‘Tis the season for festive gatherings with family and friends, and a holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without a cocktail in hand! Whether you’re welcoming the season for the first time as an engaged couple, are celebrating your first Christmas as newlyweds, or are an accomplished holiday hostess, early December is the perfect time to brush up on your etiquette and prepare for new guests, new memories, and a new take on celebrating the holidays. Camilla Belle, actor and entertaining maven, knows all about welcoming loved ones into her home, and she’s got a list of tips that will have you ready to deck the halls and open the doors.
“As an actor and entertaining enthusiast, I’m constantly bringing together my family and friends to enjoy delicious cuisine, handcrafted cocktails and good company,” says Belle. “When hosting, I believe effortless entertaining is the new classic chic!” She focuses on fresh cocktails and delicious food to set the tone, whether you’re celebrating with a few friends or the entire family.
Delicious, handcrafted cocktails are a must for completing any at-home soirée. “As guests arrive, I enjoy greeting them with a classic cocktail in hand—like a cosmopolitan, given a holiday twist with Cointreau—to elevate and kick off a memorable evening,” says Belle. Her winter cosmo combines Cointreau, gin, Angostura bitters, and classic cranberry and lemon juices for a festive take on this iconic drink. “When entertaining at home with close friends or family," she says, "I believe fresh cocktails with seasonal ingredients lend a personal touch and set the tone for an elegant, curated evening.”
There’s more to holiday decorating than twinkle lights and flocked trees. “For the holiday season, I’m inspired by classic décor with a festive twist—mixing vintage pieces with elevated modern accents. I love to add some sparkle with copper or gold plates and serving dishes, and balance it out with warm wooden accents,” Belle says. Those warm tones will make your space feel cozy, even if your studio apartment somehow didn’t come with a fireplace. “To set the mood, I always add in many candles around the space to fill up the room with aroma and create a relaxed vibe for guests,” Belle continues. It’s a tip that works for weddings and at-home celebrations alike!
You’ve seen her on screens large and small, but did you know Belle is a whiz in the kitchen, too? “I’m a cooking enthusiast!” she says. When she’s having friends over to celebrate with cocktails, she always makes sure to have tasty bites to nibble on, too. “For the holidays, I like to start with flavorful appetizers, such as beef tartare or ricotta and fig crostini. For the main course, warm and filling dishes are perfect for the winter. Growing up in a Brazilian household, my family and I were always cooking together in the kitchen surrounded by fresh ingredients and a variety of unique flavors,” Belle describes.
The table is set and the house is full of tantalizing aromas, so now it’s time to change into party attire. “As a hostess, I believe a cocktail dress is your best friend. For the holidays, I like to wear rich jewel tones or a sophisticated deep red, and add a complementing pop of color with my lipstick,” says Belle. She tops it all off with a statement necklace or bold ring, and some of her favorites come from trips home with her family in Brazil.
What’s a party without a little entertainment? “If I’m hosting a smaller group, I like to personally shake up each cocktail to order. For a larger crowd, I’ll create a ‘make your own’ area with key ingredients—Cointreau, fresh lime juice and other seasonal fruits and herbs—so guests can have fun whipping up their own cocktails. This is a great way to make the evening interactive and it gets the conversations flowing!” Belle says.
Want to whip up Camilla Belle’s signature holiday drinks for your own seasonal gathering? Here’s how she does it:
Sparking Holiday Cosmopolitan
Combine first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with frozen cranberries.
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with star anise.