One thing a chef with a tiny kitchen fears is a holiday gathering. I recall impolitely ordering relatives out of the room on more than one Thanksgiving evening, because there was not enough room to accommodate meal prep and people standing around. While I think that I am calm and have it all in hand, there seems to be a tipping point. I admit that I lose my composure just before we are ready to serve. Since we are on the eve of major winter holiday, let's look at some positive changes you could make ahead of time to improve things for everyone.
1. Find a way to create a barrier to the kitchen. This could be as simple as shutting the door — if you are lucky enough to have one. If not, you could borrow a portable folding screen and position it across the kitchen opening. A child gate or a pet gate is a humorous way to let your guests know that you mean business. You could always just put chairs across the opening and make a funny sign warning guests against crossing into the twilight zone!
2. Remove all unnecessary items from the counter, such as toasters, toaster ovens and even coffee makers. See if there's another spot for the coffee maker — perhaps in the laundry room, dining room or living room. If so, plug it in so it's ready to go after dinner. I often remove things and place them on top of my washer and dryer in the garage. Get rid of vitamin bottles, bulky mixers and canisters of flour and sugar. Pretend you are preparing for an operation and only the precise tools needed will be allowed.
3. Preset your table. This is sort of a no-brainer, but it needs to be reminded. Set your table the night before, complete with linens, candles and centerpiece — though a bulky centerpiece probably isn't a great idea if you have a small table. I recommend buying a series of tiny shot glasses, putting one or two flower blossoms in them and placing them next to each person's water or wine glass. It's enough to signal a special occasion, and it won't eat up precious table space. Alternatively, you could place a votive candle at each person's place setting as a statement.
4. Serve buffet style. This can be chic and fun. Once the meal is set for serving, cover your sink with a sturdy butcher block and use that space to arrange some of the food. It's difficult, but you can also clean off part of the countertops and use them for buffet space. Or, place a protective covering on a sideboard or buffet top in the dining room and arrange the food (or even just part of the meal). Your coffee table can serve to display dessert dishes, coffee mugs and utensils for later on in the meal.
5. Clear out your refrigerator ahead of time. If you do not have a second refrigerator in the garage or basement, get an ice chest and put it on the back porch. If you live in an apartment, commandeer the balcony or space right outside your front door. In cold weather, lots of bulky food items will keep, such as jugs of milk, apple juice and jars. You can remove jam jars, pickles or condiments that you will not be using for Thanksgiving or Christmas meals.
Photo Credit: Original Style
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.