5 areas to organize in your kitchen to wow your Thanksgiving guests

Professional home organizer Sarah Dunn shares small but effective tweaks guaranteed to make your kitchen look organized for the holidays (even if it's not)

kitchen organization
(Image credit: Roundhouse, Naked Kitchens, Martin Moore)

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you might be stressed about your mounting to-do list, especially if you’re the one hosting this year. You may be feeling some pressure to make your house look perfect, but not to worry. 

Below I’ve listed five areas you can organize in the kitchen in 30 minutes or less that will surely wow your Thanksgiving guests.

Areas to organize in the kitchen to wow Thanksgiving guests

When hosting Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the small details that can make a big impression. Even if you don’t have the time to declutter and organize each of these areas, focusing on one or two can wow your guests.

monochromatic kitchen with wooden shelving on the right of window with spice jars and plants, white metro wall tiles, black cabinetry, hardwood floor, rug

(Image credit: Brad Ramsey Interiors/Paige Rumore)

1. The spice drawer

Kitchen spices organized in a drawer

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

If you have a spice drawer, great. If you don’t, but you have the room for it, consider making the switch. It may take some reconfiguring, but I can’t stress enough what an impact this small change can make. 

For less than $60 and a half hour, your guests will be so impressed by your spice drawer that they’ll want one themselves.

The beauty of a spice drawer is the ability to see all of your spices at once. Spices shelves, like bamboo display shelves, at Amazon, are a fine alternative, but in our experience, it’s still impossible to see all of the labels if the shelves are full.

To enhance your spice drawer, we recommend these acrylic drawer inserts, also at Amazon, and a set of spice jars with matching labels. The acrylic drawer inserts expand to fit almost any drawer perfectly and allow you to organize spices in a way you can see each one.

2. The towel drawer

Many kitchens have an excess of dish towels that are ready for their title change of 'rags.' Upgrade your towel drawer by buying a couple of fresh, matching dish towel sets, and remove the rest.

Next, file-fold the towels. Lay the towel out flat, with the short side facing you. Fold the towels in thirds lengthwise, creating a long rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half, then in thirds. Stand the towel up in the drawer with the rounded edge facing up. If you have more than one row of towels, use a bamboo drawer divider to separate the rows.

3. The space under the sink

stainless steel sink in kitchen with blue cabinetry and pink patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

As a professional organizer, I often find that clients are embarrassed when our team shows up, especially when it comes to the area under the sink. No client has ever proudly shown us this area, claiming it as the only place in their home they can keep organized. 

Instead, for most people, under the sink becomes a black hole of cleaning products, old sponges, gross gloves, and an excessive amount of grocery bags.

If your Thanksgiving guests are unfamiliar with your home, there’s a good chance they’ll open the cabinet below the sink in search of the garbage can. Take 15 minutes to declutter and organize this area to really impress your guests.

When organizing under the sink, start by taking everything out, spraying the inside of the cabinet, and giving it a good wipe-down. No more sticky messes here. The group 'like with like' – create categories: cleaning products, sponges, gloves, dishwashing pods, trash bags, and so forth. 

Dispose of things you don’t use anymore. Relocate certain cleaning products to another area like the garage or laundry room storage if they aren’t used in the kitchen. If you have a housekeeper who brings their own products, consider pairing back your cleaning supplies to just the essentials. I’ve found that an all-purpose cleaner, white vinegar, and baking soda are the three essentials I couldn’t live without.

Once you’ve paired down to just the necessities, it’s time to contain these items. A simple matching set of acrylic containers from Amazon is the perfect organizing solution here. Trash bags go into one, dishwashing pods into another, cleaning supplies into a third, and sponges into the fourth. Bonus points if you label the acrylic bins to ensure this continues to be an area you’re proud to show off.

4. The utensil drawer

The utensil drawer is one of the most used and messiest areas in the kitchen. With a few small improvements, you’ll be sure to impress your guests with this drawer.

A common mistake we see in our clients' homes is not having a utensil organizer that properly fills the drawer. Often our clients are using small plastic utensil organizers they’ve had since college, that only take up half the drawer. Leaving all this empty space creates a clutter hot spot for disposable silverware, straws, wooden chopsticks, chip clips, and some hot sauce packets you brought home two years ago.

Again, you’ll want to take everything out. Vacuum any crumbs and give the drawer a good wipe-down. Insert an expandable bamboo utensil organizer, at Amazon, as this should sufficiently fill the drawer and give you room for all of your most-used utensils. Marvel at how this small change just made a major impact!

5. The pantry

Pantry with goods stored in glass jars and baskets

(Image credit: Future / James French)

Now this area might take longer than 30 minutes if you’re hoping to do a full pantry organizing overhaul. But if you’re short on time, motivation, or both, then stick to making a few changes.

Start by grouping your pantry items together by type – for example, pasta, grains and rice, cereals, bars, canned food, and so forth. Remove unnecessary packaging where possible. Contain your groupings of like items in a set of matching bins, at Amazon and complete the look with a clip label.


How do I get organized for Thanksgiving?

One way to make hosting Thanksgiving easier it to set up a 'command center' in your kitchen to keep recipes, reminders and papers in one place. You may like to attach a whiteboard to the refrigerator or use a chalkboard or blackboard paint to create a space to write down reminders and for guests to leave messages.

Remember to start small, and don’t stress yourself out. The holidays are about quality time with family and friends and even if your house isn’t perfect, the celebration will be.

Sarah Dunn

I love transforming disorder into a functional space. What is most inspiring, though, is the transformation I see in my clients. They tell me they are sleeping better, have more respect for themselves, and are performing better at work. All because of simple changes in their physical environment. I embarked on this journey a few years ago, helping friends declutter and organize their spaces. It was a revelation—realizing that a simple change in one's physical environment can lead to a profound personal transformation. Hooked by this discovery, I founded Ready Set Organize with the goal of not just transforming spaces but minds as well. Over the years, we’ve worked with hundreds of clients and our San Diego-based team has grown to more than 10 organizers. These experiences have reinforced my belief in the power of a well-organized life.