How to Use Your Basement for Holiday Gatherings
The holidays abound with many things — ideally speaking, good food and good drinks to go along with the obligatory joy, laughter, and cheer. Unfortunately for many folks, the holidays are not especially abounding in time and space. And when that big holiday gathering is happening at their house, the only thing in abundance is stress.
A partially or fully finished basement can be a total game-changer, whether you’re hosting guests for a couple of hours or helping them settle in for weeks at a time. This month’s blog post will show you just how multifunctional and versatile your understory can be, sharing several ways to employ a finished basement during the holidays.
Hosting guests short-term
Designate an additional dining area
The average American holiday gathering consists of 11-14 people, per numerous studies. Today’s average American home, however, is much less likely to contain a formal dining room, and by extension, the dining room table.
Collectively, we’re cooking far fewer meals at home and having far fewer children (about half as many) than we were a century ago, trends that have gradually made the minified banquet hall seem passé … until those few days a year when we could use that space. Because we can’t possibly squeeze a dozen relatives into our tiny eat-in kitchens, we’re left to frantically rearrange our living rooms (family rooms, or even hallways!) and hope for the best.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Typically accessible just off the kitchen and blessed with wide open floor space, finished basements serve brilliantly as de facto dining rooms. Even partially finished or unfinished basements can do the trick — just clean up and declutter before guests arrive.
Cozy up for holiday cocktail hour
Holidays go down easier with a couple drinks? May we suggest going downstairs?
Basement bars are among the most popular requests fielded by basement finishing contractors, if only because they fit so perfectly within the context of a “man cave” or entertainment area — which happen to be among the most popular finished basement ideas.
There are two basic setups for basement bars — wet bars and dry bars.
The availability of running water distinguishes wet bars, hence “wet.” The installation of a sink and/or plumbing obviously factor into the cost, so make sure it is something you need before going with the more fully-equipped option (which may or may not include its own kegerator/draft system!)
If you don’t mind rinsing your barware upstairs, a basement dry bar could make more sense. All you need to make it happen is a little stretch of counter space, a couple shelves, and perhaps a mini-fridge (although a humble ice bucket can do just as well). It’s the classic question of cost vs. convenience.
In any case, a basement bar is a perfect companion to holiday gatherings, providing an excellent prelude (or epilogue) to your yuletide feast, or a welcome diversion from children or relatives driving you up the wall. It’s a place to get away with the company you want to keep.
Let kids be kids
A finished basement can offer just as welcome an escape for the kids, with all the space and amenities needed to relieve their boredom or pent-up energy. Set it up as a home theater, arcade, or game room and you might keep them preoccupied long enough to cook, clean, and catch up with the other adults.
Hosting guests long-term
Spend quality time
Grown-ups need fun and lightheartedness on occasion too. All the finished basement ideas we mentioned for kids are equally valid for adults, especially during cold, dark winter days. If you’re hosting guests beyond an afternoon, you’ll need things to do — and a place to do them. Even if you’re using your finished basement as your family room or den, it’s the ideal spot to facilitate bonding between out-of-town family and friends.
As we’ve alluded to throughout this post, isolation is one of the basement’s most significant advantages — whether you want to party without disturbing the peace or to enjoy the peace without being a party pooper. Whatever level the party is on, holiday gatherings sure be tiring. As much as this is true for the host, it is equally true for guests who may have traveled far and slept little.
Separated from the bustle of the ground floor, finished basements are an excellent locale for a spare bedroom. And even if you’ve not designated or predefined a sleeping spot, there’s probably plenty of floor area to roll out a cot, sleeping bag, or inflatable mattress for those unexpected overnighters (it’s not their fault you installed the basement bar).
Even among our immediate family members, privacy is sometimes at a premium. When hosting guests more distantly related (or unrelated), it becomes that much more precious as more people compete for the same amenities.
A finished basement can work wonders in mitigating this problem, especially if it includes its own bathroom (bonus points for a full bathroom). Basement kitchens are rare in most homes, as they raise the rank of the finished basement to a basement apartment (aka a fully and independently livable space, thus qualifying for higher tax rates). However, if you have the kind of in-laws you’d rather keep confined to an in-law suite, it may be worth the investment.
Safe and happy holiday with Egress Solutions
At Egress Solutions, we believe in providing safe and accessible emergency egress systems almost as strongly as we believe in Santa. This is especially true in December and January when house fires peak. Get in touch with us to ensure a safe and happy holiday for all and all a good night.