Entertaining Preteens and Teens in My New Kitchen
Recently my kitchen was renovated and I have been doing the happy dance. This is something I have been dreaming about for years. After seven weeks of surviving with only a microwave, coffee maker and grill, my dream has come true. I have plenty of cabinet and counter space, a big island and gorgeous new KitchenAid® stainless steel appliances. The open concept design is perfect for entertaining. While I envision the cocktail parties I will be having, my kids have their own plans in mind. School is back in session this week and they want to invite all their friends over. So it’s time to entertain some tween and teens. My new KitchenAid® appliances make it so easy.
Believe it or not, our family has never had a refrigerator with an ice maker in it until now. My kids love our new Architect® Series II French Door Refrigerator and can’t get enough use of it. It is like a new toy for them. My eleven year old son’s job is to make sure we always have a bucket of crushed ice on hand when company is here. Being the math kid he is, he also likes that the fridge digitally shows how many ounces of water he gets from the dispenser. My kids’ favorite smoothie is this strawberry mango one. The crushed ice comes in handy to make a whole batch of smoothies. They are a great energy drink for my son’s friends after a soccer game and my daughter loves making smoothies for breakfast after a sleepover.
While my kids are obsessed with the ice maker, I love the wide drawer that the refrigerator has. It is a perfect place to store prepped food for a teenage party. Like a typical teenage girl, my daughter prefers things her way. Teenagers usually prefer DIY food. So this calls for menu items such as a taco bar, burger bar or make your own pizza. I often chop and prep the ingredients in advance then store everything in my food drawer. It is ready to serve when the kids arrive. If I keep all the ingredients together in the drawer, nothing will be forgotten. The drawer is also perfect for platters filled with appetizers and mini desserts.
When it’s time to get the food ready for a teenagers’ party, nothing beats Double Oven Range with Even-Heat™ Convection. I love being able to heat up taco shells or pizza in one oven while a batch of cookies is baking in the other oven. My kids’ favorite part of the stove is the little griddle that comes on top. It is perfect to make mini grilled cheese sandwiches on it. I am not sure why but tweens and teens love food in small sizes. In fifteen minutes I have a whole plate of mini grilled cheese sandwiches ready to go.
The cast-iron griddle also works great for pancakes and eggs in the morning. Kids need to be fueled up after a sleepover and with the turn of a button the griddle is ready to go. I love making mini pancakes as they are quick to cook and the cuteness factor again comes into play.
Our family likes to finish off a party with an ice cream sundae bar or candy buffet. What kid doesn’t like ice cream or candy? The candy is a perfect centerpiece for the party. You just have to make sure there is no sneaking candy before dinner is consumed. I usually go with a variety of movie type candy since a movie is often shown later in the evening to wind things down. It is fun to put snacks in colorful containers and have a variety on hand.
Here are some tips for having a crowd of teens or preteens over:
Pick a theme such as a movie party, sports party, beach party or something else that kids enjoy. Buy some paper goods to match the theme to make clean up easy.
Choose a menu such as a taco bar, make your own pizza, or burger bar. This gives variety but you don’t have to cook a bunch of different things. Kids like to choose their own food.
Prep as much as you can ahead of time. Let your kids help. Give them jobs to get things ready. For example, they can always help put things in bowls, arrange decorations or set out the paper goods.
Don’t be afraid to buy pre-made food. Lots of times I will make desserts and salad but order the pizza. Other times I will have a homemade taco bar but buy desserts. The less stress the better. Do only as much as you can.
Entertaining preteens and teens can be fun and easy if you prepare in advance. I know I want my kids’ friends over as much as possible so I am always prepared if a few stop by. The teen years will go by quick and your kitchen can create so many memories.