The holidays have the potential to be the most wonderful time of the year: friends and family all gathered around the table, sharing stories, laughing, and creating memories. But the holidays also have the potential to be the most dreaded time of the year. Tame your crazy uncle and stop any nagging in-laws dead in their tracks with these fantastic holiday entertaining tips from Ikea.
It makes sense that more pliable materials create a softer aesthetic. Use that logic at the dinner table. Abbey Stark, communication and interior design manager at Ikea USA in Minneapolis, suggests using textiles to help soften up the whole place setting (and they’re a great way to personalize your dinner table, too). Use soft, natural colors without patterns to create an elegant look that any mother-in-law would be proud of.
“A tablecloth is an easy and inexpensive way to transform any table,” Stark says. This is also the most inexpensive way to customize the dinner table for the occasion. While flatware and centerpieces can get expensive (especially when you start thinking about finer china and professional floral centerpieces), napkins and tablecloths don’t have to be. Keeping your dishes the same from dinner party to dinner party doesn’t have to get repetitive if you simply switch out the tablecloth. Switching from a chocolate brown at Thanksgiving, for example, to a cream or silvery gray during the winter holidays creates an entirely new look and feel regardless of whether or not your guests have seen your dinnerware before.
But, should you want to update your table settings, it’s never been easier than with Ikea’s holiday collection. Stark suggests making every meal special with colored wine glasses. The added pop of color is an unexpected touch on the table and is a bold step away from the traditional clear goblets. The same method can be used with plates: spice up your everyday plates by layering colored and patterned plates.
Don’t have the funds for a new set of dishes? Never fear, Stark has an answer for that. “Paper plates are an easy and inexpensive way to liven up your table,” she says. “And they make for easy clean up!” With new products hitting the market, paper plates have gotten a makeover, coming in elegant patterns and colors. Don’t spend all of your time cleaning up when you should be enjoying the evening with your guests. Hint: it’s okay to cut a few corners. Your guests will remember the laughs, not the paper plates.
While you’re laughing the night away (and not washing dishes), be the perfect host by passing a signature drink served in champagne flutes on a tray. Great presentation doesn’t have to require too much effort on your part. “We’ve added a bit of color to our cocktail, giving some pop to the natural colored glasses and tray,” Stark says. It’s as easy as that! A neutral tray and glasses will carry you throughout the year — just serve a festive cocktail appropriate to the occasion and your guests will rave.
And, Stark says, don’t stop at drinks with your trays. Carry them over to your food presentation as well. She says, “From finger foods to casseroles, serve tasty treats on festive trays and platters to ensure dishes look as good as they smell!”
With food, drink, and the table setting out of the way, all that remains is to perfect the ambience with some music, some drinks at the ready, and to light the candles. “Create a festive mood in the space by adding candlelight,” Stark says. “Sparkling lights and candlelight go hand in hand with a festive atmosphere.”
To create that atmosphere, Stark says to hang ambient lighting over your dining room; it will add sparkle to your entertainment space. When your guests step away from the table, keep the ambience going. No fireplace? Candles and lanterns are a perfect substitute of subtle, flickering light. If nothing else, good times are never far away when you can set the right mood. There’s something about the warm glow of a fire that invites guests to gather around and enjoy each other’s company.
As Stark says, hosting the holidays doesn’t have to be difficult…or expensive. Set the table, create the ambience, enjoy your guests. It can be as simple as saying, “Happy holidays.”