Throw a Living Room Furniture Party for the Holidays

Thoughts on re-doing your living room for the holidays without doing all the work

A living room setting

This time of year, with Christmas and New Year's upon us, we're often considering how we'll accommodate everyone in the living room, and in beds for those surprise overnight guests.

Here's what we're thinking. Maybe your living room needs a new sofa, chair, or even sectional. Maybe all it needs is a little judicious re-arranging of what's already there. Which can mean football games missed, aching backs, and crankiness. So is there anything you can do to make the annual re-arranging of your furniture more fun? Of course there is! Here's a thought. Throw a party! Tell a few of your closest (and perhaps youngest and strongest) friends that you're having a Living Room Furniture Party and three things are going to happen: Food, Gifts, Fun, and, er, um, re-arranging. (Don't emphasize the last item in the invitation or they may politely decline.)

How does it work?

First, make some holiday treats and lay in a supply of beverages (adult or not, your choice) and some small gifts to offer your guests.

Second, tell them you will have a small gift for each of them and they in return get to bring a small gift for the house, to add to the decor of your living room. (This will cause them to jump up and down with excitement. Or some other emotion.) Make suggestions. Perhaps a small accent for your sofa, a knickknack (maybe a snow globe) for your fireplace mantel, or a decoration to enhance your Christmas decor. However, be sure and let them know those who don't come bearing gifts will NOT be turned away.

Third, tell them they get to help you rearrange your furniture (more jumping up and down) to give your living room more space or create a cozier atmosphere by helping shift the end tables to balance your recliners or loveseat, or sliding that new entertainment center over (the one housing your new HDTV) a few extra feet to accommodate your Christmas Tree (and by the way, to improve your viewing angle.

Fourth, figure out the arranging before the party starts. One technique we like to use in rearranging is the subtle adjustment of angles. For instance, there's usually a corner in most living rooms with a table topped by a decorative "reading" lamp that's impossible to read by without the aid of a flashlight. It's often guarded on the left and right by a sectional sofa, or sofa and loveseat or chair, but now your keen decorator's eye tells you it could be the perfect corner for your Christmas tree. So make an adjustment. Have your buds shift the furniture down the wall a few inches to accommodate the tree, and turn the chairs a bit more outward to present a more welcoming look for visitors. Sounds crazy, but tiny changes like these can really make a remarkable difference.

Maybe you could use a quick fix to make your room look and feel bigger. Because we always have guests trooping in and out when entertaining over the holidays, we wish we had a bigger living room. But we don't. So we resort to creating the illusion of having a bigger room, to make our guests feel more comfortable in it. For example: take that 40W corner "reading" lamp or the lamps on your end tables and replace the bulbs just before the holidays with something brighter (like a 60W if they can handle it). Better yet, replace the entire lamp (and maybe even the table) with a taller, brighter one. The extra light will create a more open atmosphere, giving you and your guests a more comfortable feeling.

While you stand there in your living room wringing your hands, trying to decide how to make it more attractive and more comfortable for the holidays, you may come to the inevitable conclusion that what you've got simply isn't going to work; you need new stuff. Time to move out the old loveseat and maybe go with a more traditional sofa and two chairs arrangement. Get a smaller center table, for a more open appearance (especially when entertaining). Or maybe, just maybe, you need one of those new hotshot power recliners with a USB plugin, so you can keep your iPad charged while you languish in front of the new TV.

You can handle it two ways, if buy you must. The important thing here is to buy your new furniture first, and either pick it or have it delivered and stored in the garage (or wherever) awaiting the party. Then spring it on your guests after they arrive. As an emollient, if you're getting rid of some things, tell your helpful guests they can have anything they want of the items you're tired of. Some of them may be needing that old sofa for their kids, or a beach house. You never know. Have them take it away.

One important item you might consider is a sofa bed. They come in three sizes: twin, full, and queen, and the mattresses in them are MUCH more comfortable than those old ones that used to give you an ache right between your shoulder blades. There's also so much variety you're sure to be able to find one that will fit right into your decor.

Of course, if you're lucky you may not need all these tips. All you have to do is dust and vacuum. Then again, maybe not. Getting ready for the holidays can be a lot less expensive and a lot more fun than you might think. So get ready, and have fun!