Let’s face it, we all get Christmas party envy. The invitation arrives, you drool and then clear your calendar. There are lots of reasons that parties fall under the “can’t be missed” column: great guest list, incredible house, and top it off with valet parking and sumptuous food, and it’s a surefire hit. That pretty much describes the holiday parties thrown by Roger Higgins and Ann Shipp of R. Higgins Interiors.

These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

A quick peek in the window gives an idea of how gorgeous the party is.

Apples with boxwood. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

The golden apple embellishments add an interesting contrast to the boxwood; the theme was used around the door, too.

They always assemble a fun, eclectic group of friends and clients with a tone and look that makes you feel beautiful, even if you’re having a bad hair day. Yet when I look at what makes this party so special, it’s Roger and Ann’s creativity and sense of style that I love the most. Elegant parties do indeed have an element of simplicity that can duplicated and personalized for your own holiday gatherings. Just step outside, look around and you’ll find exactly what you need to add a special twist to your own holiday party decor.

Check out this gorgeous fireplace and tree! These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

A well-thought-out and themed tree always wows guests, and the garland on the mantel weaves in a beautiful accent.

Wreaths IN the chandelier! These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

Greenery on the chandelier brings the outside in with an elegant look. What a great idea to use your own architectural elements as centerpieces for the holiday table.

Gather magnolias, holly and red berries to make your mantels and staircases gorgeous. It’s fun to take found objects in your home and drape a garland or wreath around them. Even clustering candles together or lining your walkway with luminaries creates a dramatic statement.

Gorgeous garland on the stairwell. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

Tucking in pinecones, berries and contrasting elements, like the bright green apples, creates a lovely look for the staircase garland.

Group candles EVERYWHERE! These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

Groupings like this give a sophisticated look. Don’t forget to light candles everywhere!

Make a statement with a huge wreath. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

Large wreaths over a mantel, window or focal point in the room work every time.

Hang wreaths on bookcases. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

This wreath hung over the bookcase is a great way to bring attention to your valued collections.

Think outside the box for where to add fresh greenery. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

The architectural bust with a garland wrap is both whimsical and dramatic.

Grouping your collectibles and adding a touch of greenery completes the picture. If you take a minute, Pinterest offers a complete how-to guide on pretty much anything  you can imagine. With a quick search, you’ll find how to create a festive centerpiece, arrange a cheese tray that wows or whip up a specialty drink with creative embellishments.

Make sure to add votives to the where the food is served. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

With votives scattered everywhere, the simplicity of the buffet by Johnny Haffner Catering is even more attractive. White serving dishes are not expensive and are worth the investment.

Shrimp is always a party hit. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

A sumptuous bowl of shrimp is always a party favorite.

Consider serving soup at your holiday party. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

Consider serving soup for holiday parties — it offers a warm sip on a cold winter’s night.

Put "indoor furniture" outside under a tent. These tips walk you through how to throw a perfectly elegant holiday party!

So many homes have screened porches, which provide a great way to add extra space to your party. Move your inside furniture out for an interesting touch. Liberty Party Rental offers a ton of selections.

At Roger and Ann’s holiday gathering, I always get a bazillion great ideas, many of which I’ve scooped for my personal holiday decor. Today, they’ve graciously offered to share some of their ideas with our readers.

Roger and Ann’s party tips :

  • Turn on every light in the house (of course, low lighting in key areas) and put candles everywhere. Small groupings of candles make a holiday setting lovely.
  • Bring the outside in, meaning use greenery throughout your house. Cut magnolia, boxwoods, nandina and other winter trees. Use wreaths and garlands throughout the house to embellish bookcases, powder rooms and the bar.
  • Groupings of similar items create a great look — a large basket of pinecones, a bowl of ornaments, grouping of poinsettias and collections of family heirlooms, like antique ornaments, angels or vintage Santas.
  • Learn how to make bows! There are so many lovely ribbons available, and bows can embellish your staircases, lamps, armoires and more.
  • A simple food table is always better. Select four to five items that you know your guests will enjoy. Fewer items with lots of quantity offer an interesting look. Use your family china or silver or both to add a personal touch.
  • If you plan to have a tent, move your furniture outside. It’s fun to create small seating arrangements for guests to gather and converse.
  • Champagne or a specialty drink is festive, fun and can be less expensive than a completely stocked bar. If you opt for a full bar, use fun glasses to set the tone.
  • Come up with a clever gift to hand to your guests as they leave. It can be a specialty cookie, chocolates or even something homemade by the hosts.
  • Don’t forget to add some bling to your outfit.
  • Most important, enjoy the party! By preplanning your party, it will allow you to relax and enjoy your guests.
Ann Shipp of R. Higgins Interiors.

Ann Shipp of R. Higgins Interiors.

Roger HIggins of R. Higgins Interiors.

Roger Higgins of R. Higgins Interiors.

Photographer:  Ray Palumbo

Ready to plan your own holiday soirée? Check out the SB Guide for great resources for your next gathering.