Welcome guests into your home with open arms and a perfectly prepared space
With busy calendars and an abundance of party invites, making the most of your nights out can be a juggling act of seasonal soirees. If you’re inviting people into your home this holiday season and beyond, it’s best to be fully prepared. You’ve double checked your invite list, fully stocked the wine fridge, and picked up plenty of food but have you thought about where to place your furniture, how to create ambiance or how guests may flow through your space?
Begin with the basics and ensure your home is clean. Whisking away the dust bunnies and mopping the floors may seem like obvious chores before entertaining, but take a look around your space for any unnecessary clutter or valuable knickknacks. By removing these items, your home will be more welcoming while leaving you to enjoy your night without worry of accidental damage to anything sentimental or valuable.
Once you’ve tidied up and reduced any visual distractions, it’s best to evaluate your home based on the type of party you plan to host. Is it a dinner party? A swanky soiree? Will your house be full of happy holiday-ers mingling about? Or is it a cozy affair with a few close friends? Knowing your needs will allow you to decorate and more importantly, arrange your space accordingly.
If it’s a dinner party you’re hosting, the table will be the focal point. Use a tablecloth, set the table with all the necessary dishes and utensils before guests arrive, add flowers or a centerpiece, fold napkins and add name tags. Little touches will go a long way in making your guests want to gather around your table all night long.
If you’re inviting others over for a cocktail party, consider renting high tables and chairs and removing coffee tables or other obstructing furniture. Less will be more if you want your guests to move around easily. No one likes to carry around an empty plate or juggle a crumbled up napkin so consider where guests may leave their dishes when they’re in the midst of a good conversation.
The way your room is arranged will affect how your guests enjoy the evening and interact with others. If furniture prevents people from moving freely between rooms or from the food table back to their conversation, the party won’t last as long as it could and guests may leave feeling hungry or unfulfilled. Think about how easy is it for your friends and family to move about your home and consider creating areas for conversation or moving large pieces of furniture off to the side.
If you’re serving a buffet dinner, keep the path around your serving area clear so guests can move freely to fill their plate. Only serving appetizers? Make sure they’re within easy reach of any areas you hope to have guests congregate. You wouldn’t want them to miss out on your great grandma’s famous fruit cake if it’s hidden in a closed off kitchen.
While running out of egg nog or cookies might bring an abrupt end to a party, a lack of toilet paper can make for some uncomfortable guests and early exits. Stay stocked on the necessities and ensure that each bathroom available to guests has a full basket out and easily accessible. While you’re in the powder room, check for fresh hand towels and light a candle before guests arrive.
If you don’t want guests to wander into certain rooms, keep the lights off and doors closed. This signals certain areas are off limits and won’t lead to any uncomfortable feelings of intrusion on the part of your party attendees. On the other hand, make them feel welcome where the party is with good lighting, appropriate music and carefully curated décor.
Add holiday lights, candles and dim lighting all around the room or around your dinner table. Smells should be subtle so as not to mix with the taste of foods but a lightly-scented candle can enhance the mood. Music can keep a party going all night long or kill the vibe pretty quickly. Pick appropriate music for the crowd and mood you wish to create – and keep the volume low enough to speak over or loud enough to get your crowd grooving.
Take your holiday party from good to great by paying attention to the small details around your home that will add to the ambiance and make guests feel comfortable. Fill your guests up on food, fun and holiday cheer with a little rearranging, proper planning and a focus on their needs.