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Hosting the holidays in style

Hosting the holidays in style

Lifestyle blogger Monika Hibbs and her cousin, interior designer Stephanie Giesbrecht, have teamed up with HomeSense to plan a big family affair. By honouring time-old traditions and introducing thoughtful personal touches this Christmas, it is sure to be stylishly merry.

“My aunt and uncle always hosted Christmas dinner,” says Giesbrecht. “But when they recently downsized we knew we’d need to find a new venue.”

“Monika and I jumped at the chance to carry on the tradition, in our own way. We decided Monika’s home in Langley would be the perfect venue.” “My traditional dining room was too small to accommodate one long table. So we decided to set-up the festivities in an untraditional space,” explained Hibbs. “A basement might be considered an unconventional choice, but it’s the perfect size to host our large family.” For extra seating benches are the best option. Draped with sheepskin rugs from HomeSense, benches serve as a cozy seating solution, the cousins say.

Here are more of their festive tips.

For our table setting, we mixed patterns and finishes. The black and white tartan tableware pairs beautifully with metallic flatware. While decorating the table we wanted to be conscious of space and sight lines. We opted for a long cedar garland and personalized it with ornaments. I especially love the metallic monogram ornaments as table decor and to offer to guests as party favours.

With such a large family, we love adding personalized touches to make everyone feel welcome. For our table, we’ve added individual place cards with calligraphy. If you can’t find place cards, purchase boxed cards or gift tags.

There’s such a wide selection to choose from and plenty of room to inscribe a special message for your guests.

If possible, set the table a few days in advance. This saves you from scrambling, allowing extra time for finishing touches and food prep. Assign seating that encourages conversation. Prep place cards several days ahead, giving yourself time to be intentional about the seating arrangement.

Nothing says festive affair like a signature drink. Try something seasonal like fresh apple cider with cinnamon and cloves. Serve in special drinkware like a glass mug or a copper Moscow mule. Available in various metallic finishes from HomeSense, mules keep drinks both hot and cold and add sparkle and shine to your tablescape.

To keep your family busy before the first course is served, let a bar cart act as host. Set as a cocktail bar, or station cold canapes on trays for easy nibbling. After dinner, roll out tea service and cookies on a cake stand.


Prepare a signature mocktail ahead of time so the whole family can enjoy. Offer spirits on the side for those who want to partake. Don’t skip dessert. For beautiful foolproof sugar cookies, invest in cookie stamps to add festive flair and ensure consistent shapes and sizes.


Our holiday decorating taste is classic, light and white. Details like carved wood tree figurines and pre-lit birch trees add a natural element. We chose to group trees in varying heights grounded with a faux fur rug to create a photo-ready winter wonderland scene for the little ones. Wreaths are also an easy decor fix. Mix and match and hang multiple styles on your wall.

I wrap gifts well ahead of Christmas. Not necessarily to save time, but because I enjoy beautifully wrapped gift as decor, says Hibbs. HomeSense has a wide variety of wrap, ribbon and bows for all tastes. My preference is craft paper and luxurious velvet ribbon. I like adding natural touches like sprigs of rosemary or thyme, but the most important part of a present is a hand-written gift tag.

For more entertaining and decorating ideas go to,, and