If you’re planning on throwing a Gatsby-status holiday bash but now find yourself in a tangle, these tips from Hollywood event producer, Yifat Oren are just what’s required. 

Yifat is the Hollywood event guru behind half the city’s big to-dos and is known as much for her incredible event landscapes as for her extreme discretion — which explains why A-listers across the country flock to her for special events. 

We asked this ultimate party planner to dish on tablescapes and hosting tips that are high in style and low in stress. Check out our exclusive interview below…

The Chalkboard Mag: Yifat, you’ve managed so many large, glamorous VIP events.  Tell us what you’ve learned! What are your best tips for stressed hostesses during the holidays?

Yifat Oren: Holidays are stressful enough! So much to do already, so many commitments, shopping list and to-do lists that never end. The last thing I personally need is more stress because I am entertaining; I do however, love to see my friends during the holidays. I tend to work less this time of year, which means I can host more and gather the people I love. I also like to keep things pretty easy because I am fairly exhausted after a usually long work year. So quite frankly, as much as I like to cook, to take the pressure off, I do a combo of catering and supplementing with my own cooking.

In our home we celebrate Hannukah, so it’s easy to make a pot of soup or chili and serve with potato pancakes and a big salad (my family loves greens at every meal, I’m not kidding). Another easy tip is to roast a chicken, or two. Again, add some potato pancakes (or roasted potatoes), a large green salad and you have got your dinner party. Also, get help —  I am a big proponent of getting yourself some help!

TCM: What are the absolute essentials for the perfect holiday party?

YO: Always pre-set your table. Inevitably, some of your guests will arrive early and it will be so nice to be ready. It is particularly nice to walk by a beautiful table that is already set.

Chill your white wines and Champagnes ahead of time — sounds elementary, but I can’t tell you how many times I have had to drop ice cubes in mine.

Have your appetizers, whatever that may be, ready on platters: A cheese board, cut fresh vegetables, an assortment of dips. So even if you are still upstairs getting ready, your guests can begin to drink and nibble without you.

TCM: Are there holiday entertaining cliches you wish hosts would begin to avoid?

YO: I’m just going to say it, can secret Santa be retired already? Does anyone need more ‘stuff’ actually?
Red-and-green theme — it’s just too obvious and overdone. Be creative, the holidays have so much color and fun, so don’t be afraid to do it differently.
The ubiquitous photo booth, complete with the most cliche set of mustache props on a stick.

TCM: Who are your top three party guests, fantasy or otherwise?

YO: Oh, I’m definitely taking you up on the fantasy part. Albert Einstein, because I am captivated by his brain. Winston Churchill, because his leadership skills were masterful. Finally, Abraham Lincoln, because there is probably no one I admire more in history. Do I have to stop? Two more seats please… one for Eleanor Roosevelt and one for The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Perfection of a dinner party!

TCM: Tell us about the three best holiday parties you’ve ever attended. There must be some stand-outs? 

YO: Definitely my client’s Marie Antoinette, “let them eat cake” New Year’s Eve Party. Imagine a mini Garden of Versailles, replete with animal topiary plants, a French chanteuse, a croquembouche and overflowing Champagne fountains. A Venetian masquerade New Year’s Eve Party… you can only imagine the types of shenanigans that go on when people think no one knows who they are. A surprise wedding at a New Year’s Eve Party. How great is that?

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