Deck the halls…

Last Updated on : 8th December 2016

Christmas means guests! If you’re lucky enough to be one, please offer to peel the sprouts. If you’re hosting, stop grinding your teeth at night! We have the perfect solutions for entertaining in small spaces, as well as some wonderful interiors ideas inspired by local homes on the market

Words: Georgina Blaskey

How you use your home at Christmas varies from any other time of year. With multi-generational visitors to accommodate — for the day or longer (although I would like to introduce you to the three-night rule) —and wind, rain or (fingers crossed) snow dampening suggestions of a Boxing Day walk, your guests will no doubt spend even more time within your four walls than during any other stay. So how can you cope with these extra bodies and their needs while keeping your sanity — and home — in tact?

Zoning out spaces is a good way to start. Whilst many of us have knocked down walls to open up small Victorian proportions in to something bigger, when there’s a crowd in your house it’s preferable to be able to allocate spaces. Basements are ideal for this. Once all presents have been unwrapped, pile up the Lego and Meccano, the Barbies and the bead boxes, and send them all downstairs, leaving you free to unwrap the rum truffles and tune in to the Queen’s Speech uninterrupted.


If you do all want to gather for charades and board games, ample storage for your current range of toys is a must. Giving your playroom a decent edit before Santa arrives with his big red sack will certainly free up space to instantly find room for the latest invasion of plastic fantastic.


When the little kids are in bed and the teenagers and adults want to play, dedicate an area to a pool table or table tennis (even better, give one to everyone for Christmas!). Better than a computer game, you can get a whole family round-robin tournament going with one of these.


And even small flats can host Christmas if the space is used wisely. This property has three reception rooms so you can all be together while enjoying a bit of time out when needed.


But it’s not all about the fun and games. Christmas Day lunch is the main event. After labouring away to produce a succulent bird with all the trimmings, it’s a joy to sit down at a beautifully laid table without staring at the mounds of pots and pans in the kitchen beyond. A dedicated dining room is something of a rarity these days and if your house still has one, consider retaining it rather than opening it out.


Another solution is to half open up, leaving a wall in place to hide to kitchen mess but an open doorway to keep things light and airy.


With guests come their cars and off-street parking is more valuable than ever at Christmas when armfuls of presents come bundling through the door. Sadly we might not all be able to enjoy a driveway in SW11 and many of us will hope and pray a few neighbours are away freeing up valuable curb space.


Keeping everyone fed and watered is crucial and a wine cellar is a God-send at this time of year. I have heard of people storing the turkey in their temperature-controlled cellars, as well as piles of presents within cases of wines — well, children do have a habit of thoroughly searching everywhere. 


When it comes to accommodating guests overnight, a touch of spontaneity and resourcefulness can be required (see our tips below). But if you’re lucky enough to have a decent guest room with an en suite, there’s a high chance you’ll have the in-laws moving in until Brexit’s agreed.


Top-floor master bedroom suites really come in to their own if you have a very little one who might be disturbed by all the daytime comings and goings. Pop their cot in to your room in the eaves and create a calm space for you both to retreat to when needed. You might find yourself joining your baby for a much-needed lunchtime nap!


Space-saving tips for a Christmas crowd

Magical trees
A corner Christmas tree is an ingenious way to display what appears to be a whole evergreen but it only takes up half the space.

More than a bed
Putting up a guest for a few nights a year needn’t warrant an unused guest room for the other 360 days. There are so many brilliant sofa beds and convertible armchairs that look super chic when not in use.

From bijou to banquet
An extendable table is an investment you will cherish. From a cosy set-up for a family of four to a State Visit-worthy dining solution, a solid, stylish extendable table will see you through any event.

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