Glowing first impressions.
Create a come-hither welcome to your home by placing pots of holiday plants or luminarias outdoors on your footpath—from front door to curb. Arrange them in a staggered pattern instead of directly opposite each other. This zigzag line creates a gentle wave of energy that is very inviting.
Tap the natural.
Wherever you live, look to Mother Nature as a source of inexpensive decorations. If you live near the desert, spray paint tumbleweed and interweave twinkling lights. Gather up pine cones from local parks and dip them in gold. Nuts gathered from trees, as well as baby pumpkins and gourds, can be stylishly wound into wreaths
More is not more when it comes to decorating, especially during the holidays. Too many holiday decorations can actually be overstimulating! Artificial trees, in particular, look cold with all-white or all-gold decorations; to add life, hang something earthy, like pine cones or tiny gourds. Use color to balance out the look. And don't cram symbols of the season into small crowded spaces. Empty space around an object can be its best frame!
Face your climate head on. If your guests will be wearing winter coats and boots, make sure you make space to stash them out of sight. Fur coats will need special hangers. Or, designate a bedroom where folks can leave coats on the bed. (Make sure the spread is super clean!)
Separate the teams.
To avoid traffic jams, create a beverage island separate from the food. Most people love to be offered something to drink
or eat moments after arriving, especially if they've traveled far. Have party hors d'oeuvres
at the ready.
Catering to age.
Make sure you have appropriate seating for older guests who may have difficulty standing or who are suffering from bad backs. Firm-backed chairs, comfortable couches with pillows for support, etc., are all appreciated. Have big floor pillows for young children.
People love to "pick" at parties, particularly those who have quit smoking recently! Make sure you lay out bowls of little treats that go down easily, especially if dinner is delayed. One of my favorites (and healthiest choice) is trail mix packed with dried cranberries, carob chips, and raw almonds.
Soft, lilting seasonal music can make a party festive, even when decorations are at a minimum. Consider the age groups and tastes of your guests. You might want to set up a separate room for teens to rock out.
Stock up well.
Make sure all bathrooms are fully stocked with toilet tissue, fresh towels, hand soaps
, and other items that make guests feel special. Hand lotion? Cologne? Breath mints? Aromatic candles and single blossoms in a small bowl also create a sweet ambiance.
Relaxing after a big feast is an important part of celebrating. Give your guests time to wind down before sending them off into the night. When you serve dessert buffet-style in a room other than the dining room, all sorts of new conversations spring up! If guests have been drinking liquor, check their sobriety state and offer them a ride home, if necessary.