Readying Your Home for the Holiday Onslaught – Part 2

Part 2: Kitchen Detox and Prep

They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and at the holidays this seems especially true. For many kitchens, it’s the climax of the year – there will be more meals cooked, more cookies baked, and more people entertained than at any other time.

When I think about entertaining, I start to look around and see my kitchen through the eyes of our soon-to-be guests. Crumbs in the kitchen drawers, an overstuffed pantry and frayed kitchen towels that didn’t bother me last week are now glaring eyesores. Cleaning, purging and organizing is in order.

With that organization will come great insight into what’s old and needs replacing, and what you’ll need for holiday cooking and gatherings. Will this be the 3rd year in a row that you use the hand-me-down potato peeler that scrapes and maims fingers? Are you finally going to have enough plates to go around the table? All great questions to ask yourself as you take stock of your drawers and cabinets.

Now that you’re convinced that a kitchen detox is in order, here’s a handy suggestion list that will help you feel great about the condition of your kitchen when the holiday onslaught hits.

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Organize the Pantry

I’m realizing that the pantry is a living thing. Just when I have it organized and can easily find what I need, it morphs into something new and different, and it’s time to reorg. On top of that, the holidays are a time of year when I use certain things I hardly touch in other months – cookie cutters, Wondra all-purpose flour, food coloring.  If I don’t sort through and organize the pantry, I can’t find what I need and end up re-purchasing rarely used items (since I haven’t seen them in months) and end up with 2 or 3 of everything.

If you have a somewhat organized pantry, it doesn’t take long to sift through what’s there and understand what you need, what you don’t, and what you can throw out to create room for the cans of toffee and boxes of chocolate that will soon be invading its shelves. Take an honest look at what you’ll eat and what you won’t. It’s hard to get rid of food that you purchased and lugged home from the store, but sometimes you just have to realize that you’re never going to eat that jar of aging Kalamata olives. Past its due date? Garbage. Too many

cans of tuna? Donate. There are food drives everywhere this time of year. And when you’re done, stand back and admire your organizational handiwork.

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Scour the Fridge

A fridge cleaning is good for the soul. Most of us open the fridge several times a day, and when it’s bright and shiny with fresh, clean bottles and beautiful fruits and vegetables displayed in clean crisper drawers, it’s a reason to feel happy. Not to mention, you’ll never need more room in your fridge than you will in the upcoming weeks. It’s time to get rid of past-dated stuff and get everything wiped down and organized. If you want to do a stellar job of cleaning out your fridge, check out Martha Stewart’s tips here and get started.

Clean the Drawers

Crumbs, drops of liquid, bits of lint… I’m not sure how it all falls into my drawers but there it is. And somehow all those crumbs and other stuff gets onto the utensils and clips and plastic cups and makes them dirty too. To get your drawers sparkling and your utensils looking beautiful and ready for action, follow this short tip list forgetting a drawer clean:

  1. Take everything out.
  2. Throw out, give away or donate anything worn, broken, missing a part, or duplicated.
  3. Wash or wipe off any dirty utensils or dishes. Fold linens and cloth napkins.
  4. Clean inside of drawers. A can of office air duster (the kind for computer keyboards) works wonders on getting crumbs out of drawer corners.
  5. I like to lay down a paper towel inside a clean drawer to reduce my cleaning efforts next time around.
  6. Lay everything back in, snug, clean, and beautiful.

Enjoy the side benefit of finding the turkey baster and other holiday items you haven’t used in the past year.

Polish What Needs Polishing.

While this isn’t Victorian times, most kitchens have something that needs polishing every now and then. No better time than now to get everything sparkling. Polishes are much quicker and easier than the ones I remember as a girl, and gets your copper, brass and silver looking like new. Wine glasses and champagne flutes that haven’t been used in a while should also get a good dusting and polishing with a soft cloth.

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Arrange the Shelves and Cupboards

I don’t know about you, but my shelves and cupboards don’t get quite as chaotic as my drawers. That’s why taking a quick pass at them shouldn’t take you long. It’s a great time to get rid of mugs you don’t like/don’t use,

cloudy, murky plastic cups long past their prime, sippy cups and water bottles with missing lids, etc. Any open shelving that once looked beautiful and tidy but now has accumulated things like shoelaces, a semi-permanent dinged up bowl filled with treats, lunchboxes, and a cup full of rocks (all actual items found on my open shelves)can be purged and tidied in a matter of minutes.

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General Kitchen Cleaning 

If you’re reading this post, you know what it takes to get your kitchen clean. Sink, floors, cabinet fronts,microwave, oven, etc. are all on the list. If you don’t have a regular house cleaner, indulge yourself this once. A crew of cleaners can do all the obvious cleaning while you do all the deeper, detail work. Consider it a gift to your sanity.

Are you ready to tackle the rest of the home before the holiday cheer comes roaring in? Stay tuned – next week we’ll post Part III of Readying Your Home for the Holiday Onslaught: Whole House Cleanse and Simplification.