6 Expert Holiday Entertaining Tips

Lifestyle expert Janette Ewen shares how to host a successful festive party just in time for the holiday season

Lifestyle expert Janette Ewen shares how to host a successful festive party just in time for the holiday season

‘Tis the season to eat, drink and celebrate the holidays with friends and family. But let’s be honest: planning a festive gathering can get a little stressful. We spoke to Canadian decor and lifestyle expert Janette Ewen who shares her pro tips on how you can make your next holiday party an effortless success. 

Click through for Janette’s top 6 holiday entertaining tips…

Tidying – Divide and conquer (or just dim the lights)

“First of all, I always like to assign tasks in the household. One person can collect the garbage, while someone else does the dusting (let the kids help out too!) 

“Another easy thing to do is dim the lights. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. This way, no one will see a little dust. Light some scented candles, fluff the pillows up and make sure that things like countertops are wiped off, because that’s one place that people might catch some dirt. But other than that, I recommend not stressing about it. With the lights dim and a few pretty candles, no one’s going to notice anything.”

Credit: Janette Ewen

Decorating – Keep it simple and affordable

“I love to use a lot of what I already have. It keeps entertaining affordable. A way to add simple glam is to take things like raised cake stands, or even little bowls and fill them up with ornaments. Home Depot sells amazing combo packs of ornaments that come in all types of colours. Pop those onto different places like bookshelves, or run them down the centre table for a great festive display. This season, I am really into moss as well. Putting bits of moss into the bowls, then adding the ornaments on top looks really beautiful.”

Colour scheming – Experiment with trends

“The colours you choose will really set the mood for your holiday party. The first combination that I love and is extremely popular is gold, silver and bronze paired with a wintry white. It looks effortlessly chic and timeless. It’s a very rustic and glamourous look, and also looks super elegant with burlap bows. My other favourite, and also a big trendsetter this year, is pairing soft rose tones with pure white.”

Credit: Janette Ewen

Planning – Prep in advance and use some shortcuts

“Planning ahead is key, so you aren’t stressing the day of the party. I love prepping things ahead of time, like tackling my decor and setting the table the night before. Another great way to remain calm is to make a list (check it twice!) and buy groceries and liquor the day before.

“Simple things like paper plates will make cleaning up a lot easier. I always say “fake, don’t bake,” so go to well-known bakery and grab a few yummy treats for the dessert table.

“It’s also fun to assign a friend or partner to handle the bar. Keep it simple when it comes to cocktails. Have red and white wine, beer and one Christmas cocktail along with something non-alcoholic.”

The menu – Make it easy

“Cheeseboards are awesome and really easy to prepare. The great part is that you can have a drawer in your fridge (I call it my “partydon’t touch drawer”) so you can put all the items for your cheeseboard in there and bring them out whenever you need. 

“Another great appetizer item from the pantry is Tostitos Scoops (pictured above). Just put a little bit of brie and jam inside them… it’s delicious! I love using cranberry jam for the holidays to add a festive touch.”

Credit: Janette Ewen

Entertaining in smaller spaces – Embrace the intimacy and work with what you’ve got

“I love small-space entertaining. If you don’t have a formal dining room, clear off your coffee table and treat it like a Morroccan-style dining experience. I call it the Casablanca-themed holiday partyput throw pillows around the coffee table and the guests can sit on them.

“Bookshelves are great for hosting all your appies as well. Clear them off, add some decorative ornaments and place your cake stands or bowls on top. It’s a unique way for guests to grab food and it saves a lot of space.

“I also love using garden urns for drink stations. I fill them up with ice, put mini champagne bottles in them with a little stand of straws on the side, and voilà! Guests can serve themselves. If you have a double sink, you can empty out one side, fill it with ice, and put your bottles in there to make a self-serve bar as well.”