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Un-Clutter Your Kitchen Before the Holidays

10 ways to improve your cooking space – and your state of mind.
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WebMD Commentary

Not only do I subscribe to the cliché, "you are what you eat," I believe that when your surroundings are cluttered and disorganized, your life and frame of mind are often equally disheveled. Not that I keep an immaculate house -- just ask my husband. But I notice that when my house is in reasonable order, things seem to go more smoothly in other areas of my life.

With the holidays approaching, we may not get around to overhauling the entire house - let's be realistic. But the kitchen? That's doable.

I'm not alone in thinking that the heart of a family seems to reside in the kitchen. It's the one room everyone in the HAS to go to (other than the bathroom). Often, it's where our best conversations take place. It's where comforting pots of coffee or tea are brewed. For most families, it's where the television and other distractions are not.

Before the holiday ball starts rolling, take a couple of hours to un-clutter your kitchen. You and your holidays may be better and happier for it. Here are my 10 tips for un-cluttering your kitchen:

1. Designate an Area and a System for Bill-Paying.

Many of us handle mail and bill-paying in our kitchens. And during the holiday season, we're more likely to misplace a bill or lose track of what's due when. So it's more important than ever to get organized. Find an area in your kitchen (or office) where you can go through the mail as it comes in, filing bills away in the order they are due. Find an organizing system that works for you, even if it's just a few different color folders (green means "go" pay the pills, yellow means "these bills are coming up" and red means "stop worrying about it; these bills are paid") that you keep in a special area of your kitchen or office.

2. Clear the Countertops.

Did you ever notice how beautiful the kitchens look in model homes? Just standing in them makes you feel happy (at least, it does for me). I think this has something to do with the uncluttered countertops. It's as if having room to work gives you room to breathe easier. So start at one end of your countertop and work your way to the end, being hyper-selective about what stays on the countertop.

3. Take Time to Toss.

Ask yourself what's really vital to the day-to-day workings of your kitchen. Go through every cabinet and every drawer, determining which kitchen gadgets, cookware, and tools you hardly use. Do you really use that mushroom scrub brush, or those plastic prong-like ends you stick in corncobs? How many frying pans do you really need? If you're good with two, decide which two are in the best shape. And why are you keeping that crusty old toaster oven now that Aunt Betty has given you a fancy new Italian one for your birthday? For everything you decide to toss, this is a great time to donate to your local charities.

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