We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

We’ve long been admirers of Lauren Conrad’s effortlessly chic style, especially with the way it manages to seamlessly translate from fashion to entertaining and even home decor. So, when we got the chance to pick her brain on holiday entertaining, we were left with an array of fresh ideas and inspiration. Read on to discover Conrad’s go-to tips and tricks for hosting the perfect fete!

You’re throwing a dinner party – where do you start?

The guest list! That usually dictates the menu, decor, and everything else to at least some extent.

How would one go about setting a comfortable ambience for a dinner party?

A playlist is a good place to start. My husband William is usually in charge of the music, while I tend to put a lot of work into the decor, including lighting.

What are the elements that can make or break a tablescape?

Fresh florals are a must in my book. Even if you have nothing else decor-wise, having a few strategically placed bud vases can make for a truly beautiful table. Just make sure not to overdo it—no one wants to have to crane their neck around a huge arrangement just to make conversation with the person across from them.

Every table deserves a little something extra to give it a unique and memorable quality. What is your go-to decorative secret for setting a table?

In addition to centerpieces, I like to have a decor element on each guest’s plate. That can be as simple as an edible bloom or a cute seating card. For Thanksgiving, we just made these ice cream cone cornucopias on my website that were so fun.

How would you go about elevating a plain place setting at the table?

There’s something to be said for simple, all-white dinnerware, but by itself it can be boring. I collect vintage serving pieces to add some interest to any basic tablescape. Pretty linens or glassware are also a great option. We have some beautiful pieces in my fair trade shop The Little Market that will elevate any table.

What advice can you give to the first-time holiday host?

Prep as much as you can ahead of time! Stick to recipes you’ve made before or ones you will have time to test out in the weeks before. If there are certain dishes you can make ahead of time and freeze, go for it (pie is a good one). Also, don’t be afraid to ask others to contribute. Most guests will be happy to bring a signature dish with them.

What are the qualities that make a good host?

A good host prepares as much as they can ahead of time, and then knows to enjoy themselves once guests arrive. The dishes can be done tomorrow. When all of your family and friends are there, make sure to be a part of the festivities and not trapped in the kitchen the whole time.

If you’re working with a tight budget, what would you recommend splurging and scrimping on?

If you’re on a tight budget, a great option is to go potluck-style. Make the main course and then have everyone sign up to bring a side dish, dessert, or a bottle of wine.

My go-to dish/drink to make when guests are coming in an hour is..?

A really great appetizer board—think cheese, meats, crusty bread, pickles, fruit, hummus, veggies, and more. It’s easy to put together and can be filling enough to serve as a meal in itself.