We’ve all seen the shows where they create an organized pantry with a rainbow pattern. Sure it’s pretty, but is it manageable?
With a busy household and kids who like to help themselves to snacks, I wanted to make sure that our pantry would be able to function for how we live and be easy to maintain. If you missed how we built our pantry click here.
So let me show you 3 tips for an easy to maintain organized pantry:
Tip #1 – Create Main Categories
When it came to organizing our pantry, we started by figuring out the categories of items that we keep in there.
Our categories included baking ingredients, cooking staples, snack foods, extra paper products, and small appliances.
Once the categories were determined, we could decide where to put the products that made the most sense.
In our case, we made sure snacks were accessible to the kids on the side closest to the trash, while the cooking staples were closer to the stove.
The things we used the least went up higher while the most used items stayed within easy reach.
Tip #2 – Keep Items Frequently Used Together
We found it was easier to keep an organized pantry by having things that are often used together in the same area.
So, instead of having a shelf for dry goods with pasta, rice, bread, and tortilla chips and another area for sauces and canned goods, etc, we looked at how those items are used.
We generally aren’t grabbing alfredo sauce and rice at the same time or lasagna noodles and queso.
Instead, we put the pasta sauces next to the noodles, the queso and salsa are near the tortillas and rice, and the peanut butter and jelly are near the bread, etc. At meal time, we can easily grab all the ingredients at once which saves time and energy.
This also allows us to quickly know what meals we have ingredients for which is a huge win when you don’t feel like cooking.
Grocery shopping is also easier as we can see meal ingredients at a glance.
These baskets have made keeping similar items together a breeze.
Tip #3 – Make it Family Friendly
If you have independent children like I do, embrace it. Create a zone for them in the pantry.
My kids love cereal so we opted to get a cereal dispenser. This makes it quick and easy for my 5 year old boys to get their own cereal without making a huge mess.
We have clear organizers for the kids’ snacks so they can see what is available without rifling through everything. I also can see how much we have of each item with a quick glance (no more empty boxes in the pantry!).
You just need to figure out how your family approaches the things kept in your pantry so that you can determine the best way to store the items. We are a grab and go family, so keeping items used together in the same spot works best for us.
I will be honest, we don’t buy a ton of gifts for our kids at Christmas time. Instead of focusing on how many gifts are under the tree, we focus on making memories with family and friends…with a few gifts sprinkled in (4 plus a gift from Santa to be exact).
Some of my favorite memories involve the small traditions that I love doing with the kids. Over the years, they remind me of the things we need to be doing and that is so reassuring that they love the traditions like I do. I also feel like by having these traditions, it takes some of the emphasis off of gifts and allows us to focus on other fun things.
Wondering what we do?
***Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.***
After Thanksgiving Tradition – Santa Bags and Elves
We kick off the season the morning after Thanksgiving when Sam, our Elf on the Shelf, brings a “Santa Bag” for my kids to fill. Basically, it is a large, fabric bag with ribbon and bells on it. You could also DIY one with a red laundry bag and a tag.
They put all the toys that are in good working order that they no longer play with in it and Sam takes the filled bag to Santa’s workshop where the toys can be loved by other kids. In reality, the toys go to our local rescue mission or shelter. I love that we are able to donate things that someone else can use.
Sam, our Elf, also just hides in fun spots, but isn’t the type of Elf to make a mess or destroy things…thankfully, we have enough of that without extra encouragement.
Leading up to Christmas
Some of our favorite traditions include writing Santa letters, watching Sam the Elf move each day, and making holiday treats with our families. I no longer question my tight pants at Christmas, we do way too much baking and eating.
Also, a few days before Christmas, my kids open a box with Christmas pajamas, a Christmas book, and some holiday popcorn. We enjoy watching holiday movies at night leading up to Christmas Eve. It’s so fun to hear them talk about the movies, what they hope they are getting from Santa, etc.
The 4 Gift Rule
We don’t go crazy buying gifts for our kids…and they don’t notice. Between gifts from grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins, etc, the kids were ending up with so much that they didn’t even know what to play with or where they got certain items. It was too much, we were all overwhelmed.
Then I heard someone say they did the “4 Gift Rule” for gifts in their house and I loved the idea!
Basically, our kids get a gift from Santa and then 4 gifts from us:
Something they WANT
Something they NEED
Something to WEAR
Something to READ
This year, the kids are getting some travel items because we are taking a family vacation to Florida and will be visiting Disney. In part, we can go on fun trips or do excursions like waterparks (as well as reward them throughout the year with small things), because we don’t spend thousands of dollars at Christmas time.
As an example, here is what my kids are getting this Christmas just from us:
WANT: We picked something off of each kid’s list to get them and tried to keep the dollar amount the same usually around $50
NEED: Carry On Suitcases in different colors – when they open them they will find out about Disney
WEAR: A custom Disney shirt from Etsy in their favorite color as well as a new bathing suit
READ: We picked out a few books based on favorite characters, shows, etc
Christmas Eve Tradition
On Christmas Eve, my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, and their kids generally come over to our house for an early dinner, gift opening, and candle light church. It is one of my favorite traditions.
Also, since the kids only opened a few gifts, they aren’t so upset to leave their new things to go to Church. After church, it is Christmas pajamas and setting out the milk and cookies for Santa then off to bed.
Christmas Day Tradition
Who would have ever thought that you can enjoy Christmas more as an adult than when you were a kid? Seeing my kids wake up with such excitement and wonder is one of the best feelings in the entire world.
Once everyone is up, we take turns opening gifts. Each kid will have 4 gifts from us and 1 Santa gift under the tree. I love that there aren’t 100 gifts under the tree for them to open. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen kids open something they really want and then not want to open the rest. Thankfully, with only 5 gifts, it isn’t too bad and they appreciate them so much more.
After we open our gifts, we head to my in-laws where the kids get to tell Grandma what Santa brought them and what Mom and Dad picked out. Again, they are really good about going to the next function because they aren’t so overwhelmed gifts. We enjoy the rest of the morning with family while the kids open a few more gifts from grandparents, aunts/unlces/cousins.
Our afternoon is spend visiting with extended family and eating tons of good food. When we finally get back home, we enjoy watching the kids play with their new favorite things while a Christmas movie plays in the background.
Make your own Christmas Traditions to cherish
I truly believe that the gift of family and friends is what makes the holiday wonderful. It isn’t about the number of presents under the tree or the amount of money spent, it is about the memories made.
Just remember to enjoy your traditions, make great memories, and do Christmas how it works for your family!