How to prepare an entryway for Christmas guests – 6 steps to a seasonal welcome

These 6 steps to prepare an entryway will make any Christmas guest feel at home

An entryway decorated for Christmas with ceramic trees on a side board, and a wreath hanging on the open door
(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Your entryway is the first thing a guest sees, so it is important to get it right – especially during the holidays when an almost constant flow of guests goes through your home.

Preparing an entryway for Christmas guests may seem unnecessary at first, but giving guests space to drop bags and coats, gifts, and sit down to remove and put on shoes is a great way to make them feel welcome in your space – no matter if it’s popping in for a quick cup of coffee, or coming to spend the night. 

These are the six things professional designers do to prepare an entryway for Christmas guests, and why even the smallest detail matters. 

How to prepare an entryway for Christmas guests

When making an entryway inviting, every detail counts – from your entryway storage to your Christmas hallway decorations

Start by cleaning your entryway and decluttering storage to give you a good foundation to decorate with and make a good first impression. Then you can work on your Christmas decor.  

Scandi style Christmas entryway with foliage garland with ochre and white paper decorations, wreath on door, bench with tray, candle, paper decoration and gifts on the floor

(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

1. Don’t clutter the floor

You want to make an entryway look cozy, but you don't want it to be cluttered to the point where you can't move, reminds Nicole Saunders, interior designer and founder of The Design Build Vault.

‘Go for a bold but simple color palette and add some holiday accents like seasonal wreaths, lights, or a small Christmas tree. But don't overdo it,’ she urges. ‘Keep the space functional by leaving enough room for guests to leave their shoes and coats.’

2. Make an impact with festive decor

Your entryway is both the first and last impression guests have of your home, so the decor you use is essential to setting the tone for your festivities, says luxury florist Ronny Colbie.

He recommends using Christmas foliage to make a lasting impression, hanging either large statement Christmas wreaths or Christmas garlands, to your door or Christmas stair decor. ‘Christmas decorating for me to create impact is all about abundance. Don’t have too many mixes of florals, it’s best to keep to a few different pines, berries, and flowers, but plenty of them,’ Ronnie suggests. 

‘Using locally sourced foliage and decoration will always create a refined look. Ilex berries are a great way to add drama to any archway, wreath, or garland, in abundance they will be admired by anyone in sight this Christmas.’ 

Ronnie Colbie
Ronny Colbie

Canadian-born Ronny started his floristry career working his way up as an events florist for a leading design studio in Downtown Toronto at the age of 17. After making the big move across the pond in 2012, Ronny worked as the lead floral designer for the Soho House Group, creating stunning floral displays for the hotel, as well as wedding and event flowers at Babington House in Somerset and Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire.

3. Layer lighting for a welcoming glow

Entryway lighting is important no matter the time of year to help your family and guests see what they are doing when getting ready to come in or leave, but it is especially important at Christmas when soft lighting and candles can set the perfect cozy tone for your home. Nicole Saunders, interior designer, suggests layering a few different types of lights, such as functional lamps with Christmas lights, to help nail the effect.

LED Taper Candles | View at Amazon

LED Taper Candles | View at Amazon
These LED taper candles are perfect for creating a soft glow without the fire risk, ideal for high-traffic spots like the entryway.

4. Set the scene with music and fragrance

Making a home smell good for Christmas is a great way to give your home a welcoming feel during the festive season – and is sure to have your guests wanting to come back year after year.

Interior designer and founder of studio Arsight, Artem Kropovinsky, suggests fragrance layering with festive scents through simmer pots for fall and winter, freshly baked goods, and the best candles to help greet guests with a pleasant aroma and stop bad cooking smells from dinner.

It also helps to add some festive music to the equation too, he adds. Having some soft holiday music or a radio playing in the entry will instantly set the scene for an enjoyable night in.

NEST New York Holiday Candle | View at Saks Fifth Avenue

NEST New York Holiday Candle | View at Saks Fifth Avenue
The aroma of a sparkling holiday season is created by blending pomegranate, mandarin orange, pine, cloves, and cinnamon with a hint of vanilla and amber.

Artem Kropovinsky headshot
Artem Kropovinsky

Based in New York, Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, has a decade of extensive and considerable global design experience. Prioritizing minimalism, sustainability, and authenticity, Artem, alongside his team of professionals, works on projects in the US and worldwide.

5. Pick out storage furniture to make space

It is not just festive additions you need to make for a functional entryway for Christmas guests. A little more boringly (but arguably more essentially) you also need to ensure you have plenty of entryway furniture to help keep guests' bags and belongings out of the way – especially if they are staying more than one night. 

Arpit Jain, interior designer at McLine Studios, recommends adding bench seating to help keep your guests comfortable while keeping your entryway organized.  

arpit jain at McLine studios
Arpit Jain

Arpit Jain is an experienced interior designer. In his four years at McLine Studios, he has honed his skills in crafting functional and visually appealing spaces that cater to his client's individual needs. He is passionate about pushing the boundaries of interior design by incorporating the latest trends and technologies while maintaining a timeless aesthetic.

6. Create obvious space for hanging coats and storing shoes

You don't have to do all the hard work over the festive period – avoid a common entryway storage mistake by keeping guest storage out of closets and make some obvious drop zones for guests to leave gift bags, coats, and wet shoes. This will help them keep your home neat without you running after them, suggests Kim Corey, professional home organizer and founder of Finely Sorted Organizing.

‘Let's make it easy and fast to enter and exit by skipping the hangers and closet work. Enabling the guests to do the hanging of their frocks is best.

‘Be sure you have places for them to set their snowy wet boots and have slippers they can use as well to avoid the travesty of wet and muddy boots on clean floors and carpets – and entryway mat goes a long way to help with this too,’ she adds.

3-in-1 Entryway Coat Rack | View at Amazon

3-in-1 Entryway Coat Rack | View at Amazon
This simple entryway coat rack is perfect for hanging coats, stowing away shows, and sitting to get ready to enter and leave your home, as well as drop bags. 

Kimberly Corey
Kimberly Corey

Starting in 2000, Finely Sorted Organizing, LLC has been helping people declutter, downsize, rightsize, rearrange the basement, clean out a family home, with closet makeovers, garage resets, kitchen retooling, office optimizations, mudroom triages, file cabinet overhauls help to ease anxiety and feelings of frozen immobility caused by lack of systemization in a world filled with curve balls


How do I prepare my home for holiday guests?

When preparing to welcome holiday guests into your home, it is a good idea to start with decluttering and cleaning to make room for guests to move and put belongings down when they arrive, while also making your home smell good by removing dust. If guests are staying overnight, make space in storage units for them to keep their clothes and toiletries to help them feel at home.

How do you relax when you have house guests?

When you have house guests, it is easy to feel on edge about whether they feel comfortable. To help make the experience more restful, ensure your guest rooms have all the things they need before your guests arrive, such as extra linens and toiletries, the Wifi password, and places to plug in their devices. You can also inform them of any house rules to ensure your home stays neat and clean.

Once you have prepared your entryway for Christmas guests, it is time to turn to the other important gathering spots, such as getting a kitchen ready for hosting and preparing a guest room for Christmas to create a home that is guest-ready for the holiday season

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.