Design plays a big part in Linda and Zelig Robinson’s annual holiday party. In several ways. There’s the design of their Guilford home, crafted by Linda, an interior designer at the Louis Mazor firm. There are the “designs” that are Zelig’s passion: the colorful works of art he collects, which cover every wall in the home. And then there’s the design of the party itself, which begins days in advance.
Actually, you could say it began after the couple married in 1987. They decided they wanted to celebrate their anniversary with friends, but not make the celebration itself about the anniversary. Since that date is Dec. 23, it wasn’t hard to do.
The annual preparation is another thing. Days before the shindig, Linda gets cracking. “How things look is always important to me because of what I do,” she says.
Seasonal pots of plants and lights are hung outside of their Tuscan-style house. She installs and decorates two Christmas trees in the living room. Wreaths and greens go up inside and out. Because the guest list has grown to about 200 over the years, the party space has, as well. About two to three days before the party, a tent is set up in the terrace area outside the dining room.
“I spend a lot of time decorating the tent because I don’t want to see bare tent walls,” she explains. “I drape them and hang greens, ribbons, wreaths and lights, whatever I can do to make it look more like a beautiful room and not like a tent.”
The day of the event, Linda herself spends hours arranging the big floral centerpiece for the dining room and one each for the tent and living room.
And Zelig? While the Gordon Feinblatt senior partner makes the bar and wine choices, he says, “Linda generally leads, and I generally follow.”
When it comes to organizing the food, the couple trusts that to caterer Sascha Wohlhandler. There are passed hors d’oeuvres at the beginning of the evening, and a massive spread on the dining room table including vegetables, meats and seafood.
“When I go up to dress at 4 p.m., that’s when Sascha’s people start putting the food out,” Linda says.
“I know when I come down that things will look as beautiful as I would like them to, because Sascha does a beautiful layout with table design. She layers food, using fresh leaves and baskets. And it always looks luscious.”
A full bar is set up in the living room, and a wine bar is assembled in the tent. Candles flicker throughout the house, as do fires in the library and living room fireplaces. The party blueprint is complete. The final component begins to arrive at 6— a group of guests as eclectic as the Robinsons’ artworks.
“We like to bring a lot of friends together at one time because we enjoy their company,” Zelig says, “so we [figure] they’ll enjoy each other’s company.” Neighbors, old friends, new friends, business friends— it’s a list carefully constructed by the couple.
As their home fills with energy and laughter, Linda and Zelig relax, enjoy and go with the flow. As if by design.