Holiday Affair

Come All Ye Festive: The Invite
“Your invite must reflect the sophistication of your event,” offers Amber Ren_e, principal designer for Georgia-based Bluorchid by Naked Eye Image ( Options include faux cloth and suede paper as well as fabric, which she warns is costly, “because it has to be mounted to either wood or heavy board.” Paper invitations cost roughly $15 per piece; fabric invites typically start at $135. Decorative paper selections are endless and can be researched at

“Script fonts communicate elegance,” says the designer, but she suggests pairing it with a serif or sans-serif font, “Too much script is over-powering and [hard] to read,” she explains. Avoid substituting engraved printing with thermography to cut corners-the difference is distinguishable. For invitation etiquette tips and wording ideas, visit Rookledge’s Classic International Typefinder by Christopher Perfect (Collins Design; $35) is a thorough reference book on typography. Budget a minimum of $2,500 to $5,000 to retain a designer for 200 custom invites with five components and foil stamp printing. Allot four weeks to prepare 100 invites for a Christmas dinner party. An elaborately detailed invite requires at least 10 weeks to accommodate ordering special materials.

For luxe packaging treatments, Amber may use “a custom box wrapped in dupioni silk accented with a silk ribbon or paired with Swarovski Crystal accents with a rhinestone buckle” to house a three-ply or eight-ply layered invitation-“the more layers, the more expensive the look.” Customized high-end invitations usually double as mementos. A sterling silver picture frame, monogrammed with each guest’s initials, containing the invitation and tastefully packaged in a suede-lined box is Amber’s idea of an invite that’s also a rich keepsake.

Deck The Halls: Creating Ambiance
“Holiday doesn’t necessarily mean traditional colors, it means remembering why you’re coming together as a company,” shares Monique K. Smith, president of California-based Elms Entertainment ( about creating the decor. “I look for nontraditional colors and bring in accents of purples, oranges, and hot pinks.” Smith, 46, likes to introduce texture at the dining table with raw silk, suede, crystal beads, and elaborate overlays that add opulence. For sophistic.ated and dramatic lighting, Smith accents each table’s centerpiece and has color washes programmed to light each room to support the palette

Put a twist on traditional holiday libations with a champagne cocktail bar, says Smith, using fruity liqueurs such as Grand Marnier, Chambord, and Peach Schnapps to blend with champagne, and offering fresh raspberries and pears for garnishing. This makes for a creative station. If there is more than one bar, they should be spread out, with two bartenders per 150 people. “People like stir sticks that glow; if your colors are fuchsia, silver, and black, let the stir sticks be fuchsia with your company logo.” Consider offering a coffee station as well where Godiva, Kahlua, Baileys, and cinnamon sticks are available for blending.

Smith dreams up keepsakes that are useful during the holidays: “Make your own scent and give a custom candle with a custom label,” she suggests. Picture frames, wine or champagne with