With the holiday party season right around the corner, a growing camp of entertaining experts suggests approaching things a little less like Martha Stewart, and a little more like Steven Spielberg. Whether it’s a Halloween party for the kids, a Thanksgiving potluck, or an elegant Christmas dinner, entertaining pros know that “setting the scene” for a memorable event can make a significantly greater impact than debuting the next ambitious dessert recipe.

“Inviting family and friends into your home is an intimate gesture,” says Ginny Bean, founder/publisher of Ginny’s catalog and Ginnys.com.” From the way the lighting is set, to the scented candles you choose and the music that’s playing, the best gift you can give your guests is to create a scene that makes them feel comfortable and welcome.”

Bean offers the following checklist for transforming your home into a seamless scene for holiday entertaining.


• Choose your space. Identify and arrange the area of your home where your scene will be set. When choosing a location, think about the theme of your event. If it’s a Halloween party and you’ve transformed your yard into a ghoulish garden of spooky spectacles, convene in a front room and open the curtains. On Thanksgiving, gather near the dining room table.


• Set up the room the day before the party, so you have plenty of time to make last-minute changes. Arrange furniture so guests can move around easily, clearing out extra furniture if necessarily. A general rule of thumb for mixers and cocktail parties is to have seating for 10 to 15 percent of your guests. If the space you choose is going to be crowded, use a single, preferably round, center table for hors d’oeuvres. If your space is too big for the number of guests, use multiple small tables to create mini food stations, which will encourage guests to move throughout the room.

• Dim the lights. Avoid unflattering overhead lights, and instead rely on table and floor lamps, and mood-enhancing candlelight. To get more light from candles, place them in clusters, and decorate with metallic accents that bounce light around and provide a festive holiday feel. Candles, of course, bring more to the party than a flattering light source. Seasonal scents like spiced pumpkin, cranberry clove and gingerbread maple play a dramatic sensory role in setting the scene.

• Simplify the table decor. When creating centerpieces and decorative accents for your table and serving areas, less is often more. Seasonal fruit presented with nuts and berries, or greenery from your backyard, can make a lovely and elegant statement, at a fraction of the cost of fresh flowers. If you want to decorate with flowers, remember that one large arrangement makes a stronger impression than several small ones. Place flowers on the main food station or at the bar, where guests are guaranteed to see them.

• Add thoughtful touches. Place cards casually incorporated into a nicely folded napkin, or placed between the tines of a fork, show how you have thought about each guest and who they might enjoy meeting.

• Ready, set, relax. Set the table, dim the lights, start the music and light the candles well in advance, so you’re relaxed and ready to greet your guests the minute they walk in the door.


“If you’re sometimes challenged to get everything ready in time, remember that getting 80 percent of the work finished is good enough,” says Bean, who also encourages her fellow hostesses to “stop trying to be Super-woman in an apron, and ask for help.”

To browse hundreds of seasonal entertaining, home and kitchen ideas, or request a copy of Ginny’s fall/winter catalogs, visit www.Ginnys.com or call 800-693-0809. You can also find Ginny’s on Facebook.

This article is courtesy of Brandpoint.


Ways to take the festivities outside

Looking to throw an all-out backyard soiree or an intimate barbecue with some of your friends? Don’t be afraid to “think outside” the house.

• Ambiance is key, since it will set the tone of any party. Invest in some fun patio lights, lanterns or tiki torches to place around your yard.


• Don’t forget the kids. If you know children will attend your party, have kid-friendly items ready for them to play with such as chalk or bubbles. Better yet, rent a bounce house.

This article is courtesy of Brandpoint.