"My apartment's color scheme is pretty red-oriented, so I wanted a drink that would match and also look festive. A friend sent me the recipe for the Pickled Beet, from Left Bank in the West Village. It's so seasonal looking!"
"It's made with sour beets and vodka—the beets are salted and tossed with cardamom, bay leaf, fennel and juniper, and then grated. Scoop it into a shaker, top with vodka, before shaking it over ice and and adding a little bit of the grated beet in the bottom of the glass. It was as hard as it sounds, and I am not 100% sure I did it right — though I definitely added enough liquor."
"My favorite part was the garnish! It's pickled beet greens. Sort of over the top, but the look of a Christmas tree sold me. I also used CB2's (my go-to resource for 'dinnerware') old-school style martini glasses, which have some weight and can be also used to serve dessert or champagne."
"Because I don't have a big table, I thought this tray, from CB2, made the seating area into more of dining spot. I added extra-big Ruldolph-nose red napkins for some extra cheer (because so they are large, they also doubled as plates, saving a ton of space), and sides of pomegranates and gourmet crackers from Dean & Deluca."
"The number one rule for any successful party is a dimmer switch. It was the first thing I installed on all the lights when I moved in, and it only costs about $15. Because the apartment's so small, it needed a focal point—my mom designed this faux-fireplace (from wood, cheese-plate cloth, a marble hearth, and a fitted mirror), and added some candles to put inside. While I usually light only real ones, because these are so close to the ground, I used really good fake ones...no one can tell the difference."
"Cire Trudon candles are everything—they look beautiful and burn up to 70 hours. For Christmas, I'm obsessed with the Nazareth; The scent is a mix of cloves, cinnamon, and oranges that's very wintery."
"Martha Stewart, you ready? I stocked up this cheese server with prosciutto, two-year aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Trygole, Camembert, olives, and some cinnamon sticks for decoration."
"My bureau stood in for a sideboard, and I played that up by adding a bowl of nuts, and, again, tons of candles. Diptyque's Feu de Bois also works well this time of year."
"Here come the guests! I always like to invite people who may not know each other well — it's nice to get a good mix, have new conversations, and maybe spark a friendship. Michelle Siwy, the creator and designer of Siwy Denim, is one of the nicest people I know, but still has a sense of humor (they don't always go hand-in-hand!)."
"Yale Breslin is always fun to have over. He's an awesome writer (he has his own blog, The Malcolm, and works for Jay-Z at Life + Times). Plus, he lives at the exact same address, two streets down. A lot of my friends live in the East Village, meaning impromptu get-togethers like this happen all the time."
"When the apartment's all lit up and looking pretty, people are surprised at how big it seems despite being so little. I think this is Yale's happy/shocked face."
"I only lasted three days when I tried to wait tables one summer, but I was impressed by how steady I kept the tray despite Michelle's questionable skills with the cheese knife. Yale's expression says it all."
"That first cheers is always my favorite part of the party. Or really, any cheers."
"Group shot! Especially when you live in a studio, putting food in different places—like this bowl of grapes on my side table—helps hide the fact that you're in a bedroom. Flowers, too, are so, so important. These orchids usually last me a month and are from Ovando, arguably the best floral boutique in NYC. Sandra de Ovando and her team can dream up anything, and for my small-space situation, they created arrangements that weren't overwhelming while still making a statement."
"It's always lovely to give your guests a nice takeaway, especially during the holidays.
I am a huge fan of Linnea's Lights — they are reasonably priced, clean burning, and all-natural. This "Winter" candle is appropriately named, with hints of cranberries, spruce, and mint...really addicting, trust me."
"I also made sure everyone left with the gift that keeps on giving—chocolate. If you live in New York, or are just visiting, I strongly suggest making the trip to Vosges Haut Chocolat. I picked up these "Holiday Mini Candy Bar Libraries" and also got myself a spicy Aztec hot chocolate."
Photographed by Mark Iantosca