If it’s your turn to host a dinner party and you’re worried your kitchen might be too small to fit your friends and family in without everyone feeling a little too snug then we’ve got the perfect guide to help.
Plenty of us have dinky little kitchens that are perfect for cute date nights, but not so much for the hustle and bustle of a big family get-together.
That’s why the team at Wren have put their heads together to come up with eight great tips you can use to make cooking an absolute breeze. With these tips in hand, you’ll be able to turn your cramped kitchen nook into a cosy and inviting space that can really set the scene for an enjoyable dinner.
1. Plan your meal well in advance
Preparation and planning are absolutely key to getting the most out of a small kitchen with limited space. So, before you buy anything, you need to plan your meal step by step so you know what you feasibly can and can’t cook.
First, note down what appliances you have, what appliances you might need, how long your main, trimmings, and sides will take when cooking on their own, and how you can economically cook everything to deliver dinner all at once.
For example when hosting Christmas, you might only be able to fit your roast potatoes and turkey in the oven, meaning you may have to grill your pigs in blankets, boil the veg on the hob, and possibly even microwave a few things.
Alternatively, if some of what you want to dish up can be done in a slow cooker or instant pot, then borrowing one of these appliances from friends and family will save on costs.
Only once you’ve got your plan of attack down can you start buying what you need. Remember, you can keep your ingredients to a minimum. Know what your kitchen can handle and plan accordingly.
2. Prep what you can in advance
Let’s face it, there’s nothing more than trying to handle every element of cooking dinner at once. This stress can be made worse in a small kitchen, especially if you can’t fit more than one person in the cooking space.
To take the pressure off, you want to prepare everything you can before the big day. Chop vegetables the night before and marinate anything that needs marinating. All of these foods can then be kept in the fridge overnight so they’re ready to go as and when you need them.
3. Cook from big to small
Although it might be tempting to get all of the quick and easy stuff out of the way first, in many cases, you’ll probably find you have a much easier time and more space to work with by getting the longest cooking and most time-consuming parts of the dinner done first.
So, when prepping, work out which of the big tasks you can do first. This will get the most stressful things out of the way early and make it much more relaxing to handle the simple stuff.
4. Use your space creatively
Your kitchen might be small, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of its space to make things easier.
To start with, anything that doesn’t need to be in the kitchen should be moved into another room. That way, you can fit more chairs around the table while giving yourself space to move around and cook efficiently.
Second, make liberal use of your kitchen table as a prep space. From making desserts to stuffing the turkey, it’ll give you more than enough room to tackle each part of the dinner properly. This does mean your guests won’t be able to sit at the table and chat, but that just means they get to enjoy the comfy seats of your lounge with some snacks instead.
Finally, when dishing up, have everything set out on your counters rather than the kitchen table. This makes serving quick and simple and leaves more room for guests to sit back and relax while they enjoy your excellent cooking. And if they want seconds, everything is just a few steps away.
5. Wash up as you go
Do you know what’s worse than prepping a hectic dinner? Doing all of the washing up afterwards. Now, as a general rule of thumb, anyone who cooks shouldn’t have to wash up. But in this scenario, we need to make an exception.
If you’ve got everything planned out in advance, then you should know if you’ll have a breather or two between cooking. If this is the case, you should use this time to wash up the simple things that aren’t too greasy. Not only will this save space on the counters and dish rack, but you can reuse these dishes again if you have to.
And, naturally, if you have a dishwasher, you should be stacking this as you go to save room, only putting it on once it’s full.
6. Cook sharing dishes
If you know your kitchen simply can’t handle a lot of food, then a neat alternative is to cook sharing dishes.
Sharing dishes are exactly what they sound like: dishes that everyone can share. Whether that’s a massive salad, a huge bowl of roasted veg, or a blend of all the sides, there’s no reason you can keep them themed for your party.
A top tip for hosting Christmas in a small kitchen is if you still want to include the turkey and classic trimmings while saving space, why not shred the turkey, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, and veg, and combine them into one huge dish that your guests can help themselves to and then smother in cranberry sauce and gravy.
Not only does this save space, as you don’t need a whole turkey, but you can serve it in one dish. Just remember to account for everyone’s dietary preferences so no one is left out.
7. Ask for help
Your kitchen might be able to handle the main event, but if you want to make it easier, why not ask your guests to handle some of the simpler sides?
From starters to salads and maybe even desserts, asking your guests to handle the quick and easy parts of the dinner means they won’t have to do too much, and it’ll also make dinner that much more satisfying because it makes it a collective effort.
8. Cheat where you can
Look, we all know how good homemade gravy and custard can be, but if you know you’re going to struggle to make these sauces and other complex things alongside the main course, then there’s no shame in cheating a little.
Using instant gravy and tinned custard just means you can focus your efforts elsewhere. They’ll still taste great with your meal, and you get to relax as everything comes together.
And there you have it; those are our top eight tips to help you host Christmas in a small kitchen. Of course, following all of these might not totally eliminate the stress of cooking such a large meal, but hopefully, they’ll simplify the process for you.
If you want more inspiration on how to prepare your kitchen for Christmas or some fresh festive recipes, why not visit the inspiration page on our website? We’ve plenty of kitchen design tips and blog articles for you to browse.