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Style El Dorado County Foothills

Sacramento Interior Designer Offers Seven Steps to Party Perfection

11/03/2015 09:28AM ● By Kerrie Kelly

Photos courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

To help you craft the perfect holiday get together, we created an easy-to-follow (and execute) guide—sure to bring merriment your way!


1 / Generate the Guest List

The most obvious first step to hosting holiday guests is to, well, invite them. Because we want this to be a casual cocktail party, think about inviting people you wouldn’t mind rubbing elbows with for a few hours. Cocktail parties are generally more intimate, so create a guest list full of friends and family that you’d be happy to introduce to each other.


2 / Just Right Invites

We love decorative invitations, especially for the holidays. Take a cue from the interior design and fashion trends of simple and organic details by creating an invitation with soft, scribbled calligraphy and a sprig or two of rosemary or pine. Use warm colors like red and brown to communicate a low-key gathering or black and white for a more sophisticated vibe. If you’re going the social media route, make the invite welcoming with as many details as possible.



3 / Master the Menu

Balance your menu by pairing sweet and savory bites for a broad range of flavors. Try small, flavorful hors d’oeuvres for the first round of cocktails, and slowly ease into the sugary treats as the evening winds down. Serve them on fanciful silver or gold platters with fresh sprigs from the yard, or cinnamon sticks for a warm, holiday feel.



4 / Deck the Halls

Should you go shabby chic and spring for some festive glassware? How about cool and contemporary with an all black-and-white-themed evening, or rustic with fresh pine nettles and wood elements sprinkled throughout? The options are endless and up to you!


5 / Be Liberal with Libations

To eliminate the need to hire a server, create a self-serve cocktail bar. Your guests will be more likely to choose a drink that they actually want and won’t feel the pressure to ask for another. Stock the area with one festive-themed cocktail (already prepared in a pretty pitcher), a deep bowl filled with ice to cool down beers, a bottle of white wine, a few red wine options, and of course flutes for bubbles. Mix up glassware for a rustic look, or keep it uniform and elegant with contemporary-style glasses.


6 / Simple Signage

Avoid having to answer, “What is that?” every couple of minutes when guests go to grab a bite. Create small signs that name the food and drinks, or list a cocktail pairing or two that complements the appetizers. If something contains soy, dairy, nuts or other allergy-associated foods, make it known. Signs are also a great way to emphasize décor and reinforce the theme.


7 / Details, Details, Details

Make your guests feel welcome by going the extra mile on tiny nuances, such as linens instead of paper napkins or unique glassware in lieu of plastic cups. Just because the party is meant to be casual, doesn’t mean the details don’t count.


As long as you follow this simple guide, you can anticipate a holiday party to remember. All rules aside, though, don’t forget to enjoy your party too! Mingle with guests, have a drink and some appetizers, and remember the reason for the season.

Kerrie L. Kelly is an award-winning interior designer, author and multimedia consultant. She has authored two books: ‘Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide,’ published by Oxmoor House, and ‘My Interior Design Kit,’ with Pearson Professional and Career Education. To contact her, visit or call 916-706-2089.

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