Updated December 9, 2019
Whether your place turns into a madhouse over the holidays or dinner is a quiet gathering of close family and friends, getting all your ducks in a row ahead of time allows you to unwind and enjoy the festivities, too.
Follow these simple dining room preparation tips to ensure your next holiday meal goes off without a hitch.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Enjoy that special holiday feeling longer while leaving fewer chores to take care of on the big day. This strategy works particularly well with an open-concept dining room like the one featured in Plan 3 at Meadowood at Park Place.
Lay out all your festive linens, napkins and table settings long in advance and your new San Bernardino County home will be bursting with holiday joy to ramp up the anticipation. Speaking of holiday decorations, using a well-known family heirloom as the centerpiece is a beautiful way to remember those who are no longer with us.
Speaking of early planning. Write out a detailed menu of everything you plan to serve. Just like you were a professional caterer. This way you can streamline your shopping and begin prepping veggies and other foods earlier in the week.
A Stickler for Etiquette?
Here’s the proper way to set a table if you’ve got an in-law who loves to point out that their fork’s on the wrong side!
- Place a dinner plate in the center of the placemat.
- Lay a napkin to the left of the plate and put a fork on the napkin. For a formal setting place the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork.
- To the right of the dinner plate start with the knife (blade pointing in) and then the spoon.
- Place a water glass slightly above the plate at 1 o’clock.
Get Creative with Seating
Short on chairs? No problem. Classy bench seating like you see here in the dining room of Linden Plan 2 at Westridge at Sycamore Hills is a great option for squeezing more diners into a smaller space.
More efficient seating also makes it possible to be more inclusive and fit everyone at the main dining room table. Believe it or not, the culture of setting up a separate kids’ table is slowly waving good-bye. (This one really depends on your family, though. Some children prefer their own space to be left alone and catch up with cousins – others want to sit with the adults.)
Inspire Face-to-Face Communication
Keep your holiday meal “old school” by asking guests to drop their cellphones in a basket by the door. Talk. Laugh. Have a good time the old-fashioned way!
Before visitors gripe about taking photos of the event, point out that you’ve set disposable cameras around the house for capturing those special moments. You can either dedicate 1 or 2 photographers for the day or inform guests to feel free to snap a shot whenever the mood strikes.
Alternatively, you can use a couple digital cameras for the same effect.
Think about placing the basket somewhere that offers a clear view of the great room. See Plan 4 at Meadowood at Park Place for ideas.
Prearrange Entertainment for Punctual Guests
No matter what time you put on the invitation, some houseguests always find a way to get there early. Way too early.
Nip distractions in the bud by setting up fun holiday films in the gathering room. Check out this beautiful design at Brighton East Farms. It’s easy to see how this gorgeous space would keep guests out of the kitchen!
What to do about Football?
Some families revel in the tradition of football games blaring on the TV during the holidays. Others? Not so much.
Remember that there’s a good chance at least one person wishes the game was on. So even if football’s not your favorite, think about putting the game on in the background or in a different room, even if you set the television to mute.
Tips for BIG Groups
If cooking for your extended family feels more like catering a wedding reception, consider these creative strategies for lessening the load.
Eat Alfresco on the Covered Lanai
There’s no reason why everyone needs to eat at the same table. Let your dining room spill out onto the patio!
To get an idea of how much extra seating space you can muster up by heading outdoors, take a virtual tour of this new home in Wesley Chapel, FL. The Abaco plan at WaterGrass offers an expansive 28’+ lanai to fit everyone including your third cousins!
Serve the Meal Buffet Style
The Lazio floor plan at Estero Pointe offers an enormous kitchen island that faces out to the dining room and gathering room. Utilize this space as a buffet table to keep the dining room table clutter free. Forget about passing the peas or gravy boat all the way around the horn, there’s no reason why a self-serve holiday meal can’t be just as magical.
Setting out place cards is an easy way to simplify the seating arrangements. This is an especially good idea when your guest list doesn’t know each other. It removes all the confusion over who goes where and who’s old enough for the ‘big kids’ table.
Take Inventory of Dishes & Silverware
Don’t wait until the doorbell rings to realize that you don’t have enough plates, forks or serving trays. If you’re expecting a lot of people, pull out the dishes you plan to use and make sure you’ve got everything you need.
Quick & Easy Clean Up
Here are a pair of helpful ideas to get some of your dirty work done without having to disappear for two hours after dinner:
- Don’t be a martyr. If a guest offers to help clean up say, “YES!”
- Pick up a tube of stain remover and pretreat stains directly after the meal. A quick squeeze on the tablecloth, placemats and napkins can save you a lot of time and grief tomorrow when it’s time to do the laundry.
Remember the Reason for the Season
Try not to stress too much if your casserole doesn’t come out right or you run out of potatoes or the turkey’s a bit dry. You’re not running a 5-star restaurant, you’re there to spend quality time with the ones you love.
Holidays are really about the people – not the food. Keep this in mind when meal plans go awry because they almost always do.
Celebrate the Festive Season in a New Home
From all of us at Taylor Morrison Homes, we wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons. Make your next get together extra special with a new construction home in a socially responsible community and more fun tips from the Second House on the Right blog:
- Tips and Tricks to Prepare Your Home for the Holidays
- Fall Home Decor Ideas
- Regional Recipes for the Holidays
- Tasty New Holiday Recipes
- Fantastic Tips for Setting Up Your Guest Room
- Decorate Your Home for the Winter Holidays
- Holiday Safety Tips
- A Simple Guide to Backyard Furniture
- Fun Activities for Thanksgiving
- Decorating Tips from the Pros