The Liberty Guide to Hosting a Cracker of a Christmas Party
Forget the mulled wine, ‘tis the season to ditch the Christmas cliches and make your seasonal soiree one to remember
The season of Christmas parties is almost upon us and we have hosting on our minds. When it comes to throwing a festive bash there are some (not so) secret recipes to making it a success. Television cook and queen of at-home entertaining Nigella Lawson has two rules for making guests feel welcome; wear slippers, and always have a glass of something in your hand, while for writer and dinner party-thrower extraordinaire Nora Ephron, it was all about the ‘rule of four’. Ephron swore that adding a fourth plate to the table that was a little unexpected, or broke with tradition was a guaranteed way to add some intrigue to the evening. “Peaches with cayenne pepper. Sliced tomatoes with honey. Biscuits. Savoury bread pudding,” it doesn’t matter what it is, just make it different and the magic will follow.
At Liberty we’re here to help you create those magic moments. We’ve got everything you need for entertaining Christmas callers; think fantastical glassware, crowd-pleasing games and the sparkliest of scene setters. Plus, we’ve enlisted the help of some of our favourite party hosts to share their failsafe methods for throwing a magical, memorable party.
So, whether you’ve got 40 people round for bubbles and canapes or it’s a kitchen supper for six, here are some Liberty-approved ways to add some festive cheer to your Christmas party this year. Not a mince pie or jingle bells soundtrack in sight.
Scent the Scene
Cinnamon, spice and all things nice, Christmas time has an undeniably cosy aroma to it and filling your home with the nostalgic scents of Christmas past will help to make your guests feel relaxed and at home. You don’t need to go down the cloves and incense route to conjure up the festive feeling though, a few strategically placed, subtly spiced candles will have a just as transformative effect. We love the nutmeg and amber-laced Ginori 1735 Il Favorito Black Stone Scented Candle 1kg, £295.
Sure, a crackling fire creates warmth and a smoky aroma but if you don’t have the real thing then adorn the mantelpiece with D.S & Durga’s Portable Fireplace Candle 200g, £60 , the pine, birch and ash notes give all the atmosphere of a campfire, with none of the lingering smoke.
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Dec(orate) the Halls
Avoid Christmas cliches, says Sophie Rose, founder of boutique dining and events company Rose & Food, “Christmas doesn’t need to be about green and red, there’s a whole rainbow of colours to choose from whether you want muted warm gem tones or even pastels. Nothing should be discounted. Let the creativity flow.” Coco + Wolf’s Love Birds and Mitsi Valeria Star Placemat, £35 brings an unexpected Liberty twist to the classic festive star.
If you throw a Christmas bash every year, think about having a colour theme, suggests Clare Doggart co-founder of London based events and catering company Doggart & Squash, “it’s stylish and makes your guests excited each year.” Pick a colour theme that links everything from the Christmas tree decorations to the napkins and candles. Swap traditional green decorations for cool blues with sky hued baubles, like our Frosted Glass Bauble, £6.95 and these powder blue Outline Light Blue Napkins Set of Four, £35 from interiors brand Hay.
Bring the outside in. Using nature in the house is a great way to show that you’ve made an effort, plus foraging is a fun thing to do with children. “Snipping Holly from a nearby bush, picking up leaves in autumn or using pinecones as table decorations are all fantastic sustainable decorating options,” says Sophie Rose.
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Let it Glow
Everyone looks better by candlelight. Fact. Fill your entertaining space with festive candles like Fairholme’s Taper Candles Set of Eight, £35 and let your guests bask in the faux filter effect. Lighting is an easy way to jazz up any space and create an instant party atmosphere. Use string lights over curtain rails or even piled into empty vases; Christmas Confetti Lights, £48.95 will spark instant joy, and disco vibes.
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Drink and Be Merry
Interesting glassware is a great way to bring something a little extra to the party, says Sophie Rose. “Try raiding your granny’s cupboards for something a little bit more unique, or pick up a mismatch of unusual finds at vintage or thrift stores.” Granny’s cupboards looking a bit bare? Anna Von Lipa’s Lyon Olive Green Red Wine Glasses Set of Two, £55 bring a vintage feel to any dining table.
You can always use your drinks as a way to introduce some colour and sparkle. Sophie Rose suggests adding winter berries or florals to your ice tray before freezing so that even the ice is party ready. Serve in Maison Balzac’s big bold jugs, £110 to continue the retro theme. “For extra sparkle, dehydrate oranges the week before to add to mulled wine or Christmas cocktails,” recommends Doggart. Her number one tip for throwing the best Christmas party? Relax. “Your guests will relax if you’re relaxed.”
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Plate it Up
When it comes to the food, “keep it simple,” says Doggart. “At Christmas, people love the comfort of knowing they are to get traditional festive food, so stick to the classics and be more exciting with the drinks!” If hosting a simple drinks party, try swapping your traditional salmon blinis for smoked trout, “it’s much more ‘in’, and it’s better for the planet!” For an extra pop of colour, serve up on Emma Bridgewater’s pretty Oak Medium Oval Platter, £65. But if you’re going all out with a full dinner party, we know the perfect Spanish-inspired menu to try.
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Let Me Entertain You
What’s a party without some in-house entertainment? A round of Christmas carols will bring everyone together, try writing out the lyrics on some Liberty Scalloped Shaped Notecards Set of 8, £21.99. Guests can take them home as a keepsake plus there’s no excuse for not knowing the words. “Table games are fun and keep people seated at the table,” says Doggart. The Complete Games Night, £21.95, comes with three different games that will keep guests of all ages entertained, and of course it includes the Christmas classic, charades.
Give guests something that they can take away. “Polaroid pictures from the day,” is a favourite for Doggart, “people end up getting so much stuff at Christmas and actually a record of the memories is much more fun!” For Sophie Rose, making homemade sloe gin, bottling it and giving away as party favors is an ideal Christmas keepsake. Homemade not your thing? Cheat it with Liberty’s Miniature Sloe Gin 50ml, £7.95.
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Dress the Part
Ok, so you can make like Nigella and slip into something more comfortable like these tiger patterned Desmond & Dempsey Core Tiger Wool Slippers, £70 or you can use your party as an excuse to wear the most outrageous thing in your wardrobe that you love but never get a chance to wear. “I went to a party a few years ago where everyone wore the clothes in their wardrobe that were too outrageous for anywhere and people came in everything from ball gowns to unicorn onesies,” says Sophie Rose. We don’t have unicorn onesies but we do have the perfect Ganni sequin party dress, £465. Go on, it’s Christmas.