Giving Your Best Party Yet


We’ve all been to them. Those incredible parties where everything seems perfect, from the food to the music to the decor. And the hostess – looking relaxed and having fun – makes it all appear effortless. How does she do it?

Determined to find out, we asked Ballard’s best entertainers for their secrets. The result is this handy checklist, offering all the tips, reminders and information you need to throw your most fabulous soirée ever. Just print it out, and you’re ready to get started.

Getting Ready

  • Consider a theme to pull your party together – anything from a color palette to a cultural motif.
  • Be sure invitations give guests all the info they need about dress, parking, whether children are welcome, etc.
  • Spruce up your decor with a new Rug or Slipcover, or smaller touches like Chandelier Shades and Throw Pillows.
  • Double-check your supplies of glasses, napkins, serving utensils, etc. Our Bee Glassware is a great choice for buffet-style dinners.

Holiday EntranceFirst Impressions

  • Approach your house the way guests will enter. Be sure lighting is adequate, and consider a new Entrance Mat to brighten the area around your front door while helping to keep interior floors clean.
  • Is your entryway welcoming? We love our Montresor Sitting Deer and our Frazier Fir Trees for an elegant front door greeting.
  • Think through where guests will put coats, hats, purses, umbrellas. If help is needed, try our .


Food & Drink

  • Plan a menu that won’t keep you in the kitchen. Or, rely on a good caterer.
  • Purchase your beverages ahead of time. To determine quantity, remember: a standard bottle of wine yields about 6 glasses; a liter of liquor will make approximately 20 mixed drinks.

Belfort Beverage TubTables & Chairs

  • Think about seating arrangements. Do you have enough tables and chairs? Our St. Germain Folding Chairs offer stylish alternatives to the ordinary.
  • Splurge on your centerpiece – an obvious way to revisit your theme. Lots of candles and flowers are favorite choices.




 Important Touch

Encourage guests to circulate by setting up multiple stations for food and drink.

  • Dress your fireplace for the occasion with classic or festive greenery. If the weather is too warm for a fire, fill the firebox with candles or plants that echo your mantel’s decorations.

Holiday Home DecorCompany’s coming! Is your home ready?

With the holidays fast approaching – and friends and family on their way – you may wonder how you’ll ever get everything done. This is a dilemma we at Ballard are all too familiar with (when you live near the country’s busiest airport, overnight guests are a given), so we’ve taken the time to come up with this comprehensive checklist. Print it out as a quick reminder of what you need to do (and all that you’ve already accomplished!).

Planning Ahead

  • Provide good driving directions ( makes it easy), or make arrangements for picking your guests up at the airport.
  • Consider their needs while you’re away: provide area maps and recommend favorite attractions.
  • Make your home childproof and/or handicap-accessible, if necessary.

Guest Quarters

  • Freshen the linens and put out extra pillows. Our Storage Ottomans and our benches provide handy seating plus a convenient place to stow spare blankets.
  • Where will your guests put their belongings? Try a space-saving solution like our Exmoor Console.
  • If your guest room, like many, doubles as the home office, tidy things up with some attractive organizers.
  • Provide a variety of reading materials. Use one of our baskets as a magazine holder or to keep everything neatly at hand.
  • Before anyone arrives, give your guest room the ultimate test: sleep in it yourself. Anything you wish for – an alarm clock, a mirror, a reading lamp, fresh water – will probably be appreciated by your guests, as well.

Party Planning GuideThe Rest of the House

  • Schedule a professional cleaning service. And let this be a time to treat yourself to those special purchases you’ve been contemplating – a new tablecloth, area rug or chandelier shades.
  • Stock the bathroom with plenty of towels and a variety of toiletries, even comfy slippers and a robe.
  • Think through mealtime plans to be sure you have enough tables and chairs. Our Folding Round Party Tables are a great bargain.
  • Fill the pantry with your guests’ favorite foods and beverages.
  • Add nightlights here and there so your guests can easily find their way.
  • Let your guests know when the security alarm is set (to prevent any accidental triggers).

Best Party EverHappy Holidays!

Can you believe it’s that time of year again? If the holidays snuck up on you (like they seem to do with so many), don’t worry. Our “to-do” list will help you get organized, stay focused and accomplish your goals – and still have time left over to enjoy the season!

Decorating Your Home

  • Stock up on the essentials early – lights, ornament hooks, tree stand. Stores tend to run out of those items quickly.
  • Fill your house with candles. Their light makes everything more festive, and you can keep using them even after the holidays are over. Antiqued Mercury Glass Votives  are some of our favorites.
  • Add seasonal sparkle to your windows with an array of Etched Mercury Glass Ornaments hung from the frames to catch the light.
  • Don’t stop at one room – dress your whole house with greenery. Angel Pine Garland above the windows, Potted Amaryllis in the dining room, Angel Vine Topiary at bedside.

Shopping Made Easy

  • The “shop early” rule applies for cards, as well. Get them in the mail as soon as possible, and not only will you ensure they arrive on time, you’ll have one less thing to worry about as the season gets more hectic.
  • Buy several items to keep on hand as easy, last-minute hostess gifts like our Suzanne Kasler Petite Carriage Lantern or her Reindeer Cocktail Napkins .
  • Don’t forget about teachers and office “Secret Santas.” Some of our picks for workmates include our Potted Amaryllis or our Ballard To-Go Mug.
  • Make your gifts stand out from the rest with extra-special wrapping. Our Burlap Ribbon is a sure way to get attention!
  • Avoid the crowds – do your shopping online! And have your selections shipped directly to the recipient, for even more convenience.

Grain Sack BearJust for You

  • Prevent “holiday burn-out” by setting aside time for yourself: take a bath, read a book or curl up in front of the fire.
  • Going away for the holidays? Simplify packing with our Zebra Travel Group.
  • Remember that the holidays are a time for celebration – so relax and have fun!


How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    December 16, 2009

    I recently saw a project where they used a plant stand or beverage tub like yours shown above, The Belfort Beverage Tub & Stand, as a bird feeding/drinking station outside. They set a birdhouse coated with peanut butter, millet seed, all kinds of dried berries, and store bought bird treats, on a bed of pine boughs, along with a terra cotta saucer for water, and attached pieces of fresh oranges, apples, & whole cranberries to the pine boughs. They tucked in pinecones filled in with peanut butter and rolled in bird seeds amongst the branches as well. It was a stunning presentation and I can just see your beverage tub used for this purpose!
    Thank you for all of your ideas and nice products!
    Merry Christmas to all:)

  2. Reply

    Rea Zervas

    October 29, 2009

    Enjoyed the Style Studio ideas so much. They are far above run of the mill and I plan to use some of them.

    Would like to see more of these ideas year around.