Quick & Easy DIY Holiday Party Food Bars

It’s almost that time of the year again.  You know, when you crave to have friends and family over and celebrate the holidays.  But, like most years, you have a lot going on.  I mean, do you really have time for a party?

Yes, yes you do!!!  Life is busy…but there are fun ways to entertain that don’t have to drain you, take a lot of time or cost a lot of money!  Are you in?  Let’s do this!

Let’s talk about DIY Food Bars. They’ve been around forever.  A casual get together may have a DIY Sandwich station… picture it, a deli tray, buns, and jars of Mustard and Mayonnaise. You line up and DIY your sandwich just the way you like it.

Ok, now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk about something much more exciting than a sandwich buffet.  We’re going to DIY party food for the holidays.  These food bars are great because they can be really cute and creative, but they can also save you time.  How do they save time, well, you don’t have to fully prepare the food or beverages your guests consume.  You lay out all of the elements, but they put it together. 

close up of a tray of holiday cookies and cupcakes with diy toppings and text quick and easy party food bars your guests will love

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliates Disclosure.

I was able to get the majority of the things I needed to buy including containers and food from the dollar store and Walmart!  Woot woot, that meant I didn’t have to put out a lot of cash!

Santa’s Cup of Cheer – Hot Drink Bar

Christmas always calls for hot drinks.  I grew up in Houston and despite the warm weather, I loved my peppermint mochas!  This is an easy DIY to put together and requires almost no prep!!!  All you have to do is make your hot chocolate and coffee in advance, buy a ton of toppings, and create your display.  This hot chocolate and coffee bar will be a favorite of yours and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!


  • 2 Carafes, 1 for Coffee and 1 for Hot Chocolate
  • Whipped Cream
  • Half & Half Cream or the fun seasonal flavored creams
  • Sweeteners (Sugar and/or the fake stuff)
  • Toppings and mix-ins- I used mint flavored marshmallows, Hershey’s kisses, Pirouette Cookies (like chocolate straws) Candy canes, and sprinkles
  • Coffee cups
  • Stir Spoons – you can go advanced here and get (or make) the chocolate dipped spoons…they are de-lic-ious!

Santa coffee cups on a platter with sprinkles as a topping in a jar.

These fun Santa Coffee Cups are a collection that my mom passed on to me.  She collected them over the years and passed them along to me last year.  Now, I add a cup here and there when I’m holiday shopping. 

You don’t have to buy something just like this.  Look and see what you already have and see if there’s a fun collection you can pull together.  Maybe you have mismatched china or a variety of coffee cups.  Feel free to go traditional with matching cups or create an eclectic collection with whatever you have available!  You can’t go wrong!

Toppings like sprinkles displayed for a DIY Coffee and Hot Chocolate bar

Reindeer Party Mix – DIY Food Bar

This Party Food Bar is a spin on Texas Trash or Chex Party Mix.  This is great party food for all ages kid and adults will love it!  When deciding on your ingredients, make sure you have a variety of salty and sweet items.  You can make this a zero-cooking party food bar or, you can make your own check mix.

top view of mixins for a diy party mix including popcorn, pretzals, chex cereal, carmel popcorn, and M&Ms


  • Cereal- I went with a variety of Chex, but you could add Cheerios as well
  • Pretzels
  • Butter Popcorn
  • Caramel Popcorn
  • M&M’s
  • Nuts, sesame sticks, and other candy like mini-Reese’s are also great options to include
  • Paper bags or bowls for guests to create their custom mix

View of differnt bowls and jars for DIY party mix mixins

As far as décor, mini-twinkle lights and a garland are nice to weave between the bowls.  You can use paper bags for your guests to create their mix! 

Elf’s Sweet Shoppe – Custom Cookie Bar

A party is not complete without some sweets!  This DIY Party Food Bar may require a little more preparation time, but I have a few hacks for you to help out in this area.  Let’s talk first about the food.

diy christmas cookie bar with topings and icing for guests to decorate

The Food

This buffet has typical holiday sweets including Sugar Cookies, Gingerbread cookies, and Cupcakes with buttercream icing.  You can include any variety of cookies at a station like this, but I wanted to stick with a grouping that allowed party guests to decorate their own sweet. 

For the cupcakes they can add sprinkles, marshmallows, chocolate chips, even shredded coconut.

For the cookies, I made this Royal Icing and put it in piping bags.

The Hacks

Here are the hacks I mentioned.  If you’re short on time, you can buy cupcakes and cookies from a bakery.  During the holidays, many stores also have sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie kits available.  If you go these routes, this bar can be another zero-bake party food bar!

Tiered cookie tray with cupcakes and sugar cookies for holiday party guests to decorateThe Supplies

  • Cupcakes with icing
  • Gingerbread cookies
  • Sugar cookies
  • Royal Icing in piping bags for guests to decorate their cookies
  • Toppings: chocolate chips, sprinkles, shredded coconut, marshmallows, and gumdrops.

This is another great party food for almost all ages.  It’s fun to do with kids and can count as an activity to keep them entertained along with something to fill their tummies.  A word of caution, if you are doing this for kids, I’ encourage you to use something other than the piping bags.  You may be able to find small icing tubes like the ones below.  I got mine in a gingerbread kit.  Alternatively, you can also get bottles like this for kids to use to decorate their cookies.  The thicker you make the Royal Icing the less messy it will be.  The thinner it is, the more it will ooze all over the cookie.

view of alterntive tools for decorating christmas cookies



What are You Waiting For?

So, what’s holding you back?  Isn’t it time to have a Christmas Party?  These fun and easy party foods will look great, save you time, and be enjoyed by your guests!!!





Clutter-Free Christmas Gifts – Kids & Adults Will Love

It’s Christmas morning and there is a ton of gifts under the tree.  The kids eyes are wide and they can’t wait to dig in.  There’s a frenzy of excitement and everyone is thrilled with their gifts.  But in a little time, a week, a month or two, those new gifts have lost their luster and they are something you shuffle from place to place and now call “clutter.” 
Gift-giving is fun! And it brings joy to both the giver and the receiver until it doesn’t. The reality is, you’re tired of all of the stuff.  It’s nice stuff, but there’s just too much.  You crave more simplicity in life…for you…for your family.  The continuous piles and clutter that accumulates is overwhelming.  If you want to avoid adding more stuff to your clutter shuffle, then consider giving clutter-free Christmas gifts this year. 
There are so many alternative things you can give to your loved ones that don’t have to accumulate in your homes.  So, how do we bring balance to all this? Here are ideas you can use to make gift-giving a clutter-free experience this year.
excited girl looking into an open christmas present with text clutter-free christmas gifts your kids will love
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliates Disclosure.

Kid-Friendly Clutter-Free Gifts

Let’s face it, next to Jesus, kids are the focus of Christmas gift-giving. So, we’ll start with kid-friendly clutter-free gifts.


It’s important to keep kids active. They are little sponges taking in every experience. While this practice is good, it can often be expensive. Buying an annual membership is a great activity the family can engage in and will reduce expenses in the long run. Memberships cost anywhere from $75 – $200 and usually pay for themselves if you go at least 3 times.
  • Zoo membership
  • Science Center
  • Membership at a YMCA or community center – exercise, swimming, etc.

Digital Subscriptions

Digital subscriptions are another great way to keep content fresh for your kids. We’ll talk about subscriptions like Netflix in the Adult Gift section. For now, let’s talk about a very kid-focused digital subscription.
Disney + launched in November 2019. In their words, Disney + is “The best of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. From new releases to your favorite classics, and exclusive originals, there’s always something new to discover.
At the time of this post, they are charging $6.99/month or $69.99/yr USD.


Tickets to live events and activities are great experiences for any age. Depending on your child’s interest they may enjoy going to any of the following activities:
  • Sporting events
  • A play, concert, or Disney on Ice
  • A movie
  • Or a season pass to a local attraction (e.g. Disney, Calgary Corn Maze)


In their search for knowledge, kids love to take part in classes. You have the choice of athletic or art-based classes. Some are offered seasonally for a month or two at a time, while others are one-time events e.g. ski lessons. Here are a few ideas to check out for clutter-free Christmas gifts.
  • Swimming lessons
  • Gymnastics class
  • Dance class
  • Ice skating lessons
  • Skiing lessons
  • Rock climbing lessons
  • Art lessons
  • Craft class
  • Music lessons
  • Cooking class

Children in swimming class, practicing with kicking boards, doing rotations, instructor helping one of them. great idea for a clutter free christmas gift.

Gift Certificates

You have to be careful with this category. You could think you are giving a clutter-free gift. But, what they buy with the gift card can easily become clutter. So, keeping with the theme of clutter-free gifts, consider these options:
  • Apple gift card where they can download music or games to their (or their parent’s) device
  • Local ice cream shop


Last but not least, consider giving a financial gift. You can give a couple of shares of financial stocks or a small grant.  You don’t’ have to spend a lot on something like this. A little bit here and there will grow and pay off once your kid reaches maturity. Over time it will grow and he or she can use it to pay for expenses like University, or towards a house or car.
  • Financial stocks
  • Grants

Adult Clutter-Free Gifts

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s fun to give to both adults and kids alike. Here are some Clutter-Free Christmas Gifts to consider for your friends and family.


We live in a subscription society. So many businesses are moving to subscription-based models. These can be great clutter-free experiences for people you love. Likely, you’re already familiar with things like Netflix and Kindle, but there are others as well. I’ve been using Scribd for over a year and I love it. I used to have a different audiobook subscription, but it was more expensive and only allowed 1 book per month without an extra fee. Scribd it’s less expensive monthly AND you can listen to as many books as you want!!! The previous membership I had only included 1 book each month and if you wanted to listen to more, then it cost extra.
Another type of subscription I’ve enjoyed is a food subscription. You can order through someone like Hello Fresh and get the ingredients for a few meals delivered straight to your home. It’s great if I’m going to be out of town and the hubby is cooking or if we just have an unusually busy week.
  • Audio Book Subscription– Scribd
  • Movie membership – Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • eBook subscription – Kindle unlimited membership
  • Ancestry.com – find out and build your family tree
  • Food Subscriptions
    • Hello Fresh
    • Wine
    • Chocolate
    • Fruit
    • Tea
    • Coffee
    • Cheese


Local memberships are another great Christmas gift that won’t add clutter to your home. The below memberships are fun things you can do by yourself or with family.
  • Local attractions like an Art museum membership
  • National / State/ Provincial Park Pass
  • Gym
  • Community Center or YMCA


What do you get for the person that has it all? You buy an experience they haven’t done or that they will cherish forever. I love doing family photo sessions. We did one as a gift to the grandparents and took pics of them with all the grandkids.
We’ve also done a helicopter trip over the Canadian Rockies for my parents as a thank you gift one year. It’s something they wouldn’t have done for themselves, but memories that will last a lifetime!
  • Family Photo session
  • Weekend get-away
  • Helicopter flight
  • Hot Air Balloon
  • White Water Rafting

Woman opening the door to a helicopter as an experienced-based clutter free gift.

Gift Certificates

Gift Certificates for spa services, dining out, or grabbing a coffee are always fun to give and receive. I like to call them the gift that keeps on giving. Perhaps my favorite one on this list is a gift certificate to a cleaning service. Personally, I’d not want just any cleaning service, but one that comes recommended by a friend, but boy, would I make use of that gift certificate!!
  • Gift Certificates to a favorite restaurant
  • Gift certificate for a massage
  • Gift certificate for manicure/pedicure
  • To Starbucks
  • For a cleaning service to clean their home

Custom / Personal Coupons

This is another favorite clutter-free gift and the good news is, it doesn’t cost any money…just time! You can make a cute print out that offers one of the following
  • Free babysitting for a night
  • Free House Cleaning
  • Girl’s Night Out with wine included (while you watch the kids or take care of things at home)

Things that help you get organized and cut clutter

This section does include physical gifts…not digital, memberships, or experiences. It’s things you would bring into your home, but they are meant to help you get organized and declutter. A Scanner is great if you have a ton of pictures or important documents and you don’t want the physical papers any more. A paper shredder is perfect for actually getting rid of important papers. And last but not least, a planner will help you organize your time and make the most of your days. I liked to my favorite planner that you can use for goal planning and time management.


Last but not least, we’ll touch on the financial gifts. Similar to the gifts for kids, financial gifts are great because they keep giving. You can give money that someone can save towards a larger a necessary buy e.g. a car or to help plan for retirement. OR you can make a donation to a worthy cause in honor of someone. This is a great way to show you’re thinking of someone, but not give them stuff when they potentially don’t need or want it.
  • Stocks to help plan a larger necessary purchase
  • Donation to charity on their behalf
Giving gifts at Christmas doesn’t have to be about “stuff.” You can share experiences, build knowledge, and enjoy giving gifts without buying things that will just become more clutter in your home! Also, many of these things can be purchased online so as an added bonus, you can skip the lines and crowds at the mall. Make this a clutter-free Christmas!

5 Reasons Minimalism May Not Be For You

Inside: What is minimalism and is it right for you? Learn more about what it means to live a minimalist lifestyle and why it might not be for you.

Minimalism pin image A

Minimalism. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that word, an image comes to mind. A tiny house, perhaps, with bare walls, hardly any possessions to speak of in view, and no car in the driveway. 

What is Minimalism?

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about being a minimalist (including that image I painted above). Let’s take a quick look at what minimalism is…and isn’t.

What Minimalism Isn’t

If you’re like me, you envision a minimalist owning about 2 outfits, 1 pair of shoes, 1 plate, 1 cup, and so on (ok, a slight exaggeration – sort of).

The definition of minimalism, in my mind, was basically shunning possessions. Refusing to own something that may be useful or beneficial simply out of principle.

Unfortunately, that’s kind of the rap that the minimalist movement has right now.

I’m so happy to say, however, that after more investigating and even dipping my toes in to practice a little minimalism myself, that’s not the case.

Personally, I like having extra plates so that we don’t have to run the dishwasher until it’s actually full. I also like having cute shoes! 😉

What Being a Minimalist Is

Now I bet you’re wondering how to be a minimalist!

Minimalism is really about simplifying your life. Removing stress caused by clutter, financial fear, and owning material possessions. 

It’s about finding freedom from those stresses and worries and living a more intentional lifestyle. Rather than setting rules for what you can’t have, it’s about making decisions to purchase items more deliberately. 

Do you want to own a car? Go for it! 

Do you want to have a career or live in suburbia or have 5 pairs of shoes? That’s ok!

So then what is minimalism…really? It’s a way of life that promotes getting rid of excess material possessions in order to live a more intentional life.

Or, another way to put it is to say that minimalists only keep the material items that add value to their lives.

Living with less stress sounds good, right? But, is minimalism for YOU?

If you want to learn more about becoming a minimalist, check out these books!

  1. The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify – by Francine Jay
  2. The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker

white modern chair and a vase of calla lilies on a pale green wall

5 Reasons Minimalism May Not Be For You

These days, it seems like everywhere you turn you’ll see people talking about how amazing their lives have become since turning to minimalism. In fact, it’s a popular movement right now!

However, no matter how many people proclaim that minimalism has changed their lives for the better, being a minimalist isn’t necessarily for everyone.

Here are 5 reasons why minimalism may not be for you.

Do You Want to Truly Minimize or Merely Declutter?

When I refer to minimalism, I’m referring to the act of paring down your possessions to the must-have essentials while discarding everything else.

Many people talk about minimalism but what they are actually talking about is a general and thorough decluttering. I am (obviously) a huge fan of decluttering – even a very thorough one.

These days people seem to place themselves into one of two extremes when it comes to materialism:

  1. They have way too much stuff which requires more storage space either in the home or in a rented space and buying things that aren’t needed just because (ex: “retail therapy”)
  2. They embrace minimalism and get rid of absolutely everything that could possibly be excessive, including items with sentimental value.

I personally fall somewhere in the middle. I have no desire to live a truly minimalist lifestyle, and at the same time, I prefer to keep my home decluttered and not collect too much stuff.

At the end of the day, decluttering and minimalizing is not the same thing. If you see value in items that don’t necessarily provide an essential function, then minimalism may not be for you.

 Would you rather declutter than minimize? These posts may interest you:

Blue sofa with colorful pillows and a white coffee table

Freedom Can Be Too Much

The idea of being “free” sounds so good when we feel weighed down by something – anything. However, if you look at people who truly are free, say financially free to do whatever they want, they are often at a loss for how to spend their time.

There is value in being tied to something: your job that earns an income or your home that you spend time caring for and cleaning.

Without these ties, there’s a type of void that you can fall into. With minimalism, that void can be so much freedom that you don’t know what to do with it.

If you prefer to have responsibilities to attend to, living a minimalist lifestyle may not be for you.

You Like to Plan Ahead

If you like to plan ahead, some ways that might look like include: 

  • Stocking up on food or toiletry items when they are on sale 
  • Buying kids clothes or shoes a size ahead 
  • Having a second pair of your favorite tennis shoes on hand for when your first pair wears out.

Minimalism, which focuses on living in the moment, buys items on an as-needed basis. Planning or buying ahead is about saving time or money, but it’s not living in the moment. If you prefer to plan ahead, then minimalism may not be for you.

You Have Too Much Time in the Day

Some people thrive on free time; others struggle when they have too much time to fill.

A minimalist lifestyle frees up time that you would have spent shopping, cleaning a large house, putting away your stuff, etc. 

If you have a hard time filling up your daily schedule, becoming a minimalist may not be for you.

Modern kitchen with sitting and dining area

It’s Easy To Get Carried Away

Just as I showed in the example above about the extremes of materialism, humans can often find themselves going to one extreme or another. Another way to put it is that people can go “too far”.

Minimalism is a perfect example!

The idea of living a life of freedom from the constraints, financial commitments, and time commitments of material objects can be extremely appealing. So appealing, in fact, that minimalism can go from being about getting rid of material items that don’t bring joy or value to your life to just getting rid of almost everything.

There’s the problem. There are many examples of items in our lives that hold value, even if they collect dust: 

  • A special book signed by your parents and given to you as a gift. 
  • Your first stereo that you worked hard to earn the money to buy. 
  • Your child’s baby items.

These types of items and many more hold value in the form of memories and emotions. Sentimental value, after all, is a true value in itself. 

This is the biggest reason why minimalism is not for me…and may not be for you either.

Final Thoughts On Why Minimalism May Not Be For You

While I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, I do like the idea of living a more focused and intentional life. I embrace the philosophy of removing items from my life that don’t provide value in order to be able to focus my time and energy on the things that truly do matter to me.

And yet, even though I embrace some of the basic tenants of minimalism, I am not a minimalist. Instead, I prefer to create a clean, decluttered, peaceful environment, even if that means I hold on to “silly” things like my baby’s lock of hair. 

What about you – is minimalism for you?


Minimalism pin image B

More From Our Happy Hive:

Is The Home Edit or the Kon Mari Method right for you?

Inside: Want to get your home organized or decluttered? Don’t know where to start? Inside this post we’ll explore two approaches made popular by Netflix… Marie Kondo’s Kon Mari Method and Get Organized with The Home Edit.

Last night I binged Netflix’s new show Get Organized with The Home Edit.  A year or so ago I bought the book by the same name and was in love with all of the beautiful Instagram-worthy photos of stunningly organized celebrity closets, play-rooms, and pantries

But watching the show…well, I couldn’t stop.  The charismatic magnetic energy between the two designers, Clea and Joanna sucked me in!  Not to mention I kinda have a thing for home organizing!

The new series reminded me of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo’s Netflix show.  When I say reminded, I should clarify.  The two shows are NOTHING alike!!!  It’s just the fact that they are both about home organization and on Netflix that the two have anything in common.

The Differences Between Tidying Up and The Home Edit

Well, first of all, Tidying Up has subtitles and a translator.  Marie Kondo only speaks Japanese on the show and she uses a translator with her clients. 

Secondly, Marie Kondo’s show focuses on everyday families where she teaches them how to do her method. 

The Home Edit has Clea and Joanna organize the space for the clients. Each episode features a celebrity’s home and an everyday family home.  A few celebrities’ homes they visit include Reese Witherspoon, Khloe Kardashian, and Eva Longoria.

The energy of each show is very different.  Tidying Up is subdued like a documentary whereas The Home Edit is entertaining and funny.  (To be honest, I kinda love these ladies and secretly wish I could be their friend!)


This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliates Disclosure.

The Differences Between the Kon Mari Method and the Home Edit process

Home Organization Effort / Size

Marie Kondo recommends an intense and total home organization process  e.g. one that includes every space in your house and could take you 6 months to complete.  She is firm in her belief for decluttering to stick, the entire space must be transformed.

The Home Edit process on the other hand focuses on one space at a time their philosophy is to not bite off more than you can chew. So, they focus on smaller areas like a closet, a garage, or a single bedroom.

Decluttering Method

In addition to having a different focus, there are differences in their process as well. 

Kon Mari Method

Marie Kondo includes 6 steps in her decluttering / home organization method.

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  3. Finish discarding first
  4. Tidy by category and not a location
  5. Follow the right order
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy

There are two basic components to the method 1) discarding and 2) deciding where to store things. She is a big advocate of discarding, and is a minimalist at heart!

Steps 4 & 5 tidy by category and not location are critical in her process.  Her order is Clothes, Books, Papers, Miscellaneous items, and finally Sentimental things. 

It’s also important to note, the KonMari Method has an order of decluttering items within each category. For example, when sorting clothing, you should do it in the following order: tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events e.g. swimsuits, and shoes.


The Home Edit Process

Focuses on having spaces to be functional and look beautiful. They try to get inside the heads of their clients to understand how the space needs to function and what is required in order for it to be maintained.  They also always make sure there’s a visually pleasing element like books organized by the colors of the rainbow or a fun poof cushion in the closet etc. 


Clea and Joanna believe the atheistic side not only makes your home more enjoyable to look at but also inspires you to maintain the organized space.

Their process is simple

  1. The Edit (declutter)
  2. The Assembly (organize)
  3. The Upkeep (maintain)

Most of the work on the show happens in Steps 1 & 2.  They are very sensitive to the client’s needs and don’t force decluttering.  If the client is hesitant to get rid of something (even if it’s never used) the duo encourages them to “archive it.” In other words, get it out of the space they are working on and move it to a space that is used less.

Like most home organization processes, they 1) take everything out of the space 2) create groupings, and 3) pare down. 

Step 2 – The Assembly

The Home Edit also focuses on containers and labels for organizing.  This is a huge part of their work and part of Clea and Joanna’s signature style.

Kon Mari, as a minimalist, recommends reusing containers instead of buying new containers. This is a striking difference between the two and their final outcome.

If you’re going with the Home Edit’s approach, they recommend you measure space and maximize your usable space including going vertical.  They also recommend that you buy containers in a variety of sizes from the same collection of containers so that there’s visual appeal. In the show, they are regularly bringing in huge bags of acrylic containers or beautiful boxes for storage from The Container Store.

Labels are a HUGE thing for The Home Edit.  In fact, Clea has beautiful handwriting.  The duo made a script font out of her personal handwriting to create custom vinyl labels for their storage containers.  Spoiler Alert…if you buy their book, it includes a page of clear labels for you to use in your refrigerator!

Their Book also goes into storage and assembly ideas for every room including the entry/mudroom, laundry, bathroom, home office, play spaces, closets, and the kitchen.

Kon Mari Method & The Home Edit Comparison


Kon Mari Method

The Home Edit

Organization Philosophy Keep only the things that bring you joy and to store them in a simple and intuitive way. Organize your space in a way that is functional, efficient, and pretty.
Scale Entire home in a specific order of categories (not rooms) One specific space in the home e.g. Closet
Organization Focus Categories e.g. Clothing Rooms
Emphasis Decluttering / minimizing the stuff in your house to achieve the vision you have for your home. Accessible, functional storage that is pleasing to the eye.
Storage Reuse existing boxes and containers where possible, buy as a last resort Buy the same container in a variety of sizes so that you maximize the visual appeal
Time Required Up to 6 months 1 – 2 days


In Conclusion

Both Tidying Up and The Home Edit are quality programs that demonstrate proven steps to organize your home.  The basic steps are the same:

  • identify what (area/category) you want to organize
  • eliminate unnecessary items
  • categorize
  • and store

But the approaches are very different.  Both approaches can be successful. 

Things to consider when deciding on a decluttering approach.

  • What’s the current state of your home? Does it require a massive overhaul or just some revisions in a few areas?
  • How much time can you dedicate upfront? Do you just have a day or two or can you make a multi-month commitment to the effort?
  • What is your end goal? To have less stuff? To find things?  To have function meet beauty?

Also, be sure to check out both Tidying Up and The Home Edit on Netflix or buy their books for more ideas.

If I’m honest with you, I’m all about customizing a process to meet your needs.  I like a lot of what Marie Kondo teaches like vertical filing of your clothes, eliminating things you don’t need, and using the “joy” criteria for determining what you keep.

I also like The Home Edit’s approach to not biting off more than you can chew, having beautiful consistent storage containers, and adding a pop of home décor in a space.

So, now it’s up to you…will you go with one approach or, like me will you pick and choose the parts from each home organizer that you like best?

Happy Organizing!


Pin Me For Later

Organized home using the colorful approach from the Home Edit and the minimalist approach from Marie Kondo displaying a rainbow selection of hanging clothes and foldeded clothes with text Is the hOme Edit or The Kon Mari Method right for you?





3 Steps for Using a Pantry Inventory To Stay Organized

Inside: Save on grocery bills and reduce food waste by keeping track of the food you have on hand as well as the food you need to buy. I highly recommend creating a pantry inventory – here’s how.

When was the last time you pulled something out of your pantry only to find that it was (VERY) past its expiration date? 

How often do you run out of ingredients that you thought you had on hand only to find out (too late) that you don’t? Or you bought something you thought you needed only to find two of them in there when you got home?

Trust me, every one of those scenarios has happened to me too!

When left to its own devices, your pantry can quickly become an area that sucks up your time and money and causes stress rather than the glorious storage area it’s meant to be.

How do you change that? Well, I’m happy to report that it’s easier than it may seem! With just a little bit of organization and a pantry inventory list, you’ll soon be well on your way to knowing exactly what food you have on hand and what you (actually) need to purchase!

3 Steps To Getting (And Staying) Organized With A Pantry Inventory List

Do you know what you have in your pantry right now? If you (like many people) don’t, the good news is that you are not alone. The bad news…well, not knowing is costing you time, sanity, and money.

It’s time to change that with these 3 steps – they will change your life (sounds dramatic, but it’s true!).

Step 1: Clean Out Your Pantry With This Pantry Organization List

What is the pantry? Most people hear that word and think of a designated cabinet area in your kitchen that holds dry, shelf-stable items. 

For this post, I’m using the word “pantry” to refer not only to cabinet space but also to any other space where you store food: the refrigerator and freezer. The process I’m showing you today works for cabinet items as well as cold and frozen foods!

Clean Out Your Pantry 

In order to be able to take stock of what you have in your pantry, you first need to clean it out. Pull out every single item you have in your pantry and put them into 3 categories: 

  • Keep
  • Throw away
  • Donate

Decluttering expert Marie Kondo suggests only keeping items that “spark joy”. I think this is a great general concept for the home. However, for the pantry, I suggest adjusting that to only keep food items that “you will use”.

For example, if you have boxes of regular dried pasta in your pantry but don’t eat pasta anymore (or only eat gluten-free), get rid of the dried pasta you won’t use. Why keep it in there taking up space? 

disorganized food on pantry shelves

As you clean out and sort your pantry items into the three categories above, be sure to throw out any:

  • Expired items (here’s how to find out how long pantry food REALLY lasts
  • Rancid oils
  • Old or rancid nuts
  • Stale crackers, chips or bread
  • Old spices that have lost their flavor
  • Bottles or boxes that are essentially empty

Pro Tip: If you find two open containers of the same item (such as bags of the same kind of chips), try to combine them into one to save space and declutter. 

Declutter Your Pantry

As you pull out your pantry items, let the answers to these questions help guide your decision about whether to keep the food or not:

  • When was the last time you used this?
  • Could you make a meal with this today?
  • Do you enjoy eating this item?
  • Will you use this before it expires?

Pro Tip: Donate any unexpired food that you won’t eat to your local food bank. FYI, food banks and other donation collections will not accept expired items.

Step 2: Organize Pantry Items With A Pantry Inventory List

Whew – that was a huge step in the right direction!

Next, in order to help you stay organized and avoid going right back to that cluttered, disorganized pantry system you had before, it’s time to organize your pantry items.

I love this part of the process! This is where you get to create the organizational system that will make the biggest difference in knowing what items you have and what you don’t. 

It will also help you find the items you need quickly so that you aren’t digging through to the back of the pantry wondering where the canned tomatoes are. 🙂 

Create pantry “zones” to help you organize your pantry items and quickly find whatever you are looking for.

To do this, think about your family’s cooking and eating habits (after-school snacks, baking supplies, pasta, soups, etc) and designate an area for each category. 

Before and after photos of organizing a pantry

Examples Of Possible Pantry Zone Categories

*(adjust this list to fit your lifestyle)

  • Breakfast items
  • Snack items
  • Pasta & grains
  • Sauces and soups
  • Baking items
  • Canned goods (I like to break these up into categories: fruits, beans, veggies, etc)
  • Beans
  • Sweets
  • Beverages
  • Condiments

I have tried nearly every type of pantry inventory organization method there is, and the very best way that I have found to organize a pantry is to sort your items into zones as listed above and also use containers to keep things contained and neat. 

This works especially well if you buy items in bulk.

For example, we buy our oatmeal in bulk, and without a container to put our oatmeal into, my pantry gets cluttered with bags of oatmeal that I need to sort through before using to make sure that I have some oatmeal and that what I’m grabbing IS the oatmeal.

Ideas Of Different Types Of Containers You Can Use

  • Baskets
  • Buckets
  • Bins
  • Canisters
  • Cereal containers
  • Glass jars

Important Tips Regarding Your Pantry Containers

  • Use appropriate containers to help keep like items within your zones together while separating those zone items from items in a different zone.
  • Mix and match types of containers to find a system that works best for you. A bin or a basket works well for “collections” of items: snacks, small boxes, cans, etc.
  • Larger containers with lids (like cereal bins or canisters) work well for loose items like grains, pasta, flour, sugar, loose tea, nuts, etc.
  • Maximize your storage space by creating solutions that utilize vertical storage rather than pushings things towards the back to get lost and forgotten about with horizontal storage.

Pro Tip: If you really want to stay organized for the long term, label each pantry category so that family members can easily follow the system and put things where they belong to help keep it organized.

It may take just a little bit of time to set up your system and then fine-tune it so that it works just the way you want it to.

Then, it simply becomes a matter of living by the phrase: “A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place”!

Related Post: 5 Insanely Easy Steps to an Organized Pantry

woman standing in front of her organized pantry

Step 3: Use My Pantry Inventory Printable To Take Keep Track Of What You Have & Stay Organized

The third and final step for getting your pantry inventory under control is to grab my pantry inventory printable and use it to keep track of every item in your pantry. I designed it to be used regularly to help you not lose (or have to throw out expired) food anymore!

To use it most effectively, write down every single item you have and how many of each item you have. Keep it close to the pantry – or even hanging or velcroed inside – so that when someone takes an item out, they can mark it down.

Pro Tip: I highly recommend laminating the pantry inventory printable after you print it out. Use dry erase (or wet-erase) markers on it so that you don’t have to keep printing out new copies.

Click here for your free pantry inventory

Final Thought 

There you go! I hope these 3 simple steps help you get your pantry organization under control and eliminate your pantry inventory problem. Cleaning out your pantry will help you eliminate food waste and avoid spending money that you don’t need to.

Using a pantry inventory list will help you save time and feel like you really “have it together”(and who doesn’t want to feel that way?)!






pantry inventory tips pin image B

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