Next weekend begins the wonderful holiday season and may bring friends and family to your dining room table for a delicious holiday meal. This is a perfect time to think about your kitchen and dining room in light of larger entertaining that goes on during the Masters Tournament. When we first began renting, many years ago, our group had their cook meet with me beforehand. It was an enlightening meeting, as I suddenly saw my cupboards through new eyes. Here are some things that I learned to consider. 1. Dishes. Many of us have formal ware that we bring out for holiday time. These dishes are usually more expensive, and often hand wash only. You won't want your Masters guests using these, so you need to take stock of your everyday ware. If you are sleeping 8-10 guests, do your dishes reflect this? You should consider having 12 place settings at the ready, as there will always be that late night snacker that used a dish or two that may still be upstairs. Our personal everyday dishes are now out of stock so they are running about 75.00 per plate to repurchase. That is simply too great a responsibility for our renters. Our solution? I watched for pretty dinner plates at Walmart and mixed them with dessert plates and bowls from sales at Pier One. Our home sleeps 12 so there are 14 place settings which stay in storage and are swapped out prior to Masters. 2. Silverware. I"ll start by saying put your formal silver away. Do not worry yourself with whether or not they will lose a piece of silver, handed down three generations. Remove it from the scene. Next, count your everyday silverware. Do you have an ample amount of forks, knives, spoons? Missing pieces can be ordered over the internet. Do you have steak knives? (Do you have good kitchen knives?) You should have more silverware on hand than guests you are sleeping. There will always be a few in the dishwasher. 3. Glassware. Just as with your precious silver, put away expensive glassware and remove it from your worry equation. But replace it with what your guests may need. Do you have ample water glasses, wine glasses, margarita glasses, shot glasses, drink ware? We stock up on glasses via TJ Maxx, Ross, etc... and realize a good many get broken during that week. And because we've replaced our expensive glassware with "ready to toss", we don't care if they break a few glasses. 4. Bar ware: Do you have a cocktail shaker? Cocktail tools? Small ice bucket? I have never had a year of renting where the guests did not set up a bar somewhere in the house and they expect a way to use it. 5. Pots and Pans: Do you have larger pots and pans for your guests to cook large meals? What works for a family of four won't work for a group of 10. Be sure you have some larger items in good order. 6. Serving ware: Do you have large platters, bowls, serving spoons? Your guests will be setting out breakfast and dinners for more than just a few. And speaking of breakfast...7. Coffee pots and carafes. Oftentimes one person is in charge of pulling breakfast together. Consequently, they are making coffee for 10 or 12 at once. We offer our guests two coffee pots (one for decaf and one for regular) as well as a Keurig, and two carafes to hold waiting coffee, as often guests will head to the kitchen at the same time. (If you want to be sure your mugs don't end up at the National, it's wise to purchase some styrofoam cups with lids.)
If you are entertaining this Thanksgiving, you are suddenly cooking meals for a crew. Jot down things that would make your week go more smoothly and watch for these items as you are doing Christmas shopping. Your cupboards should be uniform, well stocked, and easy to use. That does not mean you have to spend a fortune, and in many ways, it is better to furnish your guests with pretty things that are not so costly, in case of breakage. Don't make guests guess. If you bought your pasta bowl in Italy and it cost 200.00, put it AWAY. Pick up a pasta bowl at HomeGoods for 10.00 and call it a day. But have a pasta bowl. And salad tongs. And all the things you'd desire if you were entertaining your family in someone else's home for Thanksgiving. This is a very good time to consider how your kitchen functions with a large group.
Laurie Easterlin is the author of "So You're Renting Your Home for the Tournament" and is available to talk to women's groups and garden clubs about her system of creating a gracious space for Masters renters.