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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Holiday Entertaining Tips

December 21, 2015
Hosting dinner parties is one of my favorite things to do- I love any opportunity to gather around a table and share a meal with friends and family. Given the season, I’d venture to guess that you have some entertaining of your own coming up fast. And whether you’re planning a big Christmas party with all of your friends, or an intimate gathering with close family, entertaining this time of year can be stressful. Today I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you guys a few of the holiday entertaining tips that allow me to be present and really enjoy hosting, rather than getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.


First I want to encourage you to keep it simple. Don’t overcommit yourself by redecorating your entire living room the day before your gathering. Focus on your table and your meal. Cozy things up by adding a few lit, unscented candles to your space and create centerpieces that take less than ten minutes to assemble. Use your Christmas tree as a festive backdrop for the evening. For this table setting example, I opted to use simple glass hurricane vases filled with water, and added cranberries and floating candles. I also used antique candlestick holders for some height.





I love keeping place settings casual to help guests feel at home. To achieve this, I sometimes like to use mismatched plates in the same color family, or flatware from a few different sets. Maybe even a few different styles of neutral, linen napkins. For this setting I layered white plates with a neutral chargers and a simple cream napkin.



One of my favorite things to do for a holiday table is bring the outside in. Fresh flowers supplemented with quality faux florals will add movement and life to your table. In this setting, I used live princess pine stems and situated them along my table like a garland runner, and added faux red berry eucalyptus stems for added texture and color.





There’s nothing I love more than the sounds of fun and giggling that goes on at the kids’ table. I really like to make the kids feel like they’re just as much a part of the celebration as the adults by replicating the main table. I bought these black “chalkboard placemat” coloring sheets, kraft sacks, and chalk from my local craft store to make their table interactive and exciting. This entertains them throughout the meal and makes a sweet little added detail.





I also added the same greenery runner as the main table, and set out “real” drinking glasses. I wouldn’t suggest setting out your most expensive glassware for the kiddos, but if they’re old enough for the real stuff, it always makes them feel included and trusted.




For a fun and festive addition to a holiday gathering, I like to add a hot cocoa bar. There’s something so childlike and nostalgic about a warm glass of cocoa, and this small, inexpensive detail will excite your guests as soon as they see it.





Overall, your guests will feel as comfortable as you feel calm, so enjoy these moments. Don’t get overwhelmed and remember perfection is not the goal. Celebrating each other and this holiday is the point of the gathering. Relax and appreciate the fellowship and the meaning of this special season with those who matter most. Merry Christmas!



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  • Cathie Shimp
    5:08 pm, October 14, 2017
    Liked the floating candles with cranberries as table decor. I, as a non-decorator/designer person, could easily actually do that. Also loved the chalkboard placemats for the kids table. May I sit at the kids table?
  • Laura
    3:48 pm, September 12, 2017
    Most of the table decorations you do are for oblong tables. I have a 60" round dining room table with 2 - 12" leaves. It is a drexel from the 1950's. Yes I inherited from my parents. You can't really run table decorations down the length of table like you did in the above picture. Can you please do some Christmas decorations for round tables? Big thanks from me and anyone who has a round table!!!
  • Althea Watanabe
    3:52 pm, July 16, 2017
    Hey Joann & Chip; it would be amazing to redo an old home on Hawaii; on the island of Oahu on the west side on the Hawaiian reservation! That would be amazing & awesome. Thank you for all that u both do as an example to a fallen world; God 1st, family, etc. God bless your family; families are forever. Aloha, Althea Watanabe.
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