Preparing Your Kitchen for Holiday Guests

Guest gathered in the kitchen

Guest gathered in the kitchen

Believe it or not, the holiday season will soon be upon us. The days are getting darker, and Christmas lights are slowly starting to appear on neighbours’ homes. Each square on the calendar is gradually filling with invitations to festive gatherings.

Few things can beat the feeling of coming together with friends and family to spend a cozy night in with good food, drink, and company. Here, on the East Coast, we are renowned for our love of festive get-togethers and what more does a true Maritimer love than a good old-fashioned kitchen party?

Congregating in the kitchen comes as second nature, and you want your guests to feel at home in your space. Before friends and family come to visit, there are a few simple steps you can take to prepare your kitchen and create an even more welcoming atmosphere.

Declutter Your Kitchen

A first step in creating a welcoming space for guests is to de-clutter. Though we still have some time before the holiday season, preparing your kitchen now will have you ready for unexpected visitors and save you time in the long run. If you keep your kitchen tidy, you are far more likely to enjoy preparing food for friends, even if they show up unannounced.

Take the first step by deciding what kitchenware you no longer need. Kitchenware tends to be a go-to gift option which often results in having an abundance of platters that end up sitting at the back of the cupboard. It can help to make a list of necessities when it comes to entertaining and your lifestyle. Try to narrow your needs down and find a home for the extras taking up space. Here are some ways to minimize clutter in your kitchen:

  • Keep cutlery to a minimum. You only need one set.
  • In general, most households will entertain 6-8 people at a time, so eight wine glasses should be enough for one home. If you need more, you can borrow them. Keep your glasses clean with this convenient wine glass drying rack which holds glasses upside-down to increase air circulation and minimize water spots. It can also be used in your cabinet to keep stemware organized.
  • Keep plates, platters, and serving bowls to a neutral colour, so they match everything.
  • A good rule of thumb is to donate or re-purpose anything you have not used in a year or so.

During your decluttering process, you will also want to clean out utensil drawers and countertops. Save the embarrassment of a guest opening a drawer to find pieces of rice and toast crumbs stuck in the corners (how does it get there anyway?). Make sure everything has its place. You’ll need all the counter space you can get when planning a meal for a significant number of people, so attempt to find appropriate storage space for countertop appliances. Keep kitchen countertops clean while you are prepping and hosting at the same time by having disinfecting wipes on hand with this convenient countertop dispenser by Kohler.

Set up a bar and prepare a signature drink

Christmas Cocktails

Who doesn’t love a festive drink? Quickly transform your kitchen island or table into a bar. Add an ice bucket, some glasses, and refreshments (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and voila: you have a kitchen bar.  Create a signature drink, or even write a few drink recipes on a small piece of cardstock for an added creative touch. Offer spiced rum and eggnog with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top as a simple, seasonal option.  Welcome guests to your home by offering them a beverage, but then let them know that the bar is open and accessible to everyone.

Serve simple, creative snacks

The days of going overboard on Christmas baking are over. Keep your snacks inspired yet straightforward.  For an easy snack option that will make your guests feel welcome, try air-popped popcorn drizzled with truffle oil and melted butter. Set small cups beside the bowl and allow guests to serve themselves. Remember, everyone loves a big bowl of potato chips at a party and dips like guacamole are always a big hit. Use the space in your kitchen to spread snacks throughout so that all guests have the opportunity to nibble on some food while they mingle. Let simple, everyday kitchenware do double duty at a party. Use a hardwood cutting board like this one by Kohler as a charcuterie board filled with cured meats, artisanal cheeses, and pickled veggies for an easy, crowd pleasing appetizer.

Create a welcoming space

While everyone naturally gravitates toward the kitchen, there is nothing wrong with adding a few touches to make it seem more like a gathering area than a workspace. Switch to light bulbs with a softer hue, boil some festive herbs (cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peel) on the stove, use natural cleaning products to wipe down countertops, and always have some music playing in the background. Add a few decorations such as pine boughs, fresh-cut flowers, and candles or twinkle lights to your tabletop for a festive flare. These little touches will create ambiance and have your friends wanting to stay longer.

Be Prepared

Whether you are hosting a pre-planned party, or you expect seasonal drop-ins, it always helps to be prepared in advance. If you are hosting, attempt to have most of the prep complete before guests arrive in your kitchen. Your guests are meant to be guests, and they should not feel obligated to work just because the party is in the kitchen.

If you regularly have visitors around the holiday season, keep your kitchen stocked with necessities. Store a bag of chips in the cupboard and have some cheese and crackers on hand to offer to guests when they show up at your door for a visit. Always keep a drink or two in the fridge and have something available to provide little ones if they arrive along with their families.

Be fully prepared for visitors by keeping your kitchen de-cluttered.  Make sure everyday appliances all have a storage space and keep drawers and counter spaces clean.

The kitchen is indeed the heart of the home. If you are prepared, welcoming visitors into your space can be memorable.  If you’re planning to have guests this holiday season, you still have time to make some updates to your kitchen that you will be proud to share with friends and family. We would love to talk to you about the improvements you’d like to make to your home. Give us a call at (902) 494-5266 or visit our showroom at 75 Peakview Way, (off Larry Uteck) in Bedford.

Food laid out on a table for a meal