Accent items such as glittered trees, taper candles and colorful linens elevate a holiday tablescape. Photo courtesy of C&F Enterprises.

Gift Shop Plus Summer 2024
Merrymaking: The essentials for holiday entertaining, dining and decorating By Carly McFadden

Presenting the must-have trends and products to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

From intimate gatherings to all-out reindeer games, holiday parties center around togetherness, gratitude and levity. Over-the-top parties are now the norm, and the approaches to these celebrations are as diverse as ever.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Cookie-baking parties are on the rise as families and friends look for lighthearted, nostalgic ways to celebrate, according to Tara Parker, owner of CWI Gifts. Cater to that trend by merchandising items such as festive aprons, tea towels and bakeware together.

“It’s a great way to get everyone involved in the kitchen and enjoy the holidays,” Parker said, sharing the best items to inspire such an event. “The group needs a matching shirt for the group photo. Baking-themed notepads are great for jotting down recipes or sharing ideas while in the kitchen. Cookie baking-themed wooden signs and sitters are great to display around the kitchen to put everyone in the Christmas spirit.”

According to Colleen Hall, vice president of marketing at C&F Enterprises, different generations celebrate the holidays in their own ways. She sees Generation X and baby boomers opting for gatherings bursting with festive games. Meanwhile, “ugly sweater” parties are trending downward across the board.

Millennials and the elder Generation Z crowd are hosting elevated cocktail soirées this holiday season with a laidback, non-stuffy twist.

“For millennials, I see a mix of casual and fancy dress at the same party and more of a come in whatever dress you prefer,” Hall said. “Those parties are still not sit-down, but mix and mingle with heavy hors d’oeuvres, music and cocktails.”

SETTING THE TABLE

 CWI Gifts is meeting the demand for holiday decorating and hosting with tabletop trees, festive sitters and even cookie- baking tees. Photo courtesy of CWI Gifts.
CWI Gifts is meeting the demand for holiday decorating and hosting with tabletop trees, festive sitters and even cookie-baking tees. Photo courtesy of CWI Gifts.

While many opt for less formal activities, the fundamentalist host and hostess still love dinner parties — and those are becoming more extravagant than ever, due in part to inspiration- laden social media accounts.

Lavish tablescapes — featuring holiday-themed décor, sparkling accents and jolly dinnerware — are key to these celebrations, according to CWI.

“Tabletop trees make a great starting point for your dining room table or island alongside your spread,” Parker said. “The addition of mini string lights to your trees will brighten up any entertaining space. Add seasonal elements like glittered reindeer, woodland creatures or birds to mingle with your munchies.”

C&F sees themed serveware, barware, table linens and ornaments donning holiday tables this year, creating a centerpiece for gatherings — and the more elaborate, the merrier.

“Layering is key. You can start with a basic staple placemat, then layer other mats, chargers, napkins and runners along with festive hard good decorations to create a more formal or more casual look depending on the situation,” Hall said. “Tabletops are easy to switch out throughout the season for different occasions. That staple layer to build upon is key. Additionally, I’d plan for trends that can work for not just Christmas, but also carry through New Year’s and winter in general. Snowflakes are a classic icon, but still trending and being interpreted in new ways.”

 These table linens combine traditional holiday colorways and sayings with on-trend, modern fonts. Photo courtesy of C&F Enterpri
These table linens combine traditional holiday colorways and sayings with on-trend, modern fonts. Photo courtesy of C&F Enterprises.

HOME DÉCOR TOUCHES

Rising holiday décor themes for 2024 are nostalgia/ vintage for the traditional consumer, as well as incorporating dark hues for a high-contrast look that modern, trendy decorators love. Carryover trends from 2023 include pastels, gingerbread and woodland.

“Woodland is hot. Think mushrooms, deer, birds, forest colors and creatures,” Parker said. “Or if you’re not into that look, go with a red and white theme like baking or gingerbread — either mini or oversized.”

CWI also sees more people accenting their outdoor planters with stakes, “for example, oversized snowflakes or candy canes for winter and jack-o’- lanterns and candy corn for fall,” Parker said.

Additionally, when hosting at home, Hall recommends decorating living areas to be both welcoming and festive for partygoers.

“Seasonal pillows and throws add a festive touch to sitting areas at parties,” she said.

Festive throws and pillows create a cozy, welcoming environment when hosting. Photo courtesy of C&F Enterprises.
Festive throws and pillows create a cozy, welcoming environment when hosting. Photo courtesy of C&F Enterprises.

MEETING THE DEMAND

As the holiday party landscape grows more diverse, wholesalers like C&F are designing their lines to be versatile, ideal for mixing and matching.

Col House Designs released several cookie baking-themed tees for the holidays. Photo courtesy of CWI Gifts.
Col House Designs released several cookie baking-themed tees for the holidays. Photo courtesy of CWI Gifts.

“In C&F Home and carol & frank, we carry table linens of many different styles and constructions. You can build your layers for the entire season with our offerings,” Hall said. “In our Gallerie II line, we carry those special artisan crafted décor items to finish the tablescape. We encourage the mixing and matching of our products from our different brands because they span all audiences and tastes and can all be written together for one combined order.”

C&F expects tea towels and table linens to be among its bestsellers in the holiday entertaining category — specifically plaid linens, felt table linens, quilted round placemats and reversible printed linens.

Meanwhile, CWI is promoting a large selection of tabletop décor such as wooden sitters, glittering trees and cookie-baking items. The company also distributes Col House Designs’ full line of T-shirts that include several cookie baking-themed options for adults and children.

CWI’s Parker predicts tabletop trees, string lights, “especially the teeny, mini ones,” battery-operated candles and wooden cutout sitters to do well this season.

EARLY START

Customers are celebrating the holiday season earlier than ever, and Hall urges retailers to be prepared.

“I’d recommend retailers be ready to transition to Christmas right after Halloween,” she said. “I’d keep a harvest selection for the purists, but newer shoppers are tending to jump right to Christmas decorating because they find joy in that season, and it makes them happy to get their décor out earlier to enjoy for longer.”

Festive sitters are predicted to do well this holiday season. Photo courtesy of CWI Gifts.
Festive sitters are predicted to do well this holiday season. Photo courtesy of CWI Gifts.

Featured photo: Accent items such as glittered trees, taper candles and colorful linens elevate a holiday tablescape. Photo courtesy of C&F Enterprises.

Carly McFadden

Carly McFadden is the editorial director of Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and Lawn & Garden Retailer.




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