Janette Ewen, longtime decor expert and hostess extraordinaire, shares her favourite tips to make this holiday season easy, stress-free and fun.

Janette Ewen has been on the design and entertaining scene for, “I hate to admit this—about 15 years now!” she says. Most recently she completed a rooftop renovation for the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, and launched a new decor line with Mobilia furniture. She has also hosted entertaining segments on shows across Canada. “I really love to do great entertaining, but always affordable, always fun and always stress-free.” Here are some of her top tips to make this holiday hosting season great:73523731.) Delegate cleaning tasksEwen suggests doing a thorough house cleaning before the holidays start. Then, when you’re hosting, assign a task to each family member. “Have one person in charge of bathrooms, one in charge of garbages, and one in charge of dishes,” she says. If everyone takes care of something small, you don’t have to worry about everything at once.2.) Dimmers are your best friendKeeping the lights down not only gives an elevated atmosphere to the room, but also hides the mess. “If the lights are dim, people aren’t going to see how imperfect or dusty it is,” Ewen says. Adding a few scented candles adds to the elegance and further distracts your guests from anything that might be out of place.16013954 - christmas time, candles3.) Toss out some easy last-minute appetizersAlways keep your fridge and cupboard stocked with easy-to-make food bites. One of Ewen’s favourite appetizers is Tostitos chips with a dollop of jam and a small slice of brie. “To make a platter of these takes two to three minutes and they taste amazing,” she says. “They’re so good, and it’s so, so simple.” If all else fails, a simple charcuterie board is the way to go—add some honey and candied nuts to elevate it to gourmet.various cheeses and grapes4.) Planning ahead changes everythingWhen it comes to hosting, your guests don’t want to watch you preparing food or cleaning all night when they should be enjoying your company. Pre-make a delicious signature cocktail for the party and have guests serve themselves, and empty the dishwasher ahead of time so that the dishes the can go right in. You can also switch to disposable dishware (“The Cross has some really high-end, fun paper plates and cups!” Ewen says), which eliminates clean-up.Fall and winter sangria with apples, oranges, pomegranate and cinnamon5.) Be a host or hostess who expects to have a good time“Memories are meant to be made during the holidays, and they’re not going to be if you’re stressing out,” Ewen says. When it comes down to it, the kitchen will get cleaned eventually and your guests won’t really mind if the decorations are less than perfect. The holidays are for spending time with friends and family, so host with that goal in mind. 

For more expert advice and entertaining tips all year ’round, subscribe to the Western Living newsletter!