Noa Santos shares his easy entertaining ideas, and lets you know that now’s the time to redecorate for the season—and maybe to throw a party as a test run.
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Personally, I’m not super into holiday decorations—the standard Christmas colors aren’t usually my favorite and I have a Manhattan-size apartment, which rules out the 8′ tree. But to me, the holidays are about entertaining at the highest level. Everything is about maximum enjoyment—you’re going into the season knowing that you’ll want to have people over and I think you should use the season as an excuse to fine tune your decor.
Throw A Practice Party
My ultimate entertaining advice is the practice party. Edge into entertaining. Don’t wait until your house is done—have five people over and see how it goes. Then you might decide your holiday party should only be for fifteen instead of 25.
One of the hardest things about throwing a great party is if you are doing a great job no one notices the details. It’s like lighting: everyone can spot bad lighting (“ugh, this lighting!”), but you don’t notice good lighting because it’s good (“Oh, I look beautiful tonight”). When you go to a great party, it looks easy. That’s because the host knows what he or she is doing. Experience your home with people, and see how they react. Discover if you run out of ice, if people cluster in spaces or try to jam into your galley kitchen, and if there are ways you can improve the flow. Enter your space through your guests’ eyes, and you might be surprised by what you see.
Make the Most of What You’ve Got
You don’t want your space to look like Santa’s sack exploded. The goal is creating a beautiful space that looks just lightly dusted with holiday cheer. Get a wreath, sprinkle in some votives, pull out your crystal. It’s about entertaining and bringing people into your home to share the space you’ve created with people you love—however materially that manifests itself.
That’s why I like accents that feel seasonal but not overtly so. In small spaces, a tree can be overwhelming but a simple wreath can have so much impact. Swap out the piece of art above your sofa with an oversized amazing bit of greenery. You’ll be able to go larger than you would with a tree—and you’ll still get that holiday effect. Or dress up the plants you have—it’s still greenery right?
Almost anywhere you are, Christmas is typically chillier (even you L.A.). Enhance it. Turn up the dial on texture and coziness—think cable knit pillows, fur throws, and a few extra candles. If you don’t have a fireplace, get an ethanol-burning one or light the place up with candles.
Seasonal drinks offer you the chance to indulge. I adore the look of dark spirits in luxurious, crystal glassware. I love the idea of taking the time to invest in entertainment pieces and bar glassware. There’s something so much more elevated and enticing about drinking eggnog out of crystal and red wine out of beautiful glasses.
Figure Out the Perfect Placement
People underestimate the effect furniture placement has on comfort. The right amount of furniture in the room will make it feel intimate. The right floor plan is the difference between people feeling isolated and at home. With all the action coming, your layout is more important than ever. Why not experiment?
Your home is constantly evolving, and there’s always a way to retool things to better serve the purposes of that moment. The other night, I rearranged our TV room before people came over. I broke the sofa in two so we had two (not literally…it comes apart naturally) seating areas in front of each other. In two years, whenever we’ve entertained, no matter how full the house is, that room has sat empty. So I changed it up. I dimmed the lights, I lit two candles, and I walked away. Hours later, half the guests were packed into that tiny space. We all think we want grand spaces, but most of us feel our best in intimate rooms.
Read more of Noa’s tips and musings in our full We Noa Guy series.