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8 Kitchen Must-Haves for Holiday Entertaining

‘Tis the season for family and friends to come together and celebrate Thanksgiving and the end of year holidays. Whether you’re hosting the entire office’s holiday party or are planning a small family gathering, you know that the kitchen is the heart of the household. You want to enjoy entertaining your guests from cooking the meal, to eating dinner together, or just hanging out and having a good time.


If you’re planning to invest in a kitchen remodel soon, take a closer look at how your kitchen functions during this holiday season. Do you find that the current setup doesn’t have enough comfortable seats for everyone? Or that people are constantly getting in one another’s ways while trying to work? Make note of these observations; when it comes time to plan the details of your new kitchen, there’s a solution to everything.


There are a few elements that are fantastic for every holiday entertainer’s dream kitchen. If your top priority for the holiday season is providing gathering places to socialize, directing the natural flow of traffic, and the comfort of your guests, you may be interested in these design features.


1. Open Concept Layout

You might have heard that the open concept is starting to lose its popularity in the wake of the pandemic, however that’s not quite the case. More and more households are looking for a blended space that still offers open entertaining areas while still including quiet, private spaces for other purposes. Especially if you like to entertain, a closed-off galley kitchen separates the prep area from the living area in a way that’s rather isolating.


The key to an open concept layout for entertaining is simply making sure that no matter what task you’re performing in the kitchen, you’re still able to see, hear, and interact with your guests. Even when you have to do the less fun tasks like washing the dishes, at least it’s a little more bearable with company than it would be completely by yourself in a small, cramped kitchen.


2. Giant Island for Every Purpose

There’s no such thing as an island that’s too large as long as your kitchen is big enough to accommodate it. A hot kitchen feature that’s not losing its popularity any time soon, the island serves as the perfect all-in-one solution for entertaining. The additional counter space is great for multiple cooks preparing meals and snacks in the kitchen, provides a casual dining area, and can be used as a dinner buffet for easy serving.


An island also provides a central gathering place in your kitchen. Since an island can serve so many purposes, a large enough space can accommodate the needs of the cook, host, and guests all at once.


3. Comfortable, Out of the Way Seating

Having enough seating for all of your guests is one of the most important aspects of party planning. However, sticking too many chairs in your kitchen can become a hazard. You don’t want to cut off important pathways between the prep area, refrigerator, and cooktop by fitting a chair in wherever it sort of fits. Not to mention that while very popular, barstools under the island are not the most comfortable seat for more than a brief rest.


Plan a designated seating area in your kitchen that’s out of the way, yet still able to socialize with everyone in the room. A bay window is the perfect place to fit a small sofa, or maybe create a breakfast nook that can double as comfortable seating for company. You don’t want people to feel pushed to the side, but they should be able to sit comfortably and relax.


4. Focus Around Your Fireplace

Everyone knows the holiday classic that opens with “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” A warm fireplace evokes vivid feelings of coziness, of being safe and warm indoors while the frigid wind howls outside. If you already have a fireplace in your home, you’ve probably noticed that your guests enjoy gathering around it and not just for warmth. Incorporate the fire into the kitchen more effectively by making sure that there’s clear sight-lines between the prep area and the fireplace so everyone can easily be involved.


If you do not have a fireplace, consider adding one to your home. Gas-powered inserts create the same atmosphere as a wood burning fireplace with significantly less maintenance and can be lit up as easily as flicking a lightswitch. No firewood required!


5. Easy to See Storage

When you’re in an unfamiliar place but told to help yourself to food or drink, there’s usually a moment of discomfort. Every household organizes their storage differently so unless you’re a very frequent guest, you likely won’t know where to look. Having cups and dishes displayed in glass-front cabinets or open shelving takes this stress off of your guests, allowing them to confidently grab a glass when the invitation is given.


There’s also an element of decor to open shelving or glass cabinets. You may choose to display holiday-themed china or use colored glassware to bring a new accent into the palette of your kitchen.


6. Convenient Garbage and Recycling Area

Regardless of what type of party or event you’re hosting, an inevitable aspect of entertaining is the waste that’s produced from it. In the past, it was popular to hide the garbage can underneath the sink. If your kitchen is organized this way, you might have noticed the issues that this causes. When you’re washing the dishes and someone else needs to throw away a used paper plate, you’re inevitably in each other’s ways.


No one wants an unsightly, overflowing garbage bin in the middle of their kitchen. Strategically hide pull-out bins in areas that won’t impede traffic or get in the way of another function of the kitchen. If recycling is important to your household, be sure to make it intuitive for your guests to understand where to leave their used recyclables as well.


7. Coffee or Beverage Bar

While the details will come down to your household and guests’ preferences, it’s a great idea to incorporate some sort of beverage bar into your kitchen for entertaining. This could be a coffee station for an after dinner cafe noir, a wet bar for mixology aficionados, or a built-in drink fridge for anyone to grab from.


Having a separate drink station in your kitchen helps to better organize not just traffic, but the overall flow of the party. It gives a little more independence to your guests, allowing them to use the coffee maker or pour a glass of wine for themselves while you’re able to visit with other guests rather than running around making drinks all night.


8. Media and Technology

For day to day use, a bright, quiet kitchen is usually preferred. However, when it comes to hosting, you might want the option to turn down the lights, crank up the tunes, and create the perfect party ambiance. It’s actually very easy to install a dimmer switch for your kitchen lighting, and including speakers around the kitchen means you can keep the holiday tunes on in the background for the duration of the party.


If you don’t already have a television in the sightline of your kitchen, that’s a feature you’ll absolutely want to add in the future. Part of hosting for Thanksgiving includes making sure that football fans can catch the game and still be involved in the rest of the party. The cook certainly doesn’t want to be left out of the action either!


While these features are a great place to start for planning your perfect entertaining kitchen, there’s no one size fits all design for every household. Paying attention to areas of improvement during this holiday season will help to articulate what elements are most important for your family and the guests you like to entertain. If you’re still not sure exactly what your kitchen needs to take it to the next level, set up a consultation with any of our talented designers for their expert insights.

Ready for an upgrade to your bathroom? Contact Kitchens By Oaks at 585.349.8100 to schedule your free design consultation today!