It’s the happiest time of the year for foodies and people who enjoy pulling out all the stops for the holidays. For the rest of us--who love to eat but are overwhelmed by the challenge of cleaning up the cooking mess--here’s some good advice. Clean Before You Start Cooking. Once the cooking starts the countertops, tables and every surface will fill up with ingredients and dishes. Go through your entire kitchen before the holiday and clear the clutter, knickknacks etc. and make room for the serious business of food preparation. Also, check to be sure you have a clean oven and stovetop to ..