A Gals Guide to: Being a Fabulous Hostess

November 2, 2009

517aySdTN-L._SL500_AA240_Jes Gordon knows how to party like a celebrity. Why? She’s one of the most in demand event planners in the country. She’s the wedding expert in E!’s ‘Countdown to the Altar’ and just wrote a book entitled, ‘Party Like a Rock Star…A Celebrity Party Planner’s Tips and Tricks for Throwing an Unforgettable Bash‘ and let us just say – it is wonderful! It’s full of great tips and oh-so-cute decorating tips.

Lucky for you lovely WIT & Whimsy readers, Jes was kind enough to pass along some of her top tips for being a hostess of life as we approach all the holidays that are just around the corner!

Here are some quick and easy ideas on how to throw a fabulously chic and budget-friendly holiday soiree.

Create a mood:

The easiest way to dramatically change the look and feel of your home is to play with lighting. It will instantly create a completely new environment and vibe!

Use inexpensive twinkle lights to canvas the room, but keep it sophisticated by sticking to one color like a soft white or amber. If you don’t feel like getting electrical, try using the natural light of candlelight. Put masses of 10 hour votives on every surface in your party room. To create a more intimate glow and capture that soap opera lighting we all love, use amber colored glass. Even something as ridiculously easy like changing out your existing light bulbs for colored bulbs can change the entire ambiance of your home! Mirrors add mega ‘bling’ to your holiday décor, too. Use wall mirrors, floor mirrors, mirrored vases or even smaller mirrors for coasters.

When using votives, remember to put a little water in the bottom of the votive so the used wax comes out easily, and make sure to point the wicks up for easy lighting.

Food and Drink:

A smart, savvy hostess on a budget can definitely do more than BYOB and a cheese/cracker plate!

Champagne toast? Depending on the size of your guest list, pouring champagne toasts could end up costing more than your entire party! I suggest a more affordable alternative like Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine. Not only has it often won taste and cost tests over pricier champagnes, but 99.9% of the time, your guest won’t even notice a difference!

Also, don’t feel pressured to stock the bar with every alcohol under the sun. Be confident in your edited selections! Create a perfect, totally signature drink that all of your guests will enjoy, and supplement with an assortment of beers, wines, and maybe a scotch or whiskey, if you’d like. Don’t forget to post a cute sign that tells everyone about your signature drink.

For the wine-lovers, try Costco. Their Kirkland brand of wines are surprisingly tasty (although you may want to hide the bottles from your guests!) I also love Voga, an Italian brand that comes in an amazing ultramodern bottle, and Bogle Vineyards – both run about $8 a bottle.

To keep the costs down for your food budget, I suggest you go MINI! Nix the sit-down four course meal for platters of mini-versions! Offer mini Beef Wellingtons and apple tarts, and mini potato pancakes for Hanukah guests. Don’t be afraid to go “mini” with foods! Your guests will probably be making appearances at other parties – mini foods let your guests try everything without having to gorge themselves, saving on individual costs at the same time.


For a big WOW factor (without spending a lot), fill inexpensive glass cylinders (try discount stores like Big Lots) with eye-catching items like pinecones, oranges, cinnamon sticks, pine sprigs or funky fruit like pomegranates and figs. Many of these items are found right out in your back yard! To keep things from getting too mish-mashy, stick to one item for each cylinder – oranges in one, pinecones in another. Or do masses of one beautiful thing and your décor budget will concentrate nicely.

Nix pricey floral arrangements for interesting, eye-catching items like feathers, sculptural stones or branches in mismatched (but cohesive) vases or inexpensive glass cylinders.

For Hanukah décor, fill the glass cylinders with Hanukah Gilt and mini dreidels, or a pillar candle and pour water into the base. Accent with lighted votives.


Welcome to 2010! Evites are awesome – they’re modern, ‘green’ and affordable (FREE)! Create your very own website with iWEB (www.apple.com/ilife/iweb), or any other self starter web kit, and do your own virtual Evite, but with a twist.

For the traditionalists, channel your inner child and cut-out fun, nostalgic snowflakes or Jewish stars. Use beautiful gift wrap to make it less Kindergarten Craft Time. I can’t even fold my laundry, but if a holiday party invitation came to me in origami form, I would pee in my pants. Tap into the magic that is Google and lookup a site that teaches simple origami techniques to create unique invitations that your guest can use as ornaments! If you have a budding artist nearby, there is nothing more charming then having your child create invitation art that you can replicate on an inexpensive pre-cut invite bought at Office Depot or Staples.

And…most importantly:

The biggest WOW factor at your holiday fete during these economic times is to get back to the simple joys. Light a fire in the fireplace, sip cocoa (maybe with a little Bailey’s in it), build snowmen, attempt to cook a dish you never have cooked before and just look around you and thank whomever that you have family and friends to celebrate with!

photo courtesy of Amazon

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