Small Change, Big Reward: Holiday Edition
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Party Perfect1 of 12
By Amy Elisa Keith
During this festive season, we're all pressed for time—especially when it comes to prepping for a get-together at your place. HGTV expert designer Blanche Garcia shares quick and easy ways to prime any size space for the ultimate party.
Crowd Control2 of 12
When considering the logistics of your bash, think about two things: the type of party and your space. If space is tight, then Garcia says to consider inviting friends over in shifts. "The party could be four hours long, but people come at different times." Don't be afraid to rethink your plan of a sit-down dinner. "It can be buffet style or passed hors d'oeuvres or just cocktails. It doesn't have to be everything and all at once."
ON GLO: Hostess 101
Guest List3 of 12
So what is the ideal number of people to invite? Garcia says it's all about seating. "Look at your available seating and multiply that by two or three. So if you have 10 seats, then you can host 20 to 30 people." Remember, this is a party at your home, not a nightclub, so people want to sit and relax. "If your home can't hold a lot of people, then build that type of party where it's more about being cozy and casual," she says, suggesting big floor cushions and a "no shoes" rule.
More Than Meets The Eye4 of 12
Making a space look bigger than it actually is can be tricky. Garcia says most people think that small furniture will make a room look larger, but it's actually the exact opposite. Clear out the little side tables and extra pieces in favor of the larger elements. "I'd rather see people take out the little pieces and just keep the big pieces in a room, if they do anything."
Traditions With A Twist5 of 12
Differentiate your holiday party from the rest. Instead of opting for the traditional color schemes or kitschy decor, Garcia suggests breaking out of the mold. "Yellow is a big color this season, and peacock blues," says Garcia, who prefers DIY decor rather than store-bought items. "Being more creative in your decorating will make all the difference."
ON GLO: Luxe Thanksgiving Decor
High-Traffic Areas6 of 12
Prepare your entryway for guests. While many people forget this small detail, it can make a big difference. "Make sure that you have some sort of coat area or rack," she says. Whether you hang hooks or clear out a hall closet, creating a mini-mudroom will help alleviate congestion when guests arrive.
Bathroom Bylaws7 of 12
Whether you have a studio apartment or a good-sized home, the bathroom is always a busy area during any party. Ideally, Garcia says, two bathrooms are better than one, but if you only have the one, then get creative. "Make a little sign that people can flip to 'occupied' or 'not occupied' so that no one is confused or standing at the door waiting. Plus, it makes it interactive and not so frustrating."
Hot Spots8 of 12
Not surprisingly, guests like to congregate around food, says Garcia, so keep that area as wide open as possible. "If you have a kitchen, then put the food in the middle of the island," she says. "If you're going to put food in the living room, then make sure there are seating moments somewhere so that people can sit down near the food while still talking," she adds of clustering two or three seats together.
ON GLO: Create The Ultimate Kids' Table
Dim Some9 of 12
"Lighting is really important. Don't have everything blaring like a stadium, but instead put tea lights or softer candles in places, you build moments in various locations," says Garcia. Bright lights make a space look very stark and one-note. "But different layers of lights make the room look bigger because you're creating depth."
Raising The Bar10 of 12
Creating a designated area for drinks away from the food will prevent crowding, but there's no need to go out and buy a bar cart. Use what you have. "If you only have a folding table, then you can put a nice tablecloth over it and create a bar with floral arrangement and candles." Consider making the kitchen counter your bar area, or even the cocktail table in the middle of the living room. "Use a mirror off the wall and make that your tray for bottles, which will give them some radiance and will serve as your bar. Bam, you have a centerpiece."
Act The Part11 of 12
Before you start plating the canapés and arranging the chairs, take a moment to breathe. "Your guests really take a cue from you and how you feel at your party. If you're racing around cooking, then they're not going to feel comfortable or at home," says Garcia. Grab yourself a cocktail and remember that being a hostess is about more than just serving your guests. "You're the key to the party. You have to be involved."
ON GLO: Living With Style
Ready, Set, Change12 of 12
It's the holidays, so you can bet that someone will show up to your dinner uninvited under the guise of being "in the neighborhood." Garcia says, "You need to be flexible as a good hostess, because you never want to turn anyone away just because things come up." Always have a Plan B for seating, whether it's floor cushions or transforming a sit-down dinner into a last-minute buffet. "You may have to bring in an extra card table with tablecloth and flowers in a pinch, so be prepared."