When planning a party at home, decorating can easily slide down the to-do list as more essential tasks (like menu planning, shopping and cleaning) take priority. But isn’t much of the fun of a party the feeling that things are a bit fancier than the everyday? A few well-placed, non-holiday-specific decorations can dress up parties from now through the New Year. Hit these seven decorating hot spots, and you’ll know your home is party ready.
1. Draw attention to the front door. As guests arrive at the front door, they should feel a sense of occasion; even one special touch can do the trick.
You can’t go wrong with a seasonal wreath — it’s simple and elegant, and should last for several months. If you live in a warm climate, why not embrace the weather and choose a wreath featuring dried citrus fruit instead of fall leaves or winter berries and greens?
For an even longer-lasting display, a pair of stately topiaries flanking the door makes an elegant first impression.
Or place a few sturdy lanterns on the ground beside your doormat for a welcoming touch. Avoid a potential hazard by placing battery-operated candles inside instead of the real thing, and turn them on before guests arrive.
2. Polish up the foyer. The place where you greet your guests deserves to be gussied up a bit at party time. Pick and choose between these festive accents that can work for any party, holiday or not:
- A pair of mini topiaries on the entry table
- Lit candles with a beautiful fragrance
- A pretty bowl filled with candy
- A silver mint julep cup filled with freshly cut roses
3. Set the dining table. When you are having a dinner party, having the table fully set before guests arrive not only makes things less stressful, but the set table becomes part of the decor. A table setting like the one shown here looks extremely polished but takes less effort than you might think.
Follow these steps to give it your own twist:
- Cover your table with a tablecloth or runner in a natural material like linen, burlap or wool tweed. Or, if you have a pretty wood table, leave it bare!
- Form your centerpiece by arranging dried moss down the center third of the table, and top it with antlers or driftwood.
- Nestle in a few fresh “ingredients,” like mini white pumpkins, succulents, persimmons, pomegranates or pears.
- Set the table. If you want to use chargers, try a metallic hue that matches your flatware or use natural wood slices. Top each plate with a piece of the same fruit or veg used in the centerpiece.
If you want to use place cards, try tying tags to the stems of fruit or mini pumpkins. Or collect fallen leaves, and write the name of each guest on them using a metallic gold paint pen.
Even if you won’t be using the dining table during a party, it’s still a good idea to dress it up. A cluster of large decorative gourds like the ones shown here would look stunning through the fall. In winter try a cluster of mini trees or potted rosemary.
Of course, there can never be too many candles at a party — fill a long tray with lit candles (real or battery-op) and place it in the centre of your table.
4. Create a drinks table. Another great use of the dining table during nondinner parties is as a bountiful, self-serve bar. Make it festive by setting a few large-scale objects — like the urn and vase of flowers shown here — near the centre.
If you are using a credenza or bar cart in the living room as the drinks table, call attention to it by placing something with a bit of sparkle or light on top, like the branches shown here. Another easy but high-impact way to light up the bar is by coiling a strand or two of battery-operated string lights inside a large glass jar, and placing it on the bar.
For hot drinks, like apple cider or hot cocoa, setting up in the kitchen makes more sense. Inviting guests to serve themselves hot drinks in the kitchen is a great way to get conversations started! Create a convivial mood by hanging bunting or a wreath, or setting out a vase filled with branches.
5. Gussy up the mantel. If you have a beautiful mirror hanging above your mantel, simple candles may be all you need to make the room feel dressed up for a party.
To take it a step further, hang a seasonal wreath above the mantel (you can also hang it over a mirror) and place seasonal fruit or gourds in front.
6. Style the coffee table. You will likely be ushering your guests into the living room, so give them something pretty to look at on the coffee table. A good formula is a simple vase with flowers plus a stack of books with an object on top. For a long coffee table, try placing the flowers in the center, with a stack of books on either side.
7. Primp the powder room. Fresh hand towels and soap are a must. If you have pretty embroidered hand towels, use them! A tiny posy of flowers in a bud vase on the sink is a welcome touch.
For a bit more formality, set out a stack of neatly rolled white hand towels, and provide a basket to place used towels in. For any party, offering hand cream, a stain remover stick and a candle (with matches) on a pretty tray is a nice touch.
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