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Entertaining 101: How To Make Your Small Gatherings Safe and Memorable

By Michael McCarthy | December 11, 2020 | People Parties


Ty Kuppig, founder of TYGER Event Design + Production (, isn’t used to telling his clients to scale back. After all, this party master has created mega-events for brands like Rolex, built fundraising galas for nonprofits like Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art and staged a film-premiere extravaganza for Hollywood director James Cameron. “One of my favorite recent events was a 250-guest destination wedding we designed and produced in Reykjavík, Iceland. We shipped an entire 40-foot container across the Atlantic full of one-of-a-kind decor from our inventory for the celebration.”

Given the health crisis Boston and the world grapple with this holiday season, Kuppig’s advice to clients who still want to share joy with loved ones is dramatically different this year. He sat down with us to share some festive tips for safe holidays gatherings.

What makes a gathering at our homes, even during a pandemic, feel special?
This is not the year to throw the blowout bash, but you can still be a great host while following CDC guidelines for safety. Right now, CDC guidelines restrict indoor gatherings unless within a family or a pod. Set the tone for safety— provide masks for everyone. This will set expectations and establish a standard of safety, making all feel more at ease. Use this safety measure as an opportunity to infuse design and detail. Personalize masks with guests’ names or a design that connects with your holiday theme.

What party format would you recommend?
Cocktail- style rather than a seated dinner is a good option this season. This open format allows everyone to socially distance while enjoying time together more safely. Considering the times, some may not feel comfortable staying for long, so this creates an opportunity for them to depart on their schedule.

What about holiday food and cocktails?
This year, stay away from any shared food or drink. In lieu of plattered nibbles such as antipasto, crudites and cheese plates, I recommend small, individually plated apps to offer guests. They’ll appreciate the extra thought. Also, a special cocktail is a great thing to offer guests throughout the evening along with wines, so they never need to help themselves to your bar.

What are your favorite party decor options this year?
With so many people having to cancel travel plans over the last several months, this is a great time to rethink the traditional holiday decor and do something unexpected for your celebration. Did your family’s winter trip to the Caribbean get canceled? Bring the islands into your home by decorating with live foliage and a tropical- inspired palette to elevate your holiday. Now more than ever, we should mix it up and embrace the unexpected. We could all use a little escape this holiday season.

You’re the king of details—how would you add those right now?
A small-scale celebration within your family or pod will not only allow you to focus more on your guests, but also create more opportunities to incorporate design elements and details. Think about how to keep the celebration going even after your gathering. Small takeaway gifts for your guests with a cocktail kit and recipe for the signature drink you served is a great idea. Also, a QR code to the playlist that you curated for the evening is a nice way of reminding everyone of the lovely time you had together. During the pandemic, we’re all feeling disconnected, even within families, so little details and personal touches go a long way.

Tags: party

Photography by: Courtesy of Tyger Event Design + Production