Yes, you can prepare the big meal while also entertaining your guests.
The kitchen is center stage for get-togethers in your home—and the spotlight shines especially bright there at Thanksgiving.
Although you may be tempted to scream, “Everybody out!” so you can toil in solitude for hours, you might also want your kitchen to be a welcoming gathering place as much as a functional workspace. This can be particularly challenging in a smaller area with limited countertops, but it’s possible.
With these tips, you can deliver a delectable meal with a side of great company on Turkey Day—no spacious kitchen required.
1. Move things around. Think critically about whether the setup in and around your kitchen is ideal for your cooking and hosting needs. If it’s not, change what you can. Remove the toaster, blender and other unneeded appliances from the counters and store them elsewhere for the day. Consider new uses for furniture—for example, your small high-top table could be moved to the dining room and repurposed as a receiving area for food brought by guests.
2. Relocate the refreshments. Want your friends and family within earshot but not underfoot? Set up a station with drinks and appetizers just outside the kitchen or wherever you want people to congregate. They will go where there is wine and cheese and apple cider. If you have a relative who’s up for the task, ask him or her to bartend with a fun—and simple—signature family cocktail.
3. Clean up and organize. Before you start any food prep, check out the fridge and pantry. Toss expired and rotten food and wipe down surfaces. Put the ingredients you’ll need from the pantry on one shelf for easy access. A little organization now means you won’t waste valuable time looking for what you need while cooking.
4. Make as much as you can ahead of time. Who says most of the work has to happen on Thursday? Green bean casserole and cheesy potatoes can be assembled on Tuesday, as long as they’re covered and refrigerated, and then popped in the oven to cook on Thanksgiving. Potatoes can be peeled on Wednesday and stored in cold water in the fridge, ahead of boiling and mashing.
5. Set your schedule. Ensuring all of the dishes finish at the right time and stay hot for the start of the meal is challenging enough, even without a kitchen full of guests. Plan ahead to keep the order of events clear: The turkey goes in the oven at 10 a.m.; the rolls are warmed at 2 p.m. Don’t be afraid to post the schedule on the fridge—it might inspire others to ask how they can chip in.
6. Enlist help. If people are going to be in the kitchen, they might as well contribute to a successful meal. You can ask Aunt Mary to toss the salad while Cousin Mike reheats the gravy. Some of the children can lend a hand with cleanup. Having friends and family help with all aspects of the meal—not just eating—can make Thanksgiving at your home all the more memorable.
Are you really ready for your party? Before the guests show up, make sure you follow these tips for setting up your house and keeping your sanity.