Quick Tips on Holiday Decorating & Entertaining

Despite all the hustle and bustle we create for ourselves during the holiday season, I think we all know that what everyone really wants is some time to relax and catch up with family and friends. Hosting a holiday gathering can be a challenge, especially when it comes to finding space for all those people. You’ll likely have to rearrange some furniture to make room, and it can be tricky to make temporary seating be both functional and attractive. Even if the seating seems a little unusual, holiday decorations can help create a lighthearted mood and keep the focus on what the season is really about.

While a room arranged for a holiday gathering may not always be perfectly staged, here are a few tips for making the most of your holiday gathering by creating a festive atmosphere that invites conversation and togetherness.

First, consider the arrangement of the larger furniture in your space. It’s likely pointed at the television, and you’re used to seeing it that way But thinking creatively may help you open up some space for your guests. If you want to encourage guests to bond and reminisce, pointing your furniture away from the television is the best thing you could do. Make the tree the focal point instead. Shift large furniture such as your couch and loveseat so that it faces the tree and begins to create a “U” shape. The large furniture should be near the perimeter of the room so that smaller furniture fits in front of it if necessary. If you have a coffee table, you can pull it close to the couch and use it as a snack station.

Photo: Southern Living

Now that you’ve freed up some space and changed the focal point of the room, you can add some temporary seating to accommodate your guests. I’d suggest a couple chairs, a few small stools, and some floor cushions. The chairs can be part of the “U” shape but are also easily moved to create an independent seating cluster if the occasion calls for it. The small stools are also easy to move around and can double as end tables if necessary. Just place a festive tray on one of the stools to create a flat surface for guests to put food and drinks.

Photo: Houzz

The floor cushions can be clustered together near the tree or placed sporadically between other seating clusters. These will likely be for younger guests, such as children opening presents. They’ll add another level of seating but can also be stacked in the corner when not in use. The general idea is to keep the seating flexible so that clusters can be created and rearranged as guests naturally group and re-group.


Photo: Houzz

TIP: Place those decorative trays I mentioned on other surfaces, too, especially on furniture you don’t want people to put their drinks on.

Now that the room is arranged for merriment, you’ll want to think about the smaller details. Some festive decorations will create a warm holiday atmosphere that your guests won’t want to leave. While there’s nothing wrong with displaying your kids’ handmade ornaments or stringing multi-colored lights on your tree, you can add some style with these on-trend ideas.

First, add a little greenery. Hanging simple wreaths of different sizes is a great way to add just the right amount of seasonal greenery. Another place to add a hint of green is your centerpiece. Whether it’s in the middle of your dining room table or a buffet-style arrangement, a natural bowl with a few pine clippings and some wooden ornaments adds an element of freshness–and it will smell nice, too!

Photo: Elle Decor

In addition to sprouts of green, gold decorations will give your gathering a sleek, modern feel while still looking festive. Monochromatic holiday decor is popular this year, and gold seems to be the color of choice for this trend. On the tree, go for a minimalist approach, using only modern geometric ornaments in different shades of gold.

Photo from Boxwood Avenue

On shelves and tables, replace everyday decor with holiday tchotchkes such as candles, ornaments, boxes wrapped in gold paper, and other Christmas figures. You can mix matte, glossy, and occasionally glittery pieces to set the tone of holiday cheer.

Photo from Kirkland’s

TIP: To really look like a pro, arrange items of varying heights in groups of three or five.

Entertaining during the holidays can be stressful, but if you set the right mood with holiday decorations and keep the seating flexible, your guests will be sure to enjoy themselves and love coming to your place year after year.