When it comes to the week before Christmas and New Year Celebrations are in full swing, those of us hosting family and friends can get a little frantic. In my home, that can involve small casual afternoon gatherings for girlfriends, large scale gatherings for my husband’s company or intimate dinner parties. Feeling prepared isn’t just about the grocery lists and gift wrapping. In an age of constant picture-snapping at almost any get-together, whipping your space into shape so that it is inviting and festive is more important than ever.

To get some modern tips on how to approach final holiday decorating touches, we went to one of our favorite local talents, interior designer Jonathan Savage. His take on straying from traditional holiday décor and palettes feels fresh and stylish. Here, he shares his approach on holiday decorating to complement any interior, tabletop detail and of course, being cocktail ready.



Try introducing just one unexpected color that compliments the room and stick with that as your theme. Maybe it’s a subtle tone in the pattern of your upholstered chairs or drapery. This year, I’ve chosen enticing shades of orange to compliment the blues, warm greys, and cream in the room.  Peach roses, rosé wine in buckets, variegated soft orange ornaments on the tree and white lights all work well together. Think of transforming a tree to offset the colors of your room better. I’ve chosen a Flocked tree to keep with the white and greys in the room and it makes the orange decorations shine.

Remove any clutter and keep your rooms streamlined. Resist the urge of the ubiquitous reds and greens everywhere if that isn’t within your room’s palette or if you don’t want to be traditional. Create a space that is clean and festive, and you’ll thank yourself when you’re still in the celebratory mood as New Year’s Eve draws near. What is the fun in the frenzy of the colors and objects everywhere?

Invest wisely in your home for the holidays. Your guests want a place to clear their over-stimulated heads with friends and conversations by the fire. Have some decorations but keep it in perspective, pick one – the tree for example – as a strong focal point and a few fresh-cut flowers and that is plenty to make a statement. No need to go overboard. Clean and simple is much more appreciated during these hectic times!



Don’t put too much on the table. You don’t want your guests knocking things over.  If you have a formal dinner be sure to include the appropriate glassware and silver but no need to fuss beyond that. A few fresh flowers are the only addition you need.  I suggest using Tulip Tree Florals in Nashville. Be sure to keep them in lower vases as the height on your table can come from the candles and stemware.

If you need to add pieces for serving and hosting to your collection, there are some lovely, well-appointed locally operated stores with an abundance of choices. You can’t go wrong with the fine dining collection at Corzine & Co. Beautiful silver, china, and other fineries. For beautiful table linens and other tabletop accessories, stop into Epergne. Susan or Laura on their staff can help you pull an elegant look together easily.

Refrain from too much overhead light. Candlelight is the most elegant and sets a refined and convivial atmosphere. If you truly feel that is not enough, put your chandelier or overhead lighting dimmed low.

Put away distractions near the table. You don’t want to divert the attention of the conversations and meal. If you have a side table or shelves nearby clear the clutter and keep it in order.  You’ll notice a more peaceful ambiance.



Those little white lights that tell us its holiday season are always inviting. But a little goes a long way so don’t overdo it. Consider placing clusters on your outdoor planters to welcome guests as they approach your front door. When your guests see these lights, it sends a festive signal and says party time

Always have drinks on hand for guests as soon as they arrive (We have some incredible ideas for libations to impress in our holiday cocktail recipe roundup). Situate a set up that allows everyone to help themselves throughout the celebration. No one wants to wait for the host or hostess to notice their empty glass. People want to take the work off the person entertaining so that everyone can enjoy.


Images by Heather Durham