Holiday Party Tips: Transform Your Drab Dining Room into a Fabulous Hot Spot

Family in town? No restaurant reservations? We asked HONOLULU Magazine events manager (and floral artist extraordinaire) Jeff Alencastre to give us tips on decorating for the perfect holiday party.
Table spread
Look around your house for fun finds before buying! A little glitter can turn almost anything into décor.
Credits: Seraphina flatwear, $4.95 each, faux Cedar Branch placemat, $5.56 each, Driftwood chargers, $15.96 each, Hammered ice bucket, $39.95. Pier 1 Imports. Leaves and tropical flowers, Watanabe Floral. 
Photos: Aaron Yoshino



HONOLULU’s Jeff Alencastre

he holidays are great for entertaining your family and friends, but deciding on a theme, color palette and overall design can sometimes get overwhelming. Luckily, we have a plethora of ideas to jazz up your soirée!


In the setting displayed above, lush eucalyptus foliage, locally grown anthuriums, ferns and snow-white roses from Watanabe Floral highlight the table spread. To create your own garland, start with a few small clusters of eucalyptus (as many clusters as needed to match your table length). In the middle of your first cluster, tie your twine and wrap a few times around to secure it tightly. Now keep wrapping, moving downward toward the exposed stems. Cover the bottom, exposed stems with the top foliage from your second cluster and continue wrapping with twine, joining each cluster as you move down, ultimately creating one large garland.  


Now start layering. This is where you can have fun! Build your tablescapes from the base up, starting with your “heaviest” piece first, such as the green holiday garland. Continue to add layers working with your bigger items first, and adding smaller accents, such as Christmas ornaments, glittered pine cones and candles, throughout. Grouping is always a good idea. Cluster your flowers and other accents together for more visual impact. 


Copper tones are the “it” metallic this season. I selected hammered-metal flatwear because it helps bounce light and make your table glow. Wooden chargers complement the overall natural look and add visual texture and interest. Top it all off with a treat for your guests, such as cookies from Big Island Candies. 


Star Bright 

Star bright table spread
Diva move: We used Reyn Spooner Kloth for napkins.

Oceanscape Theme


For a more casual affair, like brunch, consider a sophisticated oceanscape. Natural curves and knots of driftwood pieces give artistic detail to the foundation and a touch of Spanish moss (Pele’s Hair) from tūtū’s backyard anchors the theme. 


Floradec Sales has a wealth of holiday ornaments in varying shades to match your color scheme. Disposable bamboo dinnerware makes for easy clean-up but, since this is the holidays and you’re trying to impress, add a touch of formality with ornate salad plates and water goblets. 


A special local twist: cloth napkins made from Grandpa’s old aloha shirts.



Bar at party

Pro Party Tips!

Stocking your bar with the proper party necessities is a must! 


when buying wine:

750 mL = five servings 

750 mL sparkling wine (poured into flutes) 

= eight servings 

1 case (12 750-mL bottles) = 60 servings 

1.5 L (Magnum) = 10 servings


stock local

My go-to liquor favorites are: Kōloa Rum, Ocean Vodka, Kona Brewing Co., Kona Gold Coffee Liqueur


ice ice baby

Buy ice direct from Hawaiian Ice Co. at Pier 38. They’ll even help load it into your car!