6 Items You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen When Guests Come Over
Home experts say a well-stocked kitchen is essential when entertaining.
Spring is here, and that opens the door to all sorts of excuses to do more entertaining. And the center of any great dinner party or cocktail hour is going to be the kitchen. It's where you'll prepare appetizers and make drinks, but it also tends to be a natural gathering spot, whether guests are grabbing a glass of water or offering to help you with the prep work. Since this room is such an important focus of any social gathering, we consulted home experts about the items you need in your kitchen when guests come over. Read on to learn what you should always have on hand so they'll have a relaxed and enjoyable stay.
Filtered Water and Ice
Yes, we can always round up a case of water bottles, but this can get expensive and it's also not very sustainable. A pitcher filled with fresh, cold, filtered water is something everyone will appreciate. Keep it full and easily accessible.
"It's great to have a pitcher of cold water with fresh citrus slices available in the fridge, and bottles of seltzer," says Rachel Riederman, food stylist, photographer, and author of Once Upon a Rind in Hollywood: 50 Movie-Themed Cheese Platters and Snack Boards for Film Fanatics.
Jane Stoller, aka Organized Jane, a productivity and organizing expert and the author of Decluttering for Dummies, also emphasizes the importance of ice, especially if your fridge doesn't have an automatic ice maker. She recommends grabbing an extra bag from the store.
"As a host, you never want to offer someone a warm beverage, so having enough [ice] is a must," adds Virginia Frishkorn, an event planner and founder of the party planning platform Partytrick.
If you're going to be opening up that favorite mineral water or wine bottle that your friend was kind enough to bring, an easily accessible bottle opener is another essential.
"This provides a safe, convenient, and efficient way for [guests] to open beer, wine, or glass-bottled beverages," says Frishkorn. "Since bottle opening can be a challenge for some guests, you may want to consider having both a manual and automatic opener available."
It's important to have easy-to-grab snacks so guests will feel comfortable nibbling and mingling.
"When I have my friends over, I love throwing a party of different bites on the table that are go-to crowd pleasers," says Martijn Bos, owner of Boska Food Tools. "It all starts with a long cheese board—one that covers most of the table so all the guests can reach it."
As for what to put on the board, Bos typically goes for five types of cheese—"fresh, white , blue (vain), red (washed rind), and hard (old gouda)." And don't forget to include an individual knife or spreader for each, "so there is no cross-contamination."
As Stoller notes, guests are very likely to offer to help with cooking or serving, so having cute aprons in the kitchen is a nice touch.
"They are very handy to have on hand when hosting as we all want to keep our clothes clean," she says.
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A Fresh Sponge
Sponges are among the main kitchen items that harbor germs and bacteria, especially if you wait too long to replace them.
"While they can be sanitized, I prefer using a new sponge when guests come over," shares Zach Dannett, co-founder of washable rug company Tumble. "I'd want [guests] to see my kitchen clean and feel that the food I serve them and the utensils and kitchenware we use are all clean."
And since gracious guests may offer to help with the dishes, you'll want to be sure the sponge they pick up is nice and fresh.
Coffee and Milk
"Coffee is often served with dessert or to prolong the evening after a dinner party," says Ben Hewitt, founder and CEO of Zend Coffee. So, all home entertainers should keep tea and coffee on hand—both decaf and regular—even if they don't drink it themselves.
With that, you'll want to have sugar and milk options. "Everyone has different dietary restrictions these days so be sure to stock up on a variety of milk… such as oat, almond, soy, coffee creamer, and the good old fashioned kind," advises Stoller. Or, ask your guests what their preference is before their arrival.