Pops of colour, the heady scent of mixed bouquets, the warm glow of diyas, the aroma of freshly made mithai, raucous laughter… this is what festive parties are made of. As we usher in the celebratory season, and parties blur into each other in the last two months of 2023, homes are given a thorough cleaning and spruced up for entertaining. While e-commerce sales are replete with offers to entice shoppers, what if you could charm your guests with what you already own? With a little help, of course. We bring together decor stylists and design bloggers to share tips on colour palettes, patio dining, cocktail bars, festive touches and how to ensure your party is lit.
Post-lockdown parties tend to be more intimate, and the palette that greets you should be reflective of that. If you have a mix of Indian handicrafts at hand, then go for a two-tone palette. “This Diwali, gold appears to be the colour of the season. Surprisingly, another colour that has emerged dominant across accessories such as throws, curtains, cushion covers, napkins and place mats is the shade pink,” explains Pankaj Jathar, VP and Country Head India, Etsy.
While the yellow-orange-gold trio is used liberally during Deepavali, most designers prefer a different canvas. Mumbai based interior designer Shabnam Gupta, with Peacock Life stores in Mumbai and Hyderabad, has fashioned homes for actors Parineeti Chopra, Rajkumar Rao, and also designed offbeat interiors for hospitality chains across the country. She says, “I prefer deeper shades like burgundy, purple and emerald green.” The move away from gaudy to subtle touches of gold and silver is another quick way to add a festive element. Radhika Shenoi Sethi, a Mumbai-based home stylist who works with H & M Home, Marks & Spencer India, among other decor brands recommends “using shades of pink, blues, green and beige, it gives the home a certain subtle warmth and elegance”.
For most, cushions in jewel tones set the mood for the evening, but another absolute must have at a party are floral arrangements across the home. Chennai-based Kamna Vohra, (co-owner of Chennai-based Irislane that specialises in bespoke floral settings) who just conducted a workshop at the Pure Home + Living store in Express Mall, says, “For the Diwali season, give your home floral touches with tuberoses, roses, bright coloured chrysanthemums, and carnations.”
Blooms, whether in tall arrangements in vases, bunches of varying heights at the table or in earthen barnis and urlis, lend a festive allure. Rukmini Ray Kadam, a Navi Mumbai-based designer and blogger who styles for stores such as Ikea India, Obeetee, and helms her own design store Trumatter, recommends tones that bring warmth to your venue. “Lotus, sunflowers and pink roses, let you make a beautiful bouquet.” Vases can range from traditional ones, to antique brass bowls, tealight holders, tall water glasses, that can be versatile vehicles for floral centrepieces. Rukmini prefers styling using local flowers with an off white and light pink combination or warm yellows to bring out autumn tones. “ While decorating, using simple florals and lights is definitely better than cluttering with bright lanterns,” she adds.
Go local, with your floral choices, and check what’s in season: chrysanthemum, carnations, lotus, tube roses, “and generous bursts of baby’s breath (gypsophila), which lend a fuller look,” adds Pratiksha Kataria, founder of Bengaluru-based TablescapesbyP. For those who enjoy a single floral element that does not require too much fuss, Shabnam says the versatile mogras is her go-to choice. “They can be used as gajras, napkin rings, in small urlis, around your tablescapes, etc. Another pick would be strings of rajnigandha flowers around the house.”
Say it with glass
While setting a table is the next order of business, using what is available can be both chic and traditional. Using a “repurposed silk or chikankari dupatta as a runner or even using a beautiful old silk sari draped over the table looks beautiful,” states Pratiksha. The buffet table might draw all eyes to the food, but the cocktail table should also tie into the festive revelry. Radhika recommends “designing a festive cocktail menu and displaying it on a chalkboard. You can serve Indian snacks like pani puri in shot glasses, use Indian prints for the tablecloth or runner, display a few lights in glasses or you could add marigolds to wine glasses and add a floating candle in them.”
Celebrated interior designer Vikram Goyal’s recent Viya Home India edit, showcases traditional artisanal practices using brass and inlay work on deities, diyas, and candelabras. “For Diwali, I like a festive modern Indian table with accessories such as assorted candle stands and flower vessels. I would bring in colour through fresh, seasonal flowers,” recommends the New Delhi-based designer.
While illumination is the spirit of the season, less is more, stylists concur. “Clear glass is classic, we love to add colour to it, especially the warmer hues as they enhance the festive atmosphere,” says Pallavi Chandra, co-founder at Glass Forest, which specialises in hand-blown glassware and decor. She explains how iInherently coloured glass is used in combination with clear glass so the tones imbibed do not fade with time, and retain their luminous quality. Radhika adds, “use LED or curtain lights available online or even hand paint your earthen lamps.”
While lights and floral touches add to a perfect setting, even the choice of cutlery, glassware and silverware require some consideration. Benagluru-based Abhinayah Sundaramoorthy, co-founder at Yellow Dwelling, which offers natural fabric furnishing, recommends earthy tones and, “traditional earthenware, brass or ceramic tableware contrasted with a base of brick red, brown, and shades of terracotta”.Shabnam on the other hand, likes to use Indian thali sets play around with brass and silver ware. “You cannot go wrong with table linen and tableware with golden accents. Pair them with elegant white and cream ceramic crockery plates and golden cutlery to finish off the look,” she adds.
Finally, if you have a large balcony or a patio space, then choosing to entertain outdoors is a great option. “For a semi-formal outdoor soiree, I suggest ochre and mustard yellow along with pottery shade of blue. This pairing works beautifully with white crockery, crystal and glassware.Set up low seating with floor cushions ,pillows and bolsters to make it more comfortable for your guests,” Abhinayah sums up, as she readies her home to host parties for the season.