What did you do last year to make room for your holiday party? Move some furniture into the garage, pile coats in the spare bedroom and use the coffee table for dessert service? This may be your year to find a better way to maximize your entertaining space.
To ensure your holiday guests don't spend the party dodging furniture or looking for a place to sit, several days before the festivities, start planning how you will open up space.
Start with the entryway. Guests should get a sense of welcome and festive atmosphere from the moment they arrive on your doorstep. Thoroughly sweep your front walk, doorstep and the siding around the door. Make sure any outdoor decorations are out of the way, leaving a clear path into the house.
If your foyer is big enough, consider adding a standing coat rack so that guests don't have to hunt for their coats when it's time to go home. If your entryway is snug, don't sacrifice space to add holiday decorations. Stick with decor that can go on the walls, such as garlands, wreaths or lights.
Living and family rooms are often main entertaining areas for holiday parties. Because so much of daily life goes on in these rooms, it's common for clutter to accumulate. In preparation for your party, remove clutter and unneeded furniture.
If your sofa and chairs usually sit away from the wall, it's OK to push them back to make more space in the center of the room. Once you have ample open space, use a combination of existing seating and some added chairs to create multiple, smaller seating groups.
Getting electronic components out of the way can also help create space. Holiday party prep is a perfect inspiration to finally get your flatscreen up off that big, clunky TV stand and onto the wall. Wall-mounting a TV not only opens up floor space, it helps ensure everyone can see the screen if you'll be using it to show holiday films, and it enhances safety by reducing the chance someone will bump into the TV and tip it over.
Kitchens are also a popular area for entertaining. Remember, people will congregate wherever there is food, so it's important to maximize kitchen space -- and to distribute food stations throughout the rooms where you're entertaining. Remove kitchen clutter, such as small appliances from counter tops (you probably won't need the toaster or standing mixer during the party) to make room for food displays.
Finally, don't overlook the value of decorative touches that can make a room feel larger. If you're entertaining during the day, be sure to open all curtains and blinds to admit natural light that will make the room feel brighter and bigger. For evenings, adding a few strategically placed mirrors to walls can help make a room appear larger -- plus they give a delightful effect when they reflect twinkling holiday lights.
While candles are a holiday favorite, if they take up valuable entertaining space on table tops, forgo them for the party. For that matter, feel free to skip the centerpiece if it takes up too much room. Or better yet, create an edible centerpiece, such as a display of holiday chocolates or fruit, to act as both decor and dish.