In deciding the ambiance I can think of no better holiday smells than that of a simmering pot of water with cinnamon sticks added in, or a crock pot or soup tureen filled with warm apple cider. Holiday glasses whose rims have been dipped in water or your favorite bourbon or brandy perhaps, and then dipped in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar to go along side the apple cider are simple ways to dress up your beverage area.
Perhaps you will simply decorate your buffet table with some Poinsettias and candles. I like the idea of a theme for your celebration - will you be serving hors' d'ouevres or a full buffet or perhaps a sit down dinner for a few special people in your life? Once you choose that you can decide what fits into your budget. I have come up with a theme and a menu for an intimate holiday dinner with a few friends.