Newsletter 1: Give a Gift of Good Design and Classic Holiday Movies that Inspire

Hello, happy holiday season, and welcome to the first issue of the Next Dinner Party Designs monthly newsletter where I’ll share tips and tricks and deals and also what’s inspiring me, design-wise.

Separately, I’ve maintained a blog called The Next Dinner Party for the past decade and I write about life abroad, travel, dinner parties and more over there. This here newsletter will just be focused on design.

In November, I officially launched Next Dinner Party Designs and I’ve been working on a few client projects since, figuring out the nuts and bolts of getting a new business off the ground, and learning a design software that produces stunning 3D renderings. It’s a ton of fun and basically like SIM city but for rooms. If you book Design Special or Design Plus package, you’ll receive a beautiful 3D rendering of what your room could look like as part of the deal (which also includes a video call, sharing a Pinterest board, and a shopping list). Part of the launching process involved finding a logo that I really loved. I used a logo-making tool from the site Fiverr and received a pretty cool one with a hanging plant that I was into until a friend said she thought it was a bit to suburban for my brand, which is very inspired by my life abroad, especially in North Africa. I contacted the designer, EmilyClaire, and she made me a gorgeous colorful logo utilizing a keyhole door that I think captures the feel Next Dinner Party Designs.

This Christmas season, my husband and I are in Princeton, New Jersey, which might really be the basis for many a Hallmark movie it is so darn charming – like a little English town covered in twinkly lights, a small ice rink and Christmas tree in the town’s square, and holiday movies playing at the adorable non-profit movie theater.

In years past, when we were living in places like Algeria or Jerusalem, I’d often have to put in a lot of effort to bring that holiday cheer. But now it’s here, it’s all around! However, our worldly goods are still en route from Algeria and we won’t have our tree or any holiday decorations. But our rental apartment does have a few large, healthy plants/trees. So here’s a tip: Who says a Christmas tree has to be an evergreen? (Well, maybe the song “Oh, Christmas Tree” but is that really the authority?) I’ll be putting sparkly lights on all the indoor plants and thus they will be Christmas trees. 

Another holiday idea for you: Do you know someone who’s been talking about sprucing up (tree pun intended) their living room/bedroom/entryway but hasn’t gotten around to it yet? Or perhaps a friend or family member is such a unique person and their bland digs don’t match how interesting they really are? Or maybe this person has a minor case of decision paralysis and could just use an expert to help them decide on paint colors, rugs, where to position the furniture, how to build a chic gallery wall, or how to display their treasures. Consider giving a gift card for a Next Dinner Party Designs inspiration session, gallery wall consult, or full room design. To purchase, you can email me at or click an option below. (Just be sure to get in touch after so I can send you a pretty digital gift card).

What’s Inspiring Me

This photo from King Kennedy Rugs that my design idol, Justina Blakeney of Jungalow posted on her Instagram.

It took my breath away! Like why have automakers never thought to allow for customizable carpet and what if one of those options were vintage kilim rug? I might actually be interested in cars. (Revoke my Detroit hometown card now). This photo sent me down a lovely consideration loop for all the unexpected uses for rugs.

Me (with a disapproving husband looking on) bartering with a shopkeeper in Tangier, Morocco over some beautiful rugs.

Most days, I’m doing work from Princeton University’s library. (My husband, a diplomat, is doing a year-long masters degree program at this esteemed institution and spouses get access to the university library and gym). I find it inspiring being around all that studious undergrad energy and the building is a stunner, especially the reading room on the third floor with a large-scale collage from Colombian artist María Berrío. 

I watch a lot of movies and TV but each December there are always three classics that I rewatch: Little Women (the 1994 version); Meet Me in St. Louis; and Love Actually. Each rewatch is a hot toddy to my soul. Here’s a few design inspirations from each of these holiday faves: From Little Women, the pink walls in Sallie Gardiner’s bedroom are perfect. The color is not cloying, not too warm, not too cool. More holiday related: The March’s home was so damn cozy for Christmas in part because of the copious pine boughs throughout. Must have been a lot of needle clean-up though, and this before the advent of vacuums.

I always loved the room curtains in the Victorian home in Meet Me in St. Louis. The patterned wallpaper, the toile fabric with fringe, not to mention the voluminous sleeves and fringe on the dresses and those bouffant hairstyles. Rich people style in Victorian era St. Louis was a lot! I’m obviously here for it (each and every December).

And in Love Actually, how cute is Laura Linney’s characters apartment, with the shabby chic lofted bedroom?

May you have an inspired holiday season!


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