With the Holidays just around the corner, tis the season for family gatherings, soirees with friends, and of course extravagant entertaining! We caught up with New York based interior designer/decorator Ryan Korban for his annual holiday party which this year featured champagne, lo mein, and Marie Antoinette inspired cakes. Pearl baubles were interspersed in Korban’s signature floral arrangements which led to impromptu craft sessions amongst guests as they created little cleopatra decorations as they sipped on their bubbly. We asked Mr. Korban to share some of his favorite entertaining tips. Take notes!
TFL: How often a month do you entertain?
RK: I would say at least twice. There have been months were I’ve done it more. At the very least I try and do it once a month even if that means I am helping someone else entertain. I just love the idea of having my closest friends and family over for a night with good food, stiff drinks, and interesting conversation.
TFL: What are some key entertaining tips that you always abide by?
RK: To me, two very important elements to any type of entertaining are flowers and scent. The first thing I always do when I’m about to entertain is consider the scent of the gathering. For instance, I keep in mind the occasion, the crowd, and the mood of the party, which can then help me determine the scent. I mostly use candles, but sometimes I opt for a nice room diffuser. I then consider what types of flowers will be used based on the same considerations as the above. These are the two most important elements for me. Then of course, there is lighting.
TFL: What do you like to serve when it comes to food at your holiday parties?
RK: Well, tonight, since the format of this party is more of an intimate sit down dinner, I wanted to serve my favorite type of cuisine, Chinese. But not just any kind of Chinese, it’s Chinese from Mr. K on Lexington. I was able to get them early and have them cater for us this evening.
TFL: Any special/favorite dishes?
RK: I love their crispy beef, sesame chicken, spring rolls, chicken lo mein, and pork fried rice. It all sounds super Americanized, but they taste authentic. My Asian friends swear by it! (RK jokingly said)
TFL: What is the beverage of choice for the evening?
RK: Champagne, and lots of it! My favorite kinds are the ones by Perrier Jouet
TFL: How long do you typically give yourself when it comes to planning a party?
RK: I try to stick to the two week rule, but sometimes during the holidays, since there are so many people planning parties, I try to get in on it a bit earlier just so I can beat the “traffic” and make sure I get everything I want and guarantee nothing is “out of stock.”
TFL: Where do you source your flowers & arrangements from?
RK: I always get flowers from the wholesale flower market on 28th street in Manhattan. When I get flowers for myself or for at home entertaining, I stick to simple types of flowers, and not pre-arranged, as I like to arrange them myself. Large quantity and repetition is always a good guide to follow. I love when flowers are not picked, long stemmed white roses in large bundles with all the leaves on them is always my personal favorite. I love tying them in a bouquet and then placing them in a tall black glass vase. This is a very Parisian approach to arranging.
TFL: Where do you go to pick up last minute items (decor trinkets, candles, lighting, serve ware, etc) needed for a party?
RK: For me, those elements are never last minute. They are usually what I plan to pick up first. I always approach drink and food as the last details. There will always be a liquor store or a food market open. For me, the decor is what will create a captivating environment so those things are always the most exciting and the first things I do. For items such as candles, Dyptique always has some basic scents that I love, such as their Rose scent. Otherwise, I love ByKilian candles, it comes in a simple black glass with a silver top cap to put out the flame without you having to blow it out and the variety of scents will cater to any kind of gathering. As for lighting, luckily my living room has a dimmer, so the lighting in my apartment is pretty simple, especially with compliments from the candles. Dean and Deluca is a one-stop shop to throw something chic together at the last minute.
TFL: What advice do you have for those who have small spaces but still would like to entertain?
RK: Go grand, go extravagant! Even though you may have a small square footage, you still can be grand and extravagant. Don’t let the size of your apartment dictate your ideas. Just find ways to scale back a bit. Going tall is always a good way to accomplish this. Whether it is tall branches or balloons on the ceiling, playing up the height in small spaces makes things feel bigger than they are. Also, don’t be afraid to take furniture out just for one night or move things around, you’d be surprised what a difference it can make.
TFL: What is your favorite place/places to source decor items for the home?
RK: Again, the flower district is an amazing place to source party decor. For special items such as ashtrays, vases, lamps, pillows, or rugs, Flair on Grand Street in New York has everything you need. As for glasses, plates, trays, utensils, and centerpieces, Sur la Table has a great selection. Although with glasses, I am inclined to buy in bulk because at my parties, they tend to break fairly quickly and easily- thanks to my friends!
TFL: If you weren’t an interior designer, what would your other career choice be?
RK: I’d be a theater actor.