5 Kitchen Tips for a Fuss-Free Holiday Party

by Miele

Roast turkey, buttery mashed potatoes and sage stuffing. Sugar cookies, pine needles and a crackling fire. These festive scents fill our houses with warmth and joy during the holidays, signaling a time for family, friends and parties. While many cherished moments are born at winter gatherings, hosting one isn’t always as easy as (pumpkin) pie. Start with these tips from Miele, a premium appliance brand, to help things go off without a hitch this season.

Take Stock of Your Supplies

Map out your menu about three weeks before your party to hammer out any new dishes or special dietary needs early. Check that you have the cookware, silverware and dinnerware for everything and everyone you’re serving; if you’re feeding a crowd, you might need more glasses. Remember basics such as:

  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Plastic wrap, foil and storage containers
  • Roasting pans and cookie sheets
  • Garbage bags
  • Napkins and linens

Next, go through your pantry and refrigerator. It’s all too easy to pull out that bag of flour from behind the spices and discover that it’s expired. Save yourself last-minute grocery sprints and make sure you have items such as:

  • Cooking oil
  • Tea, coffee and hot cocoa
  • Wine, beer, cocktail ingredients and non-alcoholic options
  • Seasonings and spices: salt, pepper, garlic, sage, cinnamon, etc.
  • Baking essentials: sugar, flour, butter, baking soda and baking powder

Clear out any expired food (in both your pantry and refrigerator) to make sure you have room for your holiday meal ingredients, leftovers and gifted cookies.

Ready Your Appliances

Test out each appliance well before the holidays to avoid any turkey horror stories. If something is on the fritz and the repair costs aren’t worth the trouble, replace it with a model that will improve your party prep. For instance, you can multitask with a 48-inch range with double ovens and warming drawer, such as the one seen here. It offers automatic programs with pre-calculated cooking times and methods, and automatic or manual bursts of steam for better baking and roasting.

Clear out your dishwasher drain and run a cycle with a cup of white vinegar followed by a short, hot cycle with baking soda. Use your oven’s self-cleaning cycle at least three weeks before your party — especially if it’s older — rather than the day before. It gets very hot and could trigger a breakdown (for both of you).

Prep Early

Cook or prepare everything you can in advance so you can focus on the main dishes and holiday fun on the big day. A range that features a rapid-preheat oven and a cooktop with precise simmering makes heating food easy. Warming drawers and double ovens, such as the one seen here, also come in handy. You can prepare the following foods early to save time later:

  • Mashed potatoes; protect them in the freezer by adding plenty of full-fat dairy
  • Cranberry sauce; keep in the fridge for 10 to 14 days
  • Gravy; use turkey parts to make an authentic stock and then freeze
  • Cooked pumpkin, sweet potato or squash; puree and freeze for soups, pies and sides
  • Cookie dough; freeze in balls or logs
  • Veggies; wash, peel and chop hardier vegetables the night before

Get Guests Involved

Provide easy, hands-on appetizers and drinks to get the conversation flowing and save prep time. Try a DIY cocktail bar with simple recipes, a make-your-own crostini platter or cookie decorating for the kids (and kids at heart).

Set up a kids station away from the cooking to protect the mini-helpers. Keep electrical cords, hot dishes and sharp utensils away from counter edges, and lock your oven with a latch or built-in lock feature. As an extra precaution, choose a range surface, such as the one seen here, that stays cool to prevent burns.

Simplify Cleanup

Plan your post-meal strategy so you’re not run off your feet when the tryptophan kicks in. Empty the dishwasher before guests arrive, and provide labeled buckets for food bits, dishes, glasses and cutlery to streamline loading. Many dishwasherslet you skip the pre-rinse, so don’t feel guilty if you don’t scrape off every crumb.

Line roasting pans and baking sheets with foil to stop food bits from burning on, and fill your sink with hot, soapy water to soak cookware as you use it. Give surfaces a quick wipedown, have guests package their own leftovers and then relax. Most of the cleanup can wait until the next morning, when holiday cookies aren’t calling your name.

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