The holidays spark an interest in abundance and all that glitters. Hosting a posh dinner party can be exciting but seem like a daunting task. Adding a personal chef and event planner to the mix means helping your guests feel at home with elegance and warmth, coupling a delicious meal with on-point ambiance.

Nicole Anders is an event planner who excels at helping to host events with personalized hospitality. Nicole has proven her value through exceptional attention to detail and the versatility to coordinate team efforts with diverse objectives. Nicole Anders Event and Lifestyle Management was founded upon the meaningful vision of making her clients’ vision come true. A full-service event and lifestyle management company, she allows the client’s vision to come to fruition while she handles the details individually tailored for each client’s design and desire.

Chef Markus Ford has been cooking for more than two decades. His career has gifted him the opportunity to cook for celebrities, dignitaries, political figures (including two presidents), a member of the British royal family, several celebrity chefs and even the occasional TV appearance. He draws his inspiration not only from current trends, but his world travels to more than 40 cities in some 25-plus countries.

“Laid Back Chic” is one way to approach the dinner party this season.

“People love entertaining outdoors, but they still want an edge. This tablescape is designed with metallic linens that are sheer which add texture. Drama is created by mixing high and low centerpieces. Black glass makes a bold statement in tall thin Eiffel tower style pieces,” Markus says.

The “Holiday Buffet” is for those who want to stick to tradition. Nicole and Markus arranged a Norman Rockwell-style turkey dinner, only adding a bit of Cajun spice. This has been perfectly accented with traditional cornbread stuffing that has been enhanced with crawfish and andouille sausage.

Cocktail parties are a specialty for Nicole and Markus. The key is small portions, such as ceviche in hand-carved pink Himalayan salt shot glasses, baby lamb lollipops with tarragon mint and pomegranate molasses, along with fresh vegetable spring rolls.

A special thank-you to The Brexley for providing the perfect backdrop for our dinner parties.

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘It’s not done until it’s overdone.’ Don’t hesitate, just do it. If you think the party needs an extra dozen roses or an extra dozen crab claws, just do it. And lastly, you can never go wrong with something wrapped in bacon, as long as you have a vegetarian alternative.”

—Chef Markus Ford

“My advice to the in-home entertainer is to not forget about the smallest details that leave a lasting impression on your guests—knowing your guest’s preferred cocktail of choice, personalized place cards, attention to each guest’s dietary needs, or a parting gift to thank your guests for taking the time to be with you in your home to celebrate the occasion is crucial.”

—Nicole Anders