Living With Style: A Well Dressed Home For The Holidays

By Sasha Witte
Gazette Columnist
Dec 2, 2017 

Here are a few simple ideas on how to prepare your home for the Christmas and winter holiday season of entertaining.

All Aglow

Dimming Lights — Living With Style

Create a lovely glow with dimming lights at ceiling, wall and table heights.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

We all look best with warm light at face level instead of just from above.  Candles are great for this – but also consider adding beautiful lamps to your buffet or server.  Remember – Atmosphere is half the battle!

Floral Arrangements

Succulents — Living With Style

Get creative with your floral arrangements by including succulents that can last throughout the holidays and into the new year.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Create floral arrangements the day before the event.  Invariably they take longer to create then I ever anticipate.  Or visit one of our wonderful local floral arrangers and invest in beautiful arrangements that remove one item from your own to-do list.

Small Groupings

Ambiance Lighting — Living With Style

Dim the lights before guests arrive to create a relaxed atmosphere.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Arrange the furniture so there are several intimate areas for guests to cluster and converse.

Dim the Lights

Dim the lights before guests arrive.  There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re below a poorly placed spot light while you’re trying to make a first impression.

Opportunity for Eye Contact

Keep table centerpieces low.  Make sure guests can flirt across the table.

Set the Stage with Music

Have fun creating a music playlist for the group coming over.  Start the music at least fifteen minutes before you’re expecting anyone, so it starts to put you in the mood before the gang shows up.

Share the Load

Wine Bar — Living With Style

Pull out the decanters and create a fun bar where guests can serve themselves.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Consider serving a combination of home-made and pre-made.  I love having an item or two that I’ve created, and let Olives do the rest!

A Hosts Chief Job

In my opinion, the host's job is to do their best to introduce and connect guests to each other in order to give everyone the opportunity for at least one interesting conversation.

Create a Bar and Beverage Station

Keep this space separate from the hectic kitchen.  If you don’t have a bartender, create a simple, tasty cocktail for those looking for something besides wine and beer.

Consider a Hot Beverage

For many years I’ve heated apple cider on the stove top and doled it out into mugs along with cinnamon sticks and a splash of dark rum or brandy.  Yummy!

Serve Wine From a Decanter


Do this instead of the bottle.  It gives your red wine an opportunity to open up and breathe and it looks pretty to boot! 

Be Brave

Let guests make their own cocktails.  Laminate and display a few favorite recipes on cards at the bar and allow your friends to mix and shake their own creations. But not everyone drinks, so make sure to have a lovely beverage or two that doesn’t include alcohol.

Let Guests Help

If guests offer to help, take them up on it!  Make a mental list of items that guests can assist with when they’re arriving, like serving the wine or offering appetizers to other guests.  This also gives folks an opportunity to meet each other.

Decorate Simply

Decor — Living With Style

Candlelight, pinecones and bowls of candy can make for simple, yet fun decor.

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Add simple flourishes to your dinner table.  Consider rolling your cloth napkins and topping each one with a cinnamon stick all tied up in a twine or red ribbon bow.

A Sweet Finish

For dessert, offer something sweet and sinful, and something sweet but healthy for those of us trying to behave.

Keeping it Simple — Living With Style

Wendy and I remembering to keep our plans simple so we can relax and have fun with our guests!

—Gazette photo by Sasha Witte

Give a Gift to the Giver

Don’t show up for friend’s parties empty handed!  Bring a small token that shows them how glad you are they cared to invite you to their own shin-dig.

Keep Plans Simple

Make sure you don’t give yourself too much work to take care of after your guests have arrived.  My goal for myself is to generally have everything ready to go a half hour before guests arrive so I can pour myself the first cocktail and relax a bit before the party starts.  Failing that, just relax and settle into the adventure when the doorbell rings – because when you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, your guests are sure to do the same!!

Best wishes for a beautiful and meaningful holiday with family and friends!

Sasha Witte can be reached at Sasha Witte Design or (562) 434-8824.

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