1. Create groupings
By intentionally creating smaller conversation areas, you can ensure people will be able to hear each other talk. It creates a more intimate gathering, and makes it more comfortable for people to get up, walk around and join another group. Gather a few chairs together with a table in the middle, and utilize islands and bar stools. If able, add rugs to each grouping to visually ground each area.
2. Forget the television
Usually, the television is a main focal point of a living room, but not so with holiday gatherings. Feel free to completely ignore it when moving and adding furniture, and place chairs with their backs to the screen. The point of the holidays is to gather together to converse, not watch tv.
3. Slight changes make big differences
By shifting the angle of your couch just a bit, you can completely transform the look and feel of your room. Play around with the location of your sofa, since this is the staple piece of the living room, before adding in the rest of your groupings.
4. Leave space for movement
There should be plenty of space between your groupings for people to walk. 36 inches is the standard amount to leave, as that can accommodate two people moving simultaneously. Be aware of the space within each conversation cluster; don’t crowd so many chairs in that no one can move once seated.
5. Furniture swap
Change out your coffee table for an ottoman. This will give you more seating opportunities. Remove any furniture or décor items that are unnecessary, such as footrests or tall decorative vases. Make sure you keep a few side tables in the room, though, for setting down plates and cups.
6. Lighting updates
If you can, bring in more lamps to your living room, or add dimmer switches to your overhead lights. This will create a calmer ambiance. Consider changing out your light bulbs for higher or lower wattage, depending on what mood you want to create, or moving lamps to bring light to shadowy corners.
7. Move beyond the living room
Take a walk through your home. Are there unused spaces you could turn into mini lounge areas? Think especially of the entryway, where people will typically linger when arriving and leaving. An added bench or two chairs here can make a world of difference.
Most importantly, don’t stress too much about your furniture. Your guests are coming to enjoy the spirit of the season with you; they won’t mind where they are sitting as long as you are together.