During the holidays no room in your home is more important than the kitchen. It's not surprising that many people with huge demands on their time, find organizing for entertaining a little daunting.
Do you have what you need to entertain over the holidays? Do you have enough glassware and dishes for a sit down meal, or are you resigned to another paper plate buffet this year? Do you have fresh herbs and spices, or jars of old stuff with no scent at all? Could you take the doors off your cupboards and display the contents, or do you feel a need to duck flying objects when you open the doors? Do you have several dead corkscrews, but only a single good one?
The following tips might help get your kitchen under control so you can enjoy, not stress out over, the holiday season.
Don't broke by spending money on new decorations, tablecloths, and stemware every year. By organizing your seasonal entertainment supplies, you can have the "good stuff" ready to go every year. Keep it stored together in the garage or attic with the rest of the seasonal decor. If a set of Spode Christmas Tree dinnerware doesn't fit your style or budget, collect interesting mismatched pieces, like old hotel china, to flesh out your place settings. Nice stemware is often available at thrift stores and if a piece breaks, oh well. Make a list of what you need. If you can bumble through this season, often you can pick up your heart's desire for a song after the holidays.
After the holidays, store everything together in sturdy boxes and put away until next season. Check sales the day after Christmas to pick up red and green storage containers to color code them.
Another decluttering task you might undertake includes tossing old herbs and spices. Keep the jars though. Wash them up, then refill with spices you purchase in bulk. Many groceries offer bulk, so take advantage of the bulk prices. It's a fraction of what you'd otherwise spend. Buy small amounts of spices you use only occasionally. If you do this right before Thanksgiving, you'll be set for holiday baking.
Cupboards and cabinets hide a multitude of sins. Free up kitchen space by removing and donating to charity all the oddball acquisitions. Rarely used appliances can either be donated or stored elsewhere. If your family loves rosettes for Christmas morning, store the rosette set with the rest of your seasonal items. Follow the same drill for dishes and glassware. Finally, throw out anything that is broken or no longer works.
Go through kitchen drawers and eliminate duplicates. Keep only the best or favorite vegetable peeler, cheese grater, and corkscrew. Throw out items that are broken or missing pieces. You might be surprised to see how much junk really accumulates.
If you have time, go through the junk drawer. It's called a junk drawer for a reason. It's that place in the kitchen that contains all the odd bits and pieces that might have a purpose somewhere in your life. Now is the time to empty it and get rid of the genuine junk and put the useful stuff away where you can find it. Once that's done, you'll have an empty junk drawer ready to accumulate the detritus of the new year.
Last but not least, now is a good time to ditch old dish towels. Dish towels with holes and stains are good for only one thing: rags. Rags are useful for a number of unappetizing jobs, but when they are done, put them directly into the garbage. Having allowed them a complete life cycle, toss them and make room for a few brand new dish towels.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice. Our holidays celebrate family and feasting. Food is everywhere, and often we'll shop for speciality items that we won't serve any other time of year. To get your money's worth, make a list of favorite dishes and when you expect to prepare and serve them. From you lists and menus, raid your pantry and freezer to incorporate what you have first.
Another approach, especially if your pantry and freezer are well-stocked, is to eat out of the pantry exclusively for a week or so. There's no time like the holidays for breaking out the blackberry jam you made last summer. Or consider creating gift baskets of favorite items that you'd like to share.
As you go through the pantry, take a couple grocery bags with you. Go through each shelf systematically. If you have food that no one likes or bargains that haven't been used and probably won't be, put them in the bags for donation to the local hunger project. There are so many people during the holidays that are scraping by, your food donation is sure to help. Your reward is the tax receipt for your contribution AND the pantry space you've liberated for your seasonal purchases. Then make a shopping list and buy what you need in as few trips as possible.
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