Summer is a time for celebration (and has been since the 1950s; art above courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com). There will be barbecues, graduations, Father's Day, the Fourth of July, kids birthdays, adult birthdays, and Labor Day blowouts. And the center of a lot of celebration will be your kitchen. Here are three ways to keep your guests safe and your kitchen from looking like a disaster area this summer.
1. Keep outdoor activities outdoors
This sounds like a simple thing, but watch. Kids with squirt guns will chase each other in and out, unless you prevent them, and wet floors are a slipping hazard. The door will remain open for long periods of time, and insects and pests will come in. Beverages will be discarded inside, often by people more focused on going back outside than disposing of the containers responsibly. If you have a pool, make sure guests using it have floats and towels, and give them a place to dry off before they come back in the house. Make sure sunscreen is applied outdoors, not in the kitchen.
Set up areas for barbecue prep and recycling of cans and bottles outdoors, to minimize wear and tear on the kitchen. Make sure your guests have access to insect repellant and shade, to keep them from having to go in and out. Make sure any meat preparation platters or cutting boards go into a bag to take them inside later. Don't cut or place cooked meat on the platter that was used to prep it. Make sure the chef at the barbecue station has a meat thermometer to make sure food is properly prepared. Make sure leftovers are refrigerated properly and promptly.
2. Keep a loose lid on activities
Summer parties can easily get out of hand because inhibitions are looser and activities are more informal. Make sure guests put drinks on coasters and food on plates; your kitchen countertop may be stain resistant, but that doesn't mean it cannot be difficult to clean, especially if a food or liquid sits on it for hours under a wet napkin. Be sure you know who is attending, especially for parties such as graduation bashes; party crashers often feel no compunction about causing damage deliberately because they don't know the host and hostess. Don't overserve your guests; keep loose tabs on the consumption of adult beverages. Make sure other guests are available to serve as designated drivers. Keep an eye on chafing dishes or crockpots, and don't let guests injure themselves or damage your kitchen cabinets and tops. Hopping up to sit on a countertop may seem like a good idea to Uncle Leopold, but its really not.
Avoid guests having to constantly open the refrigerator or freezer, open the cabinets and drawers, or turn on the stove. Utensils you suspect will be needed should be readily available where you can supervise. If you allow smoking in your home, keep a special eye out to be sure ashtrays are being used properly.
3. Make it more than just your responsibility
Having a friend help you out with the hosting duties will keep you from being overstressed and allow you to have more fun. Tell your guests at the start who is helping and make sure they know not to use the appliances or rummage by themselves through drawers or cabinets. Having an extra pair of eyes is especially helpful with kids and teens.
When it's clean-up time, clean up should start immediately. Don't put off wiping down the counters and the cabinets, and wash the dishes as soon as possible. Watch out for paring and other knives and put them in the flatwear tray point downward. Make sure the garbage is disposed of promptly and properly; put bags in receptacles, rather than loose outdoors where animals can get at them. Make sure the barbecue is out and not a fire hazard. Watch for any broken glass or plates. Again, having a friend help will make the chore less onerous and more fun. And if you're a guest at someone else's summer gathering, consider volunteering to help them.