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Holiday Entertaining With Danielle Rollins

The holidays are fast approaching, and holiday entertaining will soon be on many people’s minds. As we plan gatherings with the ones we love, from lively family feasts to intimate cocktail parties with friends, we all could use a bit of advice. And with her inimitable Southern charm, Danielle Rollins is just the expert we need.

The designer, author, and tastemaker lives in Atlanta. She is a frequent contributor to Veranda and Southern Living magazines, and she’s a pro at making entertaining look effortless. Here, Rollins shares her go-to holiday decorating tips, why you shouldn’t be a slave to the trends every season, and simple recommendations for making your home beautiful this season.

Tropical prints, texture, artisan-crafted furniture — these are a few of the buzzwords we’re hearing when it comes to winter decorating. How do you like to handle decorating trends?

I think the best thing anyone can do is buy less but buy better and invest in what works for your lifestyle, environment, and budget! If you buy with these things in mind, you will build lifelong collections rather than frantically trying to purchase what’s in and tossing what’s out.

What’s your personal go-to decorating scheme for the holidays?

I love natural accents like flowers and greenery. Roses are perfect for the holidays; any color looks beautiful and they last a long time. I like to mix mine with seasonal greenery, berries, or even painted branches. Another of my favorite looks is to fill the base of a clear vase with cranberries and add flowers in shades of red, pink, and white. I also love putting out big bowls of oranges, lemons, and limes, or pomegranates nestled into bay garlands. For a larger festive accent piece, I’ll wrap potted rosemary or boxwood plants in a swath of burlap, then tie them with natural twine.

For those tired of traditional holiday colors, are there decor schemes that still work after the holidays?

My entire house is done in shades of turquoise, tobacco, persimmon, and deep greens, so I incorporate those colors in my holiday decorating. I think holiday decorations should have the same feeling as your house. If your house is casual and rustic, then keep the decoration elements in the same vein with materials like raffia, natural cord, and linen. If your house is more formal, then think of velvet, silk, and metallic elements that suggest a more polished look. I also add a little bit each year to my “holiday arsenal,” and each year I like my holiday house a little bit more!

Danielle Rollins

What are a few must-haves for holiday entertaining?

There’s no substitute for planning ahead. The phrase “throwing a party” isn’t exactly accurate if you want to have a good one! A dry run when you pretend you’re the guest can help you figure out what you may need, like extra hand towels, chairs, candles, or place settings. Also, invite only as many guests as you can comfortably entertain.

Along those same lines, what are your top tips that allow you to stress less and fête more?

I put a lot of effort into creating the bar. It is a focal point and gathering place, and it should say to your guests, “Welcome to my party! Please relax and enjoy yourselves!” Keep things simple by serving one special drink or a small selection rather than a limitless bar, and pre-mix cocktails so guests can serve themselves.

What’s your favorite type of holiday party to host?

During the holidays, I often host many small gatherings. They are much less stressful to plan. As I get older, I find that putting forth the effort for intimate parties becomes more and more rewarding. Our lives get so hectic, and slowing down the pace of the world, even if for only a few hours, is a luxury. A smaller dinner also a great way to let your friends and family know that you value them and cherish your time together. And, of course, part of the fun for me is simply getting dressed up, because it immediately puts me in a festive frame of mind!

How do you create a standout occasion? 

Colorful glassware and place cards add a festive feeling to a party. Mix and match your place settings and layer in more pieces you already own in the same colors to create a personal and dynamic table. Remember, parties don’t have to be expensive to be memorable and festive!

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? 

Having Christmas morning breakfast with my children. They look forward to it as much as the presents! It is not just about the food we make, but how we set the table and that we celebrate this tradition every year. I make as much as I can ahead of time, so that as soon as we finish opening presents we can head straight to the table for monkey bread, scrambled eggs, candied bacon, grits soufflé, and more!

For more from Danielle Rollins, go to

Photos: Ninh Chau, courtesy of Danielle Rollins

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