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Five Tips to Host a Memorable Holiday Party

Five tips to host a memorable holiday party

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Five tips to host a memorable holiday party

Throwing an elegant holiday get-together – whether a sit-down dinner or a cocktail party – with your family and friends doesn’t have to be stressful, especially if you plan early. Meal-planning, decorating and coordinating the guest list needn’t fill you with anxiety and impending doom. While the holidays are indeed fast approaching, these simple entertaining tips and tricks will help you expertly host a holiday party that’s all success and no stress.

Here are five ways to host a stress-free, memorable holiday party this season.

Make a list, check it twice

Upon deciding what kind of party you’re going to host, and its scope, it’s time to determine the date, time, and guest list. Put together a list of loved ones to invite and decide how you’re going to get the word out. You can send out invitations via email, post on personalized card stock, or simply telephone your guests. In an effort to plan your party well in advance, you should send out your invites at least three to four weeks ahead of the party date if not sooner, as calendars fill up fast around the holiday season.

With your RSVPs in order, you can more easily plan the scope of your party if you know how many people to expect. Also make it clear whether or not guests are allowed to bring plus ones or their fur babies.

Create a realistic holiday menu

Aside from last-minute RSVPs, cooking is often the number one stressor of planning and preparing for a holiday party. Eliminate this stress by refraining from over-complicating your menu. While an elaborate meal may look impressive, it will likely prevent you from enjoying your own party with your guests.

Create a relatively easy holiday menu that suits your skill set, and that you feel comfortable cooking and serving. All-in-one meals work great for this, as they’re typically simple to make and limit the number of dishes, pots and pans used, making for a smoother clean-up. Consider roasting meats and vegetables at the same time, or adding a stew or chili to your menu. If you have a small dining space, a buffet-style dinner is the way to go to prevent overcrowding. Easily create a tasteful buffet by keeping your food in pots on the stove and using counters and tables as serving areas. Depending on the theme and scope of your get-together, you can opt for finger foods, which work especially well for smaller groups.

Regardless of your menu, much like your invites, the most important thing to remember is to prepare your food well in advance.

Drink up

A holiday party wouldn’t be complete without beverages, of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety. As such, consider setting up a separate station in another room, such as in your living room or sitting room, for drinks. Stock your bar cart with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, ice, cocktail napkins and the appropriate glassware, and ensure you stock up on soda and mixers, as well as coffee (regular and decaf), hot cocoa, cider and a basket of teas.

If you are expecting more than 20 guests, it’s a good idea to hire a server for a few hours, as this will go a long way in saving you time and giving you the freedom to mingle with your guests. If you’re hosting a small group of friends, a self serve bar should do the job and friends and family can help themselves to cocktails and other beverages.

In addition to remembering your beverages, also ensure to label each guest’s glass. While it’d be great to provide each guest with a new glass for each new course, your kitchen will quickly pile up with dirty glasses, making the post-party clean-up a nightmare. Use wine charms or personalize your guests’ glasses by writing their names on drink stirrers to allow everyone to keep track of their glasses, encouraging re-use.

Clean & decorate

In addition to showing off your cooking and cocktail mixing skills, you’ll want to ensure your home decor is also top-notch. Ensure you spend some time cleaning your home the day before your party, make a note to hang up stray coats and put away shoes and any other items that may be in the way. This is especially important if you have a small space, as any clutter will quickly fill your space and become more apparent. Find spots for your stray items, ensure your floors are free from dust, that your bathrooms are immaculate and any pet hair has been vacuumed.

For the day, or night, of your party, consider purchasing or renting a coat rack to hang your guests’ jackets when they arrive, as this is more thoughtful than simply dumping their belongings on a bed, and makes them easier to retrieve at the end of the night.

Decorating is key to setting the tone for your party. If you have a small space, remember that less is more: stick to the essentials, but keep decorations small.

Make use of out-of-reach areas by hanging mistletoe in doorways or from lights; consider wall decals, topiaries and ornaments on tiered trays. If you’re working with a larger space, the “less is more” adage is key to keeping things look modern and elegant. Decorate with festive lights, candles, wall art and coverings.

These same decorating principles apply to your table settings and your home’s exterior. For a tasteful approach to holiday decorating, try a single, stand-out wreath, potted evergreens or a large bow on your door. Ensure to creatively arrange your furniture to accommodate your guests, and if your family or living room is larger than your dining room, don’t be afraid to swap places. Feel free to combine folding chairs, benches and lounge seating at your dining table and create various comfortable and inviting spaces throughout your home for your guests to mingle and socialize.

Sounds of the season

Set the mood with a homemade CD or computer playlist of holiday songs. This is a relatively simple undertaking, but instantly personalizes your gathering by setting the mood to your favourite mix of seasonal tunes. Remember to keep the music low, as conversation is what counts at any celebration. Also try to avoid musical selections with lyrics during the dinner hour, which can cause competition between the lyrics and the scintillating dinner conversation.

With the holidays fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start planning your festive soirées. When the planning process starts early, you’ll avoid both stress and aggravation, as well as the last-minute rush to pull something together. Easily transform your home into a place for an elegant gathering of your closest friends and loved ones with Furniture.ca’s wide selection of home furnishings and decor, perfect for transforming your holiday decorating ideas into reality.

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The Most Colourful Time of the Year

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The Most Colourful Time of the Year

Holiday decorating allows you to unleash a vibrant colour scheme, in tune with the festive season

Photography By Gillian Jackson

Holidays are meant to be festive and colourful, and I’m here to tell you there are no rules about which colours you use to decorate your home. If someone even mentions a “don’t,” I’m very quick to tell them to MYOB (meaning Mind Your Own Business). Let’s just have fun, throw political correctness and matchy-matchy out the front door and celebrate the season with colour!

A statement chandelier plays nicely with blue, silver and chartreuse tree and mantel decor

It may be just me, but I love going into my friend’s and client’s homes during the holiday season, just to see how they’ve decorated. Do they follow through with an already existing colour story? Or do they make a bold statement with vivid hues that don’t speak to anything else? Sometimes elegant and understated is the way to go, but you can find ornaments in almost every colour today, so it’s just a matter of getting creative with the placement.

One client, who during the holidays has been known to put a tree in Every. Single. Room., loves decorating, and the holidays give her an excuse to go over the top! You may not want to consider installing a real pine tree in your powder room, as she has done more than once, but think about it…there are benefits, especially when it comes to that lovely, pine scent.

But let’s get back to colour.

ROARING RUSTIC

Imagine owning a house with a 14-foot-high basement. There’s no question whether a tree will fit, it’s a matter of how tall a tree you can find. If it’s the kids’ retreat during the holidays, the decor can be colourful, youthful and fun. The room is dominated by a beautiful field-stone fireplace and bold berry-red furnishings, so my client added pops of red, pink, fuchsia, and purple. It looks just right with rustic, natural decor.

Pink, red, purple and fuchsia ornaments and decorations work when you let one of those colours dominate. Here it’s the berry red that draws your eye through the design.

CLASSIC WITH A TWIST

Silver and blue are classic, go-together colours during the holidays. Adding hints of chartreuse to the mix tames the blue and silver ever so slightly, but what a great combination. By repeating the colours together throughout a space, you give the eye a treat as it looks around the space. But don’t overdo it; it doesn’t have to be too theme-y. Let whatever blues you love mix with the other colours to add depth and interest.

Candles and natural greenery are more than enough to make your dinner table beautiful!

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Don’t skimp on the shine. Glittery fabrics, candle light, warm LED bulbs in the tree and a roaring fire. They all spin their magic to make your room come alive. Try to add light in special places, like lanterns on the floor with candles. It adds interest in the corners and can also help light a path from room to room in the evenings.

Candles lit on the table and surrounding it bathe your holiday decor in a warm glow.

BEYOND CONVENTIONAL

Taking your holiday decor colour scheme in a direction dictated by the furnishings is a sure winner. But if your home has a neutral palette, you can go in whatever direction you like. I personally have used a black and golden-orange colour scheme in previous years because I love the way the colours look together. It’s not as Halloween-y as it sounds. It has a slight gothic vibe but still reads festive and cheerful.

Orange and black may sound garish but I loved my gothic Christmas tree!

So where do you start and stop? That’s up to you. No rules. Except don’t ignore your holiday dinner table, it needs colour, too, but just subtle hints of it. Here, the people around the table and the food must take centre stage. Use a sideboard or bar cart to create a holiday wonderland, perhaps surrounding a dessert buffet, but go easy on the table decor. Candle light and dimmable lighting is the only complement you need with happy guests.

Mirrored, white and silver ornaments help temper the black and orange-gold colour scheme.

It’s that one time a year you can (almost) go over the top but look at it as a way to bring fun, beauty and warmth to your home.

Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to mix analogous colours (variations of the same hue like burgundy and pink) whether it’s in an ombré throw or a shiny ornament, it will look fun and fabulous!
  • If you have a tradition of colours you use every year and you love it, don’t change it. Just add another colour into the mix to keep your holiday decor fresh.
  • The sparkle of a chandelier feels special all year long but adding the holiday glitz and glamour makes your whole room downright shimmer.
  • Warm LED lighting gives you that soft, warm glow. Try to avoid cold, fluorescent-like lighting. You’re not at the office, you’re at home for the holidays.
  • The only rule about adding colour to your holiday decor is just ADD IT!

Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour. janelockhart.com

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