Kitchens and the summer party season
22nd May 2019
“You’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties” by Jona Lewie is a great song from the late 70s, and so true. It’s the one place where everybody gravitates towards and certainly the finishing point for any party.
Now the weather is getting better and we’re starting to think about summer entertaining, thoughts will turn to the kitchen. Definitely the focal point for food and drink. So, what is the best way to get it ready for those parties and work with the space you have.
Indoor party, outdoor party
The first thing you need to decide is are you having an indoor or outdoor party. It’s a difficult call with our British weather, which you can’t always rely on. But with the longer days and lighter nights you have the opportunity to stay outside for longer.
If your kitchen is adjacent to the garden, maybe has patio doors that open out onto the space, it makes your life easier. The main party area can be set-up in the kitchen and outdoor seating arranged near-by. Just so guests can easily wonder in and out.
Alternatively, it might be all or nothing. In which case you need to keep a close eye on the weather. If it looks unsettled then it might be better to stay in doors but open all the windows and bring the outside in.
Start with a blank canvas
Kitchens tend to attract clutter. Any expanse of worktop is an invitation to show off the latest gadget or will inevitably attract paperwork. When you’re having a party this is a great area for guests to stand and lean, even put their drinks down.
Clearing the tops will give you more space. You might find some room in your cupboards to store your gadgets. Often very deceptive and designed with a surprising amount of storage area. You’ll be surprised how much you can squeeze in and will probably wonder why on earth you haven’t done this before.
A party is always an opportunity to de-clutter. To deal with that pile of post that has been growing on the worktop in the corner for weeks. Either file in a safe place or put it in the bin. You definitely don’t want anybody reading your post at the party and it just looks untidy.
Setting up the bar
Using the kitchen as a bar is probably the best idea. You will have worktops to lay out the glasses and drinks, spirits or punch depending on what you are serving, with a fridge to keep everything cold.
If you’ve planned ahead with your kitchen, the glasses and spirits will be in the cupboards above and below the worktop, so this will be an easy job. Then as guests arrive you can easily serve them a drink and as the party progresses, they can help themselves.
Setting the bar up next to the sink will give you another option for keeping drinks cold. Fill the sink with ice cubes, just buy the large bags from the supermarket. Then load up with bottles of beer or wine and you have a ready-made wine cooler.
The only challenge then will be to move guests away from the bar. Easy to stand and continue chatting. But if you have someone serving drinks whilst they chat to other guests you can keep this area free-flowing.
The food factor
It’s always nice to provide simple but tasty snacks at a party. Take a cook book from your kitchen shelf and see how many inspiring combinations there are.
Bowls of crisps and peanuts can be strategically placed around the kitchen area. They will help to draw guests away from the bar area and circulate.
If you have a breakfast bar you can put plates of tasty morsels on here. It can provide a focal point and will encourage guests to linger and chat. Leave the stools out so if people want to sit, they can or simply push them under the bar.
A table placed against one of the walls is another option for laying out party food. You can probably put more food on the table as guests will simply pick up what they want and move away. It’s not really there to put your drinks on, that’s a job for the worktops.
And don’t forget hot food. You might think this is off the agenda because everybody is in the kitchen. But guests will accommodate you taking items out of the oven and transferring them to a plate, it’s all part of the social space. The food might not even make it to the table.
The morning after the night before
This is the time when you are soooo pleased that you had the main party in the kitchen. It’s a really easy job to transfer all the dirty glasses and plates into the dishwasher. Tipping the dregs down the sink and washing away the debris.
Another benefit to having a party in your kitchen is the flooring. Let’s be honest, it’s not going to be carpet. Probably something a little bit more ‘hard wearing’ like a tile, vinyl or laminate. Easy to clean and maintain.
So, your floor might be sticky and look fifty shades darker. But you will be amazed at how a steam cleaner can bring the floor back to life. The dirt will simply lift off and the smell of drink will fade. Having said that, it might take a few cleans before you are back to normal, but a small price to pay for a good party.
Making the heart of your home beat is certainly something that a party can do. If you like to entertain and are thinking about re-designing your kitchen, make sure you include parties as part of your requirements.
What would be your number one priority for a new kitchen and why?