1. Draw attention to the front door. As guests arrive at the front door, they should feel a sense of occasion; even one special touch can do the trick.
You can’t go wrong with a seasonal wreath — it’s simple and elegant, and should last for several months. If you live in a warm climate, why not embrace the weather and choose a wreath featuring dried citrus fruit instead of fall leaves or winter berries and greens?
For an even longer-lasting display, a pair of stately topiaries flanking the door makes an elegant first impression.
Or place a few sturdy lanterns on the ground beside your doormat for a welcoming touch. Avoid a potential hazard by placing battery-operated candles inside instead of the real thing, and turn them on before guests arrive.
2. Polish up the foyer. The place where you greet your guests deserves to be gussied up a bit at party time. Pick and choose between these festive accents that can work for any party, holiday or not:
- A pair of mini topiaries on the entry table
- Lit candles with a beautiful fragrance
- A pretty bowl filled with candy
- A silver mint julep cup filled with freshly cut roses
3. Set the dining table. When you are having a dinner party, having the table fully set before guests arrive not only makes things less stressful, but the set table becomes part of the decor. A table setting like the one shown here looks extremely polished but takes less effort than you might think.
Follow these steps to give it your own twist:
- Cover your table with a tablecloth or runner in a natural material like linen, burlap or wool tweed. Or, if you have a pretty wood table, leave it bare!
- Form your centerpiece by arranging dried moss down the center third of the table, and top it with antlers or driftwood. Nestle in a few fresh “ingredients,” like mini white pumpkins, succulents, persimmons, pomegranates or pears.
- Set the table. If you want to use chargers, try a metallic hue that matches your flatware or use natural wood slices. Top each plate with a piece of the same fruit or veg used in the centerpiece.
Even if you won’t be using the dining table during a party, it’s still a good idea to dress it up. A cluster of large decorative gourds like the ones shown here would look stunning through the fall. In winter try a cluster of mini trees or potted rosemary.
Of course, there can never be too many candles at a party — fill a long tray with lit candles (real or battery-op) and place it in the center of your table.
If you are using a credenza or bar cart in the living room as the drinks table, call attention to it by placing something with a bit of sparkle or light on top, like the branches shown here. Another easy but high-impact way to light up the bar is by coiling a strand or two of battery-operated string lights inside a large glass jar, and placing it on the bar.
For hot drinks, like apple cider or hot cocoa, setting up in the kitchen makes more sense. Inviting guests to serve themselves hot drinks in the kitchen is a great way to get conversations started! Create a convivial mood by hanging bunting or a wreath, or setting out a vase filled with branches.
5. Gussy up the mantel. If you have a beautiful mirror hanging above your mantel, simple candles may be all you need to make the room feel dressed up for a party.