Countdown planners and holiday calendars are popping up all over the place as we collectively try to organize ourselves before the big slide into the holidays. I don’t for a minute pretend to have it all together when it comes to prepping for the holidays, but I do have my strengths.
While my good intentions for deep household cleaning might not get carried out, the kitchen is one area where I must be organized heading into December. If the heart of the home is clean, uncluttered, well-stocked and in top working capacity, then anything is possible – or so I see it!
I’m not talking about anything too major – none of us have the time to drop everything and revamp the entire workspace – but I write up a tidy and legible list, stick it to the fridge, and tackle the jobs one at a time over the month of November. If I’m lucky, Danny will team up with me and cross off a few items on his own initiative. The man loves a list.
Here’s what that list looks like.
9 Steps to an Organized Kitchen
1. A general clean
There’s no way around this important first step, but perhaps you can recruit or hire some help if you’re doing deep cleaning such as the oven or the top of the cupboards.
My main areas to focus on are:
- Cupboard fronts and handles – wash.
- Counters – appliances moved and everything disinfected.
- Microwave and stove top – wiped down.
- Under sink – organized and washed.
2. Stock up on baking ingredients
Last year I created the Ultimate Holiday Baking Pantry Checklist and made it available as a free download. No one likes to be in the grocery store, frantically searching for that one elusive item when they should be at home, basting the turkey.
Holiday baking starts soon, so be sure to print up the list and bring on your shopping rounds.
3. Clear & clean the fridge & freezer
Remember that a few weeks from now, you’re going to be be juggling stuffing, vegetable sides and a whole turkey around the refrigerator, trying to make everything fit safely.
Now is the time to go through the refrigerator contents and clear out as much as you can. Finish off jars of jam, toss nearly empty condiment containers leftover from summer barbecues, and make soup with the withered contents of the vegetable drawers.
As for the freezer, Danny covered the basics a few weeks ago on keeping the freezer safe and cold. Important info, as none of us would like to lose all our precious holiday baking - or worse, that free-range turkey reserved for Christmas day – as a result of a deep freeze malfunction.
4. A quick cupboard clean
Think of it as a summer to winter wardrobe changeover in your closet, only for your kitchen. Box up the popsicle molds, summer sippy cups, and picnic plates to make space for holiday-themed bakeware, festive dishes and extra serving platters.
Wipe out crumbs while you’re at it and take note of anything that needs replacing – or recycling.
5. Make a loose monthly menu plan
Don’t let holiday baking and cocktail parties get in the way of wholesome meals around the table. Jot down a dozen or so meal ideas and be sure to stock your pantry with canned beans, lentils, whole grain pastas and rice for quick scratch suppers.
6. Stock items for gift packaging
Edible treats are the only kind of handmade gifts that I know how to do, so stocking up on their packaging falls in my kitchen organization category. I find that if I already have what I need on hand, it’s much easier to dress up a jar jam or bag of cookies. This specific area of organizing has saved the day many a time when I was scrambling for a last-minute gift.
A few suggestions: tins, cellophane bags, ribbon, labels, tape, paper bags, brown paper, felt-tipped pens, tissue paper, clear cellophane wrap, burlap garden twine.
7. Check linens, disposable dishes, etc.
If you’re hosting the main meal(s) or several parties over the holiday season, you’ll want to double check that you have enough paper plates, cups, napkins and utensils. These non-perishable items can easily be stocked up on ahead of time and that leaves you with one less thing to think about on the big day.
Also check cloth linens for stains, tears or burns (that would be my tablecloth, yes) and decide whether or not this is the year for new linens.
8. Stock a guest bag
Every year I have a stash of items set aside for the convenience of my guests. I’ve noticed that guests often ask for the same dozen or so items, and instead of leaving the stove (or whatever I am doing) and hunting for the Tylenol or band-aids during an evening of hosting, I amass everything ahead of time.
It might be very Martha Stewart for me, but it makes my life easier and sets my guests at ease when they see it’s no trouble at all for me to meet their request.
Here’s what’s on the list most of the time:
- Tylenol & Tempra
- AA Batteries
- Baby bib & wash cloth
- MAGIC BAG Thermotherapeutic
- Tide stain remover pen
- Pen & Paper
- Wi-Fi code (on a paper)
- Safety pins
- Hand cream
9. Plan to host a cookie swap
If you’re looking for a good way to round out your holiday baking and have some fun at the same time, consider organizing a cookie swap with a group of friends.
A cookie swap is a casual and easy-to-host social event with a practical side: it saves valuable time during the busiest season of the year, provides you with a wonderful selection of homemade baked goods, and introduces new types of cookies to your palate.
Do you have the tenth tip? How to YOU organize the kitchen for the holidays? Share your tips below!