Celebrations are undoubtedly looking far different this year, but that doesn’t mean that our favorite tastemakers are compromising doing things in style. We checked in with one of our favorite designers, Alexandra O’Neill of Markarian, who makes the most quintessential party frocks in the game. Here’s how she’s toasting the end of the year; sign us up for some of that baked brie!
What are your plans for the holidays this year?
Like most others, I will be staying close to home this year. Unfortunately, I am not able to travel to see my parents, brother, and grandmother without putting them at risk, but luckily my sister and brother-in-law live close to me (/are stuck with me!). I will be having them over to my house to spend the holiday together.
How does it look different than your usual celebrations?
We usually do Christmas with our entire family, either in the city or in Denver. I will be deeply missing everyone this year but I am so fortunate that everyone is safe and healthy and I want to make sure they stay that way.
Even though things might look different, how are you putting a positive spin on this year’s celebrations?
I am always happy to be around family, although this year it will be a lot less family. I feel so fortunate to have my sister and her husband with me. I will also be making donations to my favorite charities in the names of my family and friends as gifts this year. I love adopting elephants or rhinos for friends from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. You can follow the story and updates on their adopted animal all year. You can also sponsor holiday meals at God’s Love We Deliver and No Kid Hungry, which prepare meals for those in need—especially during such a critical and challenging time.
(courtesy)How are you decorating the home this year? Do you pick a theme or do you use tried-and-true decorations you already have?
I always decorate simply with a garland over the fireplace. I am in a new home this year, so I will get to rethink what I usually do. I’m planning on going a little overboard! You know, wreaths on every window, garlands with big red bows, and a Christmas tree, to make up for missing family.
What about a tablescape, what are your non-negotiables?
I love candles especially these beeswax rope shaped candles in any color from Nickey Kehoe. Another obvious must for the holiday are Christmas crackers. You can actually make your own in any paper print, any color bow, and stuff them with small personal gifts. Fiona Leahy has a little tutorial on how to. Lastly, my friend CeCe Barfield Thompson makes the most beautiful table top pieces. I love her Agra floral silver cups, which you can use for drinking or can use as vases for little florals.
Do you cook? If so, what’s your specialty dish that you can let us in on?
Luckily, my sister is a professional chef! She always makes us the most incredible meals. I usually handle the dessert because I have the biggest sweet tooth. I make a killer sticky toffee pudding for Christmas dinner, and I also make rum cakes to send to all of my friends and their families for the holiday.
Any other tips for setting the ambiance?
Candlelight, lots of florals and greenery (I just got my paperwhites and amaryllises), and festive smelling candles. I love Cire Trudon’s Fir candle, it smells like a Christmas tree. I have also put together a Holiday playlist that I play every year on repeat starting December 1st. Nothing gets you in the mood more than a little Mariah All I want for Christmas.
What’s a failsafe party pleaser, even for small groups?
Baked brie in a puffed pastry—you can never go wrong with cheese smothered with jam and wrapped in a buttery pastry. The smaller the group, the more for everyone. Things are beginning to look up this year actually…
Do you know what you’re planning on wearing this year?
For the holidays, I usually rotate between a vintage 1960s green jumpsuit with huge feather cuffs and a vintage black velvet dress with white lace cuffs and collar. I think this year might need something a little happier. I am thinking our red sequin glam jams might do the trick. I dare you to find something more festive!
Heels or flats?
I’m a heels girl all the way—even if it’s just a little kitten heel.
What’s the best gift for a hostess or host?
I think a candle (can you tell I like candles?) is always nice or you can bring a small potted plant. Amaryllis and paperwhites are in season this time of year.