The holiday season is in full swing, and we’re featuring timely entertaining tips from the White House. Beth Gibson, now doing freelance communications from home, is the former Director of Presidential Writers for President George W. Bush.
In fact, her first day on the job was the White House staff Christmas party! First Families celebrate the holidays in style. Today, Beth (with the popular gingerbread White House replica) shares tips from her tenure.
4word: What’s your advice for simple but beautiful holiday décor?
Beth: To make holiday decorating simple, choose one theme and carry it throughout your home.
Every year, the First Lady chooses a holiday theme that is beautifully interpreted in every room of the White House. Themes have ranged from contemporary to traditional, depending on the First Lady’s tastes. Sometimes they’re color-based, like the year Barbara Bush chose “Winter Wonderland,” and the interior was all white.
My favorite year was when Laura Bush chose “A Season of Stories.” The house was adorned with replicas of famous children’s book characters.
Whatever your theme, you can use it year after year. A few ideas:
- For a fashion-forward look, choose a single color like vibrant peacock blue, and use it everywhere.
- For a more traditional feel, go green and red, with lots of greenery and red berries, and sparkly ornaments as accents.
- Silver and white create an elegant wintery look for any style.
- Wrap boxes with fabulous paper and ribbon and put them throughout your main rooms.
4word: Many of our readers are recently-graduated career women settling into new cities. How can they make the Christmas season special?
Beth: Traditions make the holidays more meaningful, whether you’re starting new ones or continuing those your family had when you were a child.
Your tradition might be attending a Christmas tree lighting in your city, entertaining groups of needy children, or attending special church services. Even if your traditions seem simple to you now, they’ll become more special year after year.
Begin traditions with decorations you use. The White House has a beautiful 18th century nativity scene that’s been displayed for 40 years, and a gingerbread replica of the White House is always featured in the State Dining Room. Maybe you have a special keepsake that’s been handed down. If not, you can always start a collection now.
4word: Do you have tips for new holiday hostesses?
Beth: Do I ever! My first tip is to set a beautiful table with any holiday serving ware you have, and keep it up throughout the season. Choose a dining room table or a smaller table you don’t use every day. Add a fabulous centerpiece low enough to see over, but stretch it out with a table runner or pretty cloth. Candles and leaves in your theme colors are always nice, and small ornaments can be accents.
During the holidays, the First Family hosts a party almost every night, so the State dining room table is always set. The effect is festive, and it makes entertaining easier.
4word: Wow! A party almost every night? That sounds exhausting.
Beth: Well, I wouldn’t recommend you try to replicate that. But you can take a cue from the White House and try entertaining different groups several times in a row – either on the same day or over a few nights.
Think about it: Your house is clean and decorated; food is prepared. You probably have teed up your favorite holiday music and brought in some holiday fragrance. Why not make the most of it?
Add friends, family, and some laughter and you’ve got amazing memories in the making. After all, the holidays are the perfect time to let your loved ones know they’ll always be “first” in your heart.
We’re curious to hear your décor and entertainment tips! What’s your décor theme this year? Leave your answer in a comment or, better yet, post a photo over on our Facebook Page.