For many of us, one of the joys of owning a home is welcoming others into it, whether it be family gatherings, dinner parties with friends, or hosting colleagues or fundraisers. Most entertaining is centered around the people and the food. At Hoskins Interior Design, we always account for how our clients plan to entertain in their homes in our interior design schemes. Flow, color scheme, materials, and furniture are just some of the elements that we choose based on their needs. Once that custom design is complete, they will have a space that accommodates their plans.
There are many other aspects that go into creating a beautiful, welcoming and comfortable entertaining space once the design is complete. We have some interior design tips for holiday entertaining to help you make your event a true success.
Plan Early – This philosophy sits at the top of our list due to the complexity of entertaining. It may be that you forgot about the huge stain on your table cloth from last year’s event leaving you with nothing to use. Perhaps someone broke your water pitcher and you have yet to replace it. Planning ahead gives you time to make sure all of your necessities are covered.
An easy way to ensure your table linens are always ready to go is to send them to the cleaners immediately after an event. Have them washed and pressed, then hang your table clothes in a closet until the next event.
Doing anything you can before the day will help tremendously. Most hosts want to create a certain ambiance or possibly a theme for their gathering. Having a plan and pulling out or purchasing the appropriate pieces ahead of time will help ensure you achieve your goal.
If you plan to use silver, take a day to polish it. Did you know that patina on silver is a positive attribute? However, do not mistake the lovely richness of patina with tarnish. You will want to use a silver polish to prepare your pieces rather than a tarnish-oriented cleaner to ensure you do not remove the patina. Remember to wash your items after polishing them. We also recommend using silver mitts to brighten the pieces after washing.
Finally, planning allows you to attend your gathering along with your guests. If you are running around throughout the whole event, you will not be able to enjoy your guests or the fruits of your hard work! If your event requires that you be fully engaged, like a business event or fundraiser, then it is important to have help during the active time. If your budget allows it, hiring a caterer can be the best way to allow you to interact with your guests and enjoy the party.
Decorate with Intention – A large part of entertaining is setting the appropriate ambiance. It is important to consider the feeling you want to evoke in your guests as they enjoy your home and company. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you choose your décor:
- Choose appropriate centerpieces – Keep your centerpieces and table décor simple, low in height and very beautiful. People need to be able to see each other across the table; fancy, multi-level decorations get in the way of conversation. For floral centerpieces, options range from placing large blooms in small vases along the middle of the table, to putting individual blooms in tiny vases at each place setting.
- Set a unified look – If you are serving people in different rooms, make sure each space goes well together. This practice not only supports the mood you are trying to create, it also avoids the “best table” syndrome, where guests feel slighted by not being at what they consider the center of the action.
- Think about your candles – Candlelight is a lovely element, but one that must be carefully considered. If there are children at the table, it may not make sense to have large tapers they could knock over. Fragrant wax should never be used for dining since they will interfere with the menu. We like the look of tea lights in small votives at each place setting, but you must be careful to set them far enough away from the top of the plate to avoid burns when reaching for food.
- Mixing and matching china – If you are using different china at different tables, we suggest placing the plates on the table ahead of time, allowing people to pick up their plates at their seat and bring it to the serving area. If you have all the same plate design, then you can stack them at the serving area.
- Set your tables ahead of time – Set flatware, napkins, plates (see above) and other individual place setting items before the event begins. This practice creates a lovely space for each guest, and a welcoming ambiance.
- Decorate for the occasion – If you are having everyone over for Thanksgiving dinner, set your table with fall colors, flowers or gourds, and other in-season items. Tastefully done, designing with a theme in mind can support the mood you are looking to create for your event.
Remember the Details:
- Plan for special needs – With the variety of dietary needs these days, we suggest placing pretty place cards in front of foods that may be an issue for someone. Noting items like gluten-free, contains nuts, vegetarian, and dressings make dining easier for your guests.
- Be welcoming – If you are entertaining people you do not know well or are having guests who will not know others at your gathering, it is important that someone everyone knows welcomes visitors at the front door. This gesture allows everyone to feel at ease from the moment of their arrival.
- Entertain all of the senses – Play music that supports the ambiance of the event and set your lighting for the mood you are trying to create. All of the lights should be lit in the rooms your guests will be so there are no dark spaces. You may need to change out your lightbulbs for the event to ensure lights are not too harsh. Note that daytime events require more light than evening events, since natural light lessens the effect of your internal lighting.
- Decorate your fireplace – an empty fireplace is a black hole in a room. If it is cool out, light your fireplace—day or night. Clean out your firebox in the spring and set something pretty in it for the warmer months. Stacked birch logs, candles or a large dried flower arrangement are nice options.
For more advice on preparing your home for the holiday season, see our other blogs:
Do you have any holiday entertaining tips to share? Leave a comment below.