How I holiday: Colin King’s guide to hosting a holiday party at home

Paperless Post BlogHolidays > How I holiday: Colin King’s guide to hosting a holiday party at home

Colin King has a knack for arranging things. The celebrated interior stylist known for crafting elegant, poetic vignettes is revered across industries for his innate talent and sense of taste, whether he’s contributing to esteemed publications like “Architectural Digest,” “T” Magazine, and “Elle Decor,” or designing his own homeware collections. He’s even written a book on the subject. 

One of King’s specialties involves reimagining the items already found in his clients’ houses, and turning them into something beautiful, unexpected, and unforgettable. This way of creative thinking comes in handy especially around the holidays, when so many of us tend to purchase seasonal items that barely last a month on display in our homes before putting them away again, or worse—tossing them.

As long-time admirers of his modern and signature style, we were elated to chat with King about how he makes his own home feel holiday party-ready. Read on as we discuss his evolving decorating style, his holiday party menu, and why having more guests isn’t always merrier.


Image courtesy of Colin King.


How would you describe your style of decorating for a holiday party?

My style is focused and singular; monolithic. I like to find a few ways to intervene in my space that doesn’t feel like a complete overhaul. Sticking to a color palette or a singular species of stems is simple and poetic, but also very effective and impactful. 

I look at a table like a landscape, creating an organic look that doesn’t feel too formal or fussy. Simplify your stem count. I love using a singular species on the table, usually in a small, low vase so that guests can still see each other. Take your candles to new heights. Extra-long tapers are a great way to add that dressed-up feel for holiday in a very simple, singular way. And ditch the placemats—use craft paper. Cleaning up has never been so easy.


Dickens” by Paperless Post; Image courtesy of Colin King.


Who has influenced your holiday hosting style the most?

Robin Standefer from Roman and Williams has really influenced my holiday hosting style over the years. Together, under her creative direction, we have done what will be our third holiday season together crafting dinner entertaining stories for editorial and her store, GUILD.


How has your decorating style evolved over the years?

My decorating style is always evolving. It’s gone from very simple and earthy to more warm and whimsical. Lately I’m craving color and movement rather than muted and still.


Tell us about the best holiday party you’ve ever hosted, and what made it so special.

Last year, I hosted a New Year’s Eve party. It was the company that made it special—it always is. To have a home full of people you love—some of them meeting for the first time—feels so warm, and to me is what the holidays are all about.


What’s the best thing a guest can bring with them to your holiday party?

A book, household object, or leather-bound journal. I love thoughtful gifts or when a guest hands me something and says, “This made me think of you.”


Image courtesy of Colin King.


When it comes to the size of your guest list, is it an intimate affair, or the more, the merrier?

I like an intimate affair. My dining table can seat 12 comfortably. That’s my max.


Fill in the blank: One thing I would never do/serve at my holiday party is…

Play Christmas music or serve eggnog.


Lametta” by Paperless Post; Image courtesy of Colin King.


Give us a taste of your holiday party—what’s on the menu?

I make a beautiful fruit and cheese plate to bring the guests together around the table. Stone fruits, a pile of grapes, and a large loaf of bread—items that feel special but are easy to interact with. For the main course, I can’t cook so it’s my favorite Italian spot downstairs, Petrarca, and a pumpkin cheesecake from Billy’s Bakery one block over.


What drinks are you serving?

Ghia Spritz.


What’s on your playlist?

SAULT Radio.


Do you have any traditions you bring out at every holiday party?

Somehow we always end up around the sofa playing a game of Celebrity.


How do you let your guests know it’s time to head out?

There is usually a natural wind down at the end of the evening. I am not a night owl, so I’m not sure I’ve ever had a party go on past midnight.


Tall Tree” by John Derian; Image courtesy of Colin King.


Lighting is an essential element of your work. How do you typically light a party you’re hosting?

Candlelight is always ideal and adds so much magic to the atmosphere. I like to keep the overhead lights off and keep the light low.


Another lights question: can Christmas lights be sophisticated, and would you ever incorporate them into your holiday party?

I do think Christmas lights can be sophisticated, but are utilized best for the tree.


Fine Pine” by Paperless Post; Image courtesy of Colin King.


You’re known for creating memorable vignettes from household items. How do you arrange things around the holidays to reflect the season?

I like to play with food and never pass up an opportunity to create a sculpture. I’m always looking beyond the intended use of an object. I’ll turn a glass upside down to use as a pedestal for a piece of fruit or an object. Once, a pepper shaker notoriously went missing from a client’s home because I had turned it upside down and used it as a bud vase, making it unrecognizable.


What’s your advice for people looking to recreate your signature style in their own home décor?

Surround yourself with things you love. If you’re drawn to something, buy it. Don’t worry if it will fit or go along with your other decor.


Thanks, Colin! Ready to host your own holiday party like interior stylist Colin King? Find your perfect holiday party invitation and customize it—and your home—to your heart’s content. (And if you’re looking for holiday party supplies and decorations, we’ve got some unforgettable options.)