How to transform your home into a festive space for any holiday get-together. Plus, check out our essential party checklist below to make your shindig easy and fabulous!

Deck the halls - YAM Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

By Nessa Pullman | Illustrations by Janice Hildybrant

Creating a charming and festive space that is meaningful to each individual is the best way to host loved ones this holiday season. “People are moving away from conventional holiday décor towards what’s meaningful to each individual family,” says Raubyn Rothschild, owner of Rothschild West Design + Planning. 

If you are planning to host guests for the holidays — whether for a cocktail party or for a weekend — you will want to create a space for all to enjoy. Start with one of the season’s top décor trends.

Go Maximalist

“We’ve been seeing a trend towards personality-packed, maximalist design,” says Rothschild.

Maximalism is a “more is more” esthetic that comprises an eclectic mix of rich patterns, bold colours, lush textures and interesting objects that ranges from the bright hues of Fauvism to the delicately ornate materials of granny chic. 

If you’re going for the maximalist design style this holiday season, Rothschild suggests getting experimental with DIY décor like colourful paper flowers or uniquely shaped wreaths. “People typically live with a neutral home, so the holidays are a perfect time to embrace some colour and experiment for a season,” she says. 

Adding in some colourful mood lighting for the evening can also be effective. “A burgundy glass lamp can really create a rich and cozy atmosphere for intimate dinner parties,” says Rothschild. 

Deck the halls - YAM Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

As a groovy playlist is almost essential to any good party, Rothschild suggests getting creative with it. “Having a record player on display is a way to incorporate the music into the design and create a cool vibe.” Imagine your guests browsing through the Christmas classics collection on vinyl as they sip a holiday-themed Martini. 

Create a Forest Mood

If bold, over-the-top décor isn’t your thing, Rothschild suggests a biophilic design with a charming woodland theme. Think acorns, mushrooms and earthy tones with a focus on natural decorations like greenery, sticks and fresh berries. 

“Look in your backyard and gather any foliage that catches your eye,” says Rothschild. “These can be really striking when placed on a mantel or console table.” To tie in the naturalistic design, having soft-textured cloth napkins and wood napkin rings can be an attractive touch. 

Deck the halls - YAM Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

When using this design theme, Rothschild urges her clients to get creative with their Christmas trees. “Experiment with non-conventional ornaments by using what you have lying around,” says Rothschild. “An old clock or a birdhouse can look wonderful and adds a rustic feeling.”

Deal with the Details

No matter what décor theme you follow, ensure a smooth — and stylish — shindig by staying on top of the details. For instance:

• “Make sure you have a variety of matching serving trays and large bowls,” says Rothschild. “When guests walk in with an armful of food, it’s convenient to grab a nice vessel to present it in.” 
• Serving a signature cocktail is not only trendy, it can be a good way to keep your glassware needs streamlined. “You can keep things under control with a classy and versatile glass,” Rothschild says.
• Having enough seating can often cause a problem, so consider repurposing pieces you already own. “A stool or bench at the end of a bed can easily be transformed into a functional seat,” says Rothschild. “Or stored patio furniture. These are often lightweight and can be easily transported.” 

Deck the halls - YAM Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

When it comes to seating, get creative with folding chairs, benches and ottomans.

• Carry your décor design into all areas of the home, including the secondary spaces where your guests may go. For instance, having a festive battery-operated lamp in the bathroom or at the back door can create a warm glow throughout the entire home. 
• Finally, no matter what design style you choose for your holiday festivities, pull out any mementoes or family heirlooms you’ve collected over the years. “The holidays are a time to be surrounded by things that bring you comfort,” says Rothschild. “I encourage folks to embrace this and work it into the design.”

The Unmentionable

There is one space that everyone will visit at some point during your event and it’s likely not on your planning checklist. 

We’re talking, of course, about the loo. In the wake of a global pandemic, we’re all a bit more squeamish about sharing personal spaces so it’s worth making a little extra effort to make it clean and welcoming.

Deck the halls - YAM Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

To get your powder room and/or bathroom party ready, make sure it is immaculate, the waste bins emptied, the mirror and fixtures polished, the grout scrubbed, the floor washed and anything you want to keep private tucked away where nosy guests won’t be snooping.

Ensure that everything works — the toilet flushes, the taps flow and the door locks and unlocks easily — and replace any burnt-out lightbulbs.

Put out fresh soap — better yet, offer liquid soap in a pump dispenser so no one has to share a bar. Display fresh hand towels, but also offer disposable paper guest towels. Pop a fresh roll of TP on the dispenser, and have extra rolls easily accessible. Consider having a few emergency toiletries on hand, too, just in case.

And for a lovely extra touch, display flowers, holiday decorations and/or scented candles (in a safe space, of course).

Planning to host a shindig this holiday season (or any time)?

Well, you’d better get busy because you’ve got a lot to do. Follow this step-by-step plan to make it as easy — and fabulous! — as possible.