Hosting for the Holidays: Insider tips from local consultant Mary Beth De Loache

Mary Beth De Loache.Courtesy of Smith Hardy.

Hosting an at-home holiday party or get-together? We tapped local design and events maven Mary Beth De Loache for tips and tricks of the trade on the best (and easiest) ways to make your fests festive.

The president and founder of eponymous design consulting firm Mary Beth LLC and NYC Parsons School of Design alum has worked for and with design-industry powerhouses around the globe (think jewelry and fashion, graphic design, luxury home goods, interior design, event design and more) and at home. You may know De Loache from her work with DJF Builders Designer Showhouse that benefited Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County. Here, home for the holidays just got jollier.

Tips for hosting your holiday party from Mary Beth De Loache

Drinks can add a colorful kick to a holiday party

“I always like to serve Orange & Pomegranate Prosecco Cocktails because they offer the perfect refreshing combination of tart and citrus. To make: Line the rims of champagne flutes with sugar, mix together orange liqueur, pomegranate juice, mint leaves and your favorite prosecco! This festive and sparkling cocktail is sure to add extra holiday cheer!”

Food matters. Catered or cooked? What are a few staples you recommend?

“Now it’s time to dig in to food! I usually like to whip up a few of my favorite finger foods (baked prosciutto and brie with apple butter, hot ham and cheese sliders, mini crabcakes, candied nuts, etc.). Also, you can never go wrong with a cheese and charcuterie board! Simply gather all your favorite meat, cheese, crackers, nuts and fruit and there is something to please everyone! However, if I am crunched for time and there is a large guest list I like to hire a local caterer, like Catering By Design, that has a set holiday menu on their website!”

Dessert — give us the good(ies)

“While I would love to pretend that I have time to make homemade pastries, this is a task I typically leave for the local bakeries! One of my personal favorites, lucettegrace, is located downtown on Salisbury Street and has the best French-inspired pastries and desserts!”

Insta-ready decor. Your expertise! Tips for inexpensively and easily transforming your abode into holiday party central?

“For me, the best part of the holidays is decorating! Gone are the days of sticking to traditional Christmas red and green. It’s fun to decorate with a modern twist, using soft winter hues (light pink or blue, mixed with gold and silver). Unless it is a classic decoration, like a nativity scene that is guaranteed to be used for years, I recommend not spending a fortune on decorations! Instead, run to Target or HomeGoods for adorable and affordable decor! I also like to look for unique decorations from local vendors each season at the Junior League Shopping Spree. Several traditional and classic decorations have been passed down to me from my grandmother that will always find a place in the house, no matter what color scheme I choose!”

What about flowers? Yay or nay?

“The farmers market is my go-to for greenery — nothing beats the smell of fresh cedar throughout the house!”

App. There’s an app for that? Again, an app you recommend (besides Pinterest unless that really is the Bible of parties/decor).

“I know everyone uses Pinterest as their go-to for holiday planning, but I am about to tell you my best-kept secret: Pro Party Planner! This app costs $4.99 — but is worth every penny! Keep all party planning tasks in line in the app, including invitations, menus, budgets, entertainment, decorations, favors, reminders, shopping, guest lists and more!”

Tricks of the trade — entertaining tips for an effortless party

  1. Avoid digital invites: In a world filled with technology, a paper invitation goes a long way!
  2. Put your menu on display: Handwritten menu cards are a great thing to have at each place setting for guests to carry home with them!
  3. Relax: You got this! Do not overstress! The holidays are supposed to be a fun and cheerful time of year!
  4. Make a list — and check it twice! Run over the list the morning of the party to make sure everything is in place!
  5. Keep extra drinks and food at hand. Nothing is worse than running out of food and drinks at a party! I tend to buy more alcohol and food than needed because it’s always better to have extra!

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