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7 Essential Items for Holiday Entertaining Well Seasoned with Style

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Well seasoned. This is how I prefer my dining...and entertaining. In my home, a gathering well seasoned with style means intentionality is the leading ingredient, and a heavy pour of joy has filled my hosting cup. From frantic all-nighters to seamless strolls, I have done it all in party preparation. After burning a few dishes (or, hostess with the mostess attempts), I have learned there is a teaspoon of finesse behind perfectly plating a gathering that presents as effortless. I've stepped into the kitchen just for you to stir up 7 of my tried and true holiday party essentials for a gathering that is sure to be devoured with delight.

Chef's Note

To support my weekly holiday feasts (...or blog posts), I have partnered with my local friends at Bachman's. Each of the ingredients (or products) served today was sourced from the Lyndale Bachman's, and all holiday essentials detailed can be scooped up at a location near you! Tis the season to savor time and a toast, together. Cheers!

Woman's hand holding a coup glass at a dinner table amongst flowers and plants
This year I am making a concerted effort to dine with my finest, even if a LaCroix is the only beverage on my menu.

Essential Item #1: Colored Drinkware

To know me, is to know that when given the opportunity, I will always choose color. While a sparkling, clear glass has it's place, might I tempt you with an invitation to embrace a hued moment for your holiday table? It is a small ingredient that packs a tasteful punch that guests cannot get enough of.

Two wine glasses amongst pomegranates on a table
From pink and red to amber and black, no color is off limits for tumblers, wine glass, coups and more!

Essential Item #2: Beautiful, Bountiful Beverages

No matter the proof preferences of your guests, a thoughtful thirst-quencher is sure to create conversation...and refills. With this essential item, I prefer to delegate recipe curation to the experts and joyously saunter through well-written books and well-crafted mixes for a fragrant signature drink. 1PT mixes and fragrant beverage recipes (that are applicable for mocktails, too!) are sure to make palates dance with delight.

drink cookbooks, drink mixes and colored coup glasses

Essential Item #3: Tastes to Savor the Season, With Ease

Heavy on the ease, please! When preparing for a gathering, I prefer to leave little to chance. This includes a vehement refusal to test out new dishes or uncharted cooking skills (...primarily because the last time I attempted to rush a recipe impromptu, I landed in the ER and a Cooks knife skills class...a story for another day, but I'll say this: do not use a steak knife to peel ginger). To savor the season, I love dishing up a host of butters, jellies, and dips with fresh bread, meat and cheese plates. Brands like Stonewall and Graza have earned a coveted spot on the quick grab list.

Stonewall Kitchen jelly and butter glass jars with wooden spoon and white ramekins

For additional inspiration, you'll also find a plethora of cookbooks in my kitchen (admittedly some, unexpectedly, are simply for show - GUILTY!). When unsure where to start, boards and spreads are always a welcoming focal point for gathering guests; be it for an appetizer or buffet moment. You call the shots here!

Coup glassware and entertaining cookbooks

Essential Item #4: Serverware that Serves Looks

Serverware examples for entertaining

There's something special about coordinating sets, whether dressing myself or my table. Is it just me? Serverware is another means to bring a tablescape or dining layout to life with color. When selecting essential items, I hold to a three-color palette for visual continuity; usually including gold/brushed bronze, green, and pink. White and black remain faithful secret ingredients (like spinach in your morning smoothie) for a grounding presence. I prefer lighter-tones for ramekins and the like to showcase what lies within - but remember, this is your chance to express yourself however you see fit for this recipe!

ramekins on a table with pomagranates

Essential Item #5: Set the Mood with Curated Candleware

candles and candle holders for table decor

Let there be light! I will burn a candle before I turn on an overhead light (no matter the fact that most of my own were blown out until autumn nesting revitalized my desire to change that...). Candles, their scents (or lack, thereof), holders and other accoutrements are the fastest way to curate a mood for your holiday event. In the season of giving, if I have a signature scent for the evening, I adore the idea of sending guests home with a small version of the candle burned. Nothing says you WILL remember what a lovely time we had like a fragrant reminder.

Essential Item #6: Festive Flora

Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus

Flowering plants are an unexpected replacement for your traditional arrangements, serving as décor that spreads seasonal cheer well into the new year! For a fresh take on tablescape styling, whether you create a centerpiece around a vibrantly blooming Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus (which typically blooms from mid-November to January), an Amaryllis bulb dipped in wax (no water required to grow and bloom!), Paperwhites or Cyclamen to name a few, any (or all) will do! Afterall, what are the holidays without a Poinsettia?

Essential Item #7: Le Attitude of Gratitude

Holiday card in front of vining pothos

Gathering souls in your personal dwelling is such a sacred form of gratitude. The art of a handwritten note is another. Thanking guests for attending in a personalized fashion is a level of civility that will never go out of style.

*Hangs apron up* Well it appears you're ready to cook, ma'dear! What essential ingredients find their way into your recipes for a well seasoned gathering? I assure you, when joy and intentionality are generously added, you have already mastered entertaining with style.

Big hugs, always!

xx Shayla


The Plant Penthouse is a flora-inspired interiors and lifestyle brand founded by Minnesota native, Shayla Owodunni. Since Shayla's early days as a boisterous kindergartner insistent on wearing neon knee-highs with brightly-printed dresses, curating vibrant juxtapositions (like a tropical oasis in Minneapolis) has become a joy-filled way of life.

Through plant care education, home décor inspiration and tastemaking tidbits, this is our residence to reimagine ‘posh’ penthouse concepts for life’s everyday moments—because here, we believe there is opulence to embrace in each dwelling space; regardless of size, location or circumstance.

Shayla has contributed to The Jason Show, Twin Cities Live, Artful Living, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Wit & Delight; with features by HGTV, HomeGoods, Apartment Therapy, Star Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal.


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