Protect Your Collection While Entertaining
raising glasses at holiday dinner party

A floral arrangement scratches a painting. A guest slips and spills red wine on your antique carpet and the painting hanging nearby. A fragile sculpture is knocked off its pedestal. Your favorite necklace disappears from your bedroom dresser. If you are planning a large event at your home this holiday season, making a guest list and hiring a caterer are likely at the top of your "to-do" list. However, hosting a large affair can put your valuable collection at risk of damage or theft. To make sure your special event takes place without incident or loss, here are some tips to consider:

Display: Move fragile and valuable objects out of areas where most guests will gather.  Frame artwork with protective glazing and make sure that sculptures are properly secured to their pedestals. Arrange for someone to be stationed near valuable artwork to keep guests from getting too close.

Food & Beverages: Place chafing dishes, the bar area, tray jack stands, and seating areas away from your artwork. Create designated food/drink areas to ensure items are not placed on antique furniture or other easily damaged surfaces. Establish egress and ingress traffic for the catering staff; small trays should be used to prevent large spills and avoid serving red wine or red sauces. Don’t use sternos and large hot water chafing dishes when serving food buffet style and avoid using compressed gas containers and butane cooking devices. Infusion, sterno, and electric cooking aids should be used in designated and well-ventilated areas away from artwork. 

Décor: Confirm that floral arrangements are sturdy, not top-heavy, a maximum of eight inches in height and displayed away from artwork.  Maintain adequate lighting, especially in high-traffic areas with artwork and stairs, and remove any potential tripping hazards, such as a transparent low-profile table. Avoid using decorations, such as confetti or glitter, which could adhere to an artwork’s surface.

Environment: Maintain a stable environment. Place large speakers away from artwork to prevent harmful vibration exposure and avoid directing heat-generating spotlights onto the collection. Prohibit open flames and sources of potential smoke/fire damage, including candles, fireplaces, smoking, lighters, and torches. Keep water fountains, dry ice, bubble machines, fog machines, or foam away from the collection.

Security: Move easily portable items to a secure area and lock rooms not intended for guests or vendors. Store your jewelry in a safe and hang valuable artwork with security hardware. Alarms on jewelry safes, wine cellar entrances, and artwork should stay active. Check that security cameras aren’t blocked by décor or equipment, and supervise all clean-up. Set up a bag, coat and umbrella check for your guests and a designated vendor equipment storage area to prevent damage and theft. Restrict photography to areas with low-value items on display.

Vendors: Make sure vendors are licensed, bonded, and insured. Confirm that background checks have been completed on employees and determine if they have workers compensation insurance for staff.  Check with your insurance broker/agent that adequate liability coverage is in place prior to the event.

With this additional “to-do” list complete, you can rest assured that your collection will be better protected. Now it’s time to relax, grab a cocktail, and get ready to celebrate with your guests.


Michelle Impey is AVP, Fine Art & Collections Manager, Risk Consulting, Chubb Personal Risk Services

The opinions and positions expressed are the authors’ own and not those of Chubb. The information and/ or data provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Insurance coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued.