Jeffrey has had a knack for helping the organizationally and design challenged for as long as he can remember. It wasn't until after college that Jeffrey discovered that his "knack" was in fact a deep and inspiring passion to genuinely help others learn how to live more efficiently. As a leading expert in blending style and efficiency, he works with clients to transform their homes and offices into thoughtfully organized, stylish, and welcoming spaces. He has been a collaborator for the Katie Couric Show, Good Morning America, O Magazine, NBC, The New York Times, Apartment Therapy, and West Elm, among others.
Even for the most prepared individuals it never seems to fail that we find ourselves scrambling at the last minute to get ready for a party. We tend to bite off more than we can chew as we try to impress even the closest of friends with our holiday decorating and gourmet offerings. For an easy, foolproof way to prepare for guests this holiday season, plan around the five senses. Building your holiday scene around sight, scent, sound, touch, and taste can quickly transform your home into something fabulous and festive—and create a very merry experience for you and your guests.
The right lighting can help set the mood and add to the inviting feel of your space. Add dimmer plugs to free-standing lamps or other bulbs so that your lighting doesn't have to be at full glare all evening. Use a simple string of white holiday lights to add a warm glow—You'll be surprised how something so simple can truly cast the perfect light. Sprinkle flameless candles around the room, throughout a holiday mantel, or a simple strand of garland. And as an added bonus, flameless candles save you the stress of running around relighting candles during the party. No wax on the furniture. No nativity scenes catching fire. Just a warm, consistent glow.
An inviting smell can immediately make a person feel at home. And since it's the first thing guests will notice, it's a great opportunity to make a first impression. By using scented candles, potpourri, or simmering select herbs and spices on the stove, you can create an subtle aroma (that won't overpower any sensitive noses) but will create an inviting first impression.
When entertaining be sure to be thoughtful about your music mix. This doesn't mean you have to handpick every last song. Try a genius playlist from iTunes or Spotify to save time, and be sure you get a good, diverse range. You may even find new favorites you'll want to play at your next festive gathering. The time saved will be extremely valuable as you continue your preparations.
The holiday season is a time for warm and luxurious textures. To add a special "touch," switch out some of your decorative pillow coverings and throw blankets. Things like chunky cable knits, cozy faux furs, and luxe velvet are a great way to add an air of opulence. Don't be afraid to add some sparkle to your decor with a small sequined accent pillow or shimmery throw for a little holiday twinkle.
Let's be honest, this is why we LOVE holiday parties. We want to pull out all stops at this special time of year to make our most favorite dishes and try to recreate the latest Martha Stewart Magazine cover. However, be sure to take a moment to get real about your time and your party needs:
How many people will I feed?
How much will everyone realistically eat?
Will it be physically possible to create the perfect feast without a time machine?
Don't go overboard on the quantities and don't pick the most difficult recipes—no matter how delectable they may look. Keep things simple so you aren't feeling frantic during party prep and the party itself. You should be able to mingle with your guests and enjoy the party, too. You don't want to be drinking alone in the kitchen as you wait for your pastries to puff.
These five simple rules will ensure that your holiday parties go off without a hitch and keep your guests impressed. For other great ideas and to get started on your party planning, check out my holiday planning template on Springpad. And remember, we're all in this together! Be sure to share these tried and true entertaining tips with friends.