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Seven Steps to a Party-Ready Kitchen

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People in Kitchen Having a PartyMost people I know with both a kitchen and a dining room rarely ever use the dining room. Though the kitchen is traditionally seen as the workspace whereas the dining room is the area for entertainment, the line has increasingly grown blurred. This is partly because casual entertaining is far more popular now than the formal dinner party and can be much quicker to plan for the average family or professional’s busy schedule.

Entertaining doesn’t have to be a long-thought out affair; in fact, this defeats the purpose of a fun gathering altogether. If your friends, boss, or family drop in on the fly, here are seven ways to keep your kitchen party-ready.

1. Keep an attractive bar. You can designate an area of the counter to hold your favorite liquors, some glasses, and an ice bucket. Display them on a tray with sturdy handles, or creatively on a vintage bar cart. For guests not drinking alcohol, be sure to have not only the basics like club soda on hand, but also some fun Italian sodas or a punch filled pitcher.

2. Hang a chalkboard up on a bare wall. Or even better, outfit an entire wall with chalkboard paint. When you’re not entertaining, you can write notes to your family, a to-do list, or grocery shopping notes. Before guests arrive, take two minutes to write a welcome message in colorful chalk, and list any signature drinks or appetizers of the evening. Even if they are quite simple or pulled straight from a Trader Joe’s box into the oven, listing the “menu” will give guests the impression that their evening was carefully curated and planned just for them!

3. Set up some bar stools. You can invest in a matching set like these rustic tractor stools from Restoration Hardware, or scrounge your local flea market for mismatched ones for a more bohemian vibe. Either way, stools give guests a comfortable place to perch, and still be part of the conversation by being more eye-level with those who are standing.

4. Install a dimmer switch and keep candles handy. When guests arrive, lower the lights a bit to create the ambience you are looking to achieve. Non-scented (scented ones will mix with food smells) candles placed strategically to highlight pretty food items are best.

5. Keep a supply of large bowls. When you’re not entertaining, large bowls can be used for mixing or displaying fruit decoratively and practically. Five minutes before guests arrive, dump a bag of chips, pretzels, or pita chips into a beautiful bowl.

6. Consider a kitchen island during your remodel. Islands can be a not only stylish, but very social component to a kitchen. Guests can sit around it, as well as interact with the host/cook directly while he/she is preparing appetizers, if the range is on the island. If you’re remodeling, look at your budget and see if a kitchen island, complete with cabinets underneath, will fit. It will also add storage space.

7. Always have fun photo-ready props. How fun are these DIY photo booth props? The great thing is that you don’t need to set up a photobooth to use them. All you need is a smartphone camera and some silly friends who are game to start the fun. Make them ahead of time and lay them out alongside the table as decor and conversation pieces, and watch as everyone has a blast with them!

What are your tips for entertaining on the fly? Is your kitchen party-ready?

(Photo via Oh Happy Day)

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