Holidays By Design: Sara Gilbane Shares Her Christmas Tips And Traditions

For Sara Gilbane, Christmas is the most anticipated event of the year. She loves a home filled with family, champagne, Christmas music, and a tree that is just a little too large for her place. This designer spoke with us about her favorite traditions and family memories, and gave us her foolproof list of tips for throwing a holiday soiree.



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Viyet: What is your favorite holiday memory or tradition?

Sara: Like most children, I started getting excited for Christmas in July…by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was nearly at boiling temperature and ransacking the house attempting to find any presents that might have my name on them. Christmas Eve parties at our house with all of my family and cousins turned it up to fever pitch and, though I was beyond tired and it was still dark, I would wake up and crawl into my siblings’ beds so we could start to guess what Santa had brought. Anticipation is EVERYTHING!

Viyet: What do you do for the holidays?

Sara: I now have two children of my own (ages 2.5 and 5) and we are still celebrating with my family! We head down to Palm Beach and do much of the same…though I can now sleep in a bit longer…


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Viyet: How do you get ready for holiday entertaining (or travel)?

Sara: We celebrate a small family Christmas at our apartment in New York before we head down to Florida.  

Viyet: What are your quick tips for sprucing up your home for the holidays?

Sara: Smell plays a large part of the holidays and filling your home with paperwhites is one of the best tricks. Adding potpourri and oranges with cloves is another addition to holiday aroma. We hang stockings by the mantel, and of course we buy and decorate a Christmas tree (that is far too large for our apartment) as soon as they show up on Jane Street. It may be corny, but I adore Christmas music, and that is also playing in our home most nights.


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Viyet: What is the accessory you’d be lost without?

Sara: My Christmas tree ornaments! Many of them were gifted to my husband and me – our family threw us a winter engagement party, and ornaments were given to us by everyone for our first Christmas together.

Viyet: What advice would you give for people who are having others over for the holidays?

Sara: Pick a signature cocktail (simple champagne never fails) and have your bar ready. Make sure all food is prepared (delivered) beforehand and ready to go. Keep the music at a low level (at first!) and enjoy. Guests take their cues from the host, and if the host/ hostess is having fun, so will the guests.


Sara’s favorite pieces from Viyet: 

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First Row: Cliff Young, Ltd. Small Gold Swirl CandlesticksLee Industries Three Seat SofaBunny Williams Home Curly Q Lamps

Second Row: Bunny Williams Home Azure ChairCustom Carrara Marble Dining Table, Antique Pair of Moroccan Vases, Custom Striped Bergere Chair

Third Row: Modernica Ball Lotus Table Lamp, Julian Chinchester Ann Two Door Low CabinetAntique Pair Of Diminutive Linen Slipper Chairs, Antique Tortoise Shell Lamp

Fourth Row: Loggia Tufted Upholstered Chair, C&C Milano Linen Ikat Pillows designed by Mark D. SikesMitchell Gold + Bob Williams Lacquer Coffee Table, ArtStar Black And White Abstract 2


About the Designer

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Since 2003, Sara Gilbane has been creating casually elegant homes that encompass her clients’ personalities. Sara’s work has been featured in House Beautiful, The New York Times, Elle Decor, Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, Lonny, and The New York Observer. Sara resides in New York with her husband and two young children.

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