By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

It’s mid-October, the last vestiges of warm weather here on the East Coast.

It’s such an exciting time of the year with the upcoming holiday season where we are looking forward to entertaining family and friends, inviting them into our homes to share food, drink, and fun. It’s an opportunity to make new memories.

But with the extra people in your kitchen this holiday season, there’s obviously a need for more food, more food prep, and better space usage than usual.

And with that, comes stress, overwhelm, and last-minute concerns that everything will be ready for your house guests.

But this year, instead of stressing out, these 5 design tips are intended to help you prepare and optimize your kitchen for holiday entertaining so you can enjoy your guests and your holiday more.


5 Tips to Help You Optimize Your Kitchen for Holiday Entertaining


1. Declutter your kitchen

·         Declutter your kitchen counter

Since you will need more counter space for food prep, baking, serving, and even gift-wrapping, clear anything and everything from your kitchen counter that does not relate to the holidays or to what you will need for entertaining.

For example:

Small appliances that are rarely used and decorative items that are off-season. Store them in an area you can bring them back out when needed.

·         Declutter your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry

Remove outdated items. Use them, donate them, or get rid of them. Make room for pre-cooked meals that are ready to serve, saving you time and effort allowing you to spend more time with your guests.

·         Declutter your kitchen cabinets and drawers 

Remove any items you won’t need during the holidays. (i.e., extra mugs., small appliances)

Take this time to purge anything that are duplicates or items you no longer want, need, or use.

Put only the items you will need back into your cabinets, making it easy for you to locate them when needed during the busy holiday season.


2. Inventory items you already have

Make a list of all items that you already have in your pantry, refrigerator, freezer so that when you do buy, you are buying only what you need, not purchasing duplicate or triplicates. (i.e., condiments and spices)

Anticipate how many people you will be entertaining so you can have the right amount of dinnerware, glassware, silverware, serving pieces that you will need without having to go to the basement for storage area to retrieve them while your guests are there.

When you first declutter and purge, then inventory, you will not only save yourself time, money, and energy, it will prevent those emergency trips to the store while your guests are there because you will have everything you need.


3. Organize: Have a “home” for everything

Since you decluttered and inventoried what you already have, make room for what else you will need, the next step is to organize everything in your cabinets: refrigerator, freezer, and pantry so that everything has a place and you will be able to put your finger on it at a moment’s notice.

Note: Before you take this step, make sure you declutter first.


4. Prepare ahead

Plan your menus now. Prepare meals in advance and freeze them.

Take time to make old family favorites and allow time to create a few new ones.

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Designer Kitchen Tips

5. Space plan in advance

Make sure to have multiple space plans ready for your different entertaining needs that might include:

  • Add the table leaves now so you don’t have to do it after your guests arrive.
  • Add the appropriate number of seats and chairs that you’ll need.
  • Plan for alternate eating areas for the larger crowds i.e., living room, sunroom, library
  • Plan your food presentation zones. Where you will stage the appetizers, bar, entrées, desserts/coffee, etc.

Having a plan in place will alleviate last-minute chaos and stress.

When it comes to holiday entertaining, it’s not just the food we should be planning for, it is also planning for how your kitchen spaces will be used during holiday entertaining. When you start implementing these steps now, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and be able to enjoy your guests and your holidays more!



Each week I will be sending an email to my email list on how to optimize different areas of your home for holiday entertaining.

If you’re not on our email list and would like to receive these design tips, visit my website and subscribe. You will get these helpful hints on design, decluttering, downsizing, and so much more.


How can you start now to alleviate the predictable holiday stress?