While Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will reportedly spend the December holidays at Sandringham House in Norfolk with Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton, Prince William and Kate and William’s two children, the Duchess of Sussex also has a history as a seasoned holiday host.
On her now-archived lifestyle blog The Tig, Markle tapped her long-time friend Nicole Gibbons to offer her readers some holiday entertaining tips. Gibbons has her own interior style blog, Nicole Gibbons Style, which made her the perfect person to offer these circa-2014 Markle-endorsed holiday entertaining tips.
Gibbons, interior designer, founder and CEO of Clare — a new direct to consumer paint company launched earlier this year, gave Markle tips and advice to make things easy on the host while still wowing the guests. Her recs are all about simple elegance. “My philosophy is to simplify your table setting as much as possible. I prefer a more casually elegant setting when I’m entertaining at home which to me feels much more inviting and unstuffy,” she said on her blog. The key to pulling off a seamless holiday event is to plan ahead, make your guests feel at home, and make sure you don’t take on too much so you can mingle with your guests and enjoy yourself as well. Need some last minute holiday entertaining inspo? Here’s what Gibbons shared with Markle on The Tig.
1. Make Everyone Feel At Home
If you’re having a holiday party, make sure you decorate appropriately to welcome your guests and get them in the mood. “Spruce up your front door with a fabulous wreath, even if you’re in an apartment! A little seasonal greenery is an inviting way to welcome guests to your home in style,” Gibbons said on The Tig.
2. Ditch Dinner
Unless you have bank to hire someone to plan and prepare a dinner for you and your guests, Gibbons told Markle that serving dinner can be a detriment to holiday entertaining. “A dinner party requires a lot of prep and has many components to consider such as menus, place settings, seating, and centerpieces. If you want to simplify your prep immensely, throw a cocktail party instead! It’s much easier to serve cocktails than it is to prepare an elaborate meal,” Gibbons explained.
3. Speaking Of Cocktails, Don’t Overcomplicate It
Just like throwing an elaborate dinner party, offering an endless array of cocktails is going to have you running to the liquor store to stock up on stuff people might not even drink. Instead, Gibbons recommended offering a signature cocktail. Choose something holiday themed and then create a few variations. “Serve an all-purpose red and white wine, which are surefire crowd pleasers, and then add a festive signature cocktail like cinnamon spiced eggnog, a peppermint martini, or a fizzy holiday punch, which is a great option for a large group,” Gibbons suggested.
4. Set The Scene
Even if you decide last minute that you want to throw a holiday bash, it can still look like you spent weeks planning it. Head to Trader Joe’s and stock up on tapas and desserts and then present them on serving trays. “A beautiful presentation will make even the simplest store brought snacks appear super fancy,” Gibbons said, adding that cheeses, dried fruits, and nuts are always in vogue.
5. Don’t Forget The Playlist
The key to any good party is the music. While you can cut corners in other places, if you neglect to make a killer iTunes or Spotify playlist, your holiday party might be a big yawn. “Take the time to curate a fun playlist that will set the tone and help create a joyous holiday atmosphere,” Gibbons suggested. “No time to create a playlist? Try the Soul Christmas station on Pandora. It’s one of my favorites and you’ll find everything from old classics such as Nat King Cole’s ‘The Christmas Song’ to contemporary songs like Mariah Carey’s iconic rendition of ‘All I Want for Christmas.'”