Home for the Holidays

Tips for a Festive Gathering

Published on December 1st, 2022

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Holiday gatherings have returned after two years of restrictions and, for many people, it’s time to celebrate! If you wish to host a fabulous cocktail party or traditional dinner, these ideas can help you create festive magic with minimal fuss. Included are a few inflation-fighters to stretch your budget.


Pinecones, evergreen boughs, ribbon, ornaments, and treats from your kitchen are reminiscent of holidays past. Add to the nostalgia with personal, homemade touches.  

Pinecones: Unadorned or sparkling with metallic paint, pinecones can be attractive in a display on a bar cart, tabletop, or a shelf. You can also attach cones to ribbons and hang them from a doorway or a hearth. 

Candles: Candlelight sheds a warm glow over holiday gatherings. For safety, especially when children or pets are in attendance, place the candles out of reach and in a protected holder. (Please also take a moment to ensure the batteries are working in your smoke and CO2 detectors.)

Evergreen boughs: Create a wreath, centerpieces, candlestick holders, or garland for a staircase banister using evergreen boughs, ribbon, and decorations such as red berries. Real greenery harvested from your yard will release a subtle scent of the forest. When using natural branches for indoor decorating, wash them in a bucket of warm soapy water then rinse. 

Cookies: ‘Tis the season to indulge and just about everybody loves cookies. Put out plates of star-shaped treats and gingerbread men. You could also include cookies in your dinner settings. 

Faux snow: Shredded or shaved coconut adds snowy splendor to table displays and plates of cookies. 

Poinsettia: For nearly two centuries, these red and green plants have been a beloved tradition. If you purchase a poinsettia in a plain pot, dress it up with foil and ribbon, or transplant it into a different container. 


Unless you have a large kitchen, an assistant and two stoves, it can be nearly impossible to prepare several dishes simultaneously keeping them all hot. Try serving a few items that are delicious served cold: charcuterie boards, salads, trays of fruit, cheese, nuts and crackers, and vegetables with dip. 

Create single-serving festive cheese pops instead of one large ball. Form cheese into a small ball, roll it in nuts or colourful pomegranate arils, then insert a straight pretzel to be used as a serving stick. 

Considering the high cost of food this season, you may wish to make your event a potluck. Guests who don’t enjoy cooking can bring simple items such as cheese, nuts, or beverages.

Use menu cards to identify foods. This is especially helpful for people with dietary restrictions. Write the name of the food and any special features on a pretty card or gift tag attached to an ornament.

On the day of your gathering, you will likely be busy in the kitchen, so, if possible, set the table the night before.


The right soundtrack will help to set the mood at your party or dinner. If you have the space and budget to hire a DJ or a live band, your gathering will certainly be memorable. Find local talent by searching and advertising online. 

There are also inexpensive ways to enjoy commercial-free music. Canadian telecom providers such as Shaw and Telus have free music channels with no commercial interruptions. If you prefer, you can choose from a multitude of streaming services. 


Night falls early at this time of year making light an essential decorating tool. Small, battery-powered LED lights can illuminate decorations along a fireplace mantle or tucked into a display. Add strings of lights around doorways and up a staircase banister. Use candlelight to set the mood for a cozy dinner.


With gratitude for another year, may your celebration be joyous!

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