Throw the ultimate holiday party with Atlanta designer Rhonda Peterson’s recipes
Want a convivial holiday atmosphere with your friends and family? One tip: keep it simple.
You could call designer Rhonda Peterson an expert in holiday decorating. She has been a force in the Atlanta design community for years, creating colorful spaces for her clients and writing the award-winning blog Stylish Spaces Designed for Living, which she launched in 2011 as an outlet for sharing her passion for interior design, fashion, and entertaining. But it’s during the holidays that her talents especially shine.
Her festive style can be seen in the 2016 book by Katharine Kaye McMillan and Patricia Hart McMillan, Christmas at Designers’ Homes Across America, and she is also featured in the new holiday books Bright Ideas for Christmas and Christmas by Design. Rhonda has made holiday decorating a part of her design business, trimming trees and decking the halls at her clients’ homes for the season.
“I do think about a client’s existing decor,” she says. “But I think more about them, their interests, likes, travels, experiences, and, of course, memories of Christmases past.”
Rhonda attributes her love of the season to her mother and her grandmother. “They always made it a special time,” she says. “When we decorated the tree, it was always so festive, with the music playing and the scent of my grandmother’s pies and cakes filling the house.” Her favorite memory is the flocked tree decorated with blue or red glass ornaments, with a revolving spotlight at the base and multicolored filters shining on the tree. “It was all about the color and lights and the sparkle!”
Rhonda’s number one rule: Don’t overthink it. “I keep it simple: I keep it about the people when I’m entertaining, and I make it amazing!”
We caught up with Rhonda and her friends for her annual holiday party. Stepping through the front door, the convivial mood is immediately contagious. Guests sip her signature cocktail, the Sparkling Candy Cane: Prosecco with a garnish of raspberries and a candy cane swizzle stick. The menu reflects her entertaining credo—simple but delicious—featuring Gorgonzola-stuffed dates, Jerusalem artichoke dip, baked Brie with raspberries, a colossal charcuterie platter, and, for dessert, an orange rosemary olive oil cake, all arranged buffet-style on a beautifully decorated table. The bar is a serve-yourself setup, which makes it easy for guests to pick up and mingle.
Rhonda likes sparkle and texture, and her Christmas decor reflects this. Glittering ornaments adorn wreaths in the living room. In the entry hall, her console tables turn into take-away gift tables for guests; little burlap Santa sacks are filled to the brim with sweet treats.
Rhonda’s two children, 12-year-old Gillian and 17-year-old Noah, and husband, Gerald, happily partake. “Because my children love all things Christmas, it inspires and motivates me to make sure their Christmases are just as magical and beautiful as my mom and grandmother made them for me.”