Lela Rose’s 5 Rules For Entertaining During the Holidays

Leah Bourne

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Dallas, Texas-born designer Lela Rose rose to acclaim when the Bush twins wore her designs to their father’s Presidential inauguration, and the rest is pretty much history. Lela Rose’s ladylike clothes, now sold everywhere from Nordstrom to Bergdorf Goodman, are a favorite of celebrities like Lauren Conrad and Lea Michele. One of Rose’s other (not so secret) talents? Entertaining. Yes, if you score a coveted invite to a dinner party at Rose’s Tribeca home, we highly suggest you drop everything to be there.
Here, Rose’s five entertaining rules to live by.
1. Keep It Seasonal. “I love to do things seasonally,” Lela Rose says. “Right now at the green market it’s all about cabbage and squash. I love to do this roasted cabbage and squash toast with a little bit of maple syrup and cider vinegar. It’s divine! I also love making Middle Eastern lamb meatballs with spices like cumin and cinnamon, which is served over couscous. I am really into broths and meals that are heartier and heavier but that you can do a lot of vegetables with and make them a one-dish meal.”

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2. Fail-Safe Tip. “No matter what, I think you have to greet people with a specialty cocktail,” Rose says. “Specialty cocktails set the tone for what to expect and they make people feel comfortable and welcome.”
3. Dinner Party Playlist. “If it’s later in the night I have my ‘Lela’s Sap Crap’ playlist, which is all of the cheese ball 1970s and 80s songs like Total Eclipse of the Heart and Rich Girl by Hall & Oates, also a lot of Elton John and Tiny Dancer. Those are all fun songs to go back to. They are definitely more late-night, when we are in the tequila nook.”


4. Think Outside the Box. “I just did a dinner the other night where I used all kinds of purple artichokes and romanescos (they are the most unusual looking vegetable you’ve ever seen) and I use horse apples on the table,” says Rose. “I think it’s such a prettier way of setting the table, especially when the evening is about food and cooking. It’s a great way to do something without using fresh cut flowers, which have been trucked in from so far and die the next day. I end up cooking with all of the vegetables subsequently after the dinner party which really gives it a full-circle life.”
5. Go-To Entertaining Outfit. “I love to wear skinny pants with a beaded top or a dinner jacket with a feather trim,” Rose says. “I also love to wear dresses. I am not the person who does not want to go in overdressed. I could care less if I am a little overdressed, I just want to go in having fun. I always say to everyone, dress in whatever you want, just make it fun.”
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