As soon as Halloween is over, Karrueche Tran is ready to put up her Christmas tree.
“I’m still stalling a little bit,” she tells Modern Luxury over Zoom in mid-November. “My Christmas tree is definitely going to go up this week, before Thanksgiving.”
You probably best know Tran for her roles on The Bay, Claws and, most recently, as the host of Fuse TV’s Upcycle Nation. However, when she’s not on the road or filming on set, you can often find her at home looking for ways to host her loved ones.
“I’m very detail-oriented,” Tran explains about her affinity for parties. “I just like to have a great time with the people closest around me.”
For her own holiday celebrations, Tran describes plans for a potluck-style Friendsigivng dinner. She also knows she'll be cooking a lot for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And given her expertise, Tran wants to share her party-throwing knowledge so that you’re fully prepared for your very own Christmas celebrations, New Year’s Eve parties and more festivities.
To begin, Tran likes to start with a theme. You should hone in on a color palette that’ll extend beyond the decor. You can get all the guests in on it too. Just as the table will be decorated with beautiful glassware, ornate flowers (Trans suggests roses or orchids) and candles, guests can come dressed up too in, for example, red tones, all silk or head-to-toe black.
And just because it’s Christmas time, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for red and green.
“I think for the fall, there's so many options,” Tran says. “There's the browns and neutrals and nudes with a touch of gold and black. Or you can go browns with hints of burgundy and maybe a touch of red, even a dark purple, like a maroon-wine color is really nice and pairs well with like browns, as well. Red and green is so played. That's like the last last resort for sure.”
After establishing a theme, the recipe for party success is simple: great food, great drinks and great music. Including a space for a photo moment, like a decorated backdrop, also helps make the night special.
Like the red and the green color palette, it’s important to go beyond the expected for music. Yes, you want to include some holiday favorites (Tran likes a Pandora station geared toward Black holiday music that plays the likes of Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey). But be sure to remember it’s a party when you’re making the playlist.
“You gotta have a little bit of flow. Maybe start with the holiday music and then get into Beyoncé for a little bit and then once the party starts going some more, you get a little bit Drake, a little bit of everything,” Tran says. “It's all about setting the vibe throughout the night [and] slowly getting people excited and situated and as the party builds, the music builds as well.”
Tran’s other essential is a bottle of Zacapa XO. The luxury sipping spirit is an ultra-premium blend of rums aged between 10 and 25 years.
“As I'm getting older, I feel like my palate is getting more mature. So I love to drink Zacapa on the rocks, just straight up. It's that smooth and has that really rich flavor that's not too overbearing,” she says. “It's perfect for the holidays just because there's so many different drinks that I can create or even provide for my guests when I have guests over. If they want to, drink it on the rocks or drink it neat or we can make a cocktail. It's really good with an orange flavor or cinnamon. It has really good chocolate notes.”
Alongside the bottle of Zacapa, Tran suggests filling your bar cart with all kinds of accessories to make a great cocktail. Stock up on a nice bucket, crystal glasses, tools like muddlers and garnishes, such as orange peels and cinnamon sticks.
When you’ve set the basics, it’s time to elevate. Depending on the extravagance of your party, you can opt to feature a sushi station, chocolate fountain or other communal culinary experiences.
“It's just a time to celebrate and be with your family,” Tran reflects on the holidays. “I just love being able to spend time with my loved ones, have a good time, eat good and drink good.”
Photography by: Courtesy Zacapa Rum