Prep Your Home for Hosting a Holiday Party
Let’s face it, hosting a holiday party can be SUPER stressful. Most of us don’t entertain as much as we would like to, in part because we wish to offer a level of style- yes, even for us designers- that is hard for us to carve out of our VERY busy everyday lives. The simple solution of having everything you need on hand means that you’re less likely to be shuffling around in a last minute panic, rifling through cabinets when friends and family arrive, and more likely to be able to be present, enjoying their company and sipping delicious cocktails. The first duty of a good host is to be of good cheer- without that, the rest can get tossed out the window. There are a few preemptive measures, basic pieces, and useful tips that can ensure your holiday entertaining goes along without a hitch- well, hopefully. We’re here to take the stress out of hosting a holiday party!
I am always in awe of those orderly pantries with entertaining supplies lined up like patient little soldiers waiting to serve. It’s not only the sheer volume of linens and vases and platters- or the on hand supply of tea lights and votive candles that impress, although they do, it’s how beautifully they are organized! Here are a couple of secrets I have taken with me along the way- use a label maker to place labels on the fronts of shelves with what goes where. This may seem a little over-the-top to some but for those of you who know me you know that I have a bit of a love affair with my labeler. Toss the broken, ripped, stained, and chipped, plus those things you think you “might” use someday but never actually will. They will only make it harder to find what you need, and therefore the planning that much more difficult. If you take time to arrange items neatly, press linens before you need them, and order supplies like candles in bulk, you will be rewarded with a wave of domestic satisfaction every time you open your closet or pantry.
Set the Bar
Having a drink station as part of your holiday entertaining is welcoming, cozy, and well lets face it- very, very useful! Think about that awkward moment when guests first arrive and they are just kinda standing around. A drink station or bar cart allows you the opportunity and quick access to offer them a drink or for them to help themselves. Plus, bar set ups look so pretty- all of those bottles and glasses and bits of silver, brass and gold. You can arrange a drink station on any surface- a server, on a console table sharing space with books and lamps, a space on your kitchen counter, or a great bar cart. Go the extra mile with a tray to organize your bottles and glasses, colorful cocktail napkins, a pretty bowl for nuts, a candle or a little bud vase or small bouquet. Oh yea, and punch bowls are an amazing addition to any holiday party- less mess and easy refills!
Aside from alcohol, sodas, and mixers, you might want:
- a tray for bottles
- a corkscrew or bottle opener
- an ice bucket
- a shaker
- tongs or a large spoon
- glasses- tall, short, and stemmed or stem-less
- cocktail napkins
- a little cutting board and knife for lemons and limes
- 1 bottle of prosecco
- 1 cup vodka
- 10 ounces 100% cranberry juice or more to taste!
- 10 ounces pomegranate seltzer or more to taste!
- 4 ounces rosemary simple syrup (1/2 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 4 sprigs rosemary)
- rosemary for decoration
In a large plastic bowl, combine seed and water. Freeze the night before party. (I would suggest making two of these). To assemble, place ice mold in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. Enjoy!
A Dining Table
Don’t despair if you don’t yet have the table of your dreams. Dining room tables can be enormously expensive. Even many style hounds, for whom money is no object, choose to simply cover a plywood table or any basic table frame with floor length fabric and then top it with a square tablecloth that can be changed out- oh yea AND washed! This is super cheap and insta-chic!
No dining table at all? No excuse! This type of setting can be the most fun around the holidays- where some people sit around the coffee table, some perch on the sofa and some sit on the floor- with plates on laps. It’s amazing how any social stiffness flies right out the window when someone’s butt is on the floor.
A Stash of Table Linens
A simple white tablecloth and some big white napkins are the little black dress of your table wardrobe. They go with anything, and if you add some candles flickering around your glasses and mixed metals, you’ve got tabletop perfection. Little black dresses do not make a wardrobe although they are a staple. You’ll also want colorful, patterned table linens or a festive centerpiece because they are jolly, and because they are the quickest and cheapest way to change the whole look of your holiday table year after year. I often find that simple linens in grays and other earthy tones can be as delightful and festive as the bright cheery patterned ones.
It’s no great coincidence that the key to making people feel sparkly and bright is to make the room itself sparkle. Candlelight, and low light in general, is essential for creating any sort of warmth and mood. Candlelight is hypnotic, romantic, and creates a sense of ultimate coziness. Candles mix best in dimly lit rooms, so keep all lighting low so that the candlelight can work its magic. Keep on hand a stock of cheap glass votives and several packs of tea lights. When candlelight is below eye level it is the most flattering plus votives give you the freedom to spread the sparkle wherever you want, not just on the table. I love them near plants and flowers, on a drinks table, or on a bookshelf. Tea lights with clear plastic bottoms are, in my mind, an innovation that rivals the steam engine! No more wax sticking in the glass or tin-bottomed tea lights showing through the clear glass votives. Oh yea, and you can pick up bags full of these bad boys at your local dollar store- and done!
Hosting a holiday party can be really fun and stress-free if you plan ahead. Please share how you prepare, we love new tricks and ideas!
For more inspiration follow our Host a Holiday Party Pinterest board.