When Debbie does this, she looks for ornaments that reflect her guests' past. "I used a ballet slipper for an aunt and asked her to share stories of when she was a young girl and a member of a ballet troupe ... and how she got too tall for ballet and had to quit!" There were different age groups at Debbie's Christmas table but "it was a great story and the kids loved it," she says. (Let your guests take their name plates home as a token of your affection—less stuff for you to pack up at the end of the season and dump on the living room floor next year.)
Focus out front
"Use small, 3-foot, artificial trees to make a welcoming pathway," says Debbie. Besides the fact that artificial trees are looking more life-like every year, they're an inexpensive way to enhance your space. "But you've got to keep it symmetrical and simple," says Debbie, "don't over-do it." Debbie recommends no more than three to six trees. Most trees can be staked directly in the ground, but you could also choose identical pots to house them. A string of lights is the only accessory they need—and if you don't have an outlet outside, all-weather battery-operated strings are the answer.
Dress up the staircase
“Christmas cards are a real tradition in England, much more than they are here," says Debbie, "so I use them to decorate the banister." For a traditional look, wrap your banister in garlands and strings of lighted ribbon; for a more modern touch, use strands in a colour that matches the rest of your home, or even something in white. Debbie likes to pin her cards to the garland, but you can also hang them over the strands and watch your collection fill in over the season.
Decorate the guest room
“If you don't add a little something to each room, they look a little sparse," says Debbie. Consider decorating a small tree in this room if there's enough space. A floor-to-ceiling version isn't necessary; even a potted mini on a dresser will work. "Hang a small wreath on the inside of the door and wrap pillows in ribbon so they look like gifts or thread one beautiful ornament through them," says Debbie. They're treatments you can easily get done in a weekend and that will make a difference for your guests.