Posted by Kathy Delgado in M/I Homes Culture

There’s nothing like being home for the holidays, celebrating all your favorite traditions and treats as you gather with family and friends. During the fourth annual Home for the Holidays LIVE event—filmed at an M/I Homes model in Central Ohio—I had the honor of sharing all of my favorite ways to celebrate the holidays at home in Houston, Texas.

Check out my go-to recipes, hosting advice, and traditions below!

Making Mexican Holiday Meals

When I host holiday parties, I love to give all my guests a proper Southern welcome from the moment they step foot inside, serving the best Mexican dishes throughout the evening, then sending them off with a sweet treat at the end.

For a delicious, Texas-inspired holiday dinner to wow all your guests, kick off the party with a sparking glass of ranch water, set out guacamole as an appetizer, serve home-cooked tamales for the entrée, and offer bagged praline pecans to go. 

1. The Best Texas Ranch Water Recipe

Whether you serve it in the summer or winter, ranch water is a Texas staple, and it’s the perfect beverage to have pre-made to greet your guests with inside your home’s entryway!

This 5-ingredient recipe is simple, refreshing, customizable, and presents beautifully. If kids are coming to your house, you can just omit the tequila and still hand them a fun drink to sip on when they arrive.

Here’s what you’ll need for each drink:

  • 1 bottle of Topo Chico
  • 3 oz. blanco tequila
  • 1.5 oz. fresh lime juice
  • Lime slice
  • Rosemary sprig
  • 3–5 cranberries
  • Straw

Close-up shot of Topo Chico bottles

2. Serve a Festive Guacamole Appetizer

Your party guests will certainly come hungry. So, while they’re enjoying a delicious ranch water, I suggest serving fresh guacamole with chips, too! If you have an island at home, this is the perfect, central place to set it out.

From chunky to smooth and spicy to mild, guacamole is one of the most versatile, well-loved dips, and you can prepare it exactly how you and your guests prefer.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3+ ripe avocados
  • ¼ yellow onion
  • 1–2 diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 juiced lime
  • Salt

Optional ingredients:

  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeño pepper


  1. Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop them into a mixing bowl
  2. Use a fork to mash the avocados into the consistency you’d like
  3. Combine all the ingredients and stir
  4. Transfer to your serving bowl and serve with tortilla chips on the side
Close-up image of guacamole in a serving bowl

3. Prepare Tamales for the Holidays

The essence of Texas cuisine lies in the rich tradition of Mexican tamales. Typically, many hands are involved in the preparation of this traditional dish, bringing families together in the heart of their home—the kitchen.

Tamales are traditional in the Texas sense in that families will get together, have parties on a Saturday, and the whole family—including the kids—will participate in making them.

This dish is certainly a labor of love, meant to be enjoyed with the company of dear family and friends around the dinner table.

With so many filling ideas to choose from, take a look at a few of the best homemade tamale recipes and pick one you think you’d like the best. And if you’d like to serve tamales this holiday season without the time commitment involved in its preparation, simply purchase them from your favorite grocery store like I often do!

Close-up shot of tamales on a plate

4. How to Make Praline Pecans

At the end of the night, leave your guests with a sweet treat they can take to go. Praline pecans “pack a punch,” and your family and friends will remember this thoughtful gesture for years to come.

My mom and I get the best pecans about 2 hours away from Houston. We make them with brown sugar and pour them out onto wax paper to bake. You can put them in a clear baggie, tie them with a cute bow, and your guests can enjoy them on the car ride home or at the end of the night.

pro tip

Even if the praline pecans don't set up properly, you can still crumble them up and put them over ice cream! They're delicious in every form.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. salted butter
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. pecan halves or chopped pecans


  1. Line at least one cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper
  2. Place the brown sugar, whipping cream, and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, start a time for 1 minute, and stir constantly. When time is up, remove it from the heat.
  3. Immediately whisk in the powdered sugar, then gently stir in the pecans and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
  4. Allow the mixture to thicken and cool slightly, but don't wait too long. If the mixture begins to harden in the pot, add a bit of milk and stir again until creamy.
  5. Drop large spoonfuls of the praline mixture onto the wax paper and let it set up for at least 30 minutes. You can also place the cookie sheet into the fridge to speed up the process. 

Close-up of praline pecans in clear bags

There’s something extra special about opening up your home to others during the holiday season, which is why I do it year after year. I hope you feel inspired to serve one or all four of the holiday recipes I love to make down here in the great state of Texas!

If you’re interested in learning more about what makes an M/I Home a special place to live, explore our available communities and floorplans in Houston, then reach out to our dedicated team for your own personal appointment.


Blog Author | Kathy Delgado
Kathy Delgado


As the V.P. of Sales and Marketing in Houston, Texas, Kathy Delgado has a passion for matching people with a home that not only fits their needs but also offers curated design options to fit their lifestyle. She has lived most of her life in Houston and enjoys spending free time with family, including her husband/college sweetheart, her 2 wonderful grown children and son-in-law, her german shepherd, and 2 cats.

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