Over the past few years I have offered a “Virtual Organizing” Bootcamp on my blog. This year we thought we’d feature some of our favorite “missions” with you for FREE so that you could enjoy being organized this Holiday Season. Starting with Thanksgiving, here are a few of our suggestions to get on top/stay on top of things this year:
Mission: Clean out the spice cupboard
Go through your spice cupboard and pantry and make a list of everything you will need for holiday baking. Make sure to toss anything that is passed its prime.
Things to double check:
- Baking powder expiration date (on bottom of the can)
- Toss spices that are older than:
- Whole spices – 4 years
- Ground Spices: 2-3 years
- Leafy Herbs: 1-3 years
Let your nose be your guide!
Don’t forget flour, sugar, and vanilla!
When I first heard how fast spices go bad, I was amazed! When doing this project, please remember to have your shopping list handy so that you write down what you’ve thrown out so that you aren’t caught without your chili powder on Super Bowl Sunday (GASP)!
Mission: Make or double check holiday travel arrangements
I learned this the hard way one Christmas, it’s no fun when you realize that your flight leaves in 30 minutes and you’re still home… I’d missed an automated phone call the airline made a few months earlier so from now on I always double (and sometimes triple) check the day before to make sure everything is confirmed and we’re ready to go.
Don’t forget to check all of your reservations:
Hotel, car rental, plane & train reservations
I suggest that you make all of your reservations at the same time when booking a trip. You’ll be “in the zone” and sometimes you can get a better deal when you book flights/cars/hotels together. It’s worth looking into. Also, when flying during the Holidays or in the Winter I think it’s a good idea to consider purchasing insurance so that you are protected in case of weather or anything that can go wrong during such a busy time.
Not traveling this holiday?
Clean out your front hall & donate any unworn coats, hats & gloves to the needy. This way you will have plenty of room for guests coats in your closet which is where they belong (rather than stashing them on an upstairs bed or couch in an unused corner somewhere).
Purchase new hangers if necessary.
I always thought it was cool how my Mom had “special” hangars in the front hall closet. If you need to purchase some go to a store like Bed Bath & Beyond and see what kind you might like… it will be a fun field trip!
Mission: Polish and count all flatware and serving items
Clean and polish all silver, and count all place settings of flatware, plates, and glasses (to make sure you have enough for Holiday entertaining).
Fast tip: Line your sink with aluminum foil (shiny side up). Place all silver on foil (not touching each other), and cover with baking soda. Add hot soapy water and let sit for five minutes (or until tarnish is removed). You can also add white vinegar to speed up the process. It’s like a science experiment right in your own kitchen & this process really works and I love the fact that it gets the tarnish off the tough nooks & crannies that are difficult to polish by hand.
Polishing silver is one of those “old school” tasks that might not be your favorite, but it’s certainly a rewarding one. Seeing your silver all shiny and polished is such a satisfying feeling, just focus on that and you’ll be done before you know it!
Mission: Clean out the refrigerator
Remove five items from the fridge that are passed their prime.
Some of the obvious suspects:
- Salad dressings
- Back of the fruit / veggie drawer
- Pickles, olives, relish
** Bonus Points: Wipe down the shelves & the fridge door.
This task just feels good all over every time you open the refrigerator door & you’ll want it looking good for the guests that might pitch in while you are entertaining. Not only that but you want to have room for any leftovers that you’ll want to stash for later too.
Mission: Clean the oven(s)
Set your self-cleaning oven today.
Don’t have a self-cleaning oven (or hate the burning smell?)
Check your local supermarket cleaning aisle – oven cleaners have come a long way! They are even making oven cleaners specifically for self-cleaning ovens (and they work great…)
Check your Firewood & Ice melt supply so that you are stocked up and ready should the holiday be a white one.
A clean oven is almost as satisfying as a clean fridge (but you knew that already). You don’t want to be cooking or baking this season and have something that spilled in the oven weeks prior messing up the comforting smell of your fresh sugar cookies! Also, be sure to get a few bundles of firewood and ice melt too so that you’re ready in case there is an early snow day and the kids are home from school!
One year when we lived in Texas my Grandma Meek came to visit with her elderly sister during an ice storm. They were unable to drive up the hill because of the ice so my Mom came up with a brilliant plan: they got her golf shoes out & put them on our elderly guests so that they had traction on the ice. In case you don’t have ice melt on hand keep this in mind if you’ve got any golf shoes lying around!
I’m working on Part II of this post for the Christmas/Hanukah season so please keep an eye out for it. As with any organizing project if you break it down into manageable pieces you’ll find that it isn’t so overwhelming after all. Doing a few things early on (like polishing the silver) can help ease your mind & will allow you to focus on food & finishing touches once the big day arrives.
I hope you found this helpful, what are your favorite projects to get ready to entertain?