If you’re one who likes to entertain, the holidays probably have you bursting at the seams to be the host with the most this season, whether it’s at an open house, a dinner party or a simple gift exchange. Unfortunately, most of our homes are probably without a grand banquet room or White House-esque dining room that’s built for entertaining large groups, but that doesn’t mean we need to shy away from inviting your crew over for a celebration big or small. The size and makeup of your space doesn’t matter—there are several simple steps you can take to easily make your home feel spacious and welcoming no matter what you’re working with.
1. Fake an Open Concept
The “open concept” floor plan is highly coveted among homeowners, but is probably more the exception than the rule. During your party prep, take a look at your space and see what can be opened up. Maybe it’s moving a couch that serves as a room divider, propping open a door between two rooms, or pushing furniture to the outer perimeters of a space. You don’t need to knock down the walls to encourage wandering and congregating in different areas of your home.
2. Group Furniture to Facilitate Conversation
Your guests are much more likely to enjoy your gathering if they you give them the opportunity to have more intimate conversations with small groups. Rather than arranging all your furniture into one big circle, therefore, it’s a good idea to create multiple seating areas in clumps.
3. Emphasize Function Over Form
Don’t feel self-conscious about the fact that all your couches and chairs don’t match. Arranging different types of furniture actually makes your home look more lived in and less like a showroom. Using all the pieces at your disposal will also give more people the ability to sit down if they prefer, and there’s no shame in showcasing your eclectic taste.
4. Work the dimmers
When you are hosting friends for dinner or a cocktail party, lighting counts! The right light sets the mood and tone for your event, so put those dimmers to work. If your lights aren’t dimmable, fear not—sources like corner lamps and candles have the same effect to create a more intimate environment than a bright overhead light would.
5. Let Guests Serve Themselves
Use a small corner for a bar or a multi-tiered snack tray so guests can fix themselves a plate or a drink as they please. This allows you as the host to do more socializing than catering, and encourages guests to spread out in the space, rather than gathering in the kitchen where you’re hard at work.
6. Think About Circulation
The ideal entertaining space has a flow so that people can walk around without pushing through groups or feeling trapped. Make sure that you create paths for circulation so that your guests can easily make it to the front door or the restroom. Open doors between rooms and do some slight furniture rearranging if this helps facilitate.
7. Minimize the Need for Questions
You’re going to be busy during your party, so you should do what you can to answer guests’ questions before they even arise. Label foods so guests can identify what they’re eating (along with any ingredients that might need an ID). Have a place everyone can store jackets, purses, etc. when they walk in the door.
Even if your floor plan is not ideal, these tips will help you maximize your hosting prowess and let guests focus on the most important part—enjoying your company. Happy holiday hosting!