Organizing Your Drinkware: It Starts With The 15-Minute Purge

mug, drinkware, Everyone wants more space in the kitchen, but nobody is sure how to find it. Happily, the good news is that there’s a quick way to reclaim a surprising amount of kitchen space: Purge the cabinet that holds your coffee cups, glasses and other assorted drinkware. This is especially true if you haven’t sorted through this space for a while – or ever. Take a moment to open up the doors and look at what’s inside. The items you use most often are probably in the front; take those out and put them aside. Now look at the “others” that live in this space. Often these were gifts, give-aways or keepsakes. Let’s talk about a few of these categories. I am using mugs as the example, but any type of drinkware (such as glasses, plastic cups, water bottles, etc.) will apply.

The Free Stuff.

How many mugs are in your kitchen cabinet because someone was giving them away? You thought, “That is a nice mug, I can use that.” You brought it home and put it in the cabinet. But the next day when you made coffee or tea, did you pull that new mug out, or did you choose your favorite mug? Have you ever pulled out that free mug? And how many other free mugs are in there? How many of them do you use? Here is the truth about that free mug: It has a price, and that price is valuable space in your kitchen cabinets.

The Gifts.

This is the collection of mugs that say #1 Mom, Best Friend, Great Teacher, Happy Birthday, Happy Hanukkah, or the one with your name on it. Or perhaps it’s a set of mugs your Mother-in-Law gave you; they are adorable, shaped like fat little penguins with colored scarves. But how much room do they take up, and how many years have they been sitting there? Does anyone use these, and when? If you pull them out at Christmas or they are your traditional hot cocoa mugs after building a snowman, keep them. But you may not need to store them with your everyday glasses. If space is tight, consider putting them somewhere else or switch them out seasonally with the poolside Margarita glasses.

The Sentimental Items.

You’ll often find some souvenir drinkware too, such as the mugs from your honeymoon trip or the Princess mug you bought your daughter at Disney World. Does she still use it – or has she left for college? Keeping something for sentimental reasons is OK – if you have the space and you use or enjoy it.

The Kids’ Paraphernalia.

Speaking of kids, their drinkware often comes with lids, handles, and spouts that are not easily stackable. Thus, they have a tendency to take over your cabinet space. You could put the lids and straws in a small clear box, or you could keep all the kids’ plastic items in a drawer instead of an upper cabinet so the kids can reach them. Just be sure to keep only the ones they like and use. That means if a sippy-cup leaks, throw it out! Or when restaurants send kids home with a promotional cup, only allow a certain number of these “free” cups to take up residence. Do you have room for 2, or for 10? Let your children know that number, and if they want to keep a new acquisition, help them decide which older one to let go (And here’s a bonus parenting tip: Teaching your kids to make these small choices now will help them with bigger choices later).

The Trespassers.

Finally, if there is anything that doesn’t belong in that cabinet, take it out. I frequently find receipts, old medication, and candy in my clients’ drinkware cabinets; these items need to find a new home.

Now that you have weeded out the drinkware you don’t use, return the ones you truly want to keep. Save the front for your favorites, and put similar items together: mugs in one space, short glasses stacked together, and then tall glasses in a group. If space is still tight, add an extra shelf or some hooks, or move a whole category (such as water bottles) to a different place. Maintain this space periodically, keeping only what you love and use in your drinkware cabinet. This is one of those small projects that can have such a big impact. Try it today and I promise you will smile when you reach for your favorite mug tomorrow!