The festive season was drab for most of us in 2020. Christmas 2021 promises to be full of festivities and entertainment. But how can you prevent a holiday faux pas? 

If your plans involve hanging garlands from the ceiling, placing a high-end real fir tree in the corner of the room, and kitting out your home with white fairy lights, you might run the risk of looking rather December 2019.

According to an expert party planner, the chic modern host will opt for a fake tree, or even better a wooden one, ‘floorscape’ their room rather than decking the halls and ditch passé and ‘clinical’ white lights for colourful bulbs. 

Habitat and Johnny Roxburgh (London-based ‘Party Architect to Royalty’), have teamed up to share their expert host advice to make sure your Christmas festivities are a success. 

And were better to turn for advice than the holder of a Royal Warrant who has planned events Buckingham Palace, Holyrood, Highgrove and Windsor, including the Queen’s annual Christmas staff party and Prince William’s 21st birthday.   

Johnny said, “Christmas was my favourite season to host.” The celebrations have returned this year. The excitement and joy are already palpable. With over 40 years experience hosting parties, there are a few tips and tricks I can share.

A simple, elegant wooden Christmas tree will look marvellous and is great for young families who want to avoid clutter

For young families that want to stay clear of clutter, a wooden Christmas tree is a beautiful choice. It’s simple yet elegant and will make dazzling decorations.

DO NOT: You can try a fake Christmas tree  

I used to gasp when I thought about a fake tree. But, I’ve seen my clients love them more in the past two years. 

I was surprised to see that Parisians have adopted this trend. Avoid complicated hoovering maneuvers to get guests in, as artificial trees won’t create any mess or drop needles and can be reused again and again.

One celebrity party that I was a part of used a fake silver tree. It shimmered beautifully and sparkled in the sunlight. It works great in small spaces. A normal tree could be too big, but a faux silver tree will make the space sparkle and fill it with light.

Another option is a wooden, simple Christmas tree that looks great and will not clutter the home. Use fine wire lights to decorate the tree. You can easily incorporate Scandinavian style into your home with this simple trick.

DON’T: Use real candles 

This is not about extravagant candelabras or crystal chandeliers. It’s easy to transform your Christmas decor with low lighting. It’s amazing how many confetti-covered candles and ‘napkins by fire’ situations can be found at dinner parties. 

Reusable LED candles are a safer and more practical alternative to real candles. You can see the magic of them flickering on your dining table. 

They are an excellent addition to any house and far cheaper than candles. The Royal Household is known for being very careful with Christmas spending. The LED lights placed outside the front doors create a glowing glow which will amaze guests when they arrive.

Habitat has joined forces with London-based 'Party Architect' to royalty, Johnny Roxburgh, to reveal his expert hosting advice for the season ahead, to ensure your Christmas celebrations are the height of good taste

Habitat is collaborating with Johnny Roxburgh, a London-based Party Architect’ to royalty, to provide his hosting tips for this season. This will ensure that your Christmas celebrations reflect good taste.

DON’T: Do not hang tinsel above the rafters 

The floor is our Christmas decoration. Floorscaping is becoming a popular trend. It is the perfect finishing touch to Christmas decorations and will impress your guests. 

Use the floor space to weave garlands among Christmas presents. Add fake snow at the corners and bottoms of the table legs. 

Toy trains can also be used to travel through the table or through presents. They are both inexpensive and adorable. This creates the magic of Christmas morning.

DON’T: Don’t sit couples together  

The best host always has a set seating arrangement. Why spouses, partners and husbands insist that they sit next to one another at the dining table is beyond me. Every day we see each other! There is no time like Christmas to mingle, so it’s a good idea for couples to sit apart.

You can have a long and narrow table so there is no need to shout at each other, you can speak to your opposite person (good if you aren’t thrilled with the one sitting next to you). 

Many of my celeb clients love the u-shaped tables. It can be easily replicated at home using three tables around the house. This makes clearing plates easy and eliminates awkward shuffles behind guests. This table also makes it possible to host after-dinner parties.

You can add extra chairs to accommodate extra guests. The more, the better! 

DO: Be aware of glassware 

Google Trends shows that at-home cocktail searches are increasing by 300% during the holiday season. It’s a mistake that I made at home, having planned more than 9,000 events for high-profile clients. 

It means that you can have long, alcoholic drinks with a high ball or martini glasses to enjoy martinis. A Christmas breakfast martini is made using gin and Cointreau with lemon juice, thick cut marmalade, and lemon juice. 

Only exception is the serving of bubbles in retro-chic champagne coupes. (English sparkling wine will be preferred this year to champagne or prosecco).

A host who wows guests will serve them drinks straight from the trolley. You can save space, they are affordable, and you add some glamour to your event. 

And it’s not just drinks…get creative with your glassware. Desserts should be served in tumblers and not bowls. The glass is a great way to view the layers of desserts like tiramisu and boozy trifle.

DO NOT: Use colored lights  

While most people avoid brightly coloured lighting, it is possible to look a little tired or clinical if there are too many. A fantastic Russian Christmas party was created for my client by me at Whitehall Banqueting House. The bright colors looked amazing and the guests enjoyed it. It also made a nice change to neutrals and earthy tones.

These lights are an easy way to bring a festive touch to any setting. They also make your outside feel more vintage-style Christmas. Two years ago, I decorated my enormous olive tree with bright multi-colored lights. It was so happy, I think people were able to smile at it on the darkest days of last winter. It will do the same for me this year.

Too much harsh white light can end up looking a bit clinical and tired, whereas coloured bulbs will add warmth to your decor scheme (stock image)

A lot of white light can make your home look sterile and tired. However, using coloured bulbs to add warmth will bring life back into your décor (stock photo)


Don’t forget to place all your food on the tables. It becomes a Tetris game trying to fit the turkey in between the decorations. The buffet station is what it’s all about. You can use your kitchen’s work space or sideboard to place place mats. These will mark the location of serving bowls. Then, you can weave thin wire lights around them.

While the idea of the main table seems like an ideal place for food presentation, once everyone is done eating they will be left with half the turkey, gravy everywhere, and an apocalyptic scene. This is not chic.

A separate surface ensures that your festively decorated table stays intact. It also means that no one has to rush to clean up the tables or wash the plates.

Don't put all the food on the table! Things will quickly get messy, so think about setting up a buffet station instead (stock image)

Do not put everything on the plate! You will soon get things messy so consider setting up a buffet (stock photo)

DON’T: Don’t put the tree in a corner 

Do not be scared of the wild, don’t forget your dried flowers bouquets. It is all about decorating your tables with tabletop trees this year. Habitat experienced a +50% growth in the number of tabletop Christmas tree searches last year. 

This is a conversation starter and unexpected centerpiece. Half parasol Christmas trees can be placed in the center of your dining table. The dramatic effect creates the illusion of a larger space and allows guests to easily see each other. Habitat offers a fantastic version which I plan to cover in white lights this holiday season.

For a celebrity client one year, I put tall pine trees through the table – elevated on frosted poles. To make it more interesting, we used battery-operated Swiss cable cars that were purchased at toy shops and strung them high above guests’ heads. They moved between trees. In the middle of fake snow, I created a scene featuring skiers and skaters. The whole scene looked amazing.

Mini Christmas trees are also possible if your space is limited. To create different heights, use a cake stand to support one tree. This will add some drama and visual interest to your table. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to table decoration. Individual snow globes with each guest’s names placed in front of their place. It keeps everyone busy and it looks elegant when all the guests are gathered around the table. The space can be decorated with your imagination. For a rustic alpine feel, drape dining chairs with faux fur shaggy rug to create a cozy atmosphere.

DO: Paint your door  

The trend of door makeovers is hot. There are over 265,000 #frontdoordecor posts on Instagram. 

A dazzling royal is my favorite color. This trend is taking over Instagram, with moody blue cocktails and cobalt nail designs popping up all around. To make your home festive and fashionable, paint the door blue and pair it with gold decorations (wreaths or baubles).

You can be creative when creating wreaths that will impress your guests before you even step foot in the room. Faux wreaths are a great way to greet guests with warmth and welcome without having to maintain or spend money on a traditional one. You can decorate it with mini baubles or lights, and red velvet ribbon. Then hang it at the top using drawing pins. Elegance and elegance without compromise.