The holidays are a lovely time of year, but they can also be immensely stressful, especially if you plan to host and even more especially if you’re planning to do so for the first time. To help us prep our homes for the whirlwind of family and friends coming through, we asked It girl Louise Roe for her best advice. She’s uniquely positioned to offer it, too. Keep reading to learn why!
Last year, Mackenzie (my husband) and I found our dream home nestled above LA’s Hollywood hustle and bustle. We had been back from our honeymoon for a day (!) and immediately knew this place was the one. It’s so cozy inside that one of the first things I thought was, We have to host Christmas here! So, 2017 is not only our first Christmas together in LA, it’s the first time we’ve attempted to host guests for the holidays, ever.
Luckily, I’m obsessed with entertaining, so I’ve been planning little touches and changes to the house for ages, getting it ready for our big group of guests. Did I mention I’ll be eight months pregnant during the holidays?! Preparation, clearly, is key. Here, five tips that will hopefully help you with your hosting duties this year.
Before they arrive, I'm doing a spot of DIY and re-painting a vintage chest for the main guest room. I'm convinced the addition of a statement color in a room can completely change its whole feel. Inspired by a recent trip to Soho Farmhouse, the chicer-than-chic country retreat outside London, I'm copying the gentlemen's club vibe by painting a chest of drawers a dark gray-green, appropriately named Unplugged by Behr. The color is dark and moody, perfect for making guests feel snuggled at home during a chilly week. If the color works well on the furniture, I want to paint the entire room with it. I'm obsessed!
The evening all the family land, I'm making mulled wine. This is a very English tradition, one that is super simple to make and creates a festive smell throughout the entire house. There's nothing more welcoming than walking in after a long journey to a house filled with the scent of cinnamon, oranges and cloves, and a warm cup of spiced red wine to drink. Find my recipe here.
On every bedside table, I'll put a tiny vase of winter flowers—a simple glass or Mason jar from the kitchen works. My absolute favorite festive blooms are red or green Hypericum. They look so elegant, yet simple, on display.
Then I'll fill an antique water carafe, which really gives a bedroom fancy Downton Abbey vibes! You can find these all over, from flea markets to eBay. (Editor's note: Modern-day versions are widely available as well.)
One of my favorite things in the house is our cocktail trolley, which remains fully stocked at all times. (We are British. after all!) At Christmas, I pay extra attention to it. Little bowls of limes, fresh mint, fun gold straws and extra bottles of booze make their way onto the cart. It's never too early for a drink over the holidays, and having everything on display means guests can just help themselves.
Although I won't be partaking in the drinking part this year, I love getting everyone going in cocktail-making competitions. This year's menu? An old-fashioned and this spiced-pear prosecco, which I've already practiced.
Lastly, I'm saving the decorating for when the family arrives. Yes, we'll put a wreath on the door and have a few lights up already, but choosing the tree, lugging it home in the car, smelling that fresh pine in the house and adding baubles one by one are all really special traditions. I want us to do it all together. I always used to stress about having everything done super early back in England, but I'm learning it's the process of holiday decorating that's half the fun.
I might regret saying this if they're a disaster, but this year I want us to attempt making some of the tree decorations ourselves. I've found a DIY for drying out orange slices in the oven and then hanging them on the tree with red velvet ribbon ... stay tuned!