Vanessa Lachey is truly the hostess with the mostest. The Top Chef Jr.
host loves decking the halls the day immediately after Thanksgiving (a Lachey family tradition) and throwing an annual holiday party with her husband, Nick Lachey. This year, in partnership with HomeGoods
, Vanessa revamped their Los Angeles home's decor the first week of November to welcome Nick home after a recent concert tour. Here, Vanessa shares her hosting hacks and how the busy working mom of three keeps the holiday season stress-free.
1. Prep social hot spots ahead of time. "Setting up stations at a party makes it super-easy for the flow, and as a hostess, you don't have to be constantly serving people," says Lachey. She arranges a drink area with non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, different glasses, ice, a bottle opener, stirrers, tumblers, and napkins. For kiddos, she offers flavored sparkling water with fresh strawberries and mint and a splash of cranberry juice for color. She labels everything so it's clear to guests what the options are at each section.
2. Set up the ultimate treat station. "A dessert bar is key because during the holidays, everybody wants some sweets," says Lachey. Sugar cookies, cupcakes, white chocolate-dipped pretzels adorn her buffet bar, alongside after-drink drinks. French pressed coffee, hot cocoa with mugs (complete with chocolate spoons for stirring), and s'mores-flavored syrup are ready for sipping.
3. Personalize gifts for guests. For sit-down dinners, Lachey loves to include an element in the place setting that is personalized for each of her friends and family. Here, she writes their names on the tree ornament that they can take home after the party. "Place cards make it easier than the awkward moment of everyone trying to figure out where to sit," says Lachey.
4. Give out goody bags. One of Lachey's favorite party hacks is to set up a parting gift area. This year, the big red sled will be filled with take-home presents. "I also like to send people home with food. If I'm baking, I'll make extra to give away. If it's candy that I've put out, I'll set some aside. I always have containers if anyone wants to take home leftovers from dinner," says Lachey.
5. Expect the unexpected. While Lachey loves going all out for the holidays, as a mom of three young kids, she knows that messes will happen. While the pillows and comfy throws on her sofas and love seats add a sophisticated touch to the season, she shops at HomeGoods for machine-washable throws and decor. "As a mom of three kids, if they get chocolate milk or candy on the throws, which were under $20, I don't want to worry about it. The blankets, even the faux fur one, are all machine washable, and I need that," says Lachey.
6. Make your party child-friendly. When having friends with little ones over for the holidays, Lachey always includes a tot-friendly table, complete with toys, puzzles, a building set, and children's books. A cupcake set that pint-sized partygoers can draw on with markers attracts children of all ages. "When it's time to eat, we clear off the toys and replace the Buffalo plaid tablecloth with craft paper so the kids can draw on it," says Lachey.
7. Plan for ample seating. Offering plenty of places to sit is a top priority for Lachey when she's hosting. She loves this white ottoman because it serves a dual purpose. She can flip the two cushions, which are wooden table tops underneath, so kids can use it as a play area. If she needs seating for guests, she turns the top over for the cushion. The festive gilded storage boxes above — the spines are classic Christmas titles — are used to store holiday cards, and the Clue, Scrabble, and Monopoly games are ideal for game nights.
8. Stock up on entertaining holiday gifts. To ease the stress of the holiday season, Lachey keeps a running list on her phone of what she needs to buy. That includes buying seasonal entertaining items, like a cheese platter or serving dishes, that she stashes away for any party invite or teacher gifts so she's not scrambling at the last minute. "Holiday decor is something I think people don't necessarily buy for themselves, so it's a great gift to have on hand," says Lachey.
9. Think about the party flow. "Nick is more into a contemporary style, and I'm more of a new-traditional style," says Lachey. The Buffalo plaid pillows on the couch were the design inspiration for her to create a classic Christmas look that's kid-friendly and can last all season long. "For me, home decor and entertaining is all about the flow. When we have a party, I always think about where people at the party are going to gravitate toward, so we rework the room to fit the occasion," says Lachey. The gorgeous California views from the Lacheys' living room add a special touch to the overall style.
What are your best holiday entertaining hacks? Tweet us at @BritandCo and let us know!
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(Photos via Matt Harrington for HomeGoods)