then it’s time to get a drink in their hands…

earmuffs and hat by kate spade new york.

Raise the bar.

There’s something about a fully-stocked bar cart that recalls holidays of yesteryear, with brandy snifters and mixed nuts in front of a blazing fire. Of course, every hostess knows that it serves the even better purpose of allowing guests to help themselves to libations, freeing her from playing bartender so she can freely gadabout with guests.

*Keep it simple by setting out only one type of glassware: Bellport Iced Beverage glassware are the perfect size for serving a variety from red and white wine to mixed drinks.

Berry Merry.

Tall branches dripping with red berries bring the outdoors in and don’t require the skills of a floral designer (though we did have some help from our talented friend Ash on this one.) Order branches from your local florist – or do some scavenging in the neighborhood – and arrange simply in stoneware pitchers. I used a grouping from the fair harbor white truffle collection.

Cozy up.

Encourage guests to kick off their shoes and stay awhile by setting baskets of cute socks near the fire that they can slip on. Lots of blankets and floor pillows enhance the lounge-y vibe, though be forewarned: you’re guaranteed to have a few guests linger way past dinnertime!

Well played.

A little friendly competition in the form of scrabble and trivial pursuit makes the perfect fireside activity. Guests who just met will be laughing together like old pals in no time flat.

Mug of cheer.

Steaming mugs of cocoa with marshmallows are a holiday party staple – and a nip of frangelico or bailey’s makes them all grown up.

*kate spade new york’s say the word crossword mugs are a cheeky play with the board games on the table.

Dress up store-bought eggnog with a dash of bourbon, sprinkle of nutmeg and one or two star anise for a spicy garnish.

*served in Bellport Iced Beverage glassware.

Hunger games.

Dress the table in a large swath of tartan plaid fabric topped with heaping platters of throwback holiday favorites like glazed ham, deviled eggs, waldorf salad and a gorgeous cheese display. The chefs at Word of Mouth created our luscious menu and I definitely spied some guests heading back for seconds and thirds. I, on the other hand, played it smart by staking out a spot within arm’s reach of the buffet.

Fashion plate.

The fair harbor white truffle collection and coordinating flatware strike the perfect balance between casual and refined.

Get glampy.

A fireside favorite becomes party-worthy with this gourmet s’mores bar. Artisinal chocolates, hand-crafted peppermint marshmallows and nutella are a nod to the classic combos while appealing to more sophisticated palates.

Merry & bright.

Stacks of bangles add a pop of color to wintry ensembles.

Under the mistletoe.

There’s nothing like the scent of roasted marshmallows to get guests in a cuddly frame of mind. If you don’t happen to have a fireplace, place marshmallows on a baking sheet under the broiler for a couple minutes…but keep an eye on them because it happens fast!

Tech savvy. 

kate spade new york’s iPhone cases are a must-have accessory for any gadget-loving girl, and make the perfect gift for the guy who has everything.

Sugar high.

Stacks of fair harbor plates on a tiered stand are the perfect vessels for lavish amounts of holiday cookies. Tiny gingerbread cupcakes, bourbon balls (boozy & addictive) and linzer cookies are must-have classics.

Reindeer games.

I hopped online and trolled ebay for vintage boxes of monopoly, scrabble and trivial pursuit…much more charming than the shiny and new versions.

Hey sweet thing.

Pack up “cookie to-go boxes” for guests if you have any extras…though let’s face it, you probably won’t. This platter holds peppermint sandwich cookies, snowflake sugar cookies and snowballs. When it comes to holiday cookie variety, more is definitely more.

All decked out…

in kate spade new york accessories.


And to all a good night.

Stay tuned for more Style in Spades holiday soirées in the coming weeks, and many thanks to the following people who made this one so fab: photos by Buff Strickland, food by Word of Mouth, flowers by The Byrd Collective and all dishes, glassware and flatware by kate spade new york.