Visions of Sugarplums via Rebecca Gardner

Event and interior expert Rebecca Gardner has been making waves this holiday season with her Sugarplum Pop-Up, a retail collaboration at the St. Regis New York. The pop-up shop is open through December 24 and features elegant yet whimsical gifts and entertainments made exclusively for the occasion along with vintage collections curated by Rebecca through her travels.

Rebecca is the founder and creative director of Houses & Parties, a full-service event and interior design collective in Savannah and New York City. Her clientele includes the likes of Lauren Santo Domingo, Candice Bergen, and Derek Blasberg, reports Architectural Digest.  Rebecca’s “tablescapes and events are some of the most amazing we’ve ever seen,” declared Town & Country.  Vogue said the “Sugarplum pop-up at New York City’s storied St. Regis hotel might possibly be her most unusual, not to mention grand, undertaking yet,” and Salonniere reported it as the “new must-do in town.”  The New York Times has featured Rebecca’s advice this holiday season, along with Brides magazine (she has been named a top wedding planner by Southern Living and Harper’s Bazaar).  Rebecca is also a contributing article for Mileu magazine, and she has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Savannah Magazine. Intrigued to learn more about this dazzling designer, I was thrilled when Rebecca agreed to today’s interview!

Rebecca Gardner

Q:  Please tell me about your vision behind the Sugarplum Pop-up and how it came to fruition.

A: The Sugarplum Pop-Up is how I dream of December. The offbeat gifts and entertainments were either made just for the shop or vintage collections I’ve gathered from my travels. I can’t think of a better home than the St. Regis New York. An original Tiffany chandelier with pink glass flowers and happy cherubs hangs from the ceiling of my shop. Eloise can have the Plaza, I’ll be at the St. Regis New York.

Q: What are your favorite tips for entertaining and decorating during the holidays?

A: Have a party, any kind of party. It’s the festive way share joy and friends. If you have a teeny apartment, serve good champagne, cheese straws and be done.  If you are a great cook, host a seated dinner with beautiful china. Make your best effort.

Q: Do you have any special family holiday traditions?

A: My childhood neighborhood organized a Christmas Eve spectacle with thousands of paper bag luminarias lining the cul-de-sac. It was magic and must have sparked my fascination with candlelight.

Q: What inspired you to become an events and design specialist?

A: My favorite ways to spend time are cooking, entertaining and dreaming up new spaces. My work is really my passion.

Q: How would you describe your aesthetic, and is it influenced by your Southern roots?

A: I’m a stickler for the rules but insist on jolts of irreverence. Everything that we do have an unusual twist – a performance, an installation, a surprise.

Q: What are five daily necessities/luxuries that you could not live without?


  1. An hour in bed perusing eBay and Instagram.
  2. A cappuccino, with real milk, in a real cup with a saucer.
  3. Mrs. Strong engraved notecards and Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens.
  4. Basic Chapstick (black tube).
  5. Starched percale sheets from D. Porthault, there is nothing like getting into a beautifully made bed.

Q: Do you have any favorite resources for linens, china, tableware, etc.?

A: Oriente by Ginori is my favorite china pattern. We ordered it in Vermiglio and Malachite for the Sugarplum Pop-Up without the gold edge. I think it’s more versatile.

For linens, it’s the same as my bedsheets – D. Porthault. Their iconic prints are happy and fresh but they also create the most beautiful hand embroidery and appliqués. They are dream makers.

I like to mix and layer the other table elements such as glasses and flatware. Different textures and different ages so that nothing is stiff. The blown glass Latticino tumblers were commissioned especially for the shop to match the Ginori China. They add pattern and color to compliment (and avoid matchy).

Q: Do you have any items you like to collect?

A: I love antique linens and use them all over my house: pillows, curtains, tablecloths. I’m desperately trying to be bohemian.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: Nothing gets me going quite like experiencing a new culture – the food! the music! the colors! the craft! Hotels are a big part of this travel mojo. When I’m stuck with a project at my desk, I look at these books: Tim Walker’s Story Teller, Jeffrey Bilhuber’s The Way Home, anything with Cecil Beaton’s work.

Q: What are your favorite things to do in your free time?

A: When I’m in Savannah, I like to plan and cook low-key dinners with friends. In New York, I like to be a flâneur and see what happens – it usually involves white wine.

Q: Will you have further pop-ups/retail ventures after the holidays?

A:  Oh, I hope so. The Sugarplum Pop-Up was my first retail venture and I have learned so much in four short weeks. I’m already planning for next year.

The Sugarplum Pop-Up will be open in the Cognac Room at the St. Regis Hotel in New York through December 24. You can also shop the Pop-Up online by clicking here and here. For daily inspiration from Rebecca’s enchanted world, please follow via Instagram.

A home Rebecca decorated for a client via Instagram.
Rebecca’s French bulldog, Little Lord Button, rests luxuriously upon D. Porthault pillows. via Instagram
Rebecca designs the most beautiful tablescapes! via Instagram
via Instagram
via Instagram
via Instagram  

Thank you, Rebecca, for infusing an elegant dose of holiday magic and fantasy into this Christmas season!



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