Easy, Last-Minute Tips for Every Holiday Host

Lifestyle guru Camille Styles shares her foolproof ideas.

photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


Hosting for the holidays can be quite a stressful undertaking. From the meticulous prep and planning involved to the actual rollout the day of, there are myriad details to oversee. To help take a bit of the stress off, we turned to Target’s entertaining expert and lifestyle guru Camille Styles, for her tried-and-true tips for hosting with effortless ease.

Taking us behind the scenes of her latest holiday shindig, we got an exclusive peek inside the new Camille Styles Studio, where a celebration came complete with a fully-stocked bar cart and plenty of festive decor. Read on for the ultimate scoop on how to throw a holiday fete without a hitch.

First up, drinks. Cocktails and the holidays undoubtedly go hand in hand. Whether you’re opting for a bottle of bubbly or serving up your signature concoction, spirits are a mainstay of a good evening. Enter the bar cart. Keeping one stocked with all of the essentials will ensure a seamless evening of entertaining. Now, that’s not an excuse to go all out and splurge on every sort of barware imaginable but, rather a precaution to properly prep for the evening ahead. If you’ll be serving cocktails, be sure that you’re stocked with all the necessary ingredients for the recipes. 

photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


“I love to equip my bar cart with all the functional yet chic tools guests will need to mix up their drinks,” says Styles. “Shakers, jiggers, and a few liquors (I like tequila, gin and vodka) and mixers (tonic, soda, and a fruit juice or two) will complete the essentials. I also included edible swizzle sticks like candy canes, cinnamon sticks, and sugared cranberries for a fun and colorful touch.”

photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


When it comes to the decor, planning ahead can make a significant difference. But don't fret, a handful of well-thought-out decorative details can certainly go a long way. "String festive garland up above the bar, buffet, or fireplace for a cheeky take on a holiday tradition," suggests Styles. "Don’t forget the front door! A pretty wreath welcomes guests to the party and creates an inviting first impression."

photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


Let’s talk food! What does your typical holiday spread look like?
I love to make a couple delicious things from scratch and then fill in the rest with high-quality store-bought ingredients. Smoked salmon toast, burrata & mint crostini, or squash hummus are stars on an appetizer buffet.

Then, stock up on snacks like juicy green olives, creamy brie, seeded crackers, and fresh fruit to create a beautiful party-worthy display.

Pro-Tip: Use serving platters of varying heights to create an element of visual interest within the buffet spread. Cake stands are encouraged!

photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


Okay, your guests are set to arrive in 10 minutes—what are you usually doing at this point?
If I’ve followed my own to-do list, then everything’s on schedule and I’m swiping on my red lipstick with a cocktail in hand. The host sets the tone for the party, so I do my best to be calm and stress-free when the first guest arrives so I can invite them in with a big hug and a warm welcome.

What are your top three essentials for a successful holiday party?
Loads of candlelight, greenery garlands, and champagne.

Go-to background music?
I’m a sucker for pop versions of holiday songs, it makes everything feel so festive. This year I’ve got Sia’s new album, “Every Day is Christmas,” on repeat at our house.

photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


Skipping out on a signature cocktail can be a serious hosting faux pas. Here is Styles' go-to Cherry Sparkle Cocktail recipe:

Cherry Sparkle Cocktail 
  • 3 maraschino cherries, plus syrup from the jar
  • sugar
  • 3 dashes bitters
  • 2 brown sugar cubes
  • 1/2 oz. cherry Heering or cherry liqueur
  • 4 oz. chilled champagne
Moisten the outer rim of a cup with maraschino cherry syrup and coat with sugar. Sprinkle the bitters over the sugar cubes. Add the cherry liqueur, maraschino cherries, and a dash of maraschino cherry syrup to the cup. Top with the champagne and add the sugar cubes.
 

photography by KRISTEN KILPATRICK


We’re down to the wire. What does your last-minute pre-party prep entail?
Empty the trash, light a candle in the bathroom, turn up the music, and pour myself a cocktail.


Discover more ideas for flawless holiday entertaining:
Holiday Hosting Hacks for First-Time Entertainers
The Best Gifts For the Holiday Host
The Smart Girl's Guide To Hosting Your First Holiday Party

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Published on December 19, 2017 - 5:30am EST

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