6 Tips to Get Your Kitchen Ready for the Holidays

christmas cookies and milk
Getting organized now makes for a much more enjoyable holiday season.

The onset of the holiday season means a few things for your domestic routine — serious cleaning most notably. But with so much of the holiday centering around food, a clean, well-stocked kitchen is really the key to successful entertaining. Staying organized and starting early will make your life a heck of lot easier and get your kitchen into tip-top shape long before your guests start arriving at your door.

1. Make a plan. If you haven't started thinking about your menu, now's the time. Organizing yourself early will make everything go that much smoother, meaning less stress and more time spent enjoying the season rather than rushing to the store every five minutes for that thing you forgot. From starters and snacks to the full-on dinner and day after eats, add all of your ingredients to a list and check them off as you go. Don't forget to add a few extras for last-minute entertaining, like crackers, cheese, nuts and the like.

2. Clean out the pantry. You're going to be bringing home ingredients by the bag full for that delicious feast you've planned, so better make sure there's a place in your cupboards to put it all. Take the opportunity to weed out old spices and ingredients that have been sitting on the shelves for years and make note of anything that needs upgrading before you hit the stores.

3. Stock up on staples. Your spice rack and pantry might seem like they have it on lock, but it never hurts to have a few backups on hand. In addition to spices and basic baking ingredients, check on things like paper towels, dish soap or detergent, containers for leftovers, aluminum foil and plastic wrap, garbage bags, etc. If you're short on time or loading up essentials presents a few logistical issues (like hauling everything on public transit or up a crazy flight of stairs), consider buying these items from a shop that delivers and have everything brought straight to your door.

4. Clean and declutter. Sometimes less is more and in the case of your kitchen, it means a whole lot more space. Free up counter space by relocating any items that don't actually belong in the kitchen to their proper place and temporarily storing bulky items and gadgets in the pantry, cupboards or wherever there's extra room to give yourself ample space to do your holiday cooking thang. It's also a good idea to give your oven and dishwasher a quick clean to get them in tip-top shape.

5. Prep your table trimmings. Save yourself some time and aggravation by getting your table trimmings in order before the big holiday meal. Iron linens, make sure there are enough candles (and lighters or matches) on hand and give your dinnerware a quick clean. With all of these details squared away, you can focus on cooking and entertaining guests stress-free (or almost).

6. Think ahead. In addition to *the* meal itself, there are a couple other things you'll want to consider, like breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day if you're hosting guests. Opt for simple dishes that can be whipped up quickly, or those that allow for advanced prep. Cinnamon rolls, for example, can be prepped and frozen a week or two in advance and are ready to go at any moment. Quick breads, homemade granola and yogurt, or oatmeal with a few fancy trimmings are all delicious options that are easy and stress-free. Read through recipes ahead of time and add the extra ingredients to your shopping list.

What do you do to get your kitchen in tip-top shape for the holidays?

Feature image via Gringalicious. Check out her recipe for Romance Cookie Bars here.

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