Xmas is supposed to be a fun-filled time for all the family.
A family-filled house over Xmas, however, can be anything but fun.
With this in mind, we have taken it upon ourselves to come up with a guide for buying furniture and homewares in the run up to Xmas that can spare you the kind of headache that arises from being unprepared for an influx of demanding visitors.
The Key to Buying Christmas Furniture is…
We’ll avoid any cliché headlines about furniture being for life and not for Xmas but the reality is that we definitely could have used one because it does ring true.
In writing this guide, we are not suggesting that you should stock up on furniture that can only be used over the season of goodwill.
What we are trying to do here, however, is to give you something to think about if you are in the market for furniture in the run up to Christmas so you get the pieces that will serve you well in the short and long term.
Tables for Xmas Dinner
Scene of the hallowed Xmas dinner, the dining table may well be the most important piece of furniture over the festive period. To make sure your experience is as enjoyable as possible, bear the following in mind:
- Extendable dining tables can comfortably add at least another two table settings to your usual arrangement. Many extending sections are built-in to the table to save space. Tables with freestanding extender sections can help you turn a redundant alcove into a workspace when normal service resumes.
- Drop-leaf tables are a great way to make best use of the available space in modest kitchen diners and, much like extenders, they can help you seat more people. Look for drop-leaf tables made from veneer or lightweight wood so you can manoeuvre them with ease.
- Round tables can seat more diners in less space than square or rectangular tables. What is more, round tables put your Christmas dinner in easy reach of everyone at the table so no one has to waste time passing dishes that could be spent scoffing.
Chairs and Seating
A lack of chairs — or the wrong chairs — is a royal pain that is not easily remedied. To ensure you don’t end up tearing your hair out about seating, consider the following:
- If you have elderly relatives on their way, consider adding a carver chair or two to your collection. The great thing about carver chairs is that they are so comfortable, they can be used as extra seating in the living room.
- When adding dining chairs to your collection, think about how and where else they might be used. For example, a great looking chair can also double as a bedside table so you don’t need to find cupboard space for it when everyone returns home.
- However, if you either can’t be bothered to engage your brain or have no need for any more furniture, look for stackable chairs that can be stowed away neatly when not in use.
The Festive Living Room
Choosing the right living room furniture can make the Xmas wind down that little bit more relaxing. It can also be a real life saver if your guests stay into Boxing Day — and beyond.
- Nesting tables are ideal for creating table space for all your guests so they have somewhere close by to place their Champagne/ sherry/ egg nog/ Dr Pepper. They can then be stowed away when everyone leaves so you can recover the flow through the room.
- Armchairs are a great way for everyone to sit comfortably without adding more sofas to the room. Modular solutions like the Ercol 427 take things even further as they can be used individually or placed alongside one another to create a lounge effect.
- Sofa beds can also help you accommodate overnight guests when you don’t have a spare room. Considerably better than an inflatable mattress and more versatile by half, sofa beds make sense for smaller residences.
Furniture for Your Spare Room
If you’re lucky enough to have one of these then it’s about time you made the best use of it and the right furniture can help you do just that. Look out for the following when decking out your spare room:
- A chest of drawers with more than three drawers will likely allow you to both store the overspill from your own wardrobe and provide enough space for your visitors to unpack and get comfortable.
- A full-length mirror will help your guests get ready without having to leave the room to check how their Christmas jumper/ Santa suit looks. Floor mirrors with a tilting function will allow even the tallest user to get a clear idea of how their outfit is sitting.
- If you don’t have a bedside table, and you don’t have space for one in your budget, consider adding to your dining chair collection and using the seat as a space for lamps, wallets, towels etc. Choose an open back chair that won’t block light and dominate the room.
Departures and Arrivals
It might not seem like it right now but your success as a host could hinge on your ability to create a good first impression/ sign off on the right note. Your furniture and homewares can help you win these battles. Bear the following in mind:
- Entryway mirrors enable you to give your hair/ lipstick/ moustache that final check before you open the door to the in-laws. Know that large mirrors can make a small space appear bigger. A mirror with a built-in shelf will give you a space to keep keys and other essentials.
- Unless you plan on creating a mound of hats, coats and scarves in your home, you’re going to need to provide a way for your guests to hang their outerwear and accessories. Best to shop for coat hooks or pegs that don’t protrude more than a few inches from the wall. For the best finish, look for a model that allows you to hide the fastening screws.
- If you have the space in your hallway for a small table or shelf, consider adding a vase filled with fresh flowers into the mix for a first impression that is complemented by vibrant colours and enchanting scents. Remember that the vase should be at least half the length of the stems for the sake of stability.
Homewares that Could Save Your Xmas
It is, however, the little details that are likely the final say over how your performance as host is judged. The good news for you is that we have a few small tips that could help you score big:
- Using a teabag per cup over the festive period may lead you down the path to financial ruin. Rather than simply suggest you buy a teapot, we recommend a Scandinavian tea set that will create the air that you know what you're doing even if you don't.
- If you are kept awake at night by the thought of water rings appearing on your furniture, consider heading this fear off at the pass with a tea set with keep warm lids that serve as coasters so your guests won’t even have to look for something upon which to rest the cup.
- And for the really thoughtful among you, plan ahead for the post-Christmas, overeating guilt with a wide fruit bowl that you can fill to overflowing. Unlikely anyone will touch the fruit until at least Boxing Day but your foresight will be appreciated when the time comes.