Organizing your kitchen before the holidays.

5 tips for getting started

By Jeanine Hanson

Fall is here and the holidays are fast approaching! Family gatherings and parties mean we spend much of our time in the kitchen, creating special dinners that we imagine serving on our favorite dishes. Don’t wait until you have a gathering scheduled and are planning your menu before you decide to get your kitchen in order. A little time spent now clearing clutter from kitchen and getting it ready for your special events will pay off in a big way in the months to come.

1.   Do you feel like you never have enough room in your refrigerator during the holidays? One way to create more space in just a few minutes is to ruthlessly edit some of the older items: open condiments, salad dressings and other “wall flowers” that may be hanging out deep in the far recesses of your fridge. If you are questioning their freshness now you know you will never serve them to your guests, so give them the boot!

2.    Give your pantry the same treatment. Get rid of any half consumed bags of chips, boxes of stale crackers, old coffee, the odd unused tea bags, out-of-date canned goods, and those almost-mysterious items you may have picked up when you were inspired to cook some exotic dish after watching a TV cooking show. Toss the old to make room for the new and organize what is left by grouping like items together. Corral the small items, which tend to get lost on deep shelves. Get them into containers, and label the containers. If you are gloriously inspired by the holidays to bake, you may want to clear out the old staples and stock up on fresh flour, sugar and baking powder, etc.

3.    To help all your cooking and baking projects go smoothly, organize your cupboards and shelves by zones. If the ingredients for baking are located close to the mixing bowls, baking pans and measuring cups, you can save much time and energy when you are ready to create something wonderful. If the savory herbs and spices are located near your stove, you might feel bold enough to do some experimenting with the dish you have prepared the same way, year after year. Keeping your breakfast food and coffee supplies separate from these areas allows family members to help themselves in the morning and still stay out of your way. Acceptable snacks and sweets for the kids might be kept in their very own cupboard or drawer, out of your work area.

4.    Unpack all of your favorite holiday dishes a couple weeks early, the ones you always think you will get around to using and frequently don’t. Move them into the kitchen cupboards so you can see what you really do have on hand and you can avoid the panic of trying to find them at the last minute.

5.    And for heaven’s sake, toss all those old plastic deli containers and frozen food trays. So often multiple kitchen cupboards are overflowing with these oddities taking up valuable space that could be useful for your dishes or food items. I know, you say that you are saving them for your guests to use for take-home-containers for leftovers, but there is a limit! Keep a few that will stack neatly together and toss the dozens of odd items that have just become clutter. You can always ask your family members to bring their own containers. I’m guessing none of them will say no!

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Jeanine Hanson, owner of The Organizers, has been helping clients clear clutter and redecorate their homes, using what they already own, since 1993. Jeanine holds a B.A. in Art from UW, is a graduate of the Western School of Feng Shui, San Diego, a member of the Interior Redecorators Network (IRN), New York City, and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). She has researched home environments across the globe. Jeanine was previously an owner of the Ovens of Brittany restaurants and bakeries for 20 years.

For more information, email jmhanson@chorus.net, call 608-441-8795 or visit www.EasyHomeMakeovers.com.

 Published in the Nature’s Pathways Magazine, November 2014