Homeowners share tips for entertaining during a kitchen update

Ask area homeowners who have recently staged a kitchen renovation on how to entertain during the holidays, and their response will likely be a resounding “don’t” — followed by some polite giggles.

But these folks have warmly welcomed guests into their homes during remodeling projects, and they agree hosting festive gatherings can indeed be done — with some ingenuity.

Karla Hollenkamp, who resides in Lebanon with her husband Philip Taylor, says most people undergoing a home renovation this time of year “are already making use of crockpots, electric kettles, air fryers and warming trays set up in their garage, laundry room or auxiliary space.” (They will be featured in an upcoming “My Home” story.)

As they reimagined the kitchen, “we opted not to install permanent (built-in) cabinets in our breakfast room and found a large storage piece on Wayfair instead.”


“I love the idea of food and drink stations throughout the house, too. You can spread a tablecloth on any flat surface, and it becomes a serving area,” says the home decor and lifestyle design writer. “I once set up a bar in the entryway, passed hors d’oeuvres I made in a toaster oven, and served shrimp and horseradish sauce from a tub of ice on my coffee table.”

Likewise, Hollenkamp says charcuterie boards “are portable to any part of the house. And card tables can go into a sunroom or family room.”

“I once had a buffet set up in my primary bedroom because there was water, a dorm fridge and enough outlets for all kinds of plug-in appliances,” Hollenkamp adds.

Sarena Kelley, who lives with her family in Oakwood, says the right appliances are the name of the successful entertaining game.

Kelley, whose residence was highlighted earlier this month in “My Home,” lists three essentials while tackling a major kitchen remodel: a sous vide (she recommends the Breville Joule sous vide), a toaster oven and an outdoor grill.

Credit: Ashley Wilson

Credit: Ashley Wilson

Embracing the moveable-feast concept is crucial during the holidays, adds Terri Miller, who recently renovated her 1919 home in the St. Anne’s Hill Historic District. Her Victorian cottage was spotlighted in an August “My Home” article.

“Given my small space and the open concept, I would say concentrate on the areas you can make comfortable for guests — like using the outdoor areas to your advantage. Keep the refreshments and food simple, without requiring sit-down service or counter space.”

Above all, “don’t stress about the unfinished areas,” she adds.


“I would say to give your guests a heads up” that your kitchen is undergoing a massive transformation, says Shannon Alford-Barclay, who lives in the Wright-Dunbar Historic Village of Dayton. “Cater as much food as possible to eliminate kitchen chaos and utilize other areas of the house to eliminate traffic in the kitchen.”

She and her wife April shared their extensive renovation projects in a September “My Home” feature.

Kelley suggests this final thought: What’s vital to relaxing yet uplifting holiday gatherings is “good people, good food and good wine.”

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