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For those of us who love entertaining, the holidays can be an especially joyful, yet busy time! As you make your guest lists, set up for parties, and work out the details of your events, you may identify changes you want to make to your home.
Cleaning and arranging to host people can help you see flaws in your home a little more clearly than other times of year. Don’t worry – this just means you have the opportunity to make improvements and changes in the year ahead.
Having a home that supports your activities – allowing you to have enough space, a place to put things, and a wonderful atmosphere – makes all the difference in hosting an event which you can enjoy along with your family, friends, and guests. In the guide below, we offer some great home features for entertaining. Not only may these features improve your next event, but they will also increase the value of your home.
Over the past decade, an increasingly popular home trend has been an “open floor plan.” Essentially, this means an open space in the heart of your home, which allows for easy communication and flow between the kitchen, dining, and living areas.
Homes of the past tended to be more compartmented, keeping the kitchen tucked away and out of sight. Living rooms, dining rooms, and dens each had prescribed, appropriate uses.Today, many homeowners opt for a more flexible layout, which can serve a variety of uses efficiently and encourages easy communication and movement.
This open space gives plenty of room for guests to mingle, while not feeling closed off from any part of the party. Also, throughout the rest of the year, open floor plans are valued by parents who need eyes on their children while in the kitchen, or for multi-taskers who like to cook while still being near the family in the living area.
No matter the size of the kitchen or the number of people who are there, one thing remains true: the kitchen is the hub of the party, and people gravitate towards it. Even if your kitchen is on the smaller side, you know that people tend to enter the kitchen and it fills up quickly. In some cases, the congestion is distracting and frustrating to those preparing the food.
An open floor plan, combined with a kitchen island, can help solve these issues. Having a unifying space like an island designates where people should go. The island also allows guests to put down their cups and plates, making for a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.
While you may not notice this feature on a daily basis, a bathroom becomes noticeably important when entertaining! Easily accessible bathrooms near the common areas of your home accommodate both family and guests.
Instead of having guests enter a bathroom with a bathtub and/or shower, plus all of your intimate belongings, a half bathroom has the feeling that it is especially intended “for” guests’ use. A half bathroom gives an added touch of hospitality and elegance, instead of sending guests into your personal bathroom area.
You may enhance your guests’ experience by adding nice soaps, hand towels, a candle, and some fresh flowers.
Often, having only one living area keeps the entire party feeling restricted. Instead, having more than one living area allows guests to mingle in different areas throughout your home. Some guests may prefer to be in the center of all the action, while others may prefer a quieter area to catch up with friends. Having more than one space to entertain creates an atmosphere of easy interaction with a variety of choices.
Or, if you have an event that requires having televisions, such as a sporting event or other entertainment, turn on TVs in multiple rooms. This encourages guests to find a comfortable spot to watch, without overcrowding one room. You may also provide rooms with and without audio-visual entertainment so as to accommodate a wider variety of interests and preferences.
Also, more than one living area is beneficial if children are present. A special room for them, either upstairs, in a finished basement, or in another area of the home, allows the children to have fun and let loose without dominating and disrupting the adult activities.
During the holidays, an outdoor living space may not come to mind; however, it can be an important feature when done well.
If you have a sunroom or screened-in porch, extend the use of this spacel by adding space heaters or other sources of warmth when it is cold, plus nice holiday decor. If you have an open patio area, you can string up some lights and even add a small fire pit for guests to warm themselves.
Another festive addition is offering s’mores ingredients by the firepit, or adding a hot chocolate or hot cider bar to your outdoor space, allowing guests to stay warm and cozy. Keep a stash of wraps or blankets by the door if guests choose to bundle up and go outside.
Since many homeowners want to avoid the pollution of cigarettes and cigars, an outdoor space may also provide a place for those who feel the need to smoke.
Having some added space specifically for food and drinks keeps the flow of your party moving well, while making it easy for guests to find what they need.
For instance, use a dining room table to have a full buffet spread of food. Sprinkle small food items like mixed nuts or cookies throughout the home, so guests can pick up little bites as needed. But keep the larger food items in one place to avoid confusion.
A designated spot for drinks, such as a wet bar area or even free-standing coolers or ice buckets, keeps it easy for guests to help themselves. Provide glasses, cups, napkins, ice, water, and an array of beverages in a common space. Similar to adding small food items through the home, you can also add beverage stands for water or areas with water bottles to keep guests hydrated.
Above all, keep things merry and bright! Add festive touches with signature cocktails, sweet holiday treats, and fun goodie bags for guests to take with them on their way home.
Having enough space for parking can be important for large-scale parties. If you are serving alcohol, it is important to tell guests to use ride sharing services, such as Uber or Lyft, for safety. Plus, these services reduce the need for parking space.
However, if you are expecting a large number of guests to drive themselves, it is important to be aware of parking and how it can affect traffic and possibly your neighbors’ activities.
Often, driveways that are large and wide, or with a circular drive in the front of the house, can accommodate more cars and keep things moving well. Another idea, if you have a large party, is to consider hiring a valet service to have cars parked in a more remote, but safe location.
As always, storage is a wise home investment. Having added storage space for belongings can help during parties, allowing extra, bulky furniture to be moved out and make room for added chairs, high top tables, or open space.
Extra storage also helps throughout the year to store holiday decor. Dedicated space for decor, Christmas trees, lights, ornaments, or other holiday dishes and glassware can all find a home in the added storage space in your home.
One of the most important things about the holiday season is the time we spend with those we love. Making rich, enduring memories in our homes is a primary reason we open our doors to others and celebrate!
Although your home may seem imperfect at this time of year, remember it is your guests’ enjoyment and comfort that is important! Enjoy spending time with your friends and family, and think of ways that home improvements such as these could benefit your time together in the future. It is great to have a ‘to do’ list for future improvements, but, for now, just enjoy being with one another.
As your Memphis area real estate agents, we encourage you to love the home you are in and make warm memories. We hope that this season brings you personal peace, cheer, happiness, and readiness for another new year ahead. Happy Holidays!