The holidays are a time to get together with family and friends to spread the warmth of the season, whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s. If you’re hosting, this might mean doubling — or tripling — the usual number of people in your home. When your living space is set up for you and your immediate family, how do you transform it to fit all your guests for the holidays?
The dining room is the hub of holiday hosting — where guests gather to not only indulge in a delicious feast but share conversation and valuable time together. Your dining room should add to the experience — not take away from it — so we’ve compiled the best dining room Christmas décor to elevate your space. Even if you don’t have a dining room, you can apply these holiday hosting tips to any space where you’re planning to serve a holiday meal.
Holiday Entertaining Tips and Ideas
Start by Decluttering Your Space
When your dining room isn’t in full use for the entire year it can become a catch-all place for clutter. Whether you’re using your dining room as an office space, homework center, game room or place to store extra furniture, it can become quite cluttered. It can be hard to figure out what to get rid of and how to do it before company arrives. Start by throwing away old papers and magazines laying about. Move homework and office essentials to the bedrooms. Reorganize the attic or basement to store bulkier items there.
Decide if You Need to Make Larger Improvements
Once you’ve cleared out your space, spruce up the essential elements of your dining room. Maybe your dog’s favorite napping spot is underneath the dining room table, and you need to install new flooring. Or perhaps someone in the family drew a portrait on the wall that never quite came off, and you need a fresh coat of paint. What’s a better excuse to revamp the dining room than the holiday season? These projects take some planning in advance, so it’s best to tackle these larger jobs only if you have time before guests arrive.
Reassess Your Furniture
After you’ve freshened up the room, it’s time to start decorating the dining room for Christmas with some new furniture. Here we’ve highlighted a few pieces that are sure to make hosting for the holidays a breeze.
“Besides the usual decor, Christmas tree and gifts, I would invest in furniture that reminds you of comfort, coziness and the feeling of being warm.”
João Oliveira | BRABBU Design Forces
Dining Room Table
The biggest task in hosting for the holidays is finding a space for all your guests to sit for dinner without being cramped. One holiday dining table idea is to upgrade your current model for an extendable one. With an extendable table, you can add a leaf or two to fit all your guests. Then, when your holiday entertaining is over, simply remove the leaves and shorten the table for your family’s everyday use.
Now that you have all your guests seated around the table, how do you make room for all the tasty dishes you’re serving along with holiday table settings? Use a buffet — a simple and elegant solution to your dish dilemma. A buffet not only provides ample counter space to display your feast (with enough room for dishes catering to all dietary needs), it also has storage underneath to keep your holiday dishware and silverware. And it provides another surface for more dining room Christmas décor.
After food, the next most important aspect of hosting for the holidays is the drinks. Rather than having a fixed spot for the bar, consider getting a bar cart. It’s small but just large enough to fit all your drink essentials — and it’s mobile. Position the cart in a corner of the dining room during dinner, and when the party moves on to the living room, simply push the cart along with you.
Set the Mood
A key holiday entertaining tip is creating the right ambiance for your dining room. Lighting, scents and music set the tone for the event and transform your home into a holiday wonderland.
Give your dining room a modern upgrade with new overhead lighting. An updated lighting fixture above your table illuminates your Christmas décor and highlights the holiday table settings and centerpieces you created.
Candles and Fairy Lights
Looking for a more cost-effective solution to your lighting? Candles are another way to light up your dining room —and provide a holiday scent — while also adding warmth to your table. Place a few candles along the center of your dining table or add some to your buffet for extra decoration that highlights the food you’re serving.
Another great Christmas dining room idea to set the mood and add sparkle to your décor is fairy lights. For a centerpiece, fill a clear vase with pinecones and spruce sprigs and wrap them up with fairy lights. You can also lay fairy lights down on the center of the table to add a little light to each table setting. Or consider draping them over your curtains for a starry night look in your holiday wonderland.
Aside from festive candle scents, a surefire way to get your home smelling like a holiday haven is with a simmer pot. To get the smell of apple cider wafting through your home, boil a few apple peels, a cinnamon stick and a few cloves.
For an earthier scent, add cedar, spruce and eucalyptus sprigs to your pot of water. Or for the fall holiday classic pumpkin spice smell, add apple cider, pumpkin spice seasoning, cinnamon sticks, ground nutmeg, vanilla extract and whole cloves. Once you’ve added the ingredients for your favorite holiday aroma, lower the heat to a simmer. Make sure to check in on your pot to top it off with water every once in a while.
Music releases stress and elevates the atmosphere. Set the mood with your favorite holiday classics. Holiday instrumental playlists provide the perfect background music for your gathering. If you’re looking for music that is less holiday-centered but provides the same ambiance, try a smooth jazz playlist. Along with providing calming background music, jazz also enhances creativity, reduces stress and improves cognitive health — the perfect cocktail for creating dinner party conversation.
Deck the Halls
Now it’s time to decorate the dining room for Christmas with some holiday décor.
“At this time of year the essentials for dining room décor is create a comfortable and warmer atmosphere. The dining room is not the place for the Christmas pine tree, for example, but small decorations fit perfectly for this environment of the house. On the holidays, the dining room should be a welcoming place.”
João Oliveira | BRABBU Design Forces
A classic holiday dining table idea is to add elements of nature to your centerpieces and table settings for a natural and down-to-earth look. Plus, the smell of fresh spruce and pine cones adds an extra layer to your holiday ambiance. Consider going to your local thrift store for Christmas plates to add a vintage look to your holiday table settings. For a more refined look, play with different metals — add copper cups or gold silverware to your settings for an elegant twist.
Red and green are classic colors to play with for Christmas dining room décor. However, elements of gold and silver can be used to add a sophisticated touch. For a regal look, try a combination of red and black decorations throughout the room.
To elevate the look of your dining room, choose ornate curtains to decorate your windows. Velvet and silk varieties provide a luxurious look, and layering these with sheer curtains allows you to control how little or how much light enters the room. Neutral and muted colors are a timeless trend and a perfect Christmas dining room idea — pick a soft green, cream or a muted red to hang up for the holiday season.
Additionally, consider adding natural elements to your window treatments. Hanging plants, air plants and garland are all easy ways to bring the outdoors into your dining room, and they add flair to your windows too.
Looking to upgrade your dining room walls? Consider adding an accent wall. It’s an easy way to decorate the room without having to paint each wall, and it brings in a pop of color that can be matched to your dining room Christmas décor.
A gallery wall is another great way to deck the halls. Choose a theme — family, nature, the holiday season — and pick several photos in varying sizes to hang up. Use frames of the same color or material to keep the collection in theme.
Another Christmas dining room idea is to frame and hang a festive chalkboard menu displaying the food and drinks you’ll be serving. Hang it above your buffet so your guests can easily see what’s being served.
How to Decorate for the Holidays in the Rest of Your Home
Now that you’ve styled your dining room to fit your guest list using our holiday entertaining tips, it’s time to look at the rest of the house. Spruce up your guest room with a new plush rug and pillows, and add a reading light to the end table. Declutter your bathroom with our bathroom space-saving tips and add new towels for your guests.
Decorate your entryway with fresh garland or a vase of flowers, and create a space for your guests to kick off their shoes with a new rug or shoe rack. And last — but certainly not least — revamp your kitchen with a new kitchen island or countertops to make cooking for your friends and family a breeze.
Here are more updates you can make to the rest of your home to be “hosting ready” any time of year: