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Nine holiday party tips from HGTV's design host Samantha Pynn

Designer Samantha Pynn answers questions on how to host the ultimate holiday party and tips on being a great party guest.

Samantha Pynn

The Party, a special HGTV show on holiday party ideas, will be premiering December 3rd at 5pm ET and hosted by design guru Samantha Pynn. Here, she answers questions on how to host the ultimate holiday party and tips on being a great party guest.

Q: What do you think makes a successful holiday party?
A: When everybody’s having a good time, the energy is positive and there’s a lot of laughter, then I know it’s a great party. And keep the drinks and food flowing!

Q: Which home items should we splurge on and which items can we save on?
A: I’d say to save on the decorations – they’re going to get used and abused anyways. Little things like cocktail napkins, napking rings, and little embellishments you don’t have to dig deep in your pockets for. I think you should splurge on your space, meaning your furnishings and backdrop. I strongly believe in working with what you’ve got, and make the most of it. Amp up your furniture where you can, but don’t follow trending styles that aren’t suited to who you are and what your home looks like. Make it personal.

Q: What do you consider a party faux-pas?
A: For me, scented candles are a definite no. Also, décor-related hostess gifts aren’t widely successful.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for a centrepiece?
I love it when food is displayed creatively. In The Party, Cobi Ladner shows me how to create a beautiful centerpiece with chestnuts and candles. I also love oranges and tangerines with clove and cedar.

Q: Is there a way to stylishly display special food items for people with allergies and specific dietary needs?
A: I think it’s always nice to have small flag labels, nothing overbearing, that say things like “Gluten-free” or “Nut-free”. If you’re planning a kids holiday party, it’s always safer to opt for no nuts at all.

Q: What are the best gifts to give to the party host?
Food, wine, and floral arrangements (complete with vase) are always nice. I think a festive plant in a classic white soup turrine, or a mini tree with a beautiful tea towel wrapped base are especially thoughtful.

Q: What makes someone a great party guest?
A quintessential great guest are those that have a good time, are comfortable, and dressed appropriately. And always bring a hostess gift, no matter what.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration for ambiance and overall design?
A: I’m really inspired by good lighting. Warm candlelight, dimmed overhead lighting, table lamps makes for a welcoming  and comfortable space. I also like the warm Belgium-inspired looks we’ve been seeing a lot of – the rustic, raw woods, and the warm earth tones and natural textures. However, I always love just a touch of glam – something that sparkles.

Q: What’s on your holiday wish list?

A: Chocolate! Just kidding. I’m really lucky to surround myself with such great friends and family so I really don’t need anything. When people are just nice to one another, then that makes me really happy.