The holidays will soon be here and that means dinner parties, holiday potlucks and big family gatherings. It also means bringing out the special holiday dinnerware, crystal wine glasses, and yes, the turkey roasting pan. You know–the items that you only use once a year.

Once the holidays are over, however, that also means packing it all up again and storing it away.

“People have so many holiday-specific dishes… You want to get it out of the way so you’re not looking at it every single day, because you’re not using it every day,” said Beth Levin, owner of Closet Queen in south Florida. “You have to get creative. Every kitchen, every person is different,” Levin said.

“We have to live in the space we’re in — whether it’s 4,000 square feet or 400 square feet,” added Andrea Brundage, owner of Mesa, Phoenix-based Simple Organized Solutions.

So how about some new ideas for keeping your holiday dishware safe, organized and looking merry.

Designate a ‘Holiday Zone’

Levin suggests a metro shelf that you could place in a laundry room or basement and keep all of your holiday dishes and hosting accessories together.

“If you’ve got a wall for a shelf, this is your whole holiday area,” Levin said.

Levin suggest installing a sturdy 30″ to 60″ shelf. You can load your holiday dishes into clear plastic bins that fit on the shelf, and label them appropriately.

Brundage agrees with the idea of creating a “compartment” for the holidays.

“I will put my Christmas candles with my Christmas plates and Christmas cookbook,” she said. “I put like things together so I remember to pull those down. Oftentimes, we get though the holidays, and say, ’Oh my goodness, I haven’t used those dishes in five years!’”

Packing Delicate China

While a china cabinet — where you can display your china set — is ideal, not everyone owns one.

So if possible, “pack fine china back up in its original boxes and protective sleeves,” said Amber Kostelny, owner of Chicago-based Amber’s Organizing. “Then store those boxes altogether on one shelf or in one closet. My fine Christmas china is all packed up in the same set of plastic bins, so I can easily recognize them when we pull them out at Christmas. I know the four white plastic totes are all holiday china.”

If you don’t have the original boxes, use bubble wrap, packing paper, cloth napkins or some other cushioning material and wrap pieces individually, and then place them in a bin or box. Stack plates, platters and bowls on their side – never on top of each other.

Quilted china storage is another option.

“These containers are really good,” Levin said. “They have dividers so they really protect.” Just don’t stack anything on top of them.


Packing Big Serving Platters

“Most families store occasional serving platters and dishes outside of the kitchen on sturdy freestanding shelving in their basements or a side closet,” Kostelny said. “They don’t need to be front and center taking up space.

Kostelny says to nest dishes together to a save space. Put oval platters with oval platters and deep bowls nest with deep bowls. Place a square of paper towel or felt between breakable serving dishes.

If you have a big, deep cabinet above the refrigerator, platters can be stored there, added Erin Kelly, owner of Chicago-based Arranged By Erin.

Packing Extra Dinnerware

You may need a 16-piece dinnerware set to host your holiday guests, but you only need four settings daily. If you’re blessed with plenty of kitchen cabinet space, keep the set together. If not, there are other options.

“I try to set up a kitchen ‘overflow’ area for clients with extra dinnerware, and I have a small bin that has extra place settings of silverware,” Kelly said. “I have one client that lives in a condo and we put his stuff in a bin and put it way up on a top shelf, so if he had a dinner party he could pull it down. Anything extra that’s not in daily or regular use doesn’t need to be in your prime space.”

Bins in overflow kitchen areas could also include things like your bread maker and electric carving knife.

Packing Bulky Roasting Pans

If you do have space in your kitchen, store roasting pans in bottom cabinets since they’re heavy and you can stack other items inside. You can put smaller pots and pans, Tupperware, lids etc. in that roasting pan.

Many ovens have a drawer underneath, which is also a good storage option, Levin added.

Packing Bundt Pans/Bakeware

“I have a lot of clients with an excessive amount of bakeware because now you can get cupcake pans in every shape and size you’d ever believe,” Kelly said. “Unless they’re cooking or baking on a regular basis, I suggest putting all of the decorative pans into a bin and putting them into their kitchen overflow area and just keeping their cookie sheets and muffin tins in their current space.”

Packing Wine, Champagne Glasses

“A lot of my clients’ houses have butler’s pantries, and they like to have all of their glassware in the butler’s pantry,” Kelly said. “For my clients with smaller homes that don’t have the cabinet space, they pack away their extra glasses and may keep out one set of wine glasses and one set of glasses for mixed drinks.”

Quilted storage for packing extra glasses is a nice option to keep them safe until you need them next time.

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Liz Wolf