Hosting a Holiday Meal in a Small Kitchen

The best holiday meals come from great recipes and creativity—not kitchen size. Most cooks crave counter and cupboard space, but the best ones know how to make do with what’s available. After all, it’s not the size of the kitchen, but who’s running the show.

After having lived in a few apartments and houses with tiny kitchens and even tinier counters, I’ve learned how to whip up big dinners through a little extra planning. Here are a few of my own tips on how to manage a holiday meal in a small space:

  • Make a few dishes ahead of time. Pick a few recipes that can be made the night before the big day.
    Pumpkin pie can be made a day ahead.
  • Potluck it. Invite guests to bring their own favorite side dish or beverage. You’ll get more variety, plus you’ll free up time to focus on the main course and table settings.
  • Set up a drink station in the dining area so your guests aren’t poking around the kitchen.
  • Get someone else to make the turkey. It’s not a total travesty to pick up a ready-made turkey or ham from a specialty shop, especially if it means it’ll free up oven time. A turkey needs hours of attention defrosting, brining, seasoning and roasting.
  • Embrace the slow cooker. Slow cookers work great for sides. There are plenty of traditional recipes that can be modified for them, and they’ll keep dishes warm throughout dinner.
  • Plan out setting and seating. Sometimes we get so caught up with the food that we forget about presentation. Table settings and seating are just as important as the recipes, so make sure you’ve got plenty for everyone, plus a few extras for last-minute stragglers.

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