Galanz toaster oven

Holiday entertaining means spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and probably using several small appliances. It’s all about having a good time, and there’s no better way to do that than over a delicious plate of appetizers, an indulgent meal, or a delectable dessert with coffee. Sound good? You can make your life easier with useful small appliances that maximize your time and effort in the kitchen while entertaining this holiday season.

A toaster oven or air fryer for appetizers and finger foods

Bella Pro air fryer

Toaster ovens and air fryers are both great for cooking, but you know what else they are good for? Reheating! I can’t count how many times I entertain or visit my parents’ place and we play musical chairs with the dishes that need reheating in the oven. I bring something, my sister brings something, my mom has cooked ahead several dishes, and they all need to be reheated before they go on the table. Usually, what happens is we end up with at least one stone-cold dish like mashed sweet potatoes that simply didn’t have enough time to reheat throughout. That is, until my mom got a toaster oven. These are great not just for cooking (and toasting, of course) but also reheating. The same goes for an air fryer. In fact, I use the reheat function on my air fryer just as often as I use the cook function. There’s so much an air fryer can do, and you can learn about all their functions in our air fryer buying guide.

Along with reheating dishes you have made in advance or that others have brought to your potluck, both these small appliances are great for cooking or heating frozen (or fresh) finger foods. Use these to make something quickly that guests can munch on while waiting for dinner to be ready. Pop in a batch of French fries, mini sausage rolls, or mini quiches and serve it in 10-15 minutes – no preheating time necessary nor watching the clock to prevent them from burning if you get caught up in conversation. (Yes, this happened to me once when I left a tray of homemade cinnamon buns in my cousin’s oven while getting sidetracked listening to her daughter play piano). Air fryers are quick, simply, and worry-free, ideal for when you have a million things on your mind trying to host the perfect party. Want to get the best of both worlds? There are toaster ovens with air fry functions built-in, too!

KitchenAid food processor

Food processor for easier prep

A food processor is such a multifunctional small appliance, it can come in handy with prep for so much. With the right model and attachments, it can do everything from chop nuts for your salad to grate cheese for the potatoes and carrots for the homemade carrot cake, slice potatoes for a scalloped potatoes dish, and even blend ingredients for homemade dip to go with cut vegetables and chips. I used mine this week for a pecan-crusted tilapia dinner. I tossed in some pecans, pressed the pulse button, and the nuts were ready in mere seconds. Cleanup was also a breeze. Compared to the old way of slamming a rolling pin over the nuts while in a Ziplock bag then rolling it back and forth (yes, I used to do this, though my son loved helping), I can’t believe I hadn’t invested in one sooner.

Instant Pot for sides and even homemade gifts

Instant Pot Duo Plus

I’m constantly singing the praises of the Instant Pot, but for good reason. It’s a small appliance I use almost daily for years and has really made a difference in my kitchen. For holiday entertaining, it’s a great way to cook things like potatoes, corn on the cob, rice, mac and cheese, or other side dishes. It leaves the stove burners open for your other dishes and gravoes and it will keep the item warm inside until you’re ready to serve. For gatherings, I’ll usually do a mac and cheese in the Instant Pot for kids, which is always a hit. I have made scalloped potatoes right in the pot as well. But for cooking potatoes or corn, it’s such a timesaver since you don’t need to fill a pot with boiling water, wait for it to boil, wait for the potatoes to cook, drain the water, then mash, cut, or season. Toss them into the Pot with a cup of water on the bottom, press a button, then move on to other tasks.

You can also get creative with the Instant Pot for holiday entertaining. Ahead of the gathering, make homemade jam, vanilla extract, or lemon curd, all common things with adventurous Instant Pot users. Bottle it up in mason jars with a red bow and tag, and gift this to guests as they leave. They’ll love the personal touch and appreciate the time and effort you put into the gift. Learn about the different Instant Pot models in our Instant Pot buying guide to choose the best one to meet your needs .

Stand mixer for baking

what can you bake with a stand mixer

Holiday entertaining and my stand mixer go hand-in-hand. It usually gets put through its paces in the weeks leading up to the big day. That’s because it becomes my baking sous chef. I usually make anywhere from five to seven different types of cookies in massive batches. My son and I decorate, ice, or assemble them, depending on the type of cookie. Then we package and gift to friends, family, neighbours, and others. My stand mixer helps mix batter for sugar, gingerbread, and Linzer cookies, whip batter for shortbread, and make homemade royal icing. If I make a pie of some kind, I’ll whip fresh cream to top it off on the day of the party.

I have a KitchenAid stand mixer and what I love about the brand is the exciting attachments you can buy to use with it. With these, you could do everything from make homemade pasta noodles for a lasagna to grind meat you buy in bulk for a shepherd’s pie and even make shaved ice for a sweet dessert treat or boozy cocktail. Learn more about this brand and other stand mixers in the stand mixers buying guide.

Ice maker for cooling drinks

Insignia portable Nugget ice maker

You might not instantly think of an ice maker as a small appliance to have in your kitchen. But I find that any time we have gatherings, summer or winter, people are always rushing to the fridge to get ice from the built-in dispenser. When my son has friends over, they run inside and out, up from the basement and back down constantly to get ice and water. Even when it’s cold out, a large group in the home generates heat. Instead of spending money on bags of ice or risk needing more ice than your fridge can generate in an hour (this happens often to my cousin when they host big New Year’s Eve gatherings), a dedicated ice machine like the Insignia portable nugget ice maker I reviewed earlier this year means you always have ice at your fingertips. It’s great not only for cold drinks but also cooking: think shocking vegetables when you pull them out of the pan to stop them from cooking.

Combine this with a drink machine like the Bartesian Professional Cocktail Maker, which makes it easy to serve all the classic bar drinks at home without any of the complicated work, and your guests will be talking about your awesome party for years to come.

Get your kitchen holiday ready!

Chances are you already have some of the staple small appliances in your kitchen ready to go for the holiday season, like a blender, toaster, and coffee or espresso machine. Adding any of these small appliances to the mix can really benefit you when it comes to prep, cooking, baking, and entertaining guests of all kinds.

See small appliances of all kinds, including those noted above, at Best Buy Online.

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.