‘Tis the season to pull out the formalwear and fancy table settings for holiday entertaining. Whether hosting an intimate cocktail party for friends, serving family the very best with a formal sit-down dinner, or welcoming both family and friends for a holiday open house, here are some ideas that will have your fête sparkling with this season’s best.

The Family Feast

The traditional family sit-down dinner becomes a comfortable, inviting celebration with earth-toned place settings and touches of dazzling gold. A neutral toned dining set of sage greens, heathered brown and creamy white allows the food to take center stage. An old holiday favorite is recalled in sparkling detail in the linen partridge hand towel, a soon-to-be-treasured hostess gift, as well as the partridge votive holder accenting each guest’s place. Notable extras, such as an elegant mother-of-pearl ice scoop, striking recycled wine bottle glasses, and a rustic antique wine bucket create an eclectic and exquisite mix of old and new.

Entertaining PossibilitiesAntique wine bucket from Eclectic Home; wine bottle glasses from Hugh Martin Home; sage, brown, and cream dishes from Judy at the Rink; custom invitation by Stationer of New Orleans; mother-of-pearl ice scoop from Bella Nola; “Partridge in a Pear Tree” linen hand towel from Hestia Luxury in Linens; Rioja red wine from Martin Wine Cellar; and golden bird votive holder from Judy’s at the Rink.

Beautiful hand-embroidered linen towels in holiday themes quickly become heirloom collectables when presented to a hostess for family gatherings, while a simple ceramic cornucopia provides a stunning and simple centerpiece.

A  Toast to Elegance

Pink has always been a classic color that complements other light or dark colors, so why not make that shade the basis of your next holiday cocktail party. Start with a sophisticated floral arrangement, then highlight the mood with crowning touches of sparkling serving pieces and hors d’oeuvres plates, colorful linen cocktail napkins and just the right custom made invitation. Serve your guests the most delectable, bite-sized creations from one of New Orleans’ top caterers, Joel’s. If “potato latke with smoked salmon mousse and dill crème fraiche” and “duck rillette with brandied cranberries on Belgian endive” doesn’t set a delicious tone, then we don’t know what will.

Entertaining PossibilitiesClockwise from top: Flowers by Fat Cat Flowers; gold embellished glassware from Judy’s at the Rink; Crown plates from Bella Nola; hors d’oeuvres by Joel’s; wine glass linen cocktail napkins from Hugh Martin Home; custom wrought-iron style invitation by Stationer of New Orleans; and round Annieglass serving dish from Eclectic Home.

Try bringing a selection of the latest travel guides for a jet-set host or hostess who loves to explore the world, either first-hand or from their armchair.

While the champagne is passed around, and the most shining silverware and china are on display, it’s also important for the host and hostess to dress to the nines for every festive occasion. Here are the latest tips, straight from the experts.

Wear it Well: Holiday Parties
For the Men: A Return to Sophistication

According to David Perlis—of New Orleans original Perlis clothing store—men’s party attire is returning to the sophistication of bygone days. “We are definitely seeing a resurgence in the French cuff shirt, accented with a striking set of cuff links,” says Perlis. “Pocket squares are also a way to dress up an outfit for the holiday party season.” As for formalwear, Perlis has the perfect idea for special occasions with rich tie and cummerbund combinations that give an elegant nod to NOLA. “Our woven fleur-de-lis cummerbund and tie sets are very popular, and look great for any special black-tie event,” he says.
Entertaining Possibilities
Clockwise from top: Ceramic cornucopia from Eclectic Home; winebottle glasses from Hugh Martin Home; amarylis and pinecone linentowels from Hestia Luxury in Linens; and dishes from Judy’s at the Rink.
For Women: Taking a Shine to Color

Mimi Bowen, New Orleans’ own design expert and owner of her namesake shop, Mimi, has the inside scoop on what’s hot for holiday party dresses this year. “It’s all about color, color, color,” says Bowen. “Some of the hottest trends are purple, hot pink, red and lots of green.” And, along with color, fashions this holiday season have an extra element of sparkle. “We see lots of shine. Sequins, patent leather, anything that really shines. What could be better for the holidays?”
she says.

Holiday Open House

Lay out a brunch feast of sumptuous ham baked lovingly (and conveniently for you) by Heavenly Ham, with biscuits and all the fixings for a holiday open house that is sure to draw a crowd. Dress it up with boldly patterned plates, fine champagne, glittering votives, and elegant stemware and crystal accents. This simple, but elegant, party is sure to be the talk of the holiday season.

Entertaining Possibilities
Clockwise from top: Veuve Clicquot Champagne from Elio’s Wine Warehouse; Marcellino etched crystal ice bucket by Mignon Faget; oversized box of matches (“Quit Carping”) from Hugh Martin Home; velvet patterned plates from Hugh Martin Home (topped with ham from Heavenly Ham); etched glass champagne flute from Eclectic Home; custom fleur-de-lis invitation by Stationer of New Orleans; and red-gold votive holder and serving pieces from Bella Nola.

Try something original for a hostess gift she will truly use and enjoy. Stationer of New Orleans specializes in making custom name cards in brilliant colors and an almost endless selection of envelope liners. Or, for the host with the most, a dining and entertaining guide makes for fine reading and enlightenment.

Location, Location, Location—and Entertainment, too

Sometimes a host doesn’t want to deal with the hassles of having a party at home, and turns to finding the perfect location. Entertainment during this season is paramount, as well.

Location with Ambiance and History: Antoine’s
The historic dining rooms of Antoine’s have hosted parties of two to more than 800, and have been doing so since the mid-1800s. Each dining room has a story of its own, and can be custom matched to your special holiday occasion. An abundant selection of banquet, reception and buffet menus are available, with just the right menu to delight the hosts as well as the guests.

Entertaining PossibilitiesClockwise from top left: Spiral sliced baked ham from HeavenlyHam; “Favorite Party & Dining Tips,” by Peggy Post from Scriptura;custom cards and envelopes by Stationer of New Orleans; serving fork from Bella Nola; and Marcellino stemless wine glass by Mignon Faget.

Location with (Sophisticated) Attitude: Mr. B’s Bistro

Mr. B’s is back and offers all of the great food and atmosphere it is renown for. Offering packages for lunch, brunch, dinner and cocktail parties, Mr. B’s Bistro makes a superior choice for holiday entertaining. The Cellar is the restaurant’s exclusive private room and accommodates 25 to 42 guests (seated), as well as 55 people for a cocktail party. The non-private Wine Room can also entertain up to 62 people for a fun and lively atmosphere.

Music to Your Ears – Location Entertainment: White Oak Productions

White Oak Productions offers music for the masses, as well as for more intimate gatherings. Providing a one-stop shop, so to speak, for all of your entertaining needs, the experts at White Oak can book just the right musician for your event. From local talent to headlining stars, these music gurus can pretty much do it all. 
Antoine’s, 713 St. Louis St., 581-4422
Bella Nola, 4236 Magazine St., 897-9499
Eclectic Home, 8133 Oak St., 866-6654
Elio Wine Warehouse, 6205 S. Miro St., 866-1852
Fat Cat Flowers, 4436 St. Anne St., 486-6680
Heavenly Ham, 5300 Tchoupitoulas, 891-5100
Hestia Luxury in Linens, 3713 Magazine St., 218-5693;
  61 Park Place, Ste. D, Covington, 985/893-0490
Hugh Martin Home, 4222 Magazine St., 899-1882
Joel’s, 1201 Convention Center Blvd., 827-2400

Judy’s at the Rink, 2727 Prytania St., 891-7018
Martin Wine Cellar, 3827 Baronne St., 899-7411
Mimi, 5500 Magazine St., 269-6464
Mignon Faget, 3801 Magazine St., 891-2057; Shops at Canal Place, 524-2973;
  Lakeside Shopping Center, 835-2244
Mr. B’s Bistro, 201 Royal St., 523-2078
Perlis, 6070 Magazine St., 895-8661; 1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985/674-1711
Scriptura, 5423 Magazine St., 897-1555; Lakeside Shopping Center Annex, 219-1113
Stationer New Orleans, 3947 Magazine St., 895-4868
White Oak Productions, 8428 Oak St., 314-6680