Design

How to Holiday, According to People With Excellent Taste

From decor to entertaining—even if the guest list is just the people you live with

Chic Christmas decor tips from designers

We’re going all in on holiday this year—there’s just something at once comforting and refreshing about leaning in to joy and festivity wherever we can. To say that the season might look a little different definitely qualifies for the understatement of the century, but that’s not stopping us from fully embracing a holiday mood, from chic Christmas decor to setting a festive table. Even if it’s for a virtual get-together.

So, in that spirit, we turned to three of the coolest people we know to see how they’re approaching the holidays: jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher, fashion designer Matthew Williamson and interior designer Kara Mann. Bring on the cheer. (Oh—and we’re fully on board with adding Mariah to the playlist now. November feels close enough to Christmastime.)

JENNIFER FISHER IS BRINGING HER SIGNATURE BRAND OF GLAM TO HOLIDAY STYLING AND ENTERTAINING

Chic Christmas decor tips from designers
Our favorite jewelry designer’s sophisticated approach is anything but traditional. Her latest capsule collection brings a fresh attitude to seasonal styling and entertaining, and we’re taking notes. “For me, a holiday table just needs a subtle pop of floral color. It complements the neutral tones of the Swirl Dinnerware perfectly,” Fisher says. “Using festive lighting and tonal candles always brings a table together. I like to include metallic accent pieces to make the table feel more special. It keeps it modern and monochromatic.”

When it comes to holiday florals, Fisher’s approach is similarly neutral and natural. “I’m a big fan of mixed, textured greenery. Just keep it minimal—you can still make something feel festive without screaming ‘holiday,’” she explains. “I come from a family that celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, so my mother was always more tonal in her decor. I definitely get my love for tonal holiday greens from her. It’s very nostalgic for me and something I’ve always tried to emulate.”

In fact, the way Fisher decorates is very much of a piece with her sophisticated and understated approach to all things style. “I have a tendency to under-decorate versus over-decorate,” she says. “My tree remains pretty simple and monochromatic. Over the years, I’ve collected different monochromatic ornaments and I switch it up depending on my mood, whether it’s more white/silver or black/white/gold.”

If you’re hosting an intimate gathering this year—maybe for the first time as big, traditional gatherings get deprioritized—Fisher has advice for pulling it off and actually enjoying yourself, too. “Have a drink before guests arrive, take a deep breath and realize that no one besides you is going to notice if one small thing goes wrong—so enjoy yourself,” she says. “We haven’t been able to celebrate much lately, so the holidays will be a chance to break away from routine and appreciate our close friends and family in NYC.”

Chic Christmas decor tips from designersChic Christmas decor tips from designers

MATTHEW WILLIAMSON DRAWS INFLUENCE FROM HIS SPANISH ISLE SURROUNDINGS TO SET A FESTIVE TABLE

Feeling a little less traditional, a little more eclectic in your holiday stylings? Pattern king Matthew Williamson styles up a gorgeous, nontraditional table setting that feels seasonal but unexpected at the same time.

The British designer lives in the mountains of Deià, Mallorca, which he says has influenced his decor and holiday decorations. “The natural landscape, the rugged coastal paths and all the foliage around me has naturally spilled over. I’m going to try and play around with a more muted, neutral palette, which is a nice change since I usually go for bright and bold hues.”

This year will be an intimate affair.

That muted, neutral palette is key to making Williamson’s signature pattern mixing work. While he doesn’t stick to any particular “rules,” he advises that “keeping a tight palette is wise. I love florals with a graphic pattern and a touch of animal print, too.” Williamson’s go-to this year? “A super fun menagerie-printed runner and matching napkins I designed for CB2. I love their faded, neutral tones, but they’re whimsical and fun, too.”

Chic Christmas decor tips from designers
Chic Christmas decor tips from designersChic Christmas decor tips from designers
Chic Christmas decor tips from designers
Though the holiday guest list may be smaller than usual, Williamson is still embracing chic Christmas decor. “This year will be an intimate affair—just my partner and I, our daughter and our dog Mr. Plum. Once we’re done with Christmas lunch, though, I’ll no doubt be calling my parents and family back in the U.K.,” he says. And that Christmas lunch will be served on Williamson’s luxe, layered tablescape, with its mix of textures, patterns and lots of candlelight. “I say the more the merrier—old ones and new ones. I love the golden palm candle holders at the center of the table for a touch of decadence and drama.”

Even among the mountains, coves and sparkling waters of Mallorca, Williamson is keeping certain festive traditions alive, from a robust collection of ornaments to using music to get into the spirit of things. “I’ve amassed so many ornaments that there are enough now to tie to an olive tree outside my front door for a magical touch to the entrance,” Williamson says. And when it comes to the playlist, “I say a big yes to all the classics for a bit of nostalgia, and a few cheesy numbers thrown in too!”

KARA MANN CREATES A HOLIDAY MOOD THAT’S ELEGANT, SPARKLY AND FULL OF SOPHISTICATED WHIMSY

When it comes to chic Christmas decor, we knew we could turn to the refined eye of esteemed interior designer Kara Mann. Elegant and neutral with a slight shimmer, her design scheme nails the ultimate holiday formula. “I like it to be elegant and sparkly—gold baubles, copper ornaments and layering different styles of the same colored light,” Mann says. “I think it’s fun to create a theme. Ironically, I’m feeling outdoorsy this year so I have decorations of birds and butterflies in copper tones, pinecones with a sparkle and three different styles of white light—oh, and don’t forget the back of the tree!”

She also extends the theme to the mantel, which sports a garland of magnolia leaves, taper candles in gold holders and stockings for the whole family—dogs included (of course). To keep it from getting too cluttered, Mann maintains a one-in, one-out policy: “For every piece of holiday decor you add, remove an existing item,” she advises. Concealed storage is your friend here.

Chic Christmas decor tips from designers

Chic Christmas decor tips from designersChic Christmas decor tips from designers

Don’t forget the back of the tree!

For Mann, the spirit of the season is rooted in traditions and family time. “It was always a big thing in my family. We’d play the Frank Sinatra Christmas album and decorate the tree. Now, we get dressed up and have a big, beautiful dinner on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day we hang out in our PJs, read our new books and eat leftovers,” she says. “To keep the tradition going this year, we’re all getting COVID tested and self-isolating before we see each other. Weird times.”

When it comes to her decorating playlist? That’s another area we’re in full agreement: “If you’re not trying to hit Mariah’s high notes, is it even Christmas?”

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