Interior designer Hillary Thomas is known for her ability to set a killer table, so when we heard she was hosting a holiday dinner party in San Francisco, we had to sneak a peek. Hillary not only graciously agreed to invite us along, but she was also all too happy to share some tips for pulling off a similarly glamorous evening with panache.
Tell us a bit about your concept for this party.
“I wanted a beautiful and elegant sit-down dinner but with a festive holiday vibe. I am such a big fan of malachite these days, and the peacock’s time has definitely come, so that’s how the theme was set. The gold Murano starburst chargers were just so over-the-top chic, and the malachite runner down the center of the table felt fun and fresh.”
What was your strategy when it came to creating the overall tablescape?
“Tables should always keep you interested, and I love layering all sorts of things. Here I used lots of candles, which make any table; gold pinecones; beautiful flowers; and tall glass vases filled with black branches to give the table some height. My philosophy with this table was channeling Tony Duquette’s mantra of ‘More is more.'”
Can we go back to those amazing malachite runners for a moment?
“I actually found this incredible malachite fabric on Etsy and decided to make table runners out of it. They really looked smashing down the center of the table.”
Any other fun details you were particularly pleased with?
“The menus that doubled as place cards were really fun, and all the gold accents made the table very glamorous and festive for the holidays. With all the gold, it was important to add weight to the overall look with the black Chiavari chairs.”
Hillary’s Top Hostess Tips
- “There’s a really simple formula for making a party feel special: dim lights, lots of candles, great drinks, and FUN music.”
- “When it comes to the seating arrangements, scatter about people with big personalities. I also love to seat together people who have never met, which always makes for a fun dynamic, and splitting up couples is a rule of thumb.”
- “The key to enjoying your own party is to organize beforehand, delegate the night of, and lots and lots of cocktails!”
(Photography by Molly DeCoudreaux, catering and event planning by TASTE)