How to Use This Holiday Season to Organize Your Home
Due to COVID-19, the holidays may be a bit more low-key this year than in the past. Consider using this downtime to organize and declutter your holiday supplies for future gatherings.
Pare Down Cookbooks
Since recipe inspiration has gravitated to the Internet these days, you may find yourself consulting cookbooks less frequently. Now might be the perfect time to go through your cookbook collection and purge those you no longer use.
Of course, it’s a good idea to hang onto the classics you reference for food preparation tips, cooking techniques and advice on choosing ingredients. But there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find cookbooks that were gifts that you’ve never used, or ones that you haven’t cracked open in years. These are the ones to get rid of.
If you are holding onto entire cookbooks for just a recipe or two, you may want to consider scanning those recipes and saving them digitally rather than keeping the space-consuming book. You could also go “old school” and write the recipes on index cards by hand and store them in a recipe box, if that suits you better.
Cull Baking Supplies
Taking stock of baking supplies is something most people rarely do. But the rewards can be great. For example, maybe you purchased a specialty pan to make a certain dessert and have never used it again. Or maybe you have multiples of pans that you used at some point, but find you no longer need them all. These extras are taking up valuable storage space!
Once you go through all your supplies and pull out those you don’t need, consider donating your extras to friends, family or a local charity. In addition, keep an eye open for items you use frequently that may be at the end of their productive life, like loaf pans or cookie sheets. This might be a great time to replace them.
Take Stock of Baking Ingredients
Since you may not be baking as much this holiday season, try using the extra time to check the expiration dates of the baking ingredients in your pantry. If you don’t do so already, a great way to keep track of how long you have a certain food is to write the date you opened it directly on the package or container.
There is an online resource called FoodKeeper that has guidelines available on food freshness and quality. Here’s how long they recommend keeping some of the most common baking ingredients once they’ve been opened:
- White flour: Six to 8 months in the pantry; one year in the refrigerator.
- Sugar (all types): Two years.
- Baking powder: Six months.
- Baking soda: Six months.
- Solid shortening: 12 months.
- Whole spices: Three to four years.
- Ground spices: Two to four years.
- Ground and whole leaf herbs: One to three years.
Organize Guest Hospitality Supplies
Times change. If you find that you rarely host out-of-town visitors but still have an entire closet full of guest towels, sheets, pillows and blankets, it might be time to reevaluate the situation. Take an honest look at what you will realistically use given the number of guests you currently host and clear out the excess.
This holiday season is also a good time to purge and replace any guest bedding or towels that are overly worn. Consider donating the old to a local animal shelter. If you have extra toiletries saved for guests, consider going through those as well and donating any extras to a homeless shelter.
If you have the room, store your now streamlined guest supplies apart from your personal household bed and bath supplies. A good solution is to designate a shelf in a linen closet just for guest bedding and label it so there’s no confusion. Find a basket or container to store the other guest necessities and store it closeby.
Inventory Party Supplies and Decor
The basement or the garage are popular spots to stash party supplies, typically stored in large plastic containers that are rarely opened. Now is an ideal time to pull out those party boxes and start going through them.
To begin, gather all your party supplies from all their various locations and look at them as a whole. Unpack each storage container and lay everything out on a big table. Then start separating the items by category. For example, all candles can be placed in one group; all paper products in another. Throw away anything that is damaged or stained.
Consider pulling out any random items, such as a few leftover napkins from a themed party from years ago, or a handful of paper plates from the baby shower had for your sister. Add these stray items to your everyday plates and napkins so that they will be used. If you find any candleholders, tabletop decor or other decorations that you know you won’t use again, consider donating them.
After you’ve decided on what party supplies you’re going to keep, create a separate container for each holiday. Label the outside and store it away from your everyday supplies. Any non-specific party items, like candles and candleholders, can be stored together in a generic party supplies container.
Sort Through Drinkware
If you have a fully stocked bar, the odds are good that your cocktail glasses and drinkware selection is extensive. Maybe too extensive. Take this time to go through all those specialty glasses you’ve been collecting and keep only the ones that you can store comfortably in your existing cupboard space — not on overly crammed shelves and not packed away in boxes. Things to think about as you make the cuts are your entertainment style and the frequency with which you entertain guests. Also, what types of drinks do you tend to serve?
Pare Down Serving Platters and Bowls
Serving pieces tend to be large, bulky and hard to store. This holiday season, pull out all of your platters and bowls and take stock of what you have. Then, sell or donate those you don’t use.
Consider getting rid of any piece that is damaged, inconvenient or too bulky. For example, large pedestal cake stands are often difficult to store and for the most part serve only one purpose. Unless you use it often, consider letting it go.
Edit Holiday Decorations
When decorating for the holidays this year, pull out every box of decorations and assess the entire lot as a whole. If you find that you haven’t used a tabletop decoration or ornament in several years, it might be a good idea to let it go. Also purge any items you don’t love and throw away any damaged or worn out items.
While you’re at it, take stock of your holiday lighting. Replace any burned-out bulbs and throw away any strands that don’t work as they should. Sell or donate any garland, wreaths or outdoor decorations that you no longer use.