Have you started your kitchen holiday prep?
Stocking your pantry essentials, getting the crock-pot ready, or getting the stored away linens freshened up?
This time of year can quickly unravel us if we don’t have a plan in place, especially when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. We need supplies and ingredients readily available to keep things running smoothly in our little hub, known as the kitchen.
Also, start thinking of ways to get your family to pitch on this year’s kitchen holiday prep work.
I have 19 tips to help you work efficiently, get organized and have success, and no stress in the kitchen during the holidays.
Table of Contents
HOW DO I PREPARE MY KITCHEN
From potlucks, dinner parties, and festive get-togethers; your kitchen is about to go into overdrive.
But don’t fear.
These 19 tips will help you plan and reduce the number of last-minute trips to the store.
- CLEAN OUT THE OVEN (this also includes the microwave)
The oven can get pretty gross any time of the year. When cooking on Thanksgiving day, there may be oil and food juices spilling, batter drippings, or smells that are hard to get out. So start the day with a clean oven ready to take on any mess. Whether you choose to use strong oven cleaners or a simple white vinegar spray, you don’t want to skip this step. This should include cleaning up the stovetop burners. Your backsplash and counters will probably see more food splatters as well, so give them a good scrub as too.
2. CLEAN OUT THE REFRIGERATOR
For starters, you will need room for a turkey, stored leftovers, and food prepping. Tossing out rotten or expired food will help free up space. But you also want a clean refrigerator. In most cases, simple dish soap and water will do the trick and have your fridge sparkling clean. Any removable shelving inside should be removed and washed in the sink or tub (if more space is needed). And a few boxes of baking soda stored inside the refrigerator will reduce odors.
3. DEEP CLEAN THE SINK
Using a dish rag or sponge pay special attention to the sink area. The amount of gunk and germs in our sinks may be surprising to most of us. Vinegar, baking soda, and more dish soap will work great and will quickly shine up most stainless steel sinks. Don’t forget to wipe the faucets, handles soap pumps, etc. Monitor your sink’s drain to avoid clogged drainage during the holiday season.
4. INSPECT DISHCLOTHS, DISH TOWELS, AND LIENS
Our dishcloths and dish towels see lots of wear and tear throughout the year. This is the perfect time to consider tossing any that are torn, ripped, or shredded. If the holiday season is a time of year that puts you in the mood to pull out the fancy tablecloths and cloth napkins now is the time to make sure you have the correct size and color table cloth. And, enough cloth napkins for your guest seating. This should also include any fresh linen for the bathrooms such as hand towels, or towels and washcloths for guests.
5. DISINFECT THE TRASH CANS
Having company over is a big motivation to clean out almost every nook and cranny in our homes. But, let’s not forget about the trash cans too. The pounds of stinky trash in and out of these cans is massive. Try taking your trash cans outside and giving them a good scrub down with the garden hose to make it easier. Give them time to dry and “air out” before bringing them back indoors.
6. STOCK UP ON EXTRA TRASH BAGS
Spare yourself now, and buy a box or two of extra trash bags for the holiday season. This is one kitchen supply you will always need.
7. INSPECT KITCHEN KNIVES
As someone who loves to cook from scratch, sharp knives are a kitchen staple for me. Inspect your knife set to ensure all those veggies will be finely chopped and ready to add to those holiday recipes. Make it easy for yourself when it’s time to slice the turkey or honey-baked ham.
8. SIMPLIFY WITH PAPER GOODS AND FOOD STORAGE CONTAINERS
Our family uses cloth napkins all year long and I love a pretty tablecloth myself. But, after the main dinner is served I like things to be as easy as possible. Paper plates, paper cups, and paper napkins can save whoever’s on dish duty hours at the sink. Prepare for leftovers and take home plates with food storage containers for you or your guests.
9. GATHER RECIPES
When it’s time to get started in the kitchen, you don’t want to have to frantically search the internet trying to put together last-minute recipes. I’ve been there before and honestly, it’s quite stressful. Nor, do you want to get halfway through a recipe and find out you’re out of nutmeg. Gather your family recipes, online recipes, cookbooks whatever you need to be prepared to cook without interruptions. To ensure you have your recipes handy, try snapping a picture of all the recipes you need so you can have the instructions at your fingertips.
10. PLAN HOLIDAY MENUS
Holiday menus needed their own section because this is separate from recipes. Before the holidays come rushing in, plan out special dinners and or breakfasts you plan to make throughout the season. If you know you’ll be making homemade butternut squash soup for two separate holiday functions, you may want to grab enough butternut squash for both events. Typically, during the holiday season, many popular holiday dish ingredients are at rock bottom prices. So, plan early and take advantage of the sales
11. RESTOCK SILVERWARE
Double-check that you have enough, actually more than enough silverware for your family and guests. Even if you keep some stashed away for backup, you want to be ready with a well-stocked silverware drawer.
12 INVENTORY YOUR DISHES AND COOKWARE
Are there enough plates and bowls for your guests? Do you have a roasting pan big enough for your turkey? These are things you don’t want to wait to find out the day of. When planning out your menu, take time to plan for what cookware and utensils will be needed as well.
13. STOCK THE PANTRY WITH DRY GOODS AND STAPLES
While shopping, think about stocking your pantry beyond the holidays. Ingredients such as flour, sugar, and pasta are items you can use all year round. One way of getting in the holiday spirit is baking cakes, pies, and Christmas cookies. Keep your pantry ready to take on any sweet treat you want to try making at home. This includes your spice cabinet.
A few popular holiday seasonings to keep on hand are:
- Vanilla extract
- Garlic Nutmeg
More handy supplies to have on hand during the holidays that are nonfood related but very helpful:
- Plastic wrap
- Parchment paper
- Wax paper
- Aluminum foil
- Vegetable peeler
- Cutting boards (separate boards for meats and vegetables)
- Extra dish soap
- Extra laundry detergent
- Kitchen string
14. CHECK SMALL APPLIANCES
Sometimes the small things can make a big difference. A working toaster, a functioning hand mixer, and being familiar with how to use that new pressure cooker are all little things to help the day run smoother.
15. ACCOMPLISH SMALL HOME PROJECTS
The holidays may not be the best time to tackle huge home improvements projects: but there may be small things you want to update such as painting a wall, updating a light fixture, or rearranging the family room.
16. PLAN TIME FOR FUN
Amid all the planning and prepping for the holidays let’s remember that we have little ones who need suitable ways to have fun and enjoy the holidays too. This does not have to be complicated. Simple crafts, holiday movies, board games, and outdoor play (weather permitting) are fun for kids to enjoy. Even adult fun is a necessity too. Adults often enjoy seeing the Christmas lights, sipping hot chocolate, or enjoying watching the Thanksgiving Day parade. Children and adults alike need time for fun.
17. PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE
Remember to put self-care in your schedule too. From an afternoon nap to a home spa day, taking care of yourself should be a priority too. Take a break when you need to. Cancel attending a holiday function if you’re feeling over-extended. Check-in with your mental health as often as you need to.
18. PLAN FOR SAFETY
Unfortunately, burns and falls happen. But, a trip to the emergency room during the holidays does not sound fun at all. Sometimes life happens. But, we can attempt to prevent those accidents from happening the best we can. Consider using a baby gate to keep little ones out of the kitchen and away from the hot stove. Even if it’s just for a few days while the kitchen is super busy. Is your first aid kit stocked and ready for the unexpected? Is your home prepared with essentials such as an operable kitchen fire extinguisher? Are your smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors working? Do a quick overview of safety areas in your kitchen and home. Make sure to inspect working plugs and outlets. Secure sharp objects and put chemicals away out of children’s reach.
19. MAKE ROOM IN YOUR BUDGET
This is last on the list but not least. You may want to start as early as possible to think of ways to spend less money or make extra money for the upcoming holidays. When all the festivities are done, you still have your home to manage. Planning can help with impulse buying and puts into perspective holiday activities that best fit your budget. This also keeps you from trying to keep up with the Jones and appreciate the holidays with your family.
* More tips on preparing for the holidays
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A HOLIDAY CELEBRATION
Holiday parties and festivities should be a time of enjoyment.
You don’t have to be stressed during this holiday season.
Here are ways to help you plan months and days in advance.
Things to prepare months in advance:
- Holiday budget projected
- Draft a menu plan
- Traditions or activities (schedule them on your calendar)
- Shop slowly throughout the year
- Declutter paper, clothes, knick-knack items from around your home
- Finalize travel plans (double-check any reservations)
- Prepare holiday cards to mail-out
- Schedule time for rest and self-care for yourself
Things to prepare days/weeks in advance:
- Add fresh greenery to your home
- Touch up yard/landscape
- Finalize meal plan
- Freshen up other areas of your home
- Plan music for entertaining
- Stock easy meals and snacks for your family to eat on days leading up to the main event
- Consider creating buffet signs for food served
HOW DO YOU EMOTIONALLY PREPARE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The emotional rollercoaster during the holidays can be quite the balancing act.
We don’t want to ruin our budgets or get in debt for the sake of celebrating. Some are dealing with loss, divorce, in-laws, sickness, and more.
Or, life may just be perfectly well and you just don’t want to overwhelm yourself trying to meet every holiday party invitation or expectation.
Therefore, preparing in advance will do you lots of good.
Start with trying to keep your normal routine as much as possible; especially with young children.
Slowly transitioning into the holiday season is less overwhelming for everyone and gives you time as a parent to pace yourself.
Rest and self-care are especially important because, for the next few months, you’ll probably be focused on giving of yourself in a greater capacity.
Whether you are choosing to volunteer more, cook extra meals, or spend a lot more time on your feet shopping; allow your body and mind to rest and reset.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated and eat well, as it’s easy for time to fly by as we become busier during this time of year.
Getting out for fresh air and walks are also great at helping to clear your mind and think about other things besides the never-ending to-do list.
Speaking of lists, try the best you can to put your plans on paper and see a realistic view of your holiday plans.
Get your calendar and consider if you want to fill every weekend with activities. Are some events scheduled back to back? Have you factored in drive time, the kid’s sleep schedules, and more.
Putting plans on paper will help you see what you may be getting into.
WHEN THE HOLIDAYS ARE TOUGH
Don’t be ashamed to talk to someone.
Confiding in a trusted friend, family member or even professional help may be the support you need to better enjoy the holiday season.
Sometimes a listening ear will be one of the greatest gifts you can receive. Especially when you are offered help and advice that can leave you feeling encouraged.
Practicing gratitude can also help you to remember all the good that has taken place in your life.
And help you not get overburdened with unfortunate situations that may have happened to you.
During this time try to focus on the true meaning of the holidays.
Dealing with depression during this time of year is a concern that should not be ignored.
Especially as parents trying to make the holidays special for our family.
focusing on each other, being fully present, and simplifying your plans so you can enjoy the things you want to do with family is a great place to start.
Try hard to not over-commit.
And set realistic expectations.
EMBRACING KITCHEN HOLIDAY PREP
Embracing this process of getting ready for the holidays will help you feel prepared and in control of your time and schedule.
Imagine how you will feel knowing that you gave yourself a headstart for the holidays.
In fact, your kitchen holiday prep can become a family tradition you improve year after year.
Your kitchen is the hardest working room in your home. So, why not give it the time and attention it deserves to be ready to serve your friends and family well this holiday season.
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