Holiday Parties: 3 of Canada’s most stylish women share their wardrobe and hosting tips

Holiday Parties
Holiday Parties

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Glitz and glam reigns supreme during holiday season. From twinkling lights to shimmering dresses, three of the country’s most stylish hostesses show us how to bring it on home when hosting a New Years bash or Christmas dinner party. Jacquie Somerville, Krystal Koo, and Eva Hartling‘s inspired holiday ideas will have you dreaming up ways to perfect your holiday gathering. These women turn up the heat in the kitchen (or hire someone to do so) as well as in their closet with their party appropriate shopping picks. While their holiday parties may differ in style, it’s indisputable that each lady knows how to throw a chic bash with a healthy dose of holiday sparkle.


Jacquie Somerville
Photography by Evaan Kheraj. Hair and makeup by Jessica Venturi for They Rep/Tresemmé hair care/M.A.C; shot on location at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, Vancouver

Jacquie Somerville: The Dinner party

With a sprawling lakefront ranch in the Nicola Valley, B.C., and a bright, airy house in Palm Springs, California, it’s no surprise that 46-year-old writer Jacquie Somerville enjoys entertaining at home. But a swish location is only the primer for a fabulous dinner party. “My whole message in life is to be daring, be different and be bold,” she says. “My guests know they can dress glamorously to come to my home and they’ll never look overdressed.” Preferring to cook the meal herself, she often preps dishes in advance so there’s time to “glam up.” “I absolutely love Lanvin dresses. They’re extremely chic but also comfortable,” she says. Heels are essential for this South African–born hostess (“one of my absolute favourites is Dior”), though five-inch stilettos are usually not on the menu. She likes bold jewellery but tends to go easy on the accessories since her gold Gucci ring met an unfortunate fate down a garburator during one of her parties.

When it comes to décor, she keeps things merry and bright with a hint of humour. “I’m a minimalist at heart but for Christmas I like to combine sophisticated with tacky,” she says. “I cover my tree in crazy ornaments and they all have a story.” On her table, silver chargers and red French napkins with quirky Santa Claus napkin rings set the stage for a festive evening in. After the last guest air kisses his way out the door, Somerville takes off her shoes, cranks up Neil Diamond and cleans up the mess. “You wake up in the morning and you feel kind of smug,” she says. “You think, ‘God, I did a great job.’”

Eva Hartling
Photography by Coey Kerr. Hair and makeup by Leslie Ann Thomson for Folio/Tresemmé hair care/M.A.C; shot on location at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal; dress, $3,415, by Erdem at Holt Renfrew; shoes, $650, BY Jimmy Choo

Eva Hartling: Evening Cocktails

As director of public relations and events for jeweller Birks & Mayors, Eva Hartling knows how to make a soiree truly sparkle. “I try to apply what I use at work, in terms of our corporate events, to my private parties,” says the 31-year-old from her home base in Montreal. A clear plan and a timeline help to kick off Operation Cocktail, as does a theme linked to the evening’s menu. This holiday season, she’ll be serving up Champagne and oysters. “Bubbles just scream celebration,” she says. In order to spend more time mingling with her guests, she often outsources some of the work. “In the past I’ve hired an oyster chef and a bartender,” she says. “I find that really makes a difference—it saves a lot of time.” Another trick she swears by is swapping her sky-high Yves Saint Laurent Tribute heels for a more comfortable pair once the party is in full swing. A fan of this season’s baroque-inspired trend, Hartling’s ultimate party look includes rich embellishment and loads of drama. “I like off-the-shoulder Roland Mouret dresses,” she says. “Alice + Olivia have really great cocktail pieces too. They have fun accents like see-through [panels] and fur-trimmed sleeves.” When the night is drawing to an end, she advises politely pulling the plug by bringing up what’s planned for the next morning. In Hartling’s case, this includes pulling out her monogrammed Smythson cards to write thank you notes to everyone on her guest list. House rules.

Krystal Koo
Photography by Vanessa Heins. Hair by Tony Pham for Hair on the Avenue; makeup by Robert Weir for Ford Artists/Hair on the Avenue

New Year’s Bash: Krystal Koo

Being a good hostess is in Krystal Koo’s DNA. The 28-year-old director of sales and marketing at Dundee Realty grew up in a family of 14, with a mom who served up multiple dishes at every meal. Clearly, she inherited her love of entertaining. “I know exactly what I want. I tell the caterer, ‘Here are my ideas and themes,’” she says. “For a New Year’s party, you don’t want to do a heavy dinner. I usually have passed hors d’oeuvres and then the main courses in stations.”

The first year after Koo and her husband, Michael Cooper, moved into their Toronto residence—the former German consulate—the couple served schnitzel and several types of German beer at their New Year’s celebration. Besides a diverse guest list, she places great importance on three party-makers: drinks, a DJ and dancing. Wardrobe is usually decided on P-day. A black sequin mini-dress and a great smoky eye tends to be her go-to look, however on occasion the shoes call the shots. “My husband bought me brown sequin Louis Vuitton heels,” she says. “When I walk, they shimmer. Everyone comments on [them].” Among her arsenal of style weapons are killer dresses that go from dusk till dawn. “There should be a slit at the back for easy mobility,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be too tight, so you can breathe at the end of the night.” In 2013, she’s planning to don a flapper dress for a 1920s-inspired party to be titled Prohibition. She’s thinking casino tables, a live band and old movies projected on the wall. Let the countdown begin.

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