Is it just us, or does the holiday season seem to start earlier and earlier every year? You would think that means we’d have more time to prepare, but nope—it still manages to sneak up and catch us unprepared.
This year, we are going to try to stay ahead of the parties, visitors, and activities by tackling some key areas around the house well ahead of the holiday mayhem. In fact, we’ve already started getting ready in the kitchen, but now it’s time to spread a little of that joy to the other rooms.
With that in mind, here are some easy ways to make your home feel warm and welcoming now, so you can have more time to enjoy all of the festivities and fun later on.
1. Make a festive first impression at the front door.
Give your guests a taste of what’s to come with a decorated front entrance that echoes the décor inside. If you’re having a holiday party, or expecting friends to drop by, make sure your front steps and walkway are well lit and clear of snow and ice, and, for an extra special touch, set out ice luminaries at sunset. (Search “Ice luminaries” on Pinterest for dozens of DIY variations.)
Inside, make room for guests to get in and out of their winter things by temporarily relocating the bulk of your family’s coats and footwear to a spare room, back hall, or basement.
A bench and mirror near the front door will make it easy for people to get out of their boots and do a quick hair check before joining the party. If you choose a storage bench, like the Winler above, you'll have a handy (and hidden) place to stow gloves, mittens, and dog-walking accessories, as well.
TIP: If you have a beautiful wreath on the outside of your front door, consider decorating the inside of the door as well. A simple wreath or a door hanger made of bells is a quick way to add interest and give a festive greeting to all who enter or exit your home.
2. Add extra accent pieces to your living room for serving and seating.
Food and drinks are a big part of any holiday celebration, but often have to compete with decorations and candles. Free up room on the coffee table for a beautiful holiday vignette by placing a narrow console or sofa table behind your sofa or in the hall, visible from your living room.
TIP: If you use an oversized ottoman instead of a coffee table, invest in a large, sturdy tray to hold snack trays and serving pieces. Be sure to choose one with raised sides to catch any accidental spills and keep objects from slipping off.
Small, portable accent tables placed around the room will give guests a safe place to rest their glasses and plates. If space is an issue, nesting tables and chairside “slide” tables tuck away neatly in the living room or can be used around the house until you need them.
Add additional seating to your room with ottomans, accent chairs, or even upholstered dining chairs. Place your seating pieces around the room to create small conversation areas, rather than one big square or oval. For casual holiday hangs, or for the younger set, have a few oversized pillows or poufs handy for those guests who love to sit on the floor. (There’s at least one in every group!)
3. Dress up the dining room.
If you have an all wood dining room set, you can transform the look completely by swapping out the original chairs with a set of upholstered ones in fabric or faux-leather. Sleek parsons-style chairs, like the ones above, pair beautifully with almost any style of table and give everyone plenty of elbow room, plus they are an instant comfort upgrade over wood seats. You’ll find yourself lingering over dessert and then some!
To give yourself more room ON the table, move serving dishes and large centerpieces off the table onto your server or sideboard. One of the most versatile pieces of furniture in the dining room, the server can act as a staging area, a buffet, a bar, or simply display space for your Christmas village or vintage ceramic tree collection. For even more flexibility, choose a server with a hidden extension top, like the one above that opens to double its serving capacity.
4. Add a little sparkle to your shelves.
Don’t be afraid to go all-out when decorating your bookshelves for the holidays. If you can, replace your “everyday” items with sparkling seasonal swap-outs, including wrapped “gifts,” toys, miniature trees, bowls or trays of fragile ornaments that don’t make it to the tree anymore, and a gallery of holiday pictures and portraits from over the years.
Tip: If you’ve perfected your shelfie, take a picture of your bookcase before you put your items into (temporary) storage. When you go to put it back together again, you won’t have to agonize over the placement.
Of course, you don’t have to completely re-do your shelfie to dress it for the holidays. You can take your shelves from cool to yule in just a couple minutes with pretty garland, battery powered micro-dot LED light strings, and votive candles (flame-less if your shelves are enclosed). Integrate small mirrors into your display to double the sparkle.
5. Raise the bar.
There’s an unwritten rule that as soon as you hear Mariah Carey’s iconic Christmas song, you must load up your bar cart with seasonal sips and treats, ready for a afternoon of Christmas movies or to greet you when you come in from the snow.
To keep it family friendly, stock the top shelf of your cart with packets of flavoured cocoa mix and hot chocolate “bombs,” along with jars of marshmallows, sprinkles, chocolate shavings, and crushed candy canes. The bottom shelf makes a great place to display your holiday mugs or big jars of cookies, biscotti, and savoury snacks, like homemade nuts and bolts.
When the adults are in charge, transform your cart into an après ski/après dinner coffee bar complete with an assortment of classic and seasonal liqueurs, whipped cream, and decadent rum balls and shortbread. Set out two vacuum carafes of brewed coffee (regular and decaf) or add a small espresso or “pod” coffee maker to the cart. Hot water and tea bags or hot cider is a welcome touch for the non-coffee drinkers, as well.
6. Get your holiday outfits ready to party.
There’s nothing worse than getting ready for a party and discovering your planned outfit is wrinkled, stained, damaged, or smells like the back of the closet. As soon as those RSVPs start going out, put together a holiday capsule wardrobe that runs the gamut from dressy-casual to dressy-dressy. To avoid those last-minute wardrobe malfunctions, make sure everything is clean and in good repair well in advance of your first occasion.
If you hate pressing garments as much as we do, use your dryer’s steam setting to remove wrinkles and odors from shirts, pants, dresses, and sweaters. Just a few minutes of tumbling will make your garments look and smell freshly washed. Or, if you have an LG Styler steam garment system, you can quickly take care of everything, including delicate or special care items without going to the inconvenience and expense of dry cleaning.
7. ...and to all a good night.
Once you’ve freshened up your wardrobe, turn your attention to your guest linens and pillows. Strip the guest bed(s), wash the linens, and freshen up non-memory foam pillows in the dryer, using a high heat or sanitize setting. If you have a bed with an upholstered headboard, like the beautiful Jerary bedabove, give it a light once-over with the brush attachment of your vaccuum to remove any dust or lint. Be sure to also place a stack of fresh guest towels in the guest room—your guests will appreciate not having to ask.
TIP: To clean memory foam pillows, first remove and launder pillow covers. While the covers are in the wash, sprinkle the pillow with baking powder, let stand for 30 mins, then vacuum thoroughly before replacing the (dry) covers.
This is also a great time to get the rest of the beds dressed for the holidays. Replace your usual sheets with festively-printed flannel, swap out the duvet or comforter (or add a throw in the colours of the season), and toss on a couple fun, holiday toss pillows. To take it to the next level, add garland or fairy lights to the headboard, or place a miniature tree on each nightstand.
We’d love to hear about your seasonal swaps and preparations around the house. Show us how you’re getting ready for the holidays by tagging #DufresneStyle in your festive home posts on Instagram. And, be sure to sign up for our emails for more great tips, as well as advance notice of our upcoming sales and contests—you could win a shopping spree just for subscribing!