With the holidays just around the corner. With more gatherings and visitors than perhaps any other time of the year, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.
Home organization expert for ModularClosets.com, Marty Basher, has some great insight for those who are busy getting their recipes confirmed and their kitchens organized. Rather than wearing yourself out on the day of your special meal, consider these tips as you prepare your eating space ahead of time!
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and if you host a party this holiday season, you’ll probably find it is also a gathering point for guests. After all, it’s the place where all the lovely smells are coming from, and those draw people in like a siren call of gravy, stuffing, with a hint of cranberry.
Chefs have a technique for cooking to make sure they have what they need at the ready: it’s called ‘mise en place’. It literally means ‘set up’: you put everything you are going to need for a recipe in reach before you start cooking, in the correct quantity or format. This saves you the trouble of rushing into the pantry to get that forgotten ingredient while your pot boils over! Bottom line: what you don’t want is a lot of fuss and bother while you entertain your guests, particularly in the kitchen, with its hot stove, oven and many platters and plates.
Here are a few ways to do a ‘mise en place’ for your kitchen and organize it for the best holiday entertaining:
Make sure everything is clean beforehand
While people meander in and out of your kitchen, you don’t want to be worrying about whether they noticed the crumbs under the oven or the fingerprints on the stainless steel surfaces. Clean out and wipe down cupboards, garbage bins, the refrigerator and freezer, the inside of your oven and microwave and any surfaces that have gotten dusty or covered with crumbs, over time. You’ll probably also want to purge anything that is past its best before date and make room for leftovers, platters and items that your guests bring to share!
The less space taken on the countertops, the better, so put away small appliances that you won’t need or don’t use regularly. The less that’s in the way, the easier it will be to manage plates and platters, pots and pans.
Label and reorganize
If you have guests who are staying for more than one meal, you may want to set up some items in the kitchen so that they can help themselves and you don’t end up run off your feet. For example, put tea and coffee items together on a tray, along with mugs, where guests can see them. You can add snacks too. Another great idea is to create a space in the fridge where they can place their water bottles or other items.
Check your pantry
Once you’ve planned your menus, check your pantry. The last thing you want to do is a last minute dash to the mini-mart because you’ve forgotten the cinnamon, or you find out that the allspice you haven’t used since last holiday season has gone rancid. Make sure you’ve all the staples for cooking, as well as what you need for your recipes and don’t forget a lot of snacks!
Double check your guest list for little ones and allergies
Two major considerations in the kitchen are small hands and serious allergies. If you don’t have little kids in your home, but you are having several as guests, be sure to kid-proof as much as you can by moving chemicals out of reach, securing knives and other sharp objects higher up and making sure there isn’t anything a little one could pull down onto their heads!
Allergies are also important: if one of your guests has a serious nut allergy, you have to be very careful about cross contamination of utensils. Keep some aside that you know for sure haven’t been in contact with the allergen and check all of your ingredients before you start cooking!
Linens and dishes and glasses, oh my!
Not only do you want to make sure that you have enough off all of these items, as well as containers for storing leftovers, you want to make sure they are accessible. Rearrange your cupboards to make sure that what you’ll need is within easy reach. The linens that are usually stored in the closet need to come out and be checked and placed where you can reach them when you need to. Same for the plates, glassware, platters and silver wear. You can double check that you have enough of everything, that it’s in good condition and then you can ask your Uncle Roger to set the table without having to tell him where everything is.
Cook what you can in advance
Finally, if you want to be able to sit and enjoy some time with your guests, the ideal is to plan your meals in such a way that some of the work is done before they arrive and is finished while they are having cocktails. Everyone will have a better time, including you!
Bio: Home organization expert for ModularClosets.com, Marty Basher, has some great design ideas for setting up your kitchen so that you can always find what you’re looking for, the moment you’re looking for it! Modular Closets has infinite possibilities for organizing any room in your home. From the kitchen pantry to the bedroom, Modular Closets offers high-quality and easy-to-design organization and closet systems you can order online, assemble and install yourself, in no time at all. Using closet modules (closet units you can mix & match to design your own closet that fits your space and meets your needs), homeowners everywhere are empowered to achieve the true custom closet look- for nearly 40% less than standard custom closets.