Holiday Entertaining with Nathan Turner

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Los Angeles–based designer Nathan Turner is renowned for his signature brand of relaxed but classic West Coast chic. For the holidays, he recommends hosts start with a game plan, just like the pros. “Event designers are super-organized and their entire event is broken down into a well-run timeline,” he explains. “No matter what is going on behind the scenes, a good designer never shows signs of stress or worry.”

The Most Important Part: “Preparation, preparation, preparation. Do everything you can ahead of time. I love setting the table the day before—get the flowers done, prep the serving pieces. . . . That way you can see what’s working and what’s not. Setting a table is like decorating a room. You have to put some thought into it and leave room for mistakes.”

The designer suggests mixing different plaids within a single color palette for a festive look. Turner is quick to point out, though, that, “holiday decorating can go from pretty to tacky in no time flat. One way to prevent that is by using fresh flowers, garlands, and greenery.”

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When it comes to decorating around the interior design of your home, Turner believes your holiday decor should reflect the way you actually live. “If you have a really tone-on-tone, neutral, modern interior paired with an over-the-top green-and-red Christmas extravaganza, it’s going to look garish.”

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Turner also recommends creating a take-home gift for your holiday company. “It can be really simple—individually wrap your favorite specialty jam, truffles, or chocolates and send them home with your guests.”

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As for the tree, Turner advises coordinating your ornaments. “Decorating a Christmas tree is like decorating a room—there should be different finishes, textures, and shades of color.”

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Don’t forget lighting. ” A good table should leave your guests wanting to stay, so make sure they feel good but also look good. And everyone looks good in candlelight. Real candles are the only way to go.”

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Just as important is getting your guests talking. “I’m not a big fan of putting people on the spot and doing those ‘Okay, let’s go around and everyone say something about yourself.’ More often than not, that works against you because people clam up and get uncomfortable. Instead, at a small table, make like you’re at a cocktail table and engage different people together, like, ‘Oh Michael, I’ve been meaning to tell you about my friend Stephanie’s jewelry line—I think you’ll like it.’ You’re the director of this party. Direct!”

Source: Architectural Digest

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