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Arrange your furniture for holiday parties with these tips

Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada Sarah Tolle – Homify Canada
Miner's Cottage II by design storey Rustic
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It's that time of year again – holiday parties, family gatherings, plenty of decadent food and drink – getting together with loved ones is what so many people cherish about the holiday season. If you're hosting a large gathering at your house or apartment, you may find that this time of year brings additional stress when it comes to the logistics of hosting a few dozen people in your home. Use these tips to create appealing, convenient, and crowd-friendly furniture arrangements that take advantage of all of your space and encourage your guests to feel completely at ease. 

1. Offer variety

If your holiday gathering includes people of many ages and abilities, make sure that you take this into account when glancing at the living room furniture. A couple of trendy barstools look nice, but they're not a very comfortable seat for an elderly relative, who might want something with more stability and padding. This large living room from architects at Radrizzani Rioja Arquitectos features a central arrangement with sofas, kids' benches, and antique armchairs in the corners, providing a piece of furniture suitable for people of all ages.

2. Focus on the fireplace

Miner's Cottage II: Living Room by design storey Rustic
design storey

Miner's Cottage II: Living Room

design storey

Draw your guests towards the warmth of a fireplace, if you have one. It's not every day that you have time to lounge beside the hearth, but a holiday party is certainly one of those rare, luxurious occasions. Make sure your mantle is clean and that there's no soot lurking on the stones around the fireplace so that your guests are encouraged to bask in its warmth without worrying about ruining their nice clothes. Arrange chairs close to the fireplace so that people feel invited to enjoy the fireplace instead of just looking at it from afar. And of course, stock up on fuel, and make sure you have plenty to last until the wee hours!

3. Make sure you have plenty of pillows

It never hurts to have a few extra pillows on couches or chairs – especially if they're made of hard plastic, wood, or metal, like this example. A simple, $10 pillow can save your guests from a backache brought on by a stiff-backed seat, and it demonstrates to your guests that you'd like them to feel as comfortable as possible in your home.

4. Clear your tables

modern  by Loaf, Modern Textile Amber/Gold

Munchkin armchair


It's tempting to put decor absolutely everywhere, but it's a good idea to air on the side of caution when it comes to side tables and countertops. A decorative vase, bowl, and statue, and bouquet will look lovely, but your guests will find that they have nowhere to place their plates and cups while they chat. Leave plenty of empty surface space for dinnerware, and your guests will be grateful!

5. Expand seating to the floor

If you're short on table space or chairs, consider a seated arrangement on the floor. Many stylish floor arrangements draw upon traditions from Africa, India, East Asia, and the Middle East – you'll find large floor cushions in a wide array of festive colours and energetic designs. 

6. Find new ways to make space

Small living room, big family by Bandon Interior Design Country
Bandon Interior Design

Small living room, big family

Bandon Interior Design

Need an extra few feet of room in order to seat all of your guests in the living room? Why not try an arrangement like this one, which pushes a dresser out of the way for the night so that the sofas have room to breathe. Too often, furniture simply becomes part of the room, blending into the landscape without commanding even a second thought. For your holiday party, look discerningly at your furniture: you can figure out practical ways to push aside the less useful furniture temporarily and make room for items that serve the purposes of a holiday party.

7.… but don't make TOO much space!

Perfect space for the ideal family home Minimalist dining room by The Market Design & Build Minimalist
The Market Design & Build

Perfect space for the ideal family home

The Market Design & Build

You're bound to stash a few things up in the bedroom and the closet in order to de-clutter your common areas. However, don't leave your living room looking barren and sparse! Make sure that every part of your rooms offers a reason for being there, whether it's a collection of family photos on the wall, a small table for setting down plates, or a comfortable sofa in the corner. Holidays are a time of abundance, and you'll want your home to reflect an atmosphere that leans towards generous rather than sparing.

8. Move your TV

There's a reason why it's a glowing fireplace – and not a blaring TV – that figures in the nostalgic images of holiday tradition. Holidays are a rare time to reconnect with friends and family that come from out of town, not a time for watching the news. To place a greater focus on enjoying the present moment, relocate your TV from center stage to a more subtle spot in the room (or move it out entirely).  You'll notice that if the TV is tempting enough, someone is bound to turn it on, and it will become a flashy distraction from conversation, games, or any other potential face-to-face fun. This living room offers a great setup, with a primary focus on the fireplace, with the TV as a secondary option resting conveniently on a small table on wheels. 

9. Don't confuse intimacy with closeness

Your home environment can feel intimate and connected without being squished together as close as possible. This open concept living and dining room is an excellent example of this. Lights brought low over the long dining table provide a more intimate feel in the dining space, and the face-to-face bench seating arrangement is certainly very friendly. However, the room still offers space to move about, to wander to the window, to take a moment on the couch, or to play with the kids on the floor. Don't fool yourself into shoving your sofas as close together as possible in order to create a cozy, intimate feeling. Instead, leave plenty of space for guests to move, stand up, and carry plates among the furniture, focusing on building intimacy with lighting and textural qualities, not physical closeness of furniture.

For more ways to wow your guests from the get-go, consider the 12 terrific entryways in this ideabook!

What do you think of these holiday party furniture tips? Comment below!
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