Posted by Holster Brands

It’s true, nobody ever mentions the mounds of dirty dishes a huge meal brings. It’s just one of those unspoken facts of life we learn the hard way as we go. But it doesn’t have to be that way…really! When we host Thanksgiving dinner around here, there a few tricks of the trade that have kept us sane, and on top of our game. Since it is the season of giving, we’re going to share some of our favorite prep and clean up tips to get you through the big day. Oh, and even if it’s not your year to host, keep reading…the best guest is the one who’s willing to lend a hand!

Just like the Super Bowl and World Series are both just another ball game surrounded by a lot of hype, Thanksgiving (Hanukkah, Christmas, Easter, etc) is just another dinner…with a few extra place settings. The fun is in the creation of the meal, and seeing everyone enjoy those awesome turkeys you whipped up so effortlessly (wink wink…it’s okay to claim those turkey recipes as your own. Your secret is safe with us!) What we fail to think about sometimes is the aftermath waiting for us in the kitchen. In year’s past it has taken us an entire week to get our kitchen back to normal, and our poor dishwasher worked overtime just to keep up. That was before we learned how to clean as we cooked. Yep, that’s the detail that’s left out of every recipe and cookbook! From the minute you step into the kitchen your game plan should be set. Have your menu written out, so you can cross items off of the list as they’re prepped (it’s amazing how satisfying that little step is!) Once a dish is finished, immediately clean up whatever you used to make it. It’s helpful to wash things by hand, with warm soapy water, so you’re not constantly waiting for your dishwasher to finish. To make that job less tedious it’s always nice to have a Mini, Skinny, and/or Any Holster around to keep your sink organized, and your sponge and brush out of the muck (these are optional of course, kind of like having utensils for your meal.) We like to use our holsters as spoon rests too. They can hang vertically from your backsplash, over the edge of your countertop, or lay flat next to the stove (we recommend putting a paper towel inside them when hanging vertically though…it kind of defeats the purpose if you have gravy dripping through the drain holes.) Just peel them off when you’re finished and give them a quick rinse. It keeps the mess off of your counter (and let’s be honest…every kitchen could use a pop of color!) 

You’ll notice that your sink will stay clear, and your stress level will stay low if you continue to stay ahead of the dishes. As guests begin to arrive and inquire what they can do to help you, ALWAYS take them up on their offer! Have a list already in your head of things that need to be done, but you’re not particular about how they’re done (you know those butter dishes won’t fill themselves, but do you really want to step away from the stuffing to do that?) There are oodles of things you can assign out to people to help your day run a little more efficiently, but you have to be okay with it being done a little differently than you would do it. Some of your guests might offer to bring a dish to the dinner, or ask if there is anything they can pick up from the store. It’s a gracious offer, and will allow you to take something off of your plate. A good rule of thumb is to ask them to bring one of their family favorites (not everyone has mac-n-cheese, or broccoli casserole for Thanksgiving, but the dinner isn’t complete for us without it, so that’s what we bring when eating elsewhere.) Drinks, whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream are also great items to assign out to people if they’ve offered to pick something up for you. You can never have too much of any of those meal accessories, and it gives you one less thing to worry about.

Just as you’re ready to serve the meal, give your kitchen a quick glance to make sure everything is ready to go, your dishwasher should be empty by now, in preparation for the dinner dishes, and your sink cleared to give your guests somewhere to place their plates after dinner. Now EAT!!! Enjoy every bite of that meal, you earned it…and you’re going to need the nourishment to get you through the last phase of the day. We like to make a party of the after dinner clean up. This is a good time to put on a movie, or break out that new board game for the kids. (Trust us…they’ll be more help out of the kitchen this time.) Have your guests transition from the table to the kitchen (and stick a sponge or drying towel into their hands before they know what hit them). If you’re sending leftovers home with people, have paper plates and foil out for them to help themselves. After the to go plates (or to go boxes in some cases…you’ve never met our Aunt Phyllis) are out of the way, feel free to assign someone the task of solving the leftovers Tetris puzzle in your refrigerator. Somehow all of the food fit in their when it was in grocery form, so it would stand to reason that it will fit again. If it doesn’t we can send our Aunt Phyllis over for more leftovers! It’s amazing how quickly your kitchen returns to it’s pre-feast state when you have many hands to help with the clean up! Once the dishwasher is loaded, and the counters are wiped it’s time to break out the desserts. We highly recommend buying disposable dessert plates, utensils, and napkins for this. Nobody is expecting to eat their pie a la mode (it’s a good thing someone brought that extra vanilla ice cream) on your grandmother’s fine china, so don’t sweat the small stuff. This way people can grab some dessert and settle in for whatever after dinner fun there is to be had.

Just remember that this time of year is for giving thanks, celebrating family and friendships, and enjoying a meal with those you love. If it ends up taking a week for your kitchen to recover from the feast it’s okay…the messy kitchen will only serve to remind you that you were able to share a meal with the people who are the most important to you. That’s worth a few extra loads of dishes, right? 

Enjoy the fun, AND the mess, the holidays bring!