Laila Gohar’s parties might be best described as experiential. The internationally beloved artist and co-founder of visionary lifestyle brand Gohar World (along with her sister, Nadia) manifests a surrealist fantasy in every holiday event she hosts. Whether she’s serving larger-than-life desserts or adding an unexpected element of dressiness to a wine bottle or chicken egg, her (lucky) guests can be sure they’ll have plenty to fawn and salivate over—and discuss on the way home.
It may take a certain degree of innate taste and talent to serve up a holiday party like Ms. Gohar’s, but with a few intentional tweaks and choices, it’s quite possible to inject a bit of her brand of unforgettable “absurdity” into your own festive gatherings. We spoke with the woman herself about her favorite foods to use as centerpieces, the Gohar World item she won’t host without, and why she believes her best holiday party is yet to come.
How would you describe your style of decorating for a holiday party?
Colorful, generous, and a little absurd.
How has your decorating style evolved over the years?
I wouldn’t say I have a set style for decorating. I view dressing the table in the same light as dressing myself—as a form of self-expression. It’s often a response to how I am feeling, the season, and produce-wise, what’s exciting me. Although, since launching Gohar World, we now have a whole new set of objects to play with.
Tell us about the best holiday party you’ve ever hosted, and what made it so special.
I really do feel that every dinner party is special. Though this year will be my son’s first Christmas, and now that he is starting to experience food, it could be that the best is yet to come.
What’s the best thing a guest can bring with them to your holiday party?
When it comes to the size of your guest list, is it an intimate affair, or the more, the merrier?
It depends on the mood of the evening. It’s nice to keep a dinner party intimate but equally we tend to keep an open door policy.
Fill in the blank: One thing I would never do at a holiday party is …
Doing the dishes when people are still in the house.
Give us a taste of your holiday party—what’s on the menu?
Oysters, Champagne, and a big dessert trolley.
What drinks are you serving?
Martinis with lots of olive brine.
What’s on your playlist?
I’m waiting for Mia Moretti to drop her holiday playlist.
How do you let your guests know it’s time to head out?
The party will end when it’s supposed to. I don’t think it’s polite to let guests know it’s time to head out. I’m Middle Eastern, and this is the opposite of our culture.
You’ve lived and spent time all around the world. Where is your favorite place to throw parties?
At home or at the studio. In the summer, we host dinners along the sidewalk. Although earlier this year, we made dessert for 3,000 for an Hermès event in Milan. That was pretty special seeing people gather together over meters of tiramisu.
If you could recommend our readers to pick up one item from Gohar World that would make their party unforgettable, what would it be?
The egg chandelier is pretty unforgettable.
You often incorporate food into your art and installations. What food or dish do you find to be the most interesting to work with, and why?
I love working with simple, humble foods. Bread, potatoes, vegetables—they’re unassuming but always very impactful. One of my favorite projects was a chair I created out of brioche for Friedman Benda Gallery a couple of years ago. It was fun to see the way kids and adults interacted with the piece, with a combination of amusement and wonder.
Thanks, Laila! Ready to host your own holiday party like Laila Gohar? 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.)