The holidays are coming and it’s time to deck the halls. That means entertaining friends and family, cooking, cocktails and if you let it get the best of you, a dash of stress. Here are some ways to decrease that stress and keep your home simply beautiful.

Decorating: Skip the Kitsch & Out with the Old

Avoid décor items that are overly holiday themed. This is my #1 rule and will keep your home looking classic and uncluttered when guests arrive. You can still have a “professionally designed” look for the holidays without forgoing the fun of the season though (we have to keep the kids happy). It’s all about finding a design medium.

Heather Ryder Design Curated Holiday Projects

Find the geometric tree ornaments at Dowse Design. Other items found via Pinterest.

Outdo the Joneses by giving your holiday décor a bit of an update. To create the home you envision, you need to let go of the things that are not part of that vision. AND IT’S OK! I give you permission to get rid of any items that haven’t put out in 2 years or don’t fit into your newly enlightened design identity. Find a charitable organization that will love and appreciate these items. In with the new!

Preparing for Your Guests: Getting Organized

Start by removing much of your everyday décor to make way for the holiday season. Less is more here; there is nothing worse than placing décor on top of décor.

Heather Ryder Design - Holiday Mantel by DIY Network

Mantel design by DIY Network. Simple, unique and stylish!

Place your everyday items in clear plastic bins to make switching back after the holiday’s a cinch. Rearrange your furniture so that guests are able to converse and move around easily. One of my favorite tricks is using upholstered benches or stools as a quick and easy side table to rest a drink.

Heather Ryder Design - Holiday Upholstered Bench

Found via

Preparing for Your Guests: The Day Of

Keep. It. Simple.

Rearrange your gathering areas – like your living room and family room – so that the focus is no longer on the TV.

Heather Ryder Design - Designs Not Centered Around TV

Many holiday parties revolve around the entertainment system and this really limits the interaction your guests have with each other. Create an area that inspires conversation and togetherness. Bring in extra chairs, even if it’s a folding chair. This is one of the many reasons why I love having those upholstered benches and stools around. They serve as a quick and easy perch, or with a tray, a nice side table to rest a drink. Hassle free!

Heather Ryder Design - Teal Thanksgiving Decor

Found via

Next, it’s time to hide the evidence of your everyday family life. Use some of those clear storage bins to temporarily home things like mail and homework. Keeping it all in one place will prevent the after-holiday stress of getting back to the real world.

So it begins: Keeping your Guests Happy

Now that your home is looking great and you’ve got your guest flow down, all that’s left is making sure your guests stay happy. Since food and drink stations are the hot spots at any party, spread those areas out a bit to prevent traffic jams.

Heather Ryder Design - Holiday Bar Cart

Found via Hank & Hunt

My tip – use a console table or a stylish bar cart (preferably one with wheels) and make it inviting with a pretty ice bucket, signs for food and drink so guests aren’t confused, and some holiday decorations.

Heather Ryder Design - DYI Holiday Accessories via Southern Living

Natural items are some of the best to use because they are easy to obtain, inexpensive and timeless. Try using a few cinnamon sticks wrapped in jute twine or burlap for a rustic feel, or add some touches of mercury glass items for a bit of an antique sparkle. The options are endless!

How do you keep your home beautiful and functional for the holidays? Tell us in a comment!


Heather Ryder