The classic saying “The kitchen is the heart of the home” is never truer than when the holidays come around.
This season marks a special connecting of people as our nearest and dearest take a break from the scattered chaos of normal life and gather together in a meaningful way. Our fondest memories of this time of year are unsurprisingly often focused around food! With the warmth and delicious smells of a homely kitchen, everyone gravitates together to help with festive preparations and to simply enjoy sharing the space. This casual and precious bonding experience belongs in the kitchen, and so organizing this room to accommodate those treasured moments is well worth doing. Let's look at some ways we can facilitate a smoothly running kitchen that everyone can enjoy.
Time For A Clear Out
When hosting family and friends, our kitchen will see its heaviest use. The run-up to the holidays is a perfect moment to have a good clear out, so that when everyone descends you are stocked up with only what you need. Have a good deep clean of your cupboards and get rid of unwanted and out of date items. Clear all of your surface areas so there will be plenty of space for your loved ones to lend a helping hand. If you've simply got too much stuff, some items can always make a temporary migration to the loft or elsewhere out of sight. Clean out your fridge and freezer to make room for storing all the delicious things you are soon to prepare and create easy storage for the inevitable seasonal over catering! Decadent leftovers in the freezer can offer some fantastic treats to lift your spirits during the remaining winter months.
Fashion For Efficiency
When it comes to the demands of food-prep for any gathering, prioritising what we will need and storing it accordingly will make a big difference. Consider what items in your cupboards will be used, such as spices and dried goods and move them forwards so they will be easily accessible when needed. Organise your appliances and utensils so that those destined for heavy use are first at hand. If your catering is going to be quite complicated you may even wish to arrange everything based around your meal plans. Inventory items such as cutlery, crockery, glasses, coffee cups and so on to ensure you have enough for everyone, plus a few spares for the inevitable breakages that go with times of celebration or the arrival of unexpected guests.
Make It Fragrant
We've all had that experience where a specific smell suddenly pulls us back into a vivid memory of a moment long past. Scents are surprisingly powerful in conjuring memories and emotions, and we all associate certain smells with home and the festive season. We can invoke those sentiments with beautiful scented decorations, and create associated memories that will make every member of our family think of holidays at home whenever they catch a sniff of a cinnamon latte! Try creating decorative wreaths and garlands using fresh pine clippings, dried oranges decorated with cloves, cinnamon sticks, rosemary and eucalyptus sprigs. Your kitchen will smell so delicious, nobody will be able to stay away!
A Breakfast Bar
When we have a houseful and everyone is in holiday mode we might find that a sit-down breakfast with everyone together is not the best, or easiest option. Why not opt for a casual breakfast bar where all can help themselves to whatever they fancy. Try putting the toaster, bread bin and coffee machine together in a convenient corner along with cups, crockery, cereals and condiments. You can make it fun and aesthetic by putting breakfast cereals in some beautiful glass jars. Add some fresh fruit and a big jug of fresh orange juice and everyone will be excited to dig in.
Cosy ambient lighting really brings a kitchen to life. If you feel like your kitchen is lacking that special glow consider adding some warm down lights to your kitchen units. Strip lights can easily be retro-fitted. Add a bit of seasonal flare with some twinkling fairy lights and the space will look magic!
Piping Hot Mulled Wine
A big pot of mulled wine with a ladle stationed on the stove will add to the delicious scents and is bound to keep the adults happy! Cook up some red wine with cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, lemon rind and a little sugar to taste. The gorgeous flavours will keep getting stronger so you simply need to top up your pot with red wine and sugar as it goes down. Every time the pot is heated the spicy scent will waft right through the house. This is a wonderful beverage to enjoy at a New Years Eve gathering!
Much akin to the breakfast bar, drinks stations make everyone feel welcome to come and help themselves and make your role as the host much easier. Create some exciting drinks stations for alcoholic and soft drinks. A firm favourite is a tea station with some jars of dried ginger slices, citrus peels, cinnamon sticks and honey to make yummy winter teas to keep the cold at bay. You can offer festive hot chocolates revved up with gingerbread spices to the kids happy and keep a jug of water in the fridge with rosemary sprigs and orange slices for some flavoured hydration. An alcohol bar can be great fun as everyone lets their hair down for a few days. This could be on your kitchen counter, a window sill with some added decorations or you may wish to invest in a trolley that can be rolled out to wherever the merriment is unfolding!
Create A Checklist
Make a checklist of everything you will need to avoid last minute stress! Thinking everything through, from wine to decorative napkins, from snacks and nibbles down to your main ingredients lists for big meals, will mean your kitchen is fully stocked and ready to rock. The kitchen will be prepared and welcoming, so you can put more of your focus into enjoying the company of the ones you love.