‘Tis the season to be… Irritated because your unreliable aunt just now RSVP’d to your holiday party and now you have to plan for four more guests? Stressed because you’re wondering how to entertain a bunch of little kids and not-so-little kids? Overwhelmed because you still haven’t decorated, wrapped, or had a minute to sip a mug of cocoa (or mulled wine!) in peace?  

No, jolly. Let’s go with ‘tis the season to be jolly instead. It’s much more fun – and it doesn’t have to be as challenging as you think. Really. 

Holiday Entertaining Made Easy (Or Easier!) 

You’ve built your dream home with your lifestyle in mind, and entertaining is a priority. Here are some ways to maximize your space to ensure you and your guests are comfortable during extended stays. 

 1. Make the Most of Your Floor Plan

When it comes to entertaining, it is difficult to beat an open floor plan. It not only makes your house feel even larger and more spacious, it enhances traffic flow, creates multipurpose spaces, and allows you to mingle with guests while working. For example, you can prep or cook while chatting with friends and family at the expansive island. Others can sit in the living room’s conversational areas and/or watch the game. Whatever your typical tradition, an open floor plan gives you the space to do it. 

Another element tailor-made for entertaining is an outdoor kitchen/dining area. With excellent and efficient heating options, you can ensure everyone is cozy, comfy – and not trying to snatch a piece of the turkey while it’s resting! This gives people yet more space to socialize, relax, and even just sit quietly for a moment or two. 

Two challenges come to mind, though: 

  • What about the mess? Preparing a feast takes a lot of work, and it can be a messy creation. If you have an open plan, guests will get a front row seat to the process. If you’d prefer to keep this out of sight, opting for an expanded pantry or prep kitchen may be just the solution. If your is designed with this space, you can use it to cut, dice, slice, mix, and assemble out of sight. 
  • Where do you escape? A recent trend (thanks, COVID) is integrating smaller, private spaces even within open floor plans. This way, you can “escape” from the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and festivities for a little quiet time. Whether it’s your spa-worthy master bath, your home office, or your sunroom, you can get a moment for yourself. 

Let your floor plan help make you the host with the most. 

2. Consider Overnight Guest Options

When you design with entertaining in mind, chances are you have a guest bedroom or two. You can also easily maximize your home for extended stays and/or more guests. For example, fun bunk beds in children’s rooms double capacity, and a loft can become the site of memorable sleepovers. In a loft, you can position beds – or you can use air mattresses, camping pads, sleeping bags, etc., for a temporary solution and reclaim your space when guests leave. This is perfect for children/tweens/teens. 

3. Think About Privacy

We mentioned privacy earlier; both you and your guests need some time and space of their own. Even if they are sharing guest rooms or loft spaces, multiple bathrooms are a must for comfort and convenience. Dedicated guest bathrooms allow you and your household members to go about your daily routines in your own baths while your friends and family members can feel more at home by having “their” space. 

It is also helpful to ensure guests know that your owner’s suite (and any bedrooms not being shared) are off-limits. In other words: Make yourself at home – but not in these rooms! 

4. Go Simple

If the clock is ticking and you need to decorate, give yourself a break. A simple display can be just as festive and beautiful as a home in which the halls are fully decked. Whether you opt to stay with a tree, wreath, and some greenery decorated with a few lights and ornaments, set up your family’s nativity scene or menorah on the mantle, or let the kids make gingerbread houses and crafts,you cannot go wrong. Lights, candles (flameless for families with small children/pets), cozy blankets and pillows… It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 

5. Prep, Delegate, Do Self-Service Whenever Possible, and Forget the Flaws, 

We’ve packed a few invaluable holiday entertaining tips into this last point. The quick and dirty: 

  • Prep everything you can beforehand. If you can peel carrots and potatoes, make some crockpot mac ‘n cheese, or prepare sides you can reheat before the big feast, do it. If you take an extra step now, it’ll be sure to save you 10 tomorrow! 
  • Delegate. If Aunt Linda insists on talking your ear off, she can also mash squash and potatoes. If Dad is concerned about cleanup, he can grab a sponge and do some dishes. If the kids are bugging you about dinner, you can tell them it’ll be quicker if they set the table/put napkins out, refresh the appetizer tray, etc. 
  • DIY Holiday. Whenever possible, create self-service opportunities. This could mean setting the food on the island and having people dish up their meals buffet-style. It could mean creating a hot cocoa bar, make-your-own dessert or cocktail station, or an appetizer table. It could also mean saving yourself some work and stress! 
  • Forget the “Flaws.” You may worry that you didn’t string enough lights, hang enough garland, or plump the pillows as perfectly as Martha Stewart. Rest assured: no one else is worrying about this. They see your beautiful home and the effort you are putting into making the holidays bright. More importantly, they feel how welcoming your space is. 

Come Home for the Holidays 

If you love entertaining – around the holidays or any time of year – make sure your home’s design makes hosting that much easier. Our expert team has endless ideas for those who love to surround themselves with family, friends, and neighbors. Let’s talk. Connect with G&G Custom Homes.