Dita Von Teese has been dubbed the “Queen of Burlesque” and is recognized the world over for her classic retro style inspired by 1940s cinema. The burlesque dancer is also an author, actress, costume designer, and an ambassador to liquor brand Cointreau. We don’t know how she still has the energy to entertain, but Von Teese truly has a knack for hostessing and loves celebrating with friends.
And while she is known for her extravagant shows, when entertaining off the clock she likes to keep things intimate and relaxed. “I’m a do-it-yourself kind of girl—I don’t have chefs,” Von Teese shared. “I love cooking, making cocktails, and decorating my house.” At a recent event for Cointreau held in Von Teese’s own kitchen, which features pink toile and vintage appliances, Von Teese shared some of her top tips for throwing a chic holiday party.
1. Keep It Simple. “Keeping it simple is really the key to having a successful party,” Von Teese says. “The cocktails should be simple, the food should be simple. I think that’s the key to not being too frazzled. I also like to dress up and I don’t want to look like a mess when my guests show up.”
2. Have a Small Guest List. Similarly, Von Teese doesn’t like to throw big, swanky parties. “I like to keep my parties small,” Von Teese shared. “Sometimes I just invite my girlfriends or just the cast of my show.”
3. Get Eclectic With Your Decor. “I like to go to farmers markets and mix and match things,” Von Teese says. “Sometimes fruit can even be in place of flowers for decoration.” Von Von Teese’s choice of glassware is just as fun. “I have a big vintage punch bowl i’m really excited to use. It’s an inexpensive way to add a glamorous look to your party…[And] most of my glasses are from 1950s and 1960s.”
4. Lighting Is Key. “I think lighting is a good place to start to set the tone for a party or decorating in general,” Von Teese says. “I have dimmer switches all over my house. I use a lot of scented candles too and ones that suit the season. I like to set the mood.”
5. Have a Few Signature Cocktails Ready. For drinks Von Teese says, “I enjoy people serving cocktails, not just having bottles popped. I personally only like three ingredients in a cocktail when I’m making one at home. I can’t stand too many sweet or sugary things in my cocktails.” The ingredients she always has on hand are tequila, limes, sparkling water, and Cointreau. She can easily make her favorite Margarita or a Cointreau Rickey.
6. Do-It-Yourself Bar. Instead of hiring a bartender (or acting as the bartender herself) Von Teese likes to have her guests customize their own drinks. “I like to let people mix their own drinks and put their own fruit and things in it because it helps them remember which drink is theirs and leaves less mess for me to clean up afterwards.”
7. Plan Your Parties Around a Activity. “I feel like I’m always entertaining everyone, so sometimes I throw what I call a Garden Arts Party,” Von Teese says. “On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon I tell everyone to bring something artistic, like a musical instrument they are learning or paint…Things can get quite interesting. By the end of one party I almost felt like I was in a hippie commune.” Some more of Von Teese’s ideas? “I’ve had a singles mixer at my house before where everyone brings someone who is a good single candidate. That was really lively. Sometimes I have people over for UNO parties. I like to have activities.”
8. It’s Better To Be Overdressed. The always glamorous Von Teese likes to wear 1940s loungewear or vintage hostess dresses when throwing a get together at her own home. But when going out she says, “I always overdress. I’d rather be overdressed than underdressed for sure.” It’s also important to keep in mind where you’re going and what the decor will be. And particularly during the holidays, it’s a time to celebrate and have fun, especially with your wardrobe. “I always love dressing up for the holidays because I love rich velvet textures and full skirts.”
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Dita Von Teese On How to Plan the Perfect Holiday Party