The Perfect Holiday Setting – Your Tantalizing Table

We asked event planner Nicole Arena from The Green Ribbon Party Planning Co. in Los Angeles to help us create this year’s BEST holiday table. And Oh Holy Night did she ever! Nicole has thrown a yearly Christmas party at her chic Santa Monica home for the last six years. Over the years her party themes have evolved with her style inspiration. This year Santa is out and Log-Cabin-East-Coast-Rustic-Winter-Woodland is IN! The best part? It also involves some sparkle. Get ready to fall in love.

Event planners stress the details – the more details the better,” says Nicole. And we certainly agree. It’s Nicole’s attention to detail that made her table feel so special and truly one of a kind! Since kicking sugar eight weeks ago (you go girl) her party was about “elevated foods”. We’re talking tons of gourmet hand picked artisanal cheeses, fig with mixed nut cake, gourmet nuts, & a few sweet bites – for those who are indulging. She relied on natural elements – wood, greens, glass, fire, and plants to bring her theme into her home.

Seeing Nicole create such an exquisite table & holiday set up, we were inspired to learn how to do it ourselves! So we peppered her with design, style, decorating, and party planning questions (plus some more personal questions) while sipping cocktails and being jealous of her fab Jonathan Adler inspired pad.

 We are so Style Inspired to bring you the best tips & tricks of a party planning pro!

Collecting decor throughout the year will give you everything you need for a great party without the stress of last minute shopping. A pro never has to run out for last minute supplies. So when you see something you like, buy it! To start growing your collection Nicole says always visit the sale section. Target has a dollar section that can be a dream for party decor! Remember, it doesn’t have to match! Be OK with buying a single item you love! Look for texture, color, shapes, and patterns. If you love it… you WILL use it.

Grab cheapies at places like Michaels and Target. Then collect the good stuff from Crate & Barrel & Pottery Barn. Smart & Final, Costco, and restaurant supply stores are the best places to find mason jars. Mason jars are great for vases, candles, snacks, and even cocktails! By mixing your cheap pieces with high end and vintage glass, your table will pop. Make your inexpensive cookies, candies, and snacks look pretty and special by placing them in glass jars. Don’t place soda, juice, or labeled mixer bottles on your table, instead pour them into swing top glass bottles. Apothecary jars of different heights & shapes add dimension and style to your table, plus they are also so inviting to take from. The Apothecary jars that Nicole used are from Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma, and the smaller vases used for flowers are glass vessels and tincture jars found at flea markets.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match your glass pieces, and to use them all at one party. There are NO rules!
Don’t just put out your sparkly reindeer to be all alone. Place him in the center of a festive holiday tray and then sprinkle ornaments around him. Or place your glass bottles into a vintage wooden box. Place a small unique snowflake placemat over a round sparkly one. Layers create drama.


* Mini chalk boards are perfect for writing food descriptions or creating unique seating cards.
* Photoshopped labels or hand written tags add a personal touch to anything you put them on. Nicole placed labels on her glass serving bottles so guests knew what each one was.
* Jazz up your water! Add some fruit for color. Like cranberries, baby apples, and oranges. Put your water into a big glass container and give it some height.
* Place colored marshmallows in a big vase for height, color, and fun.
* You can do a LOT of card stock & ribbon.
*We loved Nicole’s birch paper used on the candle votives to match her woodland theme.


No matter what your budget or theme, flowers or greens are key! They bring nature and life into your space. Heather Williams from Twig & Twine created these beautiful arrangements with Nicole’s “Winter Woodland Theme” in mind. Once you have your party’s theme, then choose your flowers. You can save big by visiting the flower mart and doing it yourself! Check out Heather’s site for even more ideas and inspiration on how you can make your own arrangements at home. Heather made one larger arrangement for the main table (adding height & a major wow factor) and sprinkled smaller bouquets to add more color & cohesion throughout Nicole’s entertaining space.

For the large table arrangement Heather used peonies (white), amaryllis (red & white), privet berry (blue berries), eucalyptus, princess pine, spruce, acacia (grayish colored shrub) & ilex berry (red berries).
For the smaller arrangements sprinkled throughout the living room, Heather added bay leaves & ranunculus (little red & white flowers).

Above all, don’t be scared. Try new things! Experiment. Have fun and enjoy the process.
It is, after all, A PARTY :)

Get to know the amazing Nicole…
Let the inspiration continue & follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter @greenribbonppco, & Pinterest.
What does “inspired” mean to you?
It means getting excited about something! As a small business owner, I am lucky enough to know several other lovely ladies who own their own companies as well – from trainers and publicists to photographers, florists and graphic designers. I am always inspired after spending time with intelligent and creative people who are doing things for themselves – constantly growing and adapting and working on themselves and their businesses.

What do you do to stay fit during the holidays?
Normally, I would say just exercise – bootcamp and/or spinning. I rarely have the discipline to follow the eating right portion of the equation. It gets difficult to make time for my fitness regimen with holiday commitments, but I do try to do something three times a week. I also walk everywhere if possible. This year I gave up sugar on November 1st and I am trying to keep it up. I am a BIG sweets-eater so it was hard at first but now I am used to it and it has definitely helped me have more energy and feel better overall. I still love dessert so instead of eating it, I am pinning it on pinterest. This way I can appreciate the beauty of a good cake without having to eat it!

What holiday treat can you not live without?
All of them! Seriously, I love everything. I leave no stone unturned – from grocery store chocolate to fancy bakeries – I enjoy it all – cakes, cookies, pie, pastries – candy – I love it. A big part of what gets me is how pretty so many desserts can look – the visual beauty calls my name and I can’t resist!

What was your new years resolution for 2012? What did you do to stay on track…OR what got in your way?
I don’t tend to make resolutions. I am a huge list-maker so I have goals for myself year-round and I am always checking-in with myself to see how I am doing in various areas of my life.

What do you want to do differently in 2013? What changes did you make in 2012 that you want to build upon in 2013?
I want to continue growing my business and still be able to make time to have a work/life balance. I also think it is important to celebrate the small victories. I need to let myself enjoy my successes more before looking to the next thing.
As far as a traditional resolution goes, I am going to try to continue eating less sugar and maybe learn to cook a little bit more. I will eventually eat sugary sweets again but it would be nice if I could have one treat occasionally without feeling the need to eat a dessert with every meal every day!

What are your best tips for cooking, time management, style, makeup, gardening, life, relationships, “me” time – we’ll take them all!
I wish I had these answers, but I would say that you should never stop learning. I am a big fan of research and classes. If I feel that I am interested in something I read a lot about it and then see if there are local classes. In the past two years I have taken classes on photoshop, floral arranging and paper crafting. We are so lucky to live in a time where you can find out about anything within minutes. Pinterest is a big help – there are great tutorials on everything from cooking to blogging. Always take the time to learn and never be afraid to try new things!

The inspiration continues! Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter @greenribbonppco, & Pinterest.

One Comment

  1. Julia Breitman

    What a wonderful blog with clever entertaining ideas! Thanks for posting–I needed some fresh ideas!

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