It’s that time of year again, where friends and family travel from all over to visit loved ones. Some you saw just yesterday, whereas others haven’t been seen since three Christmas’s ago! Somehow, you’re the one hosting all these people even though your apartment isn’t quite as big as you’d like. Don’t fret, here are some tips to successfully host for the holidays!
1. Prepare Meals in Advance
Nothing makes cooking in a small kitchen worse than coordinating cook and prep times for multiple meals. Choose items that can be prepared in advance and then be frozen. By doing this, you can prepare multiple dishes a week or more in advance, and only have to reheat them come meal time!
2. Create Extra Counter Space
If your dining room/table is close to your kitchen, use it as a counter top. If it’s in another room, consider moving it if it’s small enough, or purchase some cheap folding tables and place them near (but not in) the kitchen. You can organize your meals this way, by having specific portions of the table (or specific folding tables) dedicated to certain ingredients or dishes.
3. Enlist Help Outside of the Kitchen
Hosting is stressful enough as it is, but a small kitchen can make it feel impossible. Friends or family can help you out by chopping up ingredients on the tables you’ve provided them. They can also contribute to cleaning dishes as you cook – this is especially necessary if you do not have a dishwasher.
4. Only Cook What Will Be Eaten
Don’t waste time on dishes that you’re not sure others will enjoy. You can avoid this by asking your guests what they’d like to eat or if they have a favorite item. I know you may want to experiment on a new dish you’ve never made before, and by all means go for it! But just be aware that adding something new into your routine can throw you off, leaving you without cooking tools needed for another dish.
5. Plan in Advance
Learn how long each dish will take to prep and cook/bake. Check if any dishes share ingredients or cookware. By taking the time to study these details, you can coordinate which dishes should be cooked first, in the middle, or last & which ones should be cooked alongside or separate from one another. For example, combining meals that need to be cooked in the oven can save space on the stove top for your other dishes. The temperature needs to stay the same, but you can have different cook times. Different cook times are better in this scenario, because you don’t need to take two hot dishes out at the same time, but rather have them staggered.
6. Don’t Worry about Perfect Timing
It’s extremely difficult to get every single dish out onto the table hot & ready to eat. The closest I’ve managed is some are hot & some are warm. Add a tiny kitchen into the equation, and you’ve got a real challenge. The best thing you can do for yourself is ensure that your guests are all ready at (or near) the table 5-10 minutes before you want to place the soups and other warm dishes. Side items can be warmed while you and your guests are eating, and should be ready alongside with the main dish. But remember, this is about enjoying each others’ company – if something doesn’t come out exactly at the right time, don’t fret! Everyone is simply happy to be together!