Kelly Rae Smith, home décor writer for Shutterfly, contributed to this story.
Breaking in a new home involves a lot more than getting unpacked, lighting a few candles, and hanging art on the walls. To make a house feel like your home, you’ll need to create memories by doing some celebrating.
While filling your new rooms with character—and your very own personality—is something that happens over time, you can certainly get a jump start on it by inviting the relatives over for your first family holiday party. And don’t worry about decorating, because we have a few stress-free tips to ensure your first gathering is memorable—for all the right reasons!
1. Pick a theme and run with it.
For instance, a winter wonderland theme is a great one to not only keep your decor nice and cohesive, but it will also carry you into the new year with no risk of embarrassment. Snowflakes can easily be created DIY-style or inexpensively purchased. You can hang them from the wall or from the ceiling.
Looking for more theme inspiration? Try one of these:
- Candyland Theme — Decorate with candy canes and gingerbread houses—and don’t forget the candy bar!
- Log Cabin Theme — Reach for natural materials like pine boughs, mistletoe, and pinecones, and warm it up with cozy textiles in classic patterns like tweed and plaid.
- Holiday Movie Theme — Take a cue from your favorite holiday movie(s), whether it’s Home Alone, Elf, or Miracle on 34th Street.
2. Use natural materials.
There’s nothing simpler than exploring your backyard a little to round up a few decor ideas, and during the holidays you’re likely to find plenty to work with. Gather some pinecones, spray-paint them silver, and arrange them in a glass bowl as a centerpiece. Perhaps there’s a holly tree nearby you could pay a visit, and even a bouquet of twigs dusted with white chalk paint would look lovely in a vase.
3. Light it up.
It’s not a holiday party until you’ve strategically placed a few strands of lights throughout your home. Welcome your guests with a lit doorway, and a few more lights inside — even simply bunched into a jar—will create an intimate atmosphere within.
4. Serve pretty foods.
Deliciously beautiful decor is the best kind of decor there could possible be. Let every nook transform into a station for treats almost too pretty to eat (or drink), like blue cupcakes, eggnog martinis, and frosted cookies. Fill teacups with pecans and mason jars with white candy canes. Use bowls full of marshmallows to draw guests to a hot chocolate bar.
5. Use your holiday cards.
Don’t let your cards sit lifeless on the mantle when you can use them to liven up the room. Add a celebratory tone by simply hanging them over a long piece of twine and hanging it on the wall. If you’re feeling really crafty, cut each card into a fun shape, like candy canes, and string it above a table, window, or archway.
6. Create a kid-friendly zone.
If your family spans a wide range of age groups, be sure to set aside a bit of space just for the kids. This will not only ensure that they’ll enjoy the gathering, but it’ll make things more relaxing for parents as well if they know their kids are safe and entertained. Set up a holiday craft table, put someone in charge of cookie decorating in the kitchen, or just put The Grinch on in the family room.
How will you decorate for your family holiday party? Share your ideas in the comments!