If you throw a cocktail party this holiday season—and that’s an idea we’re strongly encouraging—chances are your gathering will bring together people from different areas of your life, some of whom are strangers to each other but dear to you. According to Lake Forest’s Ellie Nottoli, the founder of Ellie Styled and the talent responsible for the gorgeous party on these pages, the trick to an evening where everyone mingles and the laughter flows is to start with a great concept, provide amazing food and drink, and then mix in a few clever details and surprises.
“For this party, we knew we didn’t want the expected big floral centerpiece,” says Nottoli about her collaboration with floral designer Alison Buck.
“We have some unexpected elements, like the slipper orchid on the bar and a kumquat tree, which is actually a lime tree that we hot-glued kumquats on,” Buck adds. It’s those little elements that are the genius of Nottoli’s parties (which are lively, relaxed and stylish); she’s someone who cares about every detail, but she’s never ostentatious or stuffy.