Whether you have an open concept kitchen or one hidden behind closed doors, this space may be the most needing of a little extra TLC when throwing a party. The most important prep step? Plan ahead: “You don’t want to be exhausted the day of the party, and will want to enjoy it,” says professional party thrower Julia Lake. Follow these steps to not only avoid being a slave to your kitchen during your holiday party, but to help it be a useful and enjoyable entertaining space.
“Always make sure you kitchen is totally clean before the party starts,” says Lake. “There's nothing worse than a messy kitchen mid-party, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of prep time for the food.” Although you will need to re-clean immediately after the party, make sure all countertops, floors and even the inside of the refrigerator are spotless, so food can be prepared and displayed safely. Clean out your refrigerator in advance, and toss anything expired. Keep a stash of surface wipes handy for quick cleanup during food prep, display and serving.
Food Preparation and Display
“Try to pick recipes that can be prepared the day before, so you're not rushed all day getting everything ready,” says Lake. Or, prepare items in advance that can be frozen until party day, when you can easily pop them in the oven the day of your party.
If you have the space, the kitchen can also be used to display and serve food. The easiest option is to serve food buffet style on the kitchen table. Desserts and hors d’oeuvres can be displayed on tiered serving platters, or even open shelving. “Get creative with where you stick goodies,” says Lake. “It’s always fun for guests to find surprises in different corners of the room. Put a bowl of candies by the windowsill, or nuts tucked in the counter corner beside family photos.”
Carry your holiday decorations through to the kitchen. In addition to choosing display dishes in festive holiday colors, place bags of caramel popcorn in baskets around the kitchen to serve as decoration and party favors for guests, says Lake. Above all, personalization is key. For inspiration, check out holiday Pinterest boards to find ideas that match your taste.
When deciding on the menu, keep it simple. Instead of complicated entrees, try easy appetizers like dips, pizzettes and toothpick-friendly options like meatballs for easy serving. “Use all white plates and platters for a chic, minimalist look,” says Seri Kertzner, founder of Little Miss Party Planner. Place all serving dishes, platters and plates in a designated spot in advance, so you aren’t looking for everything the day of the party.
The drink menu should also be kept simple. Designate a small bar area in the kitchen, so spills can be cleaned easily. Choose one themed drink, such as a red punch or pear sparkler, instead of stocking a full bar. Add in prosecco (champagne’s more inexpensive cousin), wine or beer, and prepare for a memorable night.