“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” -Terri Marshall
People are craving connection now more than ever, and the upcoming holidays provide the perfect opportunity to gather and celebrate. From grandma’s famous pie to the perfect gravy, the kitchen often serves as the bustling center for creating new memories and carrying on family traditions.
As you prep your menu, figure out seating arrangements, and plan for after-dinner holiday activities, you don’t need perfection, but you do need a plan.
“Preparation means less stress, so you can fully enjoy family and friends,” says Christina Wilcocks, Director of Design for Normandy Homes. Her top tips for holiday entertaining include:
- Buy in advance or ask for help to spread out the expenses﹘food, decorations, and more.
- Designate spaces for guests’ bags and jackets to avoid clutter, and organize food stations to help with flow for filling plates.
- Utilize multiple areas of the home (inside and outside) for after-dinner fun.
Normandy Homes offers gorgeous details and practical features ideal for hosting, with large kitchen islands for prep work, buffet-style eating, and additional seating. Most floorplans boast a kitchen with an oversized island along with a gas cooktop, and optional features such as double ovens and an oversized built-in fridge and freezer that make these kitchens an entertainer’s dream! The kitchen design at Estates at Shaddock Park was recognized as a top kitchen by Houzz in 2019. Numerous floorplans, such as the Savant and Cottonwood, offer separate dining rooms as well.
Normandy’s quality kitchen finishes also help make holiday entertaining and large gatherings stress-free. For example, the Fresno model in Villas at Southgate showcases beautiful luxury vinyl plank flooring that mimics real wood, but removes the stress or high maintenance of spills or scratches. And quartz countertops, as showcased in the Magnolia at South Haven, provide easy clean up.
Whatever your home’s layout, consider these tips for making the kitchen the heart of your holiday gatherings.
Decorating well in advance can help relieve a lot of stress, as does buying non-perishable ingredients like spices or freezable items ahead of time. Plan the menu, assign dishes to guests if it’s a potluck, and decide seating areas. If you’re doing all of the cooking yourself, let go of the guilt and buy some delicious pies if you want to focus on the main dishes. Buy drinks in advance. Don’t be afraid to use paper products; sturdy, nice-looking options for serving and eating are available. Getting organized, keeping written lists, and anything that allows you to “fix it and forget it” will help make your festivities go more smoothly.
Besides the menu, mapping out seating and serving areas are top priorities for your holiday gatherings. Before guests enter the kitchen, however, Wilcocks advises to create a designated spot for jackets, shoes, and bags so the eating and entertainment spots aren’t instantly cluttered. You can assign a spare bedroom or flex room as the drop zone for everyone’s extra “stuff.”
With generous counter space, you can easily make room for multiple cooks in the kitchen. Setting up a beverage station﹘from wine selections to hot cider to a coffee bar ﹘makes it easy for guests to get refills. Many Normandy kitchens have a wine fridge option.
When it’s time for the big meal, but you don’t have a separate dining room, your eat-in nook and kitchen island offer ample seating options. Plus, the open concept floorplans mean you can bring in more tables and chairs for additional seating, helping you keep the kids’ table within view. With the mild Texas weather, you could also take the celebration outdoors and use a space heater or fire pit.
Ask for Help
It’s true that “many hands make light work.” If your family and friends offer to bring a dish or two, accept their generosity! If you love hosting and cooking, don’t be afraid to ask for help chopping, stirring, or setting the table. Agree beforehand with your family or co-hosts to divide prep and clean-up duties so the stress of the day doesn’t overwhelm you. Set up games to entertain the kids and keep them out of the kitchen until it’s time to eat.
Plan After-Dinner Fun
Whether it’s gathering around the TV in the living room for the big game or heading outside to burn off some holiday calories, after-dinner activities provide memory-making opportunities. If your large party needs separate areas after the meal, send the kids to the fenced-in backyard or game room while the adults catch up on the back patio or the media room. Or start some friendly competition for all ages in the form of yard games or board games. Gather in the evening to wind down with some leftovers and a holiday movie.
“Set the mood with a cozy fireplace,” added Wilcocks, noting that the South Haven electric fireplace offers the option for heat or no heat, perfect for the ever-changing Texas weather. At the end of the day, you’ll want to remember how your home served as a welcoming place of comfort, laughter, and tradition.
If you’re looking for a new home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, check out the Normandy Homes communities to find a floorplan perfect for your holiday gatherings and daily routines. You can find homes currently available or coming soon in Frisco, McKinney, Irving, and Flower Mound.