Holiday Hosting Hacks for First-Time Entertainers
The Novogratz share their top tips for no-fuss entertaining.
Published Dec 8, 2017 11:45 AM
Having already made designer furniture affordable via an Amazon collaboration, Cortney and Robert Novogratz (alias “The Novogratz”) are tackling the IRL. The duo, design experts in their own right via books, TV shows, and an interior design firm, are opening a holiday pop-up in New York City. Fans of The Novogratz can see the Amazon collection up close and personal as well as get their fill of festive fun through events and live music.
“It’s kind of our home, offline,” says Cortney. “It’s important for people to really come see our furniture, sit on it, touch it.”
“It’s one thing to see it online, but seeing it in person and how it’s set up in a space is also important,” adds Robert. “Our whole brand mantra is to give people affordable design that looks good. Using Amazon to fulfill that is a pretty turnkey thing for us.”
Designed to look like a residential space, with a living room and dining room, the pop-up brings the digital brand to life. After viewing the collection, customers can order the furniture to their doorstep via their phones—though there are smaller pieces available to purchase directly in-store.
Guests will find live music, events hosted by artists and photographers, and plenty of holiday spirit. Though of course, the products are the focus: With over 100 furniture and decor pieces available, pop-up visitors can comb through everything from everyday essentials to decorative items that are perfect for sprucing up the home just in time for holiday entertaining. They’ll even have a chance to meet Robert, who will be in the pop-up for the month of December.
“We’ve designed pop-ups for other people and always wanted to do our own,” he says. “Being from Manhattan, this is like a coming home party for us. It’s an amazing location that will let all these new people see us.”
Be sure to stop by the pop-up, which is open now through December 23. And, in anticipation of the holiday season, we caught up with the pair to get their advice on a subject they particularly hold dear: Entertaining.
Where do you recommend first-time entertainers start with planning?
Think about music and what you’re going to serve. We actually somehow ended up having 60 people over for Thanksgiving this year, which was kind of overwhelming! But the most important thing to keep in mind is the energy you can bring to a party, whether it’s for 10 or 60 people. Figure out how you can create a welcoming, fun atmosphere where everyone feels relaxed.
Also, a collection of mix and matched items is totally okay; We obviously didn’t have 60 matching plates, so we included a mix of vintage plates we had collected over the years. A lot of people wait to start entertaining until things are perfect, but things are never perfect.
What are a handful of entertaining essentials first-timers can focus on?
An oversized tray, or a big champagne bucket so people can self-serve. Party lights are always festive, whether you hang them around the house or just leave them near the door, and are a great way to make the place a little special. If you’re able to give a little something as a gift that’s easy and inexpensive like a box of chocolates, that’s a great hosting idea.
Is there anything people can do to make the day of the party a little easier?
Give guests their first drink to welcome them, but have a self-serve area where they can help themselves later. An easy way to do this is with oversized trays on a table with a collection of wine or liquor on top.
Another thing people forget is introducing your guests to each other. It helps! Give [them] a backstory and feel free to walk away, letting them strike up a conversation.
Any hosting hacks you can share?
Prep as much as you can beforehand, and not only food-wise. So for example, depending on how many people you’re having, roll up cloth napkins and silverware earlier and have them on the table so they’re ready to go.
Candles are always fun, too. More is more when it comes to candles, and they don’t even have to be in votives. You can do a big oversized silver tray with all different sizes of candles burning in a corner. It looks really romantic and festive.
Flowers are important—you can always tuck a little something in the powder room—but you can even do candles instead as a no-fuss centerpiece. If budget is a consideration, you don’t have to do over the top flowers. Add some greenery or some candles in place of flowers. Figure out what your focal point is and go from there.
What are your tips for creating an easy tablescape?
Use what you already have! Say you have a mixture of odd plates—scatter them and try to have a common thread. For example, if the plates are all different, have the same matching napkins. If you have mismatched glassware, try alternating matching ones at each setting. Try to be mindful when you’re setting a table to find a balance visually for your guests, but things don’t have to be perfect.
For us, we have such a mix of quirky plates we’ve accumulated. They’re such a conversation piece! One time we were all at the table and playing a game of “who got the most expensive plate” because there was such a mix, between vintage finds and $1 plates.
What are some quick decor changes hosts can make that really make a big difference?
In the dining room, throw on a table cloth. It’s like a rug and can really anchor a room.
Instead of cut flowers in a vase, why not purchase a really beautiful tree? Or for us living in LA, we go cut branches from our yard to add to our decor. If you keep going to the supermarket or to the florist to purchase flowers, they start looking the same, especially because not all of us are gifted with floral arranging. Take cut flowers a step further, and pull from your backyard.
Any more general holiday entertaining tips you can share?
Drink a lot! And music is a must. At the pop-up, we’re having live jazz every day since it’s set up like a home and has a grand piano.
For our first party around 25 years ago, we didn’t have the budget for live music. But we knew a trumpet player that we met on the subway and invited him to come over and play. If you have a friend who plays guitar, ask them to bring their guitar to your next dinner party. Music definitely sets the tone.
The Novogratz “Home For The Holidays” Pop-Up will be at 446 West 14th Street from December 9-23. It will be open Monday-Saturday from 11 AM – 7 PM and Sunday from 12 PM – 6PM.
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