The Heart of Holiday Hosting
Walt Disney once said, “There’s no magic in magic. It’s all in the details.” Traci Chandler, owner of Oh Sugar! Event Design + Paperie, agrees. She has been sweating the details since she planned homecoming back in high school.
Today, with her event design company, Chandler creates magic through personal details, ensuring no two events are ever the same.
“Every detail should be a direct reflection of the host. Whether it’s a private party in someone’s home, a corporate event, a fundraising gala or a joyous marriage, it needs to be personal and intentional,” she said.
For Chandler, entertaining is the art of cultivating an experience that evokes joy, especially during the holidays. Here, she shares her process and helpful hints.
Choose a Theme
Creating a look or theme for the party is the best place to start. Chandler advises using magazines, books or Pinterest to provide the spark – then building with personal details.
Chandler’s inspiration for this holiday look came from her dining room, specifically the soft reds and greens in her custom floral drapes. “I played off patterns already in the room and then brought Christmas into the mix! The combination was elegant and timeless,” she said.
Think About Layers
Chandler says the secret to creating the “magic in the details” is having different layers to the design, incorporating many elements that play together, from the invitation to the last bite.
Put it on Paper
“Creating paper goods for the occasion is a great way to get guests excited,” Chandler said. The watercolor wreath motif on the invitations carries through to the custom-printed menus and place cards on the table.
Change Is Good
Chandler created a gallery wall of 10 antique frames with vintage Christmas cards like ones she received from her grandmother while growing up. The antique frames are a year-round fixture that Chandler will change out for the season, incorporating botanicals in the spring or exhibiting her daughters’ artwork.
“It’s so much fun to swap out art in the dining room,” Chandler said. “It feels like a different room all the time.”
Focus on Details
Chandler tied small wreaths to the back of each chair with red-and-white-striped grosgrain ribbon to bring in the artwork in a modern and unexpected way. In the room’s rear, two pencil trees frame the antique hutch.
Honor the Past
Chandler highly recommends collecting heirloom pieces in the home. “If offered the family china, you say YES!” Chandler said. “It’s fun to pull these pieces out for special times around the table. It always evokes great stories and is a special way to honor family members who are no longer with us.”
For this setting, Chandler used her husband Joe’s great-great-grandmother’s green-and-gold Spaulding china, a nod to the family history and memories. The heirloom china is paired with Chandler’s favorite Mackenzie Childs charger plates, a staple for every holiday.
Take the Time
According to Chandler, the real recipe for successful hosting is effort. “It’s taking the time to create an experience that shows your guests you care about them,” she said. “What makes the setup feel special is all these details tying together in ways guests may not notice at first to create a cohesive and celebratory experience.”
Whether it is baking cookies for your guests to take home as a favor or sharing a special family cake recipe, hosting offers many ways to express yourself. “At the end of the day, it’s about having an experience with those who are special to you and making sure that when your guests leave, they have a full belly and a full heart,” Chandler said.