I love a good party. I love attending them, but even more … I love to host. There is something inherently rewarding about bringing a group of friends together for an evening of good food, beverage, conversation, and sometimes even live music and dancing. I’ve learned a few things over many years of hosting parties, both large and small. Most importantly, I’ve learned how much people appreciate the opportunity to gather and socialize. I’ve also learned that careful planning and good organization are necessary for success. Add to this formula a great kitchen and, well, you’ll just be way ahead of the curve!
All well-designed kitchens will pass muster for normal daily activity, but if hosting social gatherings is a hallmark of your lifestyle, then special attention should be paid to the details that make your kitchen great for entertaining. It goes beyond food preparation and clean-up, because we all know where your guests will want to congregate — just try keeping them out of your kitchen!
Think ‘traffic flow’ when planning your kitchen to accommodate entertaining. The best design allows people to flow in and out of the space without creating a bottleneck. Open floor plans, when designed as part of a Great Room are party-friendly — but only if your kitchen is presentable when guests arrive. Islands are particularly conducive to entertaining and make perfect buffets for serving. If the island features a cooktop, food can be conveniently kept warm. Otherwise chafing dishes and crock pots can be used, with care given so cords are not hanging where they might be snagged by a passing guest.
Warming drawers are a wonderful convenience, allowing the host to complete much of the food preparation in advance of arrival time. Unlike an oven which cycles on and off and continues to cook the food, a warming drawer will hold the food at perfect serving temperature and moisture for up to four hours, freeing the host to mingle or tend to other last minute details.
To ease congestion, manage your beverages in a designated area outside the kitchen proper. This area should minimally provide space for bottles, glassware and drink mixing. The best set-up features an auxiliary wine or beverage refrigerator as well as an auxiliary sink.
Duo dishwashers are pure luxury for party preparation and clean up, but since most kitchens (and budgets) don’t have room for two, a nice alternative is a drawer-style dishwasher which features two dishwashers stacked in the same space as a single unit. Because they run independently, they allow a revolving flow of washing and storage of dirty utensils, which facilitates party clean-up before, during and after the event.
Lastly, a staging area located just outside the kitchen proper — perhaps an adjacent laundry or mudroom — will help keep clutter in the kitchen to a minimum and provide back-up storage for items used through the course of the party.
So … how ‘bout we pick a date and send out the invites … I say: “It’s time to throw a party!”
Rebecca Gullion Lindquist is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer and co-owner of Lindquist and Company, Kitchens and Baths.