Tips and Decor Ideas for Holiday Entertaining

Tips and Decor Ideas for Holiday Entertaining

By Janette Ewen

Where do you start if you’re planning to entertain over the holiday season?

I always start with a theme. For example, I held a vintage 1930s Christmas party last year. A theme will shape the decor, cocktail menu, food, invites, gifts, music—even the scent of your home. For 2017, the top holiday themes all have a classic or nostalgic twist. Think Charles Dickens, Hollywood in the 1950s or even a rustic cabin from the turn of the century. Here are a few of my other favourite tips for having a chic, stress-free holiday season.

Decorate a themed tree

Take your holiday theme and run with it. Start by selecting your colour scheme. For 2017, mixed metals are right on trend. Layer your glass balls first, using a range of sizes to help give your tree more depth. Next, add your picks and flourishes. Be sure that they match your theme! (I ran with a “woodland forest” vibe.) For finishing touches, add ornaments that highlight your theme.

Break out old holiday records

Think about hosting a records party. Pick up an old-school record player at a thrift store and invite guests to bring their favourite holiday album. Have a friend act as deejay and play all those great tunes you grew up with. Some holiday classics include The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, Elvis Presley’s “Elvis’ Christmas Album”; and “Christmas With The Rat Pack” (Various Artists). A great placento shop for albums is on eBay.

Don’t forget the holiday crackers

No classic holiday dinner table is complete without the Christmas cracker. Go upscale with yours by making your own. Use high-end wallpaper or wrapping paper that works with your decor theme for the cracker wrapper—snaps can be purchased at craft stores.nFill your crackers with fun, vintage-inspired toys or personalized gifts for each guest.

Finishing touches

Remember: more is more when it comes to decor. Turn to classic styles for inspiration: sugared fruit, dried oranges, magnolia leaves, silver bells, silk tassels, pomegranates—all have a luxe and ultra glamorous appeal. 

Don’t forget the games!

No holiday party is complete without a classic game.Be sure to have plenty on hand.

Having guests for the weekend?

Set the guest room in style. Make sure the linens are fresh, leave a water carafe on the side table and have the latest magazines or a favourite read left for your guest. I like to make sure the powder room and guest bathroom are well stocked with all my favourite soaps and lotions.

Thank you gifts

Always send your guest home with a thank you gift that comes from the heart. I love giving my guests a box or tin of my favourite candy. My guests always smile when they receive them, as the box is always full of happy holiday memories.

Janette Ewen is one of Canada’s leading decor and lifestyle experts and the co-founder of the creative studio, Parker Barrow, based in L.A. and Toronto. Find her online at



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