’Tis the Season to Entertain Friends and Family to Magical Effect

Author Stephanie Booth Shafran shares her tips for hosting in good cheer



The holidays have arrived, and when it comes to creating exquisite settings that capture the delight of the season, Stephanie Booth Shafran knows a thing or two. The celebrated hostess, fifth-generation Angeleno and great-great-granddaughter of Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis grew up amid the social swirl of her parents, who frequently threw elegant dinners and garden soirees at their home in Bel Air.


“I actually was very shy and used to cling to my mother’s leg at social engagements,” recalls Shafran, who says it wasn’t until her own children got older that entertaining became one of her favorite extracurriculars. Her refined eye for aesthetics — influenced by a love of fashion, architecture and interior design — enables Shafran to create transformative settings for friends and loved ones.

This holiday season, Shafran and her husband, Steve, will welcome their “large blended family” to their home in Sun Valley, Idaho, and toast her debut book, You’re Invited: Classic, Elegant Entertaining (Rizzoli New York, $50), which will be available in February and was completed with the help of interior designer and stylist Stephen Pappas.


An inspiring collection of eight parties she has hosted at her homes — including her residence in Bel Air and a pied-a-terre on Manhattan’s Upper East Side — the tome has been a two-year endeavor, inspired in part by the completion of her L.A. residence with interior designer Jeffrey Bilhuber. Naturally, it includes a chapter dedicated to creating seasonal cheer, a missive that could only have been penned by a hostess who entertains with the frequency and ease that Shafran does.

Whether it’s choosing the linens, flowers or food that will best articulate a holiday gathering, Shafran cites organization as the most important element. “Getting the table setting done ahead of time is key,” she says. “Think it through so that you can enjoy Christmas with family and friends and be in the moment.” Shafran keeps the food easy throughout the day, setting up a bloody mary bar with brioche sandwiches and potato chips, or hot cocoa and Santa cookies for younger family members. She also adorns the breakfast table with a gift at each place setting for a festive touch.


“One of my favorite traditions is outfitting our children in matching pajamas on Christmas morning,” Shafran says. “Every year I pick a different theme, and this year, it’s martinis and rosé bottles.” Not to be excluded from the fun are the family’s three beloved Cavalier King Charles spaniels, who receive their own stockings and personalized bowls.

As for palette? “Pick a color and run with it,” Shafran says. “I like to capitalize on the room and its decor. In California, I always love doing gold, silver and green.” Fresh flowers also help usher in a sense of the season, with paperwhites, white amaryllis and peonies ranking among her holiday favorites.


Ultimately, creating moments of joy and beauty for friends and family throughout the year, not just at the holidays, is what’s important, Shafran says. “I don’t need an occasion to throw a party.”


Feature image: All photos by The Ingalls, from the book You’re Invited: Classic, Elegant Entertaining (Rizzoli New York, $50) by STEPHANIE BOOTH SHAFRAN.


Dec. 20, 2019

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