As the old song goes, “there’s no place like home for the holidays.”
If you’re in the midst of a season full of entertaining friends and loved ones and just generally spending more time at home thanks to the weather and work/school breaks, you’re probably looking for a few good tips and tricks to make your living areas a little more merry and bright.
You’ve come to the right place! We have some fresh ideas for successful holiday entertaining and making your home even more welcoming to family and friends this season. From baking and cooking meals together in the familiar warmth of your kitchen to decorating and adding unexpected, beautiful touches to dinner tables and entertaining spaces, we hope to help you feel like there certainly is “no place like home.”
Create unforgettable meals and treats
Beyond the traditional ham, turkey and brisket, the holidays offer lots of opportunities to craft delicious, hearty meals for your family and friends. And the season also calls for baking cookies, of course!
Cook as a family
It’s true that with gift shopping, kids’ holiday school programs, and a full calendar of fun parties, you may feel pressed for time to cook. Instead of relying on the crockpot or pressure cooker every single day, take some time to slow down and prepare meals together with loved ones as a specific holiday activity.
Kids love to help in the kitchen, and you may even find that meal prep goes much more quickly with more pairs of hands involved. (And if “too many cooks” really does slow things down, focus on the fun you’re having instead!) Cooking as a family allows for many “teachable moments” that can help kids gain valuable kitchen experience and skills, and it also promotes bonding more generally.
Check out easy recipes from resources like Cooking with Kids and the USDA-sponsored Kids in the Kitchen for more on how to make cooking and meal preparation (as well as cleaning up) into a fun family activity!
Bake holiday cookies to give as gifts
Are cookies a big part of your holiday traditions? If not, they should be! Cookie exchanges, in which each guest brings a designated number of homemade cookies to trade with others, have been growing in popularity, and hosting one of these social events is a great way to share the cookie love (and sample friends’ delectable creations)!
But what cookies should you bring to the party? According to Better Homes & Gardens, variations on sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, and gingerbread make the all-time favorites list. Ask around in your family – someone probably has Grandma’s “secret recipe” for those types of cookies! If you want to be different, though, try something a little more unique like Holiday Cookie Pizza!
Make the most of the kitchen and dining areas you have
If you’re one of the lucky few who can say they have their “dream kitchen” in addition to a picture-perfect dining room, this section may not apply. For the rest of us, compromising as we host our holiday parties is the name of the game. Space might be tight, or a major appliance may be on the fritz – whatever your challenge, the good news is that there are always ways to overcome – sometimes you just have to get creative!
Tips for the dining room and dinner table
- Rent-a-plate: It’s true that not many of us own formal china to set an elegant dining table these days, and holiday dinners sometimes call for something a little fancier than paper plates. Did you know that you can rent all the place settings you need from a local party store or rental shop? While you will still have to wash the dishes, with renting, you don’t have to worry about storing plates, glasses, and extra silverware you rarely use.
- Deck out that chandelier: Is your dining room light fixture less of a focal point and more about basic functionality? Draping it with a garland or changing out shades on individual “candles” adds a festive touch. If you don’t have a chandelier, you can suspend a wreath adorned with ornaments and twinkle lights from the ceiling above your dinner table for a stylish look.
- Get candlelight without the candles: Do you love the gorgeous, cozy glow of candlelight? If you have kids and pets in your home, you know that enjoying candles can be a struggle over fire safety. That doesn’t mean that you have to give up on the effect they create, though, just because you don’t want to burn real candles. LED technology is getting better all the time, and battery-powered pillar and votive-style candles now produce a flicker that can be deceptively close to a real flame.
Tips for the kitchen – plan to make improvements
While you’re in the midst of holiday meal preparation or hosting a dinner party, take note of your “pain points” in the kitchen and make a New Year’s resolution to address those to make life easier. If you’re accustomed to cooking in a small kitchen all year long, you likely have already done the types of things that make the room feel larger, like introducing light paint colors and bright lighting.
Maximizing cabinet space with smart storage solutions like pullout shelves and bins or rotating inserts is another way to upgrade your kitchen by allowing you to get things off the countertop.
Take a look at your appliances, as well. Could you make more space with a range/oven combination as opposed to a separate cooktop and oven? Do you have a microwave taking up valuable real estate on the counter? Sleeker appliances that better fit your space could be an answer to your small kitchen woes.
Here at Gochnauer’s we often hear from customers who have been putting up with things like a leaky dishwasher or an ailing electric cooktop for years before finally deciding to replace their old appliance. Why wait? Appliances make great gifts to yourself and your home! And here in the Lancaster area, Gochnauer’s has all of the appliances you want from the very best brands.
Stop by the showroom in East Petersburg or send us a message today to talk about your kitchen improvement wish list.