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Kitchens aren’t just for Christmas (but it’s a good place to start)
Jo shares her thoughts on what to consider when planning a kitchen to host the festive season - if your kitchen can cope with entertaining at Christmas , it can pretty much handle anything!
Rob and I have been looking at old photos recently and stumbled upon some from Christmas 2019, taken in our new kitchen. We had a wonderful celebration with all of our family, aged between 6 weeks and 80, with various meals including a buffet for 18 and a sit down Christmas dinner for 16. Christmas this year will, sadly, be very different, but it has been lovely looking back fondly at those memories. It’s also got me thinking about kitchen design and planning for entertaining large groups for more than one meal.
Christmas is a great time to get everyone playing their part in preparing the various meals, and we use Christmas Eve to prep the veg for Christmas Day lunch. In planning your kitchen design, think about worktop space, not for just one person, but for several. We had a family team working around the island last Christmas, and the vegetables were done in no time. The worktop space comes in handy when your kids want to bake various different things with their friends at the same time too! Of course, not every kitchen is big enough to have an island, but a dining table can serve the same purpose.
Whilst everyone else is prepping, if you’ve planned it right, you’ll have space to continue with your own cooking and preparation uninterrupted. By introducing an island and/or plenty of worktops, you create space for everyone to share the effort.
Open plan living
We love our open plan living space, with a cosy corner for the grandparents to sit on sofas, observing activity without feeling left out. They’re part of the noise and fun, but can sit back and enjoy it all in comfort.
The island isn’t just for prep, it’s also a great space for serving drinks and canapes, and it houses the wine fridge for easy access when top-ups are needed! The island is also a great spot to lay out breakfast for overnight guests to help themselves, making it easier for everyone to get up and eat when they want (and then load the dishwasher too!).
My advice when thinking about your open plan living space is to imagine all your kitchen scenarios: with your immediate family, for lunches with other families, dinner parties with friends, the kids and their friends, high days and holidays. What’s going to work for you?
My Siemens ovens came into their own last Christmas. Cooking a sit down roast for 16 needs careful planning and my ovens worked brilliantly. The thing I loved most in my new kitchen? The warming drawer which warmed serving bowls and plates effectively. Who doesn’t love a hot plate at Christmas?
The Siemens induction hob was great for anything that wasn’t in the oven. Think carefully about ventilation when you’re planning an entertaining, open plan space. Great extraction is really important, and needs to be quiet too. We have a Fisher & Paykel integrated extractor, which hits the sweet spot in terms of effectiveness, noise and price.
We’re lucky to have a great utility with a large freezer, as well as a garage for
overflow (often used for extra wine and beer!). The garage is nice and cool
at this time of year, so it was useful for storing the prepped vegetables and canapes.
Plan scenarios in your mind when designing your kitchen and utility and use
the space cleverly to make life easy for you before and after the actual entertaining.
We must have made hundreds and hundreds of cups of tea and coffee
since we moved into our new kitchen. Rob, a total teapot, loves our hot
water tap which gives us instant tea, literally on tap. They aren’t cheap
(and be wary of cheaper models that don’t supply truly boiling water) so
are something of a luxury, but if the budget can stretch to one, it’s
definitely worth considering.
Our butler’s pantry is a great place to hide the coffee machine,
enabling me to keep the kitchen surfaces clear whilst having access to
everything I need. Both the tap and the pantry are things I would highly
recommend you include in your planning if you're able to.
So what about this year?
Our plans, much like most people's, look very different to last year. We’re taking our firepit round to my parents for an open air Christmas lunch, eating turkey baps on their terrace. Whilst we'll be sad not to be able to celebrate with everyone as we normally would, we're grateful for what can do and will look forward even more to reunions with family and friends next year. And our kitchen won't be entirely redundant, as we’ll be decorating the Christmas cake and making mince pies and canapes to take around. We’ll look forward to future Christmases where we can share our space with much-loved family and friends.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and with best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year,