Nate Berkus Dishes on Entertaining for the Holidays

If you're like us, you've been diligently (okay, obsessively) primping and preening your home for the upcoming holiday season. Are you in need of some quick tips for perfecting your holiday décor? You're in luck! We had the chance to sit down with design expert and television host Nate Berkus to chat about all things holiday.

What are some fun things that you can do during the holiday season that really make guests feel welcome and special? Is there anything that you do when you have guests at your home?

Nate Berkus: You know, to me it's really all about showing somebody that you've anticipated their arrival, and you don't have to go overboard. It can be making their favorite dish or putting your favorite read that you know that they're going to love on their nightstand with a printed note inside that says, "I just finished this book and I know you're going to love it, so enjoy this, before you go to sleep every night."

A new set of white towels folded on the end of the bed in the guest room is always a big win with a new bar of soap, tied with a ribbon or ribbon remnant. Fresh flowers—even if it's three or four stems in a tiny vase on the nightstand or a bottle of water sitting on the nightstand—those are the kinds of touches that I think are so appreciated. Those are the kinds of things that don't take a tremendous amount of time, but really, I think send that message loud and clear that you've been looking forward to someone's arrival.

How you can make your home festive and, perhaps, unconventionally interesting without spending a fortune for the holiday season?

NB: You know, I don't think decorations have to go all over the house. If you have a family tradition of decorating for the holidays and it does, that's great. For me, I think a little goes a really long way. One of the things that I think is really cool is to take all those glass vases that we all have under our kitchen sinks from the florist— they're just around our homes—and if you don't have them, they're really cheap to find at thrift stores and stuff. I love the idea of taking a big group of them—eight, 10, 12 of them—and putting them on the table on the entry and filling them with ornaments in two colors, like gold and silver or white and gold or white and bronze or whatever it is in different sizes, and then just [adding] greenery. It works on an entry table; it works on a dining room sideboard; it works on the mantle. It's just different clear glass vases in different shapes and sizes and then ornaments floating inside them.

Do you have any great ideas for inexpensive hostess gifts to take to holiday parties?

NB:  Absolutely. In fact, I’m listing them on my Web site.

Most people grab a bottle of wine when they’re walking out the door. And I can’t stand that because if you buy a good bottle of wine, by the time everybody gets around to it they’re already drunk, so what’s the point? So, I prefer to give gifts that actually can be used all year round and that are practical, whether that’s a beautiful vase that comes in a great package for under $20 or these threatened animal notebooks that [I found] from Japan that are beautiful. Even taking a vintage piece of silver plate or silver that you find for a good price at an antiques mall or a yard sale or estate sale, and going to the trophy store in your town and having someone’s monogram put on it. It’s all about really thoughtful gifts and things that aren’t just for the holidays, but things for under $20, under $25 that are the same price as a bottle of wine, but that last forever.

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