Holding a party in your home can be stressful - there’s no getting away from it, nobody wants their social gathering to flop and hosts can go to great lengths to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Of all the rooms in your house, your kitchen arguably has the most important role in ensuring your event runs smoothly. From designing a kitchen that lends itself well to hosting guests, to making the best practical use of the space on the day, here are 8 ways you can create the perfect party kitchen.
Let there be light
For lunch gatherings, you want to be able to let plenty of natural light into your kitchen. This will make a pleasant introduction to your home, so try not to clutter windowsills with too many items that will block the light. Windows that open out fully also have the added bonus of allowing fresh air into the room, as well as potentially greeting your guests with the smell of cooking wafting out into the garden.
If you’re hosting a party where guests stay on into the evening, it’s important your lighting choices match the ambience of the occasion.
While you will need bright lights to help you see when preparing and cooking food, consider including a dimmer switch for your kitchen lights so you can create a softer, relaxed atmosphere if needed. Failing that, dotting a few candles around is a quick way to deliver a warm, welcoming feel.
Make good use of islands and breakfast bars
As well as the stimulating conversation, the reason your kitchen will become the hub of activity at your party is the delicious food and drink you’ve provided.
Giving your kitchen a focal point, such as an island or breakfast bar, is a nice design feature in its own right, but it will really come into its own once guests arrive.
You can use it as a showcase for nibbles, hors d’oeuvres or welcome drinks, and with any luck it will become an area where guests will congregate throughout the evening, cementing your kitchen’s crucial role in the success of your event.
Invest in a fridge fit for festivities
On a practical level, if you’re planning on hosting regular social gatherings, you need a refrigerator that can take the strain.
If you’ve got guests bringing their own drinks, you’ll need somewhere for them to store refreshments such as white wine, sparkling wine, lager and soft drinks, so plenty of shelf space is desirable. You might also think about buying a fridge with an ice dispenser.
If you’ve opted for a buffet, a spacious fridge could be just the thing you need for storing items such as cheeseboards, charcuterie platters and desserts so that they can be brought out later.
These days, having a television or computer in your kitchen has become very much the norm. While this has practical uses when it comes to following recipe videos or catching up on your favourite shows while you cook, it can also be a boon if you’re hosting company.
For example, if you’ve got friends over for a sporting event, there needn’t be a mass exodus from the kitchen when the game starts. People can continue the conversations they were having, plus there won’t be a risk of missing a point, goal or try being scored while guests dash to the kitchen for another drink.
Include a few talking points
Keeping the conversation flowing is key to any successful party, and your kitchen needs to pull its weight in this department.
Putting a few unique, interesting features on display will give guests something to talk about. You could use artwork, unusual kitchen appliances, striking design features and even your culinary wizardry to spark conversation, or if you’re having close friends over, put a few snaps from your last holiday together up on the fridge to get people reminiscing.
Use colour to your advantage
In order for your kitchen to become a focal point, it needs to be visually striking. It should evoke your personality in such a way that guests simply can’t stay away.
Vibrant colours can go a long way towards achieving this. Whether you go for a stylish chrome fit or bright tones that provide a beautiful backdrop to your party, put some thought into your colour scheme at the design phase and build your kitchen’s personality around it.
Be aware of space
Your guests won’t want to spend long in your kitchen if it feels cramped. That doesn’t mean that your social status hinges on having a large kitchen. It simply means that you should take care to maximise what you have and create an environment people will want to spend time in.
If you are lucky enough to have a bigger kitchen, consider having comfortable spots where people can sit and chat, either in pairs or larger groups. If a sit-down meal is at the heart of your event, you may need to invest in a table with extensions to accommodate everyone. You can always cover it with an attractive cloth, and crucially it can be stored away once the meal is over to create more room.
If your kitchen is smaller, you can either opt to make it a cosy corner, with warm colours and atmospheric lighting, or give the illusion of space with strategic use of mirrors or reflective materials when designing your storage units.
Tell us your top tips
Those are our suggestions, but we want to hear your ideas. What do you do to get the most out of your kitchen when you’re hosting guests? Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages to join the conversation, or leave a comment below.