Want to entertain some guests but don’t have access to your kitchen, or any kitchen? Check out these five ways to have guests over and not use the kitchen!
If you have been following my Instagram feed you might have seen that we are renovating our kitchen right now. A whole month without a kitchen is a test of patience and the strength of your marriage. Even when you plan everything, you can’t plan for everything. You can plan to entertain some guests, though!
Our renovation started a week before I initially planned which threw all my last minute cooking and recipe photography sessions out the window. Thank goodness I have friends that allow me to take over their kitchens and cook my recipes at their house.
Remember my Spicy Skillet Arrabbiata Dip that I posted three weeks ago? That recipe was made and photographed at my friend Chrissy’s house. You might remember her as a guest writer here and her recipes for Pickled Red Onions and a fabulous Basil Martini with Black Pepper and Lime. She also knows how to entertain like a champ!
Not having a kitchen poses many challenges when it comes to entertaining but it doesn’t have to.
While preparing to renovate our kitchen we celebrated with one last dinner for our friends which we dubbed the “Demo Dinner.” The next week demolition began. We still managed to entertain our friends a few more times during the 5-week process and that got me thinking.
What tips can I share with you that helped me get through the renovation and make it easier for you to entertain guests if you are ever without a kitchen like me? Or if you have a kitchen but you don’t feel like getting it dirty. Maybe you are camping and a kitchen is just not available. Whatever the reason, you may need to serve food or drinks, without the luxury of a sink, a fridge, a stove, or a dishwasher.
Here are 5 tips that will make it easier to entertain or host guests, and yes, feed them too, without a kitchen.
Make use of your coolers!
This may sound like a no-brainer, but there are so many ways you can use your cooler or coolers. Yes, they keep your drinks cold. Slap some beers, sodas, and a few bottles of water in there with a bag of ice and presto. Drinks are ready. But what if you have more than drinks? We currently have 7 coolers of various shapes and sizes and my favorite is our large Yeti cooler. I love it because I can keep so many things in it at once.
Yes, it does weigh a ton, but once it gets to its destination, you can keep things cold for days. I also like it for its size. It is possible to host a whole party out of my yeti!
Here I have lined my cooler with 3 different bags, each one containing ice, but for different purposes.
On the left, it keeps the drinks cool.
In the middle is clean ice with a scoop. If you are serving drinks in cups and need ice that hasn’t touched the dirty side of your bottles and cans, this is a necessity. Do you really wash your cans off before dumping them in the cooler? I didn’t think so. No one does.
The third compartment is for the food. I have portioned out fruit and chip & dip cups (no kitchen needed) and placed them in the “food section.” Now I have food, drinks, and clean ice. Feel free to make more than 3 compartments or use 3 different coolers for each of these uses. Now you have multiple “refrigerators” that are portable!
2. Paper or disposable items.
Excuse me while I state another “no-brainer” but use disposable everything. Yes, they cost money. They make extra trash. Yes, this a common sense tip and you probably wonder why I bother even writing it.
I said it because sometimes in my completely packed with useless stuff brain, I forget the little things. I can do advanced math in a pinch but can’t remember what letter comes after “P” in the alphabet without actually singing the song in my head. Or that I have paper plates in the closet.
This tip goes beyond the paper plates and cups and that is why I am mentioning it. In our disposable world, you can get everything “to-go” in a container that you can throw away. This is certainly counter-productive to all the “Green” living tips out there, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and make a little trash.
There are disposable products out there made from sustainable, biodegradable, sea turtle and dolphin friendly material if you are so inclined. Seeing $$$? No, I don’t have $54 to spend on bamboo spoons so I just get what is at the store. Buying in bulk might save a few bucks if you have the storage space.
These disposable items helped me get through my kitchen renovation without going completely insane. I was only 75% insane. And now I’m back to a normal 47%.
Back to my disposable tip. I opted for smaller plates rather than the full-size dinner plates. You get more per pack and it helps people control their portions. Double win. Instead of regular sized napkins, I opted for cocktail napkins.
Same principle as before, smaller napkins, more per pack. Basic white and inexpensive. I even went for a disposable tablecloth made from painter’s floor paper. I have a roll on hand from the renovation so I added some writing on it and now it’s a tablecloth.
That I can just pick up and toss when we are done.
The other disposable product I found were these 5-ounce cups with lids. During the reno, no dishwasher. I washed a few dishes in the bathtub in the downstairs bathroom, but that is not something I wish to repeat. I grabbed a package of these cups at the store because they are the perfect size for fruit cups, jello, chips (so they don’t get crushed!) and even cheese cubes. Perfect size for party servings!
I always have some disposable plates, cutlery, cups, serving dishes, serving spoons, and even disposable steam tables on hand. You don’t have to be as stocked up as I am but it is nice to have the essentials for when you are without a kitchen.
3: Serve single portion dishes that don’t require a plate.
My third tip is to serve pre-portioned or single-serve foods. Yes, you will pay a little more to buy things that are pre-packaged because the wrapper people have to make money too. Normally I buy the bulk bags of chips and pretzels and then portion them out for lunches and you can do the same for your party or gathering. You don’t have to buy them already portioned, do that at home. Or wherever you are going to entertain. Grab your disposable cups and portion away!
Another great thing to get is sliced meats and cheeses from the deli. A pound of sliced meat and cheese, some rolls from the deli that I asked them to slice for me while I was there, and a package of lettuce leaves is all I need for sliders. I roll out my butcher paper, assemble my sandwiches, and then wrap them back up in parchment paper. Label them and off you go!
Place the sandwiches on a tray with your portioned snacks, maybe some condiments, and you have a lunch spread that is totally portable and totally disposable! My condiments are in small squirt bottles that I can toss as they are less than $1 or I can store in my cooler until I get near my kitchen again.
My carrot dippers are made from store bought ranch dip that I scooped in the bottom of my disposable cups and then added some pre-sliced carrot chips. No knife needed, only a spoon for the dip. I think you can even buy the dip in a squirt bottle now. Either way, I didn’t need a kitchen to make lunch and no dishes to wash!
My wrapped sandwiches stay fresh and with a marker, I just scribbled a label on them. Enjoy!
4. Entertain in another room of your house.
If your friends are like mine or any other group of people on the planet, everyone always hangs out in the kitchen. Even if you are not eating, everyone will end up there. My old kitchen was about 4 feet square and I hosted Thanksgiving for 48 people one year. Everyone always ends up in the kitchen. No matter how small, it is still the best room in the house. My new kitchen is still the same size but with fewer cabinets and it is still the hangout room.
To remedy this situation, dress up another room or space so you don’t have to go into the kitchen. For any reason!
Here is an example. You run into the kitchen to get ice. Someone follows you because you are in the middle of a conversation. After you get the ice, you stand there and finish talking, and someone comes looking for you. They stay to join the conversation and soon 85 people are all jammed in there again.
The solution is to stay out of the kitchen at all cost. The way to do that is to have everything you need to entertain in another room.
One example would be a portable bar station. Most of the time when we host guests, they are really just here to hang out, have a cocktail, and chat. You certainly don’t need a kitchen for that. Drinks, friends, and chairs. That’s it! Let’s take the drinks and everything that goes with them, in the living room.
My portable bar is the table beside my couch that usually holds a lamp and a small portion of my magazine collection. Move the table to the front of the fireplace. Why there? I can utilize the mantle above it as another shelf! Bring in all the cups (disposable or not) mixers, spirits, stir sticks or spoons, and the cocktail shaker. You will need an ice bucket or cooler. Cocktail napkins, and garnishes. If we are totally going kitchen-less bring in a container to toss extra liquids. The watered down last three sips of a drink that no one wants to finish has to go somewhere…
A dark container, preferably with a lid, can sit somewhere on the bar cart too.
What else do you need?
Don’t forget a small trash can for used garnishes, stir sticks, and empty cups or bottles. On such a small cart you don’t have space for empty juice containers and used toothpicks. I know you are going to point out that I have real drinking glasses on my bar cart. You can still use real stemware if you are hosting just have a bucket, or an empty laundry basket, around to place the dirty dishes when done. You can always drape a tablecloth over the cart when you start and then tuck the basket behind it.
Having a portable bar cart, or even a temporary bar like this one will keep your guests happy and out of your kitchen.
5. Lots of activities to distract from hovering in a kitchen.
The best way to keep your kitchen empty is to plan some activities that keep everyone out. Taking your guests outside and locking the door might work but eventually, someone will need to use the bathroom. Food and drinks in a different location are a great way to lure guests out of the kitchen but keeping them out is the trick. You need to entertain them!
Cornhole is a great game for socializing and you can still hold a drink in one hand. A major plus is that it is outside! A small fire pit, a few ghost stories, and some s’mores work great too. A board game or a deck of cards in the living room make for a great Friday night. We have spent many a night playing Cards Against Humanity but our game of choice now is Baja 10,000.
Baja 10,000 is dice game that you can play anywhere! There is even a dice game APP for your phone in case you don’t have a table handy. You can check out the rules for Baja 10K on the interweb. I know you will be hooked like us!
Whatever activity you choose for your party, make sure it will keep them out of the kitchen!
I hope these 5 tips help you entertain your guests without a kitchen. Hosting is never simple but you can make it a huge success with some planning, some disposable items, and a few coolers.
Let me know how you gather friends and family. Be sure to take pictures and tag me on social media with #taketwotapas and #hostingwithoutakitchen