by Marie-Pier Perron


A holiday party – with the whole family – at your place? Here’s our guide to getting ready while staying Zen!


First of all, there’s no magic formula: The more you do ahead of time, the less likely the need for a crazy, breathless sprint at the end. This also gives you some wiggle room to let your kids “help”… or, at least, be part of the preparations, depending on what they can do. So… where to start?

1. Create an ambiance

Picture a dream ambiance for your home that also reflects what your family is like: Are you the “dazzling decor” type, or do you prefer a calm, peaceful atmosphere? Make this the central image of your holiday decorations.

Want to create ambiance quickly, without spending too much? Nothing works better than lights! An array of candles – kept out of the kids’ reach – gives you a warm, friendly setting that helps conversation along. For a secondary light source that speaks to the festive season, hang some fairy lights in various strategic locations, such as the kitchen island: What better way to bring the crowd together?

Ambiance can also extend past the four walls of your home: What about the view out your front windows? You could dress up the tall pine in your front yard, for example.

2. Plan your menu

With little kids around, you can make your life easier by opting for a cocktail party style menu. It’s a well-known fact, after all, that kids are always hungry… except at mealtimes! So you can mingle with your guests and eat whenever you like, without being stuck in the kitchen.

This type of menu is also a great option for potluck – each guest can bring their specialty.

3. Move the furniture around

A family of four won’t have the same needs as a large group gathering. So it makes complete sense to rethink your furniture layout, to open up the space for the big day. Is something taking up space while doing nothing for the ambiance? Move it out of the way.

When space is tight, multi-functional rules! Guests can sleep comfortably on a sofa-bed, for example, instead of getting behind the wheel late at night. So why not prepare the living room space for a smooth transition once fatigue sets in? And choose some really festive bedding, so they’ll go to bed with a smile on their lips! You may also want to place a cinnamon spice soap in the bathroom, next to their (themed!) towels.

These little touches will, of course, also work in a guest room, along with a small chocolate on each pillow. If you don’t have a sofa-bed or guest room, bring your kids into the master bedroom, so your guests can have their room, set up and decorated in advance.


4. Decorate strategically

Rearranging your space will leave you more room for seasonal enhancements. Decorative items can make an impact without being pricey or complicated. As an example, why not reuse all those boxes from the things you buy online? Just wrap them in your prettiest seasonal paper.

If you have kids at your party, decoration can also be “functional” – a useful way to keep them entertained. Ideas include covering a table in a large kraft paper that the kids can trace shapes on using molds and colored pencils. Or stick some plain white paper plates to the wall to form a Christmas tree, and invite the kids to draw ornaments on them…

A great holiday gathering simply means creating a magical, friendly world where everyone shares in the good times. Instead of making big, elaborate plans, just think about the little touches! You’ll have maximum fun with minimal stress...

Many thanks to Isabelle Lalancette (Une table pour toi) for her great decor ideas!