This feature was brought to you by Glade®.
While every time you have guests over it is a time to shower them with appreciation and hospitality, the holidays can be a trying time for being the host(ess) with the most-est. The holidays are stressful, as you know, and our calendars are full of gatherings and get-togethers long overdue.
You don’t need to give your home a Martha Stewart makeover in order to compete with the high budget corporate Christmas parties and galas. Try these 7 small upgrades to make your home more inviting for the holidays.
1. First impressions count, from invitation to front door.
In almost every home entertaining feature we publish, we talk about invitations, lest you forget the Plum Deluxe opinion on the matter. Invitations are a must – printed preferred – and be sure to give guests plenty of info about what to wear, what to bring, or what not to bring. Also, be specific about the evening, if it will be a sit-down meal or just canapes.
The upgrade is your front door; make it a real welcome to guests. The holidays are traditionally time for wreaths, but as the collage above shows – a simple quick search in Google – you don’t have to go with traditional greenery. Local craft fairs and holiday markets are also a great place to find the ideal upgrade for your front door.
2. Declutter your house, please.
I can’t stand going to dinner parties and you’re practically tripping over stuff that’s all over the house – worse, worrying about knocking over some priceless souvenir from a destination afar. My grandma was always taking items off shelves and putting them, as well as furniture, in a back bedroom. Although it seems counter intuitive – of course you don’t want the house ending up looking sparse – the extra space can make your home feel bigger and more relaxing.
3. Scent is one of our most powerful, impactful senses.
Scents can totally transform a room, and that includes both bad scents and good ones. Assuming your house is clean for your guests, take it up to the next level with a carefully selected scent. I’ve been known to go overboard with candles at holiday gatherings, but I have a secret: most of the candles I burn are non-scented. The thing is, if you have too many scented candles, they can become overpowering and start to affect our sense of taste – not the effect you are going for.
During the holidays, you’ll find some great scents to make kitchens and dining rooms even more inviting, such as Sweet Holiday Treat™ from Glade®, which combines an indulgent combo of rich cocoa, toasted nuts, and creamy caramel. It’s only available during the holidays, so it is the perfect upgrade to change things up at home. Pair this with non-scented soy candles and your guests will feel like royalty.
4. Every party deserves fresh flowers.
Without exception, my opinion is that every party deserves fresh flowers. There’s a reason why realtors always have them at home showings: they make a home feel more inviting and lived in. I don’t mind if you’re picking up those $5 bouquets at the supermarket – in fact, I usually find some great options there, especially if you mix and match your flowers to create a custom combo.
Bonus: I pick out a few of the shorter stems and put those in a mason jar, normally for my desk, but for parties I place them on fireplace mantels, in bathrooms, or wherever can use a special touch.
5. Plan a signature drink for your guests.
When bar planning, it’s easy to go overboard, especially when you see all the brightly colored and cleverly marketed concoctions in your local bottle shop. Have a plan before you go shopping (that includes shopping online). My trick is to plan one signature drink for the night – perhaps something inspired by the meal, or just something that shows off a personal favorite. For example, one of our local distilleries makes a fabulous Peppermint Bark, so I like to have that out for a creative martini, and then the rest of the bar is just the basics – red and white wine, bottled beer, and a handful of spirits and sodas. It looks better and you end up spending less money that way.
6. Plan a signature recipe for the meal.
Want to know a secret about dinner party meal planning? All you need to worry about is coming up with one knock-their-socks-off dish, which could be anything from a pie or dessert to a creative canape. You can go for simple and traditional the rest of the meal and nobody will really notice.
Often, I do my signature salted chocolate chip cookies for my closing dish, and after folks have devoured the salt-n-sugar combo, they’ve overlooked the fact that the rest of dinner was simple dishes that came straight from the slow cooker. Make it easy on yourself, so you can spend time enjoying conversations with your guests, not slaving away over complicated recipes – the holidays are stressful enough!
7. Send them off with a token of your appreciation.
Your guests took time out of their busy schedule to visit you. You probably haven’t seen them enough lately. So, send them off with another reminder of your appreciation for their friendship. Now, many guests get all worked up in a fuss about these “party favors.” It doesn’t need to be complicated – the smallest touch is enough. Some easy ideas:
- a small box with a few cookies, including a copy of the recipe (maybe a family favorite)
- pick up a Starbucks write-on mug with a personalized message (it could be as simple as “I believe in you.“)
- if you are too busy to make something, Etsy has tons of wonderful items that are inexpensive and homemade
Photo Credits: All photos by author except door wreaths (Google) and cocktail photo (Sandy Smith).
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This is a sponsored conversation written by Plum Deluxe on behalf of Glade®. The opinions and text are all the author’s.