‘Tis the season for a party. Though the holidays are often associated with buying the perfect presents and watching your favorite festive films, it’s also an excellent time to fill your calendar with intimate gatherings — and even host one of your own. (Friendsgiving? Secret Santa gift exchanges? An elegant, New Year’s Eve dinner party? It’s no wonder why this season is the most wonderful time of the year.)
If you want to make your home look a bit more jolly than usual — and your gathering feels a bit more special than your weekly Bachelor viewing party — you might want to consider dousing your space in cheerful, holiday decor.
“Sprucing up your home for the holiday season holds much more value than just accommodating guests; it can also improve your mental health. Having a space that makes you excited or cheerful is just as important as providing that for your friends.”
With so many other hosting duties on your plate — creating a mouth-watering menu, cleaning every nook and cranny of your home, and brainstorming a few icebreakers to bust out at a moment’s notice — spending precious time, money, and energy on your party’s vibe might seem like a total headache. To help, we tapped four home decor influencers to share their best tips for getting your space holiday party-ready. Easy, affordable, and downright awesome, these pro-approved hacks will make your upcoming gathering the most stylish soirée of the season.
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Colorful Contact Paper
Once the holidays roll around, a little bit of contact paper can go a long way. “If you have solid European-style cabinet doors, you could cover the outside of some of them in a red vinyl to add pops of color here and there,” Shaw shares. “It can be cut into shapes for wall decor, [placed on] the back of a non-fabric chair, added to the risers of your stairs, added to your fridge, and more! The possibilities are endless.”
As Shaw points out, there’s a fine line between cheerful and kitschy holiday decor. If you want to keep your party looking (and feeling) classy, she says it’s a good idea to “focus on textures, colors, scents, and lighting instead of getting too literal.” This pre-lit, conical tree will bring a warm, rustic touch to every surface — be it your dining room table or hearth.
A Seasonal Candle
Not only can a great fragrance turn any room into a multisensory oasis, but it can also serve up warm, welcoming vibes the moment guests enter. (Let’s be honest, isn’t that what every host wants?) For the perfect mix of style and scent, Shaw reaches for this seasonal option, which has notes of balsam, cedar, juniper, jasmine, and eucalyptus. “This candle is amazing and I stocked up on it to make sure I could burn it for the whole holiday season,” she shares. Afterward, you can empty the vessel and reuse it as a decor piece.
Chic Candle Holders
Another lighting hack to add to your party to-do list? Dress up your tablescape with a few candle holders. “Light some scented holiday candles to set the mood,” recommends Sara Toufali, lifestyle creator and blogger behind Black & Blooms. “Brass candlestick holders and taper candles can also instantly create that dreamy holiday feel.”
Style With A Seasonal Sprig
According to Toufali, you don’t need to invest in a whole new set of plates and flatware for your upcoming event. Fortunately, a few small touches will give your dinner party a festive flair. “I love [to add] a sprig of eucalyptus or a small fir tree branch on top of plates,” she shares. “It’s a little thing that makes each place setting seem special.”
In case you didn’t get the memo, string lights aren’t solely reserved for your Christmas tree. “If you’re a houseplant lover like me, decorate your plants with strings of battery-operated twinkle lights and ornaments,” Toufali says. These dainty, battery-powered lights can be draped over your favorite foliage — and keep your space merry and bright in the process.
When sprucing up your place for a holiday party, focus on the areas where your guests will actually spend time. (Unless your hangout has a Zoom component, it’s unlikely partygoers will step foot in your home office.) “Stair railings, mantels, and even the kitchen shelves are small but impactful areas that are always seen and can use a bit of holiday fun,” says Stephanie Watkins, interior designer and blogger behind Casa Watkins Living. A gorgeous mix of cedar and eucalyptus leaves, this strand will add a hint of texture to your home’s most popular areas.
Cozy Throw Pillow
For Alexandra Gater, a home decor YouTuber, the key to a holiday party pad is using pieces that’ll look good all season long. “Layer in a more festive throw cushion to your existing sofa repertoire,” she shares. “You don’t need to replace every cushion in your space! This one is simple, but textured, so you can keep it out all winter.”
Good news: You don’t have to blow your budget on a fully-stocked bar for a lively, libatious get-together. “Pick a cocktail and add your own twist to it — whether that’s with garnish or a special, extra ingredient — and name it,” Gater says. “This can be your fun drink of the evening!” Batch your signature cocktail ahead of time in this generous drinks dispenser, so guests can refill their cups at their leisure. Cheers!
So little time, but so many recipes? Gater says it’s a good idea to purchase pre-made entrees and whip up sides from scratch. If you want your snacks to look as good as they taste, consider cooking them in some delectable casserole dishes. “Not only is this functional for whipping up holiday treats (or side dishes if you’re like me!), it will look cute on your stovetop all season long,” she adds.
Emily Rayna Shaw, interior designer
Sara Toufali, lifestyle creator
Stephanie Watkins, interior designer
Alexandra Gater, home decor YouTuber