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11 Essential Kitchen Items to Always Have for Entertaining

Make sure your space is well-stocked with anything your guests may need.

Even the best hosts can use some refreshers, and that's certainly true when it comes to a room many of us neglect to think about before having people over: the kitchen. Cooking aside, the kitchen tends to be a natural gathering spot, whether guests are grabbing a glass of water or offering to help you with any food prep. With that in mind, it's important that you keep this space well-stocked. To help, we consulted home experts about the things you need in your kitchen when guests come over. Read on to discover 11 essential kitchen items you should always have on hand have when entertaining.

RELATED: 11 Things You Should Put Away When Guests Come Over, Experts Say.

Filtered water and ice

Shot of a unrecognizable person pouring water into a glass outside around a table

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," Rachel Riederman, food stylist, photographer, and author of Once Upon a Rind in Hollywood, says.

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," Virginia Frishkorn, event planner and founder of the party planning platform Partytrick, adds.

Bottle opener

Opening a beer

If you're going to be opening up those beers 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," Frishkorn says. "Since bottle opening can be a challenge for some guests, you may want to consider having both a manual and automatic opener available."

RELATED: 5 Best Things to Ask Guests to Bring to a Dinner Party, Etiquette Experts Say.

Cheese board

Assorted cheeses on a wooden cutting Board. Camembert, brie, Parmesan and blue cheese with grapes and walnuts. White background. Top view.

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," Martijn Bos, owner of Boska Food Tools, says. "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, 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."


Cropped shot of a woman tying her apron in her kitchen

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.

Oven mitts and pot holders

Kitchen glove, potholder, oven protection are hanging over white brick wall. Safety cooking concept. Copy space.

Your guests might also be quick to jump up and try to take food out of the oven—especially if the timer goes off while you're busy taking care of some of your other entertaining duties.

To avoid anyone accidentally burning themselves on a hot dish, Rory Adams, party planner, consultant, and TV writer, notes that you should keep a quality set of oven mitts and pot holder out in the kitchen when hosting.

"Fabric ones with silicone grips are best for getting a firm grasp," he shares.

Fresh sponges

Yellow cleaning sponge and rubber gloves by the kitchen sink,Housework concept

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," Zach Dannett, co-founder of washable rug company Tumble, says. "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.

RELATED: 5 Gross Kitchen Items You Should Be Replacing More Often.

Coffee and milk

Pouring Creamer into a Cup of Coffee

"Coffee is often served with dessert or to prolong the evening after a dinner party," Ben Hewitt, founder and CEO of Zend Coffee, says. So, all home entertainers should keep tea and coffee on hand—both decaf and regular—even if they don't drink it themselves.

Beyond that, you'll also 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," Stoller advises.

Or, ask your guests what their preference is before their arrival.

Plates and utensils

A stack of Pink Plates and a pink bucket filled with forks and knives sitting on a table. Copy Space available.

Your guests shouldn't have to rummage around for basic kitchen necessities. In other words, hosts should always have plates and utensils out that are easily accessible for their guests to take as they please, according to Aleka Shunk, the hosting expert and recipe creator behind Aleka's Get-Together blog.

"I like to set everything up in an organized caddy that includes plates, napkins, plasticware, or silverware straws, and even condiments if needed," she says. "This makes it easy to move around and won't have guests bothering you when something is needed."


Smart wireless speaker isolated on table at kitchen at home close-up blurred background

"Music sets the tone for any kitchen," Genevieve "Jenny" Dreizen, etiquette expert and co-founder of Fresh Starts Registry, tells Best Life. That's why she always advocates for hosts to keep a speaker in their kitchen for music.

"You can get a simple bluetooth speaker and use your phone to control the music," she says. "This will help fill in the background noise, especially as people are getting comfortable with each other."

RELATED: Ina Garten's 7 Favorite Kitchen Items That Are Surprisingly Affordable.

Hand soap and lotion

Cropped shot of a man dispensing soap before washing his hands in the sink

Sure, you probably have hand soap and lotion sitting nearby in your bathroom. But when you're entertaining or hosting, it's a good idea to have these in your kitchen as well, according to Melanie Musson, home expert working with Clearsurance.

"Guests may want to wash their hands before eating, and sometimes, it's more convenient to do that in the kitchen than in the bathroom," she explains.

Universal chargers

Smartphones charged by a laptop computer.

If you truly want to make someone feel at home in your home, keep a set of universal chargers in your kitchen.

"In today's digital age, helping someone keep their devices charged can be as comforting as providing a homemade meal," Steve Schumacher, a longtime landscaping expert who often host clients and vendors in his home, says. "This small but thoughtful gesture has often turned rigorous planning sessions into stress-free, productive encounters."

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

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