Kitchen Prep: Time for a Holiday Kitchen Transformation

It’s that time of year: The Thanksgiving through New Year’s holiday marathon. It’s the time when your kitchen really gets a workout, and it’s often the place where family gathers. Preparing dinners for more people than usual, baking pumpkin and apple pies, frosting sugar cookies, and entertaining friends and family puts your kitchen to the test. Do you have a holiday-ready kitchen? If not, it’s time to transform your kitchen for the holidays. However, how does one go about a holiday kitchen transformation? We’re glad you asked!

Don’t worry if you don’t have a holiday-ready kitchen yet. We’ve put together some tips to make sure your kitchen is up to the task! Follow these steps and it should be smooth sailing (or skiing!) for the holiday entertaining season.

  1. Throw out expired food

A holiday-ready kitchen means starting out with a fresh slate. Old food takes up precious real estate and mold can transfer to other foods in the refrigerator. Cull the spoiled food and make a clean break!

Expiration dates aren’t just for the fridge. Look at boxes of crackers, cans of peaches, and everything else in your pantry. If anything is almost expired put it in a special pile and devise a meal plan to eat it up before the holidays take hold.

With the cleaned out space, you can now see what you do have more clearly… and what you don’t have and need to stock up on.

Since you’re sorting, you can also take the opportunity to wipe down the refrigerator, cabinets, and defrost the freezer if applicable.

  1. Is there room?

Even after culling groceries, with extra guests you might still be in need of additional refrigerator space. Consider adding a plastic cooler to accommodate extra food and beverages.

  1. Ah, tradition!

It is fun to bake and teach the new generation old traditions. Perhaps you have a special recipe passed down from your great-grandmother. However, you have to clear out the workspace before the smell of baked goods fills the room.

A holiday-ready kitchen is a lean one. Free up some workspace so you can roll out that dough! Remove appliances and other items from countertops and your island if you have one. Box it up temporarily until after the holiday.

If you’re running short on time, throw it in a storage room and shut the door. Your friends and family will marvel at how tidy the place looks and they’ll never have to know the means that got you there.

  1. Organize cookware, storage containers… and find those lids!

It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re cooking and know where everything is. No searching and rearranging the kitchen. Just cooking and chatting with friends and family. But first, of course, you have to organize. First, take an inventory of your pots, dishes, glasses, serving platters, silverware, and anything else you might need.

  1. Make less mess in the future

Consider transferring dry goods to glass or sturdy plastic containers. This way there will be less flour or sugar spilling over into your cabinet every time you open and close its container. A lid that snaps into place works a lot better at keep food in than folding over a paper bag of flour does.

  1. Out with the old, in with the new

While you’re taking inventory anyway, why not take the opportunity to sort through it in terms of what you really need. If you have appliances you barely use, why not donate them? That way you can keep your clean, minimalist kitchen even after the holidays. No need to designate one room as a disaster zone!

  1. Wash dishes and linens

Clean dishes are the first step for preparing a meal after all! Wash and iron tablecloths and napkins. Throw your oven mitts, hot pads, dishcloths, and washrags in the laundry as well.

  1. Clean oven and dishwasher

Just like your refrigerator and cabinets, you want to start with a fresh slate. Plus the smell of burning isn’t the aroma your guests came for when you said you were making cookies!

  1. Assess appliances

Test to make sure that the rest of your appliances work and clean them.

  1. What’s the (oven) temperature?

Check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer. If it’s not accurate to the temperature, consult your owner’s manual and adjust it or just note the difference. For example, if a recipe tells you to set the temperature to 350 degrees, perhaps you’ll always set it to 375 degrees to account for the difference. Just make it work!

  1. Be sharp

Have your knives all set for when you’ll need them by sharpening them now.

  1. Back to basics

A great holiday-ready kitchen is a well-stocked one. Make a list now so that you don’t have to make multiple trips to the store (or have it arrive in the mail after you need it). The last thing you want to do is run to the store and stand in line for one thing as your guests wait.

Imagine making a coffee cake and having no coffee filters to make the moniker beverage. Or, a guest bringing a bottle of wine only to have no opener (or, would that mean you would get to keep the whole thing …!? Hmm.).

Stock up on this & that:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Batteries (AA, AAA, D)
  • Cheese cloth
  • Coffee
  • Coffee filters
  • Cork screw
  • Containers for leftovers you wouldn’t mind giving away
  • Dish soap
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Garbage bags
  • Kitchen string
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tea
  • Toothpicks
  • Waxed paper

Adjust the list according to your needs. If you already know the recipes you’ll be using, skim through the directions so you don’t overlook anything. For example, if you’re making caramel, you’ll want to add a candy thermometer to the list.

  1. Devise a meal plan

A truly holiday-ready kitchen is stocked with food. By devising a meal plan you won’t have to run to the grocery store and you won’t end up with wasted food. A win-win in our book!

What recipes are you excited to (re)try?

Try apple cake, kale, and roasted acorn squash. Also look for traditional recipes with a twist to “spice” things up!

  1. Make a list (and check it twice)

What are nonperishable food items that you can use to easily make a meal with minimal other ingredients? Do you have the ingredients for pancakes? A simple soup?

Here are some items that can help you throw a meal together when at first glance it looks like you don’t have all the ingredients to make one.

  • Beans
  • Flour
  • Lentils
  • Linguine
  • Maple syrup
  • Nuts
  • Oats
  • Olive oil
  • Rice
  • Soup stock
  • Spaghetti
  • Tomato sauce
  • Vinegar
  1. Spice rack inventory

Check expiration dates and also make sure to pick up spices you might use more of during the holiday season, like nutmeg and ginger.

What do you need?

Start making a grocery list!

  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Cloves
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsley
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Salt
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric
  • Vanilla extract
  1. A coffee station and additional seating

Being a great host means anticipating needs. And coffee ranks high on the list!

Set up a coffee station with coffee, tea, creamer, milk, soymilk, and sugar. Place it in the living room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen during meal preparation. It’s all about minimizing high-traffic areas.

That said, if cooks and non-cooks want to hang out in one big group, place extra stools and chairs in a semi-circle facing the kitchen.

  1. Childproof your place

If there are young children in the family, then a holiday-ready kitchen also includes taking precautions.

If you have little ones (or pets) you should be good to go. Otherwise, you’ll want to think like a toddler interested in anything and everything. If they can grab it, they will!

Make sure matches, lighters, sharp utensils, household cleaners, etc., are inaccessible. Store them in upper cabinets or use child-safety latches. Again, if they can open it, they will! If they can fit it into their mouth, they will!

  1. Add nightlights

You never know when a guest may want a midnight snack. The nightlight can be their host while you’re sleeping. It also might reassure young ones your holiday-ready kitchen is well-lit for Santa’s visit. After all, he’s going to need light to see where the milk and cookies are!

  1. Pretty in red and green

A holiday-ready kitchen isn’t ready until it’s filled with cheer! Add holiday cheer to your kitchen with a wreath and decor. Round out the room with poinsettias (if you don’t have a pet) or miniature Christmas tree(s).

  1. Winterizing your kitchen: Don’t procrastinate

The holidays will be here before you know it. It’s time to prepare now! Good luck and have fun preparing your holiday-ready kitchen (oh, and cookies too)!

Happy holidays from all of us at LJ’s!

Contact Us

LJ’s provides expertise in kitchen design and installation. Contact us for your kitchen build, re-model, or a few quick tips on how you can transform your kitchen for the holidays!