It’s that time of year when Christmas trees, boughs and decorative items have invaded the house for another season of decorating merriment. In small (and even not so small) spaces, you might feel adding holiday decor will literally and visually fill up your home, and that finding space to entertain will become an impossible feat. As someone who has lived in small spaces most of my life, I’ve learned a few entertaining and design tricks to help create a festive and inviting home with seemingly more space than before the holidays rolled around. The secret to smart holiday decorating in small spaces is to match the scale of your decorating to the size of the space you have, so that you and your party guests have plenty of space for fun. Here are my best small space holiday decorating and entertaining survival tricks I’ve used over the years. I know they’ll become your holiday entertaining traditions.
Decking the halls
— Keep your holiday decor grouped into out-of-the-way focal points (like mantel and bookcase tops, empty corners and on window ledges). The more you can keep off the floor, the more floor space you will have (for dancing or floor pillows for casual seating). Spreading a little here, there and everywhere will invade the space, making it looked overwhelmed and cluttered!
— If you love the glitter of the Christmas tree but don’t have the floor space for one, consider a tree alternative. A half tree is amazing. It looks like a traditional tree, but this artificial tree takes up half the space because it’s cut in half vertically, so the flat side sits against the wall. Or if you have an empty wall, hang a large 48-inch wreath and decorate as you would a tree. You can find large artificial wreaths made for outdoor use and most come pre-lit. Want a real tree? Place a smaller tree on a skirted round table to give it height and show it off.
— Just as with furnishings, match the scale of your Christmas decor to that of the room. The smaller the space and furnishings, the smaller the holiday accessories and decor should be.
— Minimize tabletop holiday decor. Cluttered tables are a no-no for entertaining: leave room for guests’ drink and hors d’oeuvres plates.
— Don’t forget about scents and sounds. They are the perfect way to help set the tone and take up no space at all.
— Rearrange furniture to accommodate more guests. A sofa that divides a living/dining room can be pushed against a wall, or in front of a window or wall of bookcases during a party, allowing guests to circulate freely.
— Bring out double-duty poufs, stools and benches for more seating at a party. The foyer, bedroom or office chair can migrate into the main living space for guest seating.
— If you have space for year-round storage, purchase some stylish folding chairs and TV tray tables — they are handy when adding more people to the dining list.
— Hot hors d’oeuvres (and plenty of them) are a fun way to serve dinner over the course of a party. Plan as you would a traditional sit-down menu, but think about different ways to serve individual portions. Start by passing around small cups of soup as the first course, then serve trays of mini quiches, beef wellingtons or other savoury portioned servings. End with a great one-bite dessert. TIP: Offer a few choices per course to ensure the servings add up to a full meal.
— Create a “help yourself” signature drink area near the entry to main living space so that guests can have a drink upon arrival. Set-up a separate and coffee/tea servery off the kitchen area, so people can help themselves without clogging up the kitchen.
— Not enough china place settings for all your guests? Consider using recyclable disposable dishes or for a fancier affair, rent everything.
Holiday Gathering in Style
— Stagger open-house invite times for guests to achieve a manageable flow and avoid overcrowding a small space — give families with young children an early start time, the party-all-nighters can arrive bit later.
— The shower rod is the perfect place to hang coats — because you know the front hall closet is already jammed!
— Now might be the time to borrow Granny’s electric crock pot. Use it to keep mulled wine hot, as a self-serve warm chili or soup station, or simply to simmer cinnamon sticks, orange peel and vanilla for a festive scent throughout the party.
Do you have a decor dilemma or want to give feedback? You can contact Karl Lohnes on Facebook or Instagram at Karl Lohnes Designer, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karl has worked as a home decor expert and product designer for 25 years. He appears Thursdays during the 8 a.m. hour on Global News Morning Montreal.