Just over a week to go until the big day. Presents are bought or in the process of being bought or delivered, cards are posted and the food and drink shopping list is being made up. You may even be lucky enough to know how many you’re cooking Christmas or Boxing Day lunch for and when people are due to visit. The only thing left to do is dig out all those Christmas kitchen essentials that come out but once a year!
Extra large roasting tin, extra crockery, cutlery, glassware and general cookware, not only needs to be located but also needs somewhere to live for the next couple of weeks that will be close to hand. The chances are all those things are probably stuffed in the back or on top of a cupboard somewhere. They could be stored in the loft or garage or even away from home is a small self storage unit. Wherever they are, it’s time to dig them out. And it’s not just the additional pots and pans that will need a home, there’s the additional food and drink to think about too. Your fridge and freezer which normally cope so well are about to become overloaded!
But there’s no need to panic. You can get your kitchen organised in plenty of time if you just give things a little thought. A little planning over the next few days will allow you to have a much less stressful time when catering for your visitors.
Our top tips for organising your kitchen at Christmas
Identify what’s essential to have close to hand
You will probably be bringing out the larger roasting tins, pots and pans to cook larger quantities, or using additional smaller ones. Take a look in the cupboards and see what can be moved out in the short term to make space and swap them over. Consider clearing some of the work top electrical appliances that aren’t used every day out of the way. Those slow cookers and smoothie makers are fine sitting on the top of work surfaces normally; being used once, maybe twice a day, but when it comes to your kitchen at Christmas, every bit of work space possible is needed.
When putting those essential posts and pans away, don’t be tempted to put things inside them to save space – you’ll only need to empty them every time you use them. Also, try and put them at the right level for getting in and out of cupboards to avoid lots of bending or climbing. The same with crockery. It’s so tempting to put the dinner plates at the bottom of a pile, with other plates, bowls and saucers stacked on top. If you aren’t going to be using all the crockery at every meal time, you’ll be continuously digging out plates from the bottom of the pile. In addition, stacks of crockery can get quite heavy and may well result in damage. If you can find space it will be much better to stack the most used items where they are easily accessible.
Now is the time to look in the fridge and freezer to see what’s there, half used or half empty. It’s time to organise your meals over the next few days to use all those things up and free up some space. Once you’ve used up everything you can consider what really needs to be kept in the fridge. If there’s nothing more that can come out, consider investing in some plastic storage boxes so you can store and stack things without everything getting crushed.
You can save on time and space by preparing some things in advance. Consider peeling and cutting vegetables beforehand. Put them into airtight bags and containers and store them in a cool place. That way, you’ve got more uniform shapes to store making it easier to stack. You can also clear all those peelings away into the compost bin so you’ve got a fresh clean start the following day. Think about whether you can make sauces in advance and freeze them to save time on the day. If you’re short on fridge space but have a utility room, consider keeping it a little colder than normal to store fruit and vegetables etc. in the run up to Christmas. If you can do without using your dining room for a few days, lay the table in advance; it saves on time and also on the need to store that extra crockery.
These tips might help in those few days running up to Christmas, but don’t forget the important thing about family and friends visiting over the festive period is that they are visiting to spend time with you and your family, not to be waited on. Easier said than done, I know, but once you’ve done as much as you can to prepare in advance (and make sure the family help you out there – it won’t hurt the kids to do a little work), then you just have to do what you can on the day and enjoy it; what will be will be!