Making Spirits Bright

Styled by Liz Martin
Photography by Abby Murphy
Hair and Makeup by Updos for I Dos 

 Liz Martin, who has been known as the Charleston Weekender since 2015 and is the co-owner of gift shop Cannonborough Collective, invited us to her new home to share some tips for hosting a stylish yet laid-back holiday party, the type of party you want an invite to – no pressure, no stress, totally comfortable and full of joy. 

Here are her tried and true tips Liz swears by when hosting the perfect holiday ​get together:​ 

Create a Focal Point
When it comes to decor, I love going all out with my bar cart and calling it a day. You could put the emphasis on your coffee table, entry way console or mantel. A simple boxwood wreath helps anchor the space. Add brass or gold accents using items you already own to provide holiday glitz. Consider opting for a nontraditional color palette to help tie in the rest of your decor. Green, navy and gold still give you a sense of holiday without feeling too overdone. 


Offer a Memorable Treat
As Desperate Housewives’ Bree Van De Kamp ​always said, “It’s all in the presentation!” Pick an item you’re serving such as the cocktail or the appetizer and put a little extra effort into that one thing. I kept the food and drink simple for this girls’ night with cookies and cocoa, but by adding some whipped cream and cinnamon, I made that simple winter drink a little extra fancy. Add ½ ounces of Irish Whiskey or a cream liqueur to make it a cozy cocktail. I topped it off with some cute gold straws from Cannonborough Collective and pulled out my wedding china coffee cups, to make my guests feel extra special. 


Ask For Help
I can’t cook, so instead of stressing over it, I just stick with what I’m good at (in my case, decorating). If cooking isn’t your forte, opt for a potluck style get together or just ask for help! I’m a culinary klutz, so I asked my friend Julie Mcallister of For Heaven Bakes if she could bring over a few of her adorable desserts. She made the cutest mini cakes in the shape of gift boxes and delicious gingerbread snowflake cookies. We felt like kids getting to sneak some of Santa’s milk and cookies, and I am a much more cheerful host when I’m not tied up in the kitchen! 

Deck the Halls on a Budget
Boxwood trees are one of my favorite investments for the holidays. This set was under $50 total from Celadon, and I’ll use it year after year! You can also let wrapping paper double as decor, if you opt for a fun print. I picked this Charleston door print from local artist Jenny Batt, a vendor we carry at Cannonborough Collective. 

Make Scents
Think about ways you can add extra ambiance by incorporating all of your senses! I love having some type of holiday scent hit you when you walk in the door. Mom (and the Pillsbury Doughboy) are right when they say, “Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven.” Entering a home and smelling something cooking gives you a sense of immediate comfort, but what to do if you’re skipping the homemade goodies? Just light a locally made winter candle or try this super simple stove-top potpourri recipe: 

1 orange, cut into slices 
1 lemon, cut into slices
1 Tbsp cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
(Last two items can be replaced with a half cup of mulling spices.) 

Fill your largest pot and let the items boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer during your party. Check in and add a little water, as needed. Enjoy!