4 Big Ideas for Small Holiday Get-Togethers

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent on how to level-up your scaled-down celebration.

We may have put the big parties on pause this year (sigh), but that doesn’t have to mean tamping down the holiday spirit. In fact, in the absence of all those big bashes, making your own home festive and cozy feels more important than ever—even if it’s only one other person, or a few, that you’re having over.

That’s not to say that you should be giving hosting a lot of time or effort. There’s no need for that, say interior designers and couple Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, who are all about easy entertaining. Take their go-to cocktail, a Holiday Thyme Martini made with Tanqueray London Dry Gin, for example. Instead of mixing each drink on the spot, they prep a pitcher-full ahead of time so that guests can pour their own. “That’s one thing off your plate,” says Berkus. “It takes some of the pressure off.”

Want to see how they make their Tanqueray martinis? Press play in the video above to get the recipe and their top hosting tricks, then read on for more!

Dial down the temperature of your drinks

Martinis taste best when they’re suuuuper cold, so Berkus and Brent keep their Tanqueray London Dry gin in the freezer and dry vermouth in the fridge. “People don’t realize that instead of just adding ice at the end, you can start with chilled ingredients, which will get your cocktails even colder,” says Brent, who serves theirs in frosted martini glasses for an extra-wintry look.

nate berkus and jeremiah brent with tanqueray

(Image credit: Hearst Owned)

Have a menu strategy

In reality, you’ll get pretty much the same wows whether you make everything from scratch or just pick one impressive “headliner” to pull off (for Brent, that's usually a pomegranate-jalapeño ham) and phone in the rest (literally—we’re talking ordering them in from your favorite local restaurant). It’s simply so much easier, and rewarding, to focus on making that one dish amazing. For the takeout, Berkus and Brent love shareable apps (bruschetta, arancini, fried olives) and rustic sides like pasta and roasted vegetables. And, of course, the key is to serve them all up in beautiful bowls and platters.

nate berkus and jeremiah brent with tanqueray

(Image credit: Hearst Owned)

Try a minimalist take on merry

You could go all out on over-the-top holiday decor, but it can feel just as festive (and chic) to do a light nod to the season, says Berkus. “A holiday look can be as simple as hanging a garland of white lights on a staircase and setting metallic ornaments in silver bowls on top of a table.”

Rethink the regular florals

The two have nothing against flower arrangements but prefer using other, more unexpected objects from around the house to zhuzh up their get-togethers. “We’ll fill old pottery bowls with potpourri, set out votives in sculptural vases, and turn elephant figurines from a trip to Laos into a centerpiece,” says Berkus. “You can pull any interesting objects from your desk, bookshelves or cabinets to use as table decor, and they become a conversation starter.”

PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY. TANQUERAY London Dry Gin 100% Grain Neutral Spirits. 47.3% Alc/Vol. Imported by Charles Tanqueray & Co., New York, NY.