Secret Tips to Gracious Holiday Entertaining from Best-selling Author Kathryn Greeley

WAYNESVILLE, N.C., Sept. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The holiday season will soon be upon us and with that comes festive gatherings with family and friends. For Kathryn Greeley, interior designer, entertaining expert and author of the best-selling book, The Collected Cottage Gardening, Gatherings and Collecting at Chestnut Cottage, holidays are her favorite time to host small informal dinners and large celebrations. In fact, her gracious parties at Chestnut Cottage are often the highlight of the season for her guests.

A Thanksgiving Day lunch for family and a multitude of friends kicks off Greeley’s holiday entertaining season. Once that fun day is over it is full speed ahead decorating seven freshly cut themed Christmas trees and the cottage for the holidays. In her book, Greeley shares hosting ideas for A Christmas Ornament Shower for the Bride, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Dinner, Raise Your Glass to the New Year with a champagne tasting dinner and a Health, Wealth, Prosperity, and Luck Luncheon with themed foods to ensure a good start to the new year.

We asked Greeley to share her secret tips for hosting memorable holiday parties.

1.  Planning, Organizing and Executing. As an interior designer that is how both her interior design projects and holiday entertaining end with a perfect outcome. The four “W’s” – who will be invited, what will be served, when will the party take place, where will the party be – are a good place to begin. Planning and organizing ensures that you will be able to enjoy your party without any last-minute surprises and if the unexpected does happen you will be ready to manage it.

2.  Start with a beautifully handwritten or printed invitation. In this day of electronic messages receiving a thoughtful holiday invitation in the mail makes a special caring statement.

3.  Dress mantles, windowsills, and chandeliers in your favorite holiday style. Fill your space with the scents of the seasons like fresh florals and greenery, incense, and candles. Taper candles on the mantles and tables work well for small groups while pillar candles and votives are safer for larger crowds.

4.  Menus make the memories. If you do not enjoy cooking, then use a caterer or do a combination of both. Start with a “signature cocktail” or champagne bar where guests can easily serve themselves freeing you up to mingle with your guests. Add signature appetizers, main course with sides and a delectable dessert finale. The signature menu items give guests who have been entertained in your home something to look forward to and it is a delightful surprise for new guests. Greeley’s Thanksgiving guests expect her famous Caramel Cake, and her Christmas Eve guests anticipate her Buche de Noel.

5.  Setting a festive table is Greeley’s favorite part. Her passion is collecting china, crystal, and silver. Colorful pottery, unusual stemware and baskets work well too if that is your passion. Whatever your design preference, create a table that expresses your own unique style. Greeley enjoys mixing and layering her china patterns when setting her holiday tables. Be creative with your serving pieces, too. Try serving a shrimp or lobster cocktail in your favorite martini glass.

6.  Place cards and menu cards add a special touch to your holiday tables. Place cards end seating confusion, and a menu card helps your guests pace themselves for the next course. And do not forget the music. Create a play list of your favorite holiday tunes but remember to keep the music soft so that guests can enjoy interesting conversations.

7.  Create your own holiday dining traditions. Greeley never ends her Christmas Eve dinner without “Christmas Crackers.” She says that they force us to not take ourselves too seriously. As a small added token, Greeley usually sends her guests home with a little homemade gift, a jar of Lime Pickles at Thanksgiving and Rosemary Cashews at Christmas time.

According to Greeley, “Entertaining in your home is a true gift to your family and friends. It offers them a special memory that they will cherish for a long time.”

Peruse Greeley’s The Collected Cottage for more year-round entertaining ideas, inspirational photography, and delicious recipes. The book is available on Amazon or for a personally signed copy visit

Contact: Cathy Lloyd 
The Media Matters, Inc.


SOURCE Kathryn Greeley