Gear up for Holiday Entertaining

The perfect holiday party takes a significant amount of time, energy and attention to detail. Begin planning your event during the fall, and when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season hits, you won’t find yourself stressing over last-minute details. Local retailers are already bringing in holiday merchandise, and now’s the time to take advantage of the wide variety of items that are sure to add pizzazz to your party. Whether you’re planning a small gathering of friends or a massive holiday gala, gear up with some of New Orleans’ best offerings.

With the holiday season upon us, this is the perfect time to visit Ashley Hall Interiors (832 Howard Ave., 524-0196), where you’ll find a large assortment of furniture, accessories, lighting and rugs to enhance your home.

For over 40 years, the staff of Ashley Hall Interiors has strived to create elegant and comfortable interiors for clients both locally and abroad, transforming and enhancing their entertaining areas. Ted Argote of Ashley Hall Interiors suggests that a pair of classic candelabra reinterpreted in faceted crystal and phalaenopsis orchids in blue and white porcelain could add just the right sparkle to your holiday décor.

Dunleith Designs & Antiques (1537 Metairie Road, 272-0879) is another great place to visit for adding elegance, ambiance and timeless beauty to your holiday experience. Specializing in fine and vintage American, English and French antiques of the 17th through the 20th centuries, owner Ken Rogers has more than
30 years of experience in design, furniture and decorative arts.

Imagine serving your holiday meals with immaculate antique English mason’s bowls and platters circa the 1820s. Beautifully detailed in Imari colors and with no cracks or chips, these hand-painted serving dishes are sure to wow your guests. Consider serving your sauces in an early 19th century French pottery condiment holder for added allure.

Whether you’re looking for elegance or a more casual affair, the gift and accessory options at Miss Smarty Pants (5523 Magazine St., 891-6141) are always a hit with holiday guests. Favorites include the monogrammed stemware and glassware, the “Swanky Styrofoam” go-cups, fleur-de-lis napkins and towels, as well as the frosted fleur-de-lis plastic cups.

Christmas-themed Styrofoam cups make a yearly appearance at Miss Smarty Pants, and custom printing is available for planners looking for one-of-a-kind party favors. Miss Smarty Pants also offers an array of accessories, including jewelry and scarves, candles and candleholders, making it easy to gear up on entertainment supplies as well as personal gifts.

No party is complete without the scent and color of fresh flowers, and on Thursday, October 6, visit Judy at the Rink (2727 Prytania St., 891-7018) for a floral arranging workshop featuring Simon Pearce vases with arranger Ginja Moseley. Wine and cheese will be available for attendees, but space is limited so register in advance by calling. Amaze your holiday guests with your flower arranging abilities and timeless, classy vases.

While at Judy at the Rink, find more ideas for holiday entertaining among their extensive accessories and gift ideas; the store is sure to satisfy not only your entertaining needs but your holiday shopping needs as well. Visit Judy at the Rink on Facebook to find out about special news, discounts and
new merchandise.

Want fresh flowers, but not looking to do it yourself? Expert floral arrangers are available for your special event at Dunn & Sonnier Flowers (2138 Magazine St., 524-3235). With careful attention to detail, arrangers at Dunn & Sonnier pride themselves on highly personalized customer service and creativity in every arrangement. Specializing in elegant weddings and events, they have the experience and skill to turn your humdrum holiday party into a magnificently colorful affair. Whether you’re simply looking for a holiday centerpiece or youwant flowers to fill your entire entertaining space, Dunn & Sonnier are happy to prepare and deliver your holiday arrangements.

Once you’ve got your decorations, housewares, accessories, serving dishes and flowers, there’s one more detail you don’t want to forget: your outfit. There is nothing worse than scrambling last-minute for holiday attire and, as the party’s host, you’ll want to make sure you look your best.

Pied Nu (5521 Magazine St.,899-4118) is committed to making sure you and your home ring in the holidays in fashion. Offering exclusive designer lines from Schumacher, Emma Hope, Hache and others, you’ll find one-of-a-kind outfits sure to dazzle your guests. Pied Nu also features exclusive lines of fine jewelry such as Cathy Waterman and Irene Neuwirth, and apothecary items ensure your ability to pamper yourself from head to toe. Their chic home furnishings turn ordinary rooms into remarkable, luxurious spaces perfect for entertaining.

Don the color of the season this year with za gorgeous red Schumacher dress, and keep warm by pairing it with the stunning and sophisticated Hache neck warmer or a stylish seasonal scarf. No matter your style, Pied Nu is a top place to visit for fine fashion and accessories.

Planning a family affair? Prepare for holiday photos galore, and make sure the kids look their best with the exclusive hand-smocked clothing for girls and boys from Orient Expressed (3905 Magazine St., (888) 856-3948). Favorites across the state, these detailed items have made Orient Expressed a New Orleans institution. From dresses and casual wear to pajamas and sweaters, Orient Expressed has holiday- and winter-wear for every occasion.

While shopping at Orient Expressed, be sure to check out their vast array of home décor items, including placemats and plates, serving trays and platters. They also feature holiday gifts and linens. For the discerning customer desiring that personalized touch, monogramming is available. Visit their Magazine Street store for the latest items or request a catalogue by visiting Orient Expressed online (OrientExpressed.com).

The holidays seem to arrive sooner and sooner every year, so getting started now will help ensure a stress-free party planning experience. With so many local establishments available to help you entertain, there’s no reason not to throw your biggest and best party yet. One of the greatest aspects of the season is gathering together with friends and family. With the planning complete, you’ll feel like one of the guests – relaxed and satisfied, able to enjoy the company of your loved ones during the most special time of the year.

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