mermaids and martinis christofleA couple of weeks ago, I headed uptown to toast my dear friend, party planner extraordinaire, Hilary Pereira of Mermaids and Martinis fame, at a book signing at Christofle on Madison Avenue (think Tiffany’s… but French).  Not only was she signing her first book (of many to come, I’m sure), she was doling out some of the best holiday party tips out there… so good, in fact, I couldn’t keep them to myself.  So, I asked Hilary if she’d be so kind as to share her favorite holiday hosting tips with you.  For Hilary, a party is all about creating a memory and here are a few of her favorite ways to get into the spirit of the season in her own words:

“Trim the Holiday Chaos”

The holidays can cause some major nail-biting moments between family drama, overnight visits, and breaking the bank on holiday shopping.  Instead of stressing out before Santa’s visit, here are a few simple tricks to trim the chaos.  When hosting a soiree, why worry about mailing paper invites?  A great website like “Paperless Post” includes beautifully designed evites that you can customize from the envelope liners to the stamps.  Enlist a couple of Hostess Helpers!  This could include hiring staff depending on your budget or assigning a few friends to stay on top of some key elements during your party like checking in on the kids, peeking into the bathroom once in a while to make sure it is fully stocked, or helping you to snap a few, or even answering the door while you are busy mingling.  And, lastly, but most importantly as the host, be responsible for your energy!  A positive hostess is a magnet for positive guests and vice versa!

Signature Bubbly Bar

I love hosting a signature cocktail, but during the holiday season, I like to expand on this by creating a champagne bubbly bar.  Use champange or Prosecco depending on budget…invest in a few different bottles of champagne/Prosecco and then host small bowls of garnishes–raspberries, cherries, blueberries and essences that you can drop into the drinks.  Your guests will feel like they are creating their own signature drink. PS: Always serve a mocktail for those who are not imbibing or those who are driving!

Go beyond the Pointsetta!

Winter flowers are beautiful and this season’s blooms are easy to create memorable centerpieces–you can even dress them up to add some sparkle to your table with fabric or sequins. Some of the most popular blooms of the season are amaryllis, Star of Bethlehem, orchids, evergreens, mums, snowballs and holly berry.  Or, go outside, collect some fir leaves, pinecones, fallen leaves and go crazy with spraypaint.  I love using silver spraypaint and flocking these elements with fake snow.  But, this year, I used a gold leaf paint which looked beautiful on just on the tips of pinecones and fir leaves.

Traditions with a Twist

It’s fun to create new twists on old traditions.  Instead of a traditional tree trimming party, You could host a White Elephant party where everyone brings a surprise gift and you host a “Swap” or one themed “Winter Woodland” where decor consists of faux fur throws, lots of woodsy, pine scented candles, serve your cocktails out of mini steel thermoses and create a buffet of camp-fire comfort food and a dessert S’mores bar.  You could also host a “Destination Celebration” by creating a whole other country or place in your home. You can also have camp fire with awesome fire wood available at  If you live in chilly Maine, host a Tropical Christmas Luau, or, if you live in sunny Florida, host an Aspen Apres-ski party to switch things up a bit!!

New Year’s Eve: Countdown Cocktails

Purchase a few cheap plastic stopwatches and tie them around the stems of glasses–they will all sound off at Midnight in concert–OR, host a Time Traveler party and set your iPad or an alarm clock to sound off every hour from the minute your party begins through Midnight–every time the alarm goes off, you and your guests can celebrate what part of the world/country just entered into the New Year–AND, introduce a new food element or cocktail based on that country (example: When France begins their NewYear, serve a round of Kir Royales, Japan, bring out a sushi platter or fortune cookies with personalized messages, etc.)

LAST BUT NOT LEAST–An event is an opportunity to find out what these ‘holidays’ really mean to you. 

As a hostess, make your guests feel honored, loved, welcomed and appreciated.  Although it truly is of the utmost importance for me to host an event with a beautiful aesthetic and great food and drink–when we have one moment to come together (for some people just once a year), hosting an event should always circle back to what is most important, the people in your life, and that special time you have to toast in good health and to another year.  As the host, own that, and pay it forward.

And as if, Hilary didn’t already just do us a solid with all of these fabulous party ideas, she is also going to give away a signed copy of her book, Mermaids and Martinis: Turn Your Party Into a Memory to one lucky winner!  All you need to do is follow WhyDid and Mermaids and Martinis on Twitter and retweet this message for your chance to score a book chocked full of SO many more amazing party planning tips, tricks, and ideas.

Good luck and happy hosting!