I also check the other cupboards for rarely used serving pieces that may need a bit of polish and also straighten things up as I go along. Thank goodness I did this as I couldn't find my glass measuring cup. The individual who usually unloads the dishwasher confessed that it had recently been broken. Whew, potential crisis averted!
Tip: Use lid racks or small adjustable curtain rods to keep trays, cutting boards and platters neat.
I also go through all of the drawers. In addition to throwing out 800 pens that didn't work, I found that I was almost out of matches, aluminum foil and AA batteries. Can you imagine the horror of a new toy and no batteries? The thought gives me shudders! Taking a moment to check under the sink insures that I am well stocked with light bulbs, vacuum bags and cleaning products.
Tip: Keep your cleaning products in a plastic container. I learned this lesson the hard way when a bottle of lemon oil leaked over everything. Contained messes are much easier to clean up.
To make sure that I will not be elbow deep in pasty when discovering a missing ingredient I go through my spices and other unrefrigerated condiments. For quicker prep work I do separate my spices into two categories: baking and cooking. Yes, I do alphabetize my spices. Forget the OCD jokes, it just makes it quicker to find what I want.
Tip: Use the best vanilla you can afford. It truly does make a difference. Also, put your baking soda into an air tight container. The reason is that baking soda is famous for its odor absorbing qualities. By placing it in a container your cookies will remain tasting like cookies instead of some other mystery flavor.
The pantry. Martha Stewart gives the best advice on what staples to stock. I don't bother messing with perfection.
But, during the holidays I like to have a few things on hand that require little, if any prep work that I can present on a clean and shiny tray. Voila! It says to your guest, welcome to my home, you are special.
~Crackers: brand doesn't matter. Buy what you like as you will eventually have to eat the rest.
~Hot chocolate or cider mixes
~Assorted chocolates~yeah I know. I keep chocolate covered cherries on hand because I won't eat them. Ditto on the hard cookie mix.
~Festive paper cups, plates, napkins, forks, in case of a crowd and you don't have time for dishes.
~Candles~ Ambiance. Light up a vanilla candle and your guests will think that you actually baked the cookies your serving.
In the refrigerator keep the following cold:
~A mix of sodas, sparkling cider or a bottle of white wine.
~Carrots and celery
~IKEA meatballs, seriously. These are for the guests that stay through the dinner hour.
Now sit back and be ready to be crowned HOSTED WITH THE MOSTESS!
Make sure you sign up for my vintage Christmas giveaway. It's the next post down.