Entertainment Extraordinaire Robert Rufino’s Top 7 Holiday Hosting Tips

As style director of House Beautiful, Robert Rufino knows a thing or two about entertaining. Good hosts want to ensure their gatherings are festive, functional and well thought out. Whether it’s your first time hosting, or you’re a self-proclaimed pro looking to expand your repertoire, Mr. Rufino has all the tips to help you achieve the most unforgettable holiday gathering.


“Greet them with a beverage accompanied by light hors d’oeuvres.”


The party begins as soon as your guests walk through the door. Having a glass of champagne or a cocktail prepared helps to establish holiday cheer while also encouraging your guests to mingle. Additionally, serving hors d’oeuvres buys you some time in the kitchen without your guests growing too hungry.


“It’s always nice to gather around the tree or fireplace to get in the spirit of the season.”


Having a targeted gathering area helps ground guests, providing them a destination to keep coming back to while also giving you a more focused space to decorate. Try to establish these spaces away from heavy traffic areas such as the kitchen or hallway. An indoor fireplace or outdoor fire pit offer a focal point for congregating while also giving off cozy warmth.


“Establish a tradition that is uniquely yours.”


Think about the last party you went to that left a lasting impression. Chances are there was something extra-memorable that occurred – something that raised the bar. If you are the designated host every year, create a tradition that sets your party apart from the rest. Maybe it’s a tree lighting ceremony in the backyard, a festive party favor, or welcoming in a group of carolers; give your guests something they can look forward to year after year.


“Getting dressed up elevates the evening.”


If your home radiates with the glitz and glamour of the season, your attire should too. Whether you’re hosting three people or thirty people, a holiday gathering is an excuse to dress to the nines. Establishing a dress code distinguishes an elegant event from an ordinary gathering. And let’s face it, dressing up has a way of serving as an instant mood-booster for all of us.


“Music sets the tone.”


Your party is like a good book: Each chapter brings something new and exciting. Music is the prologue, setting the scene for what to expect, and the key to achieving a magical atmosphere. Music is key for achieving a magical atmosphere at your party. A pre-made, curated playlist with all the holiday classics is an easy option, but if you want to elevate your ambience, consider bringing in live music like a harpist, string quartet or even carolers.


“Martinis and champagne are a holiday favorite.”


Planning your holiday menu starts with the refreshments. A champagne bar can add a dash of playful sophistication. Line up an assortment of festive garnishes such as frozen cranberries or fresh sprigs of rosemary, and let your guests craft their own sparkling creation.


“Go mad for plaid.”


Fabrics play an undervalued role in holiday decor. Rather than simply adding a themed pillow here and there, embrace the textiles of the season on a larger scale. Plaid, tartan, velvet and faux fur are winter favorites and add much welcomed warmth and richness to any space. Placing a slipcover over your sofa, swapping out your curtains or draping a well-placed throw can instantly transform your home into a winter wonderland.


Searching for more holiday tips? Check out Robert Rufino’s most frequently asked tablesetting questions to create an inspired and festive holiday table.

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