Health & Wellness

How to Set a Festive Atmosphere

When it comes to hosting a festive meal, the scene you set is as important as the food you serve.
Published November 27, 2017

One way to guarantee a top-notch holiday dinner party is to dish up a gourmet feast. But good food, experts agree, provides only a fraction of the fun quotient. Ambience plays an equal or even greater role. Here, three quick and simple ways to create the perfect atmosphere for this year’s celebration.


Gather good friends

A holiday dinner is a great time to introduce old pals to potential new ones, but don’t overlook the joy of sticking to guests who know and like one another. A recent Danish study found that breaking bread with people you’re close to can increase overall meal satisfaction.

RELATED: The Connection Between Friends and Weight


Play slow jams

Up-tempo tunes can help you run faster. But they may also prompt you to eat faster, according to Oxford University’s Charles Spence, PhD, author of Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating. Mellower background music encourages your guests to relax and savor your home cooking.

RELATED: How Music Affects How You Enjoy Food


Lower the wattage

Proper lighting is like an in-home Instagram filter: It can cast a softening glow over a meal. (That’s one reason lighting is so important to restaurant design.) Dimming the lights—but preserving a warm quality—may automatically make your home feel like a four-star restaurant, according to researchers at the University of New Orleans.

Bonus: Turning down the music and lights may curb overindulgence. Subjects in a Cornell University study who ate in those conditions consumed 18 percent fewer calories than those in loud, bright settings.