Fashion designer Lela Rose may be best known for her pretty party dresses and bridal gowns, but she’s also a creative party hostess with a down-to-earth flair for entertaining. Her new book, “Pret-a-Party: Great Ideas for Good Times and Creative Entertaining,” proves that you don’t need to be overly formal or precious to throw a memorable, modern day fête.
“There is a cowboy thread running through everything I do,” confesses the Texas-native-turned-New Yorker. “I like to go rogue with high-low combinations and uptown-meets-downtown style. I’m not pulling out Grandma’s heirloom china, if you know what I mean.”
As we move into prime holiday entertaining season, we asked Rose to share her best styling ideas — from wintery silver and white tabletops to spiced cocktail recipes and clever themes that can take an event over the top.
What’s your motto when it comes to hosting?
My overruling principle is to make it fun. If it’s not going to be fun, there is no point in doing it.
In “Pret-a-Party,” one of your ideas is a Silver-and-White Christmas dinner. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for this concept?
We host a Christmas dinner every year with close friends. I really like a format like that. During the holidays, we spend so much time at quick cocktail parties with five-minute conversations. The group we invite for this dinner includes some of our closest friends, and it’s our way of sending them off to enjoy their holiday travels with their families. I’m always looking for different themes around the idea of an intimate dinner party. One year, I decided to host a winter white party. Everything was white in some way. We asked our guests to bring a (literal) white elephant gift, and they had to wear winter white and silver sparkles. Even our address was White Street. The only thing I didn’t do was white food! I did, however, bake something that was silvery: a devil’s food cake topped with sparkles and white frosting so it looked like snow.
Do you ever change it up for the annual holiday dinner?
Yes. Each year, I do something different. One year, for example, I hosted a dinner party inspired by the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” where we had a partridge with pear and things that were Old World, like a spidery, silver spun lace that I laid over a linen tablecloth. I bought little silver tree ornaments to turn into napkin rings, which also doubled as ornaments. These were easy and inexpensive to make. I’ll use old wine bottles and take the label off to use as candle holders. To me, they are elegant table décor without going overboard. My closest friends know that I will always have some random trick up my sleeve!
What other fun twists might you bring to a holiday party?
A twist on the white elephant gift exchange is always fun. I’ll find unique ways to change up the process of passing out numbers