Bloomingdale’s at the new SoNo Collection in Norwalk opens Nov. 14, just in time for holiday entertaining. We talked with Joe Weiner, fashion director for Home at Bloomingdale’s, for tips on the upcoming season:
Let’s talk holidays. The season is always packed with cocktail events and festive gatherings. What advice would you give to someone who is hosting his, or her, first holiday party?
“Take a deep breath and do what feels natural. When you’re greeting people in your home, you want them to feel comfortable and a nervous host will only make guests uncomfortable. Don’t feel pressure to impress everyone with your culinary skills by making all the food yourself. It should be a mix of assembled items and maybe one or two homemade items that are simple but delicious. Likewise, keep the drink selection narrow but the glasses full. And use serving pieces that feel special but not precious. I like pieces from Juliska like their Stonewood Stripe Collection, which are bold and eye-catching without being delicate or unapproachable.”
Any must-haves at a holiday party when it comes to décor?
“A good host presents their guests in the best light possible, so I would say stocking up on candles is a must. I like to have fresh flowers in the house for an added layer of specialness and use serving pieces that I’ve collected over the years but aren’t used every day. I find that special pieces on your table are a guaranteed way to get guests talking. Inevitably, someone will ask about the serving plate you found at the Paris flea market or the goblets you just bought from your favorite home store. It’s a great way to share stories and spark conversation around the table or at a gathering.”
Anything to avoid?
“If you’re having a sit-down dinner, try to avoid any bulky or tall flowers or décor that might block someone’s view…. You want your guests to be able to interact without having to crane their necks or not make eye contact. If you’re serving snacks or a buffet, be sure to give guests enough places to sit and be comfortable while they eat. There’s nothing worse than holding a plate of delicious food and not having a perch from which to enjoy it.”
What about hostess gifts? Are there items that you recommend?
‘It’s important to not show up emptyhanded and chances are most people will show up with a bottle of wine (which is fine). Set yourself apart from the crowd. I like to bring a Tom Dixon candle, which is cool, modern and gender neutral, or a bud vase. Even a box of sweets from Sugarfina is great — a small token of appreciation that the host can enjoy when the party is over and everyone has gone home.”
Where do you draw inspiration from when shaping the direction for Bloomingdale’s home department?
“Inspiration can come from anywhere. We’re constantly scouring the world looking for the latest in designs. Personally, I find traveling to be an important source of inspiration as it’s a great way to discover new designers. I also go through magazines and social media to see what’s happening in our day-to-day culture across all categories — even those outside of design like fashion and food. It’s my job to sift through all these resources and see what bubbles up to meaningful trends for our business. Just because something is trending in the wild doesn’t mean it’s the right trend for us or our customers.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
“I love that my job is nonstop and that I’m always on the go. It’s also a collaborative environment with a unique group of intelligent people that inspire and motivate what I do.”
For more, visit Bloomingdales.com.