8 expert tips for organizing your home before the holidays
By Aimee Heckel
As the stringy cobwebs fill our front porches and spirited pumpkins shed impossible-to-sweep-up glitter across the kitchen floor (seriously, can you ever fully recover after a glitter spill?), parents everywhere are reminded: the holidays are coming.
And they’re bringing with them clutter. And stress.
The Halloween mess — with its plastic spiders and pumpkin guts and craft projects — kicks off a period of seasonal decor, entertaining and money-spending.
The next few months can either wreak havoc on your home’s organization and peacefulness, or you can meet the season head-on with a plan — and spend your time this fall and winter enjoying the holidays, not just wrestling them.
Joanna Monahan is a “liberator” (that’s code for professional organizer) with Major Mom, a women-owned, Colorado-based professional organizing company that specializes on helping families declutter and organize their homes.
Here’s a taste of Monahan’s professional advice on how to preempt the holiday chaos and create a strategic plan, so you can spend more time enjoying your family this season.
1. Before you do anything, declutter.
“We, as Americans, have too much stuff,” Monahan says. “It’s nearly impossible to lay your hands on the things that you need when you need them, because there’s so much stuff everywhere.”
Take time to analyze what is important to your family. Consider getting help from a professional organizer, like Major Mom (which also offers remote consultations). Donate the things you don’t need to a family in need.
Especially after a natural disaster, like the floods in Colorado, many families are entering the holidays with nothing to their name. Helping others out can help ease your own guilt of getting rid of things you don’t need or use. That may includes gifts and objects with sentimental value. It’s OK to let them go, especially if they’re going to a better home.
2. Understand organization. Organization doesn’t mean maintaining a perfect, magazine-worthy home. It means creating realistic systems that let you find what you need when you need it.
3. Tackle holiday decor, one holiday at a time. Gather all of the decorations you have for the next, upcoming holiday. Bring all of the decorations into one place and sort them into categories. For Christmas, that may be ornaments, lights, gift wrap, outdoor decor, table linens.
4. Take inventory of what you have, what’s broken and what (if anything) you need. Keep a running list of things you need to buy on sale after the holiday, when everything is discounted, or before the season next year. Donate or discard things that you don’t need or are broken.
5. Get large plastic bins. Monahan prefers Steralite or Rubbermaid bins. Color-code them: red or green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, or pick clear bins so you can see inside them. Pack up your decor by category. That might mean all of the outdoor lights go in one bin in the garage, and the mantel decor goes in another in the basement.
Label what’s inside all of the bins.
Monahan also recommends never storing bins on the floor, in case of a flood or unexpected water.
6. Consider labeling one box “open first.” This will be the first box you need to open for each holiday. For Christmas, it could include the card mailing list, ornament hooks, the tree skirt and lights — the things you need to access first. This gives order to your decoration process.
7. If you decide to shop the sales after the holiday, have a plan. Know what you want to buy for whom or what exact purpose — and where you are going to store it until next season.
8. Slow down: You don’t have to do everything at once. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Start small. But keep moving.
Did you know?
Being organized (see definition above) can save you money.
No more duplicate purchases or fixing items that get broken because they’re not properly taken care of. According to the American Cleaning Institute, Americans, on average, spend 55 minutes a day looking for things they know they own, but can’t find.
“That’s almost seven hours a week looking for things,” Monahan says. “It’s costing you time and money to replace those items and money on storage and space.”
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