Tips from experts
Home Styling: Jill Gionfriddo, JG Home Interiors Fashion Styling: Mollie Milano, Style Spies Food & Wine: Kelsey Banfield, The Naptime Chef Hair & Make-up: Katie Knott Feeney, Flawless Faces
Photos by Adam Lerner
The task of creating your own holiday magic at home can be overwhelming. Instead of wishing your Pinterest boards would magically come to life, we’ve called on some of our favorite local experts to give you their best tips and inspiration for a stress-free holiday season.
Holidays Begin at Home
No matter your style, decorating your home for the holidays doesn’t have to cause panic or break the bank. Jill Gionfriddo, of JG Home Interiors in Southport, loves a non-traditional color palette with pops of greenery. “Think beyond the usual red and green,” explains Gionfriddo. “A palette of soft blues and grays, shimmery accents, and live or preserved greenery work well in most homes. It’s unexpected and soothing.” (Photo at bottom.)
Gionfriddo focuses on creating vignettes with her favorite decorations rather than taking on the entire interior. Her screened-in porch is also a favorite location for entertaining. During colder months, furry blankets are laid out for family and friends, and her bar cart is always stocked and ready for spontaneous Moscow mules in copper mugs, with cranberries and rosemary for garnish (photo at bottom.)
(Photo: Jill Gionfriddo wears a sequined wrap skirt from J Crew, paired with a fitted sweater from Fred Boutique (Westport). Her vintage inspired cuff is by India Hicks)
Dressing the Part
While you may be tempted to run out and buy new outfits for each holiday party, Mollie Milano—a local wardrobe stylist and seasoned personal shopper—encourages clients to shop in their own closets, first. “Top a little black dress with a faux fur vest and add booties for an edgy look,” says Milano. “Or, spice up an old standby with some fresh baubles borrowed from a friend.”
Milano also advises clients against a typical red and green palette in holiday fashion. According to Milano, layering textures like tweed, silk, velvet, sequins, and faux fur will give you a festive look without “screaming holiday.”
“A black velvet blazer can take you anywhere,” adds Milano. “Work it back to denim for a casual get together or girls’ night out, or pair with a sequin skirt and simple silky chemise for a night in the city.” Milano also loves capes and vests. “A black or white cape or a fur-trimmed vest can be thrown over a causal top and elevate the whole outfit, adding drama.” Her best advice is to stay true to yourself. “If you’re comfortable, people will notice your confidence, and the compliments will be flowing,” says Milano.
(Photo: Mollie Milano's holiday look mixes skinny jeans, a tailored blue button down and animal print sweater by J Crew––all topped with a hat from South Moon Under (Westport). Her new favorite black sweater cape is from Nordstrom and her bracelets are by Alison Daniel Designs (Westport).
Kelsey Banfield, a local blogger and cookbook author, is known by many as “The Naptime Chef.” Her blog and recipes are about helping fellow moms cook for all ages. Now that Banfield has more time—her children are school age— she is expanding her knowledge and educating herself about wine and spirits. When cooking for a crowd, she suggests making different things in large portions instead of lots of small dishes. Some of Banfield’s easy-to-make crowd pleasers include her cheddar pecan biscuits, ricotta crostini with balsamic caramelized onions, honey, and sea salt, and baked cheese dip.
(Photo: Kelsey Banfield puts the finishing touches on her ricotta crostini in a festive red dress and black fur vest from J McLaughlin (Southport). Her bracelet is by India Hicks and the bar design is Molly Patton Design. Magnolia leaves, pheasant feathers, and evergreen branches arrangement by Jill Gionfriddo.)
Primp & Polish
Local beauty expert Kate Knott Feeney of Flawless Faces, who crafted the looks for Holiday Help, has some easy beauty tips. “Brighten your smile for the holiday season,” says Feeney. “Try an over-the-counter teeth whitener—they really work!” Feeney isn’t shy about using drug store brands combined with higher end department store products. “The holidays are a great time for a smoky eye,” adds Feeney. “Make it festive with silver, bronze, or rose gold eye shadows, but be sure to keep the rest or your make-up fairly neutral so you don’t overdo the look.”