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Entries in party basics (37)


Organizing your kitchen for the holidays

Is your kitchen ready to be the hub of holiday happenings? Mine...is in a questionable state of readiness. You know how it is when you move into a new place — things get placed into what you hope is a strategic area, but as the weeks wear into months, it's clear that you don't have a very good system in place.

In all fairness to me, the above organization is courtesy of my toddler sous chef.

"This goes here, this goes here, this goes wherever..."


STILL. Things could be greatly improved, so I am delighted to partner with ShelfGenie for the first in a two-part series of posts. ShelfGenie makes fabulous custom drawer systems for cabinets, and I am very excited for mine to arrive!

I sat down with one of their top organizers, Serena. She spent a little time talking about ShelfGenie, but more time analyzing how I use my kitchen.

In Serena's words, here's what I need to do to get my cabinets into ship-shape for the holidays:

1) Use shelving to its full potential. The depth of the shelves in the pantry make it difficult to keep track of what's stored in the back. By only using the front half of the shelves, I'm neglecting 50% of my storage capacity. Adding four Glide-Out shelves on the bottom, I could free up two shelves and create additional storage. Items from the top portion of my pantry can then be reorganzined to the bottom Glide-Out shelves.
2) Identify the kitchen "hot spot". The Glide-Out shelves on the bottom half of the pantry will free up crucial storage space in an often-utilized area of the kitchen. The top half of the pantry is the space I should be utilizing for items that often used items. The kitchen "hot spot" is the shelf that is filled with items used on a daily basis. The hot spot shelf should be at eye level, thus reducing the hunt for coffee beans, oil, salt, etc.
3) Customize storage based on your lifestyle. Because entertaining is important to me, we wanted to find a good alternate solution for items that are currently in the basement, and therefore hard to access. Having those items in the basement make it difficult to take inventory of what I have. As we talked, we realized there's a drywall pantry off to the side that currently isn't serving any real function, but would be ideal for entertaining items. Such a "why didn't I think of that earlier!" moment.

THIS is what my cabinets will look like after the system is installed. Call me hopelessly domestic if you want, but this seems like heaven:

More to come, but for now please check out ShelfGenie's Facebook and Twitter for more organizing tips. And remember these three steps to great organization:

1) Make an organization wish list
2) Identify what causes you the most frustration
3) Have a process — not a destination — and stick to it. And don't let your toddler reorganize.

This is a sponsored post, but as with all partnerships, my feedback is genuine.


Nine TIPS from the party PROFESSIONALS

How do I decode the dress code? What music should I play? Where can I find a good hostess gift for someone I don't know very well?

All very valid questions. Parties can be tricky, right? To find the answers, earlier in the year I interviewed nine professionals for their little-known soiree secrets. Quite a few of the answers were surprising (ditch the try-hard "hand on the hip" pose, and avoid makeup with SPF if you'll be taking a lot of photos), so even the most seasoned social butterflies should learn a few things.

Nine Tips from Top Party Pros from the April print edition of Make It Better magazine


photo credits: dress codes, props, wedding, DJ Madrid, blue steel, cultures, gifts, makeup, candles


2010 Holiday Entertaining Tip Sheet!

We've entered the height of entertaining season, and I know many of you are hosting gatherings at a rapid rate.  It can be so dizzying!  With that in mind, here is this year's Holiday Entertaining Tip Sheet.  This at-a-glance guide offers five helpful hints, two appetizers, a dessert, and a cocktail recipe.  You're ready to party!

Download the printable version


And here's the 2009 Tip Sheet!  It was originally a printed handout, so this is the spiffy online copy.
Download the printable version


Clever uses for everyday household items

Real Simple's 50 All-Time Favorite New Uses for Old Things is a clever resource for multitasking items, and quite a few of them apply to home entertaining!  I've pulled four of my favorites...

Twister mat as tablecloth
Chalk slows down tarnish
Removable window decals mark everyone's drink
Clear hair ties keep flower arrangements together

...but of course, there are 46 more. :)  Take a look and see how the things around your house can multitask!


NEW VIDEO! How to Slice Goat Cheese (without making a mess)

Gosh, I feel like it's been forever since I've posted a new how-to video. Here's one of my favorite secret tricks - you can cleanly slice goat cheese using dental floss! Just make sure to use unflavored and unwaxed floss. I keep a roll in my gadget draw just for this purpose. It works on any soft cheese. Learn how to do it in this short video:

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