Articles & Advice
As a child the holiday season seems so magical. Houses are decorated, there’s always amazing food everywhere, visitors stop by from all corners of the world, and everyone is happy – except for the person in charge of making sure the holidays go off without a hitch.
That person is generally the primary caretaker of the family and he or she has a lot to do to make the home holiday-ready. As tempting as it may be to shove everything that isn’t aesthetically pleasing under the bed or in a closet, cutting the clutter is what really needs to happen.
The following things help make sure that your home, family, and mind are free of clutter and ready for the holidays.
Start Sorting Out the Clutter
Begin with what’s most important. If you know that guests will be staying at your house overnight or, God help you, longer, and your spare room is a catch-all for all the random things in your life, start with that room. Sort through the room and make three piles: one to keep, one to throw out, and one to give away.
Toss the trash out that day. If time allows, drop off the other pile at a thrift store, or at least get it in the trunk of your car. If you don’t have the time to put away all of the items you’d like to keep, store them in a container and stack it neatly in the closet, basement, attic or garage so that it is out of the way, but not adding to the clutter.
Once the clutter is removed from a spare room (or rooms), tidy things up so it is fresh for guests. Then close the door and pretend that room doesn’t exist until guests arrive.
He Sees You When You’re Cleaning
The next to think about are the areas that are going to be the most visited during holiday get-togethers. This generally involves the kitchen, dining, and family rooms. Take a look around these rooms and identify items that are either used infrequently or not at all and remove the items. That doesn’t mean the items have to be discarded or thrown out, but they should be stored in an area where they won’t get in the way of holiday entertainment.
Other areas that need to get free of clutter before the holidays include the refrigerator, cupboards, and closets.
The refrigerator gets a lot of abuse during the holiday season as it is the go-to place for storing large platters, eggnog, grab-and-go foods for guests, and all the necessary ingredients for a Christmas meal. Before you’re faced with the task of cramming yet another dish into the fridge, take some time to go through and get rid of unnecessary food items. You might be surprised by what you find.
The same goes for cupboards and the pantry. Plus, when you clean out these areas, you might find canned goods that can be donated to those in need.
Clear Your Mind and Clear Your Home
As for the last, and perhaps most important thing that needs de-cluttered before the holidays, well, that’s your mind.
Don’t be afraid to schedule a massage, spend a day at the spa or on the golf course, or do something that helps you de-stress and clear your mind. After all, the holiday season isn’t about being stressed; it’s about spending time with family and friends and enjoying one another’s company.
How a busy cook got the spices in her kitchen organized
Belinda: As an example of what I’m talking about, I’m quite the cook and I use a LOT of spices. Once upon a time, I had hundreds and hundreds of spices. I could never find anything, and Kathi told me this brilliant idea which I have followed to this day. She said, “How many different cuisines do you do?” Well, I do Middle Eastern, so all of the Middle Eastern stuff is here. I bake a lot. All of the sweet things are here. I do a lot of Asian cooking. All of those spices are here. Do you know what a chore it was before to find one specific spice out of the hundreds of spices that I have? It was a nightmare. This tip alone has cost me so much aggravation, or not had aggravation because of this one organizational tip that nobody has ever said before. I’ve never seen anybody say anything like that. All of the baking stuff is together. The beans and nuts and cereals are together. Everything has a place. Now this might not look like-
Director: Well let’s cut right there, and come back one second. I just want to make a comment and have you respond to it, so where you were. The fact that you just put everything away [laughing], I think says a lot about you! You weren’t going to leave it out. You just put it away!
Belinda: Yeah, well it’s easy!
Director: Is that how you think now?
Belinda: Yeah. It’s easy. It’s easy. So, you know, why would you leave it in a mess when you can simply put things away? So, you know, the coffee stuff is always here. The cereals are always there. Even my husband knows where everything goes now. So I mean, that’s saying a lot when you can get your husband involved in the process of putting things away. [Laughing] So, on to another area that can be problematic, now this might not look like it’s organized, but compared to what it was, she suggested that I get something that would be mounted on the door for little things. So we have spices, we have snacks, you know. And then she’s really big on these lazy susan things, but you know what, it’s so easy to find things when you can twirl this around. So, you know, in case of the apocalypse, we do have certain food that we’ll be able to find easily, and the things that we don’t use are toward the back. So there’s organization here. She got me to get these, I don’t know what you’d call them, but you can put plates and things easily upright. Do you know how much more you can fit this way? Like, these are things that normal people aren’t going to think of. You need to have an expert. What I’ve found in my lifetime, and especially from using Kathi, is it’s really important to pay people who know what they’re doing to help you because they know things that you don’t know. So you need to do what you do best and pay other people to do the rest. That’s my motto. I am not going to do my own taxes. I am not going to fix my own car. I do what I do and you do what you do, and if you need something, hire somebody. It’s worth the money.
Myth # 12
I am a hoarder
Just because you have too much stuff does not make you a hoarder. Less than 10% of all people are hoarders. Hoarding is a diagnosable mental disease. It is most likely that you probably simply have too much stuff. If you have more than most people that you know and have a few hoarding tendencies, it is probably because the circumstances in your life have invited one or more of clutter’s best friends to visit you: death, disease, divorce or depression, it is likely that you are not an actual hoarder. If you still feel like you truly are a hoarder, get yourself checked out by a medical professional.
If there is open space in my closet, desk or drawer, I should fill it up with something.
Some people cannot stand having any surface open. If it is empty, they want to immediately fill it up.
It is a great exercise to have at least one area in your home that has absolutely nothing in or on it. Not only is it good feng shui which creates a vacuum for good things to enter, it helps you realize that most possessions require a lot of time cleaning and maintaining. Dusting off an empty shelf takes about two seconds. Dusting a shelf full of trophies can take over 10 minutes! What is more valuable – your time or your possessions? This is absolutely your choice and whether you realize it or not, you do choose every time you bring something new into your home.
I might really need this some day
One of my clients came up with a brilliant idea all on her own. She now stores the things she might need in her own personal store! She practices going in and out of Target and Costco without making one single purchase. Her ‘not buying’ muscle is now as strong as her ‘letting go’ muscle. She knows that if she truly does need something later, it is a short car ride away!
I need to keep this in order to remember what fun we had that trip!
Your memory will not disappear when the item leaves your possession. Even if you do develop alzheimer’s, which is an argument I commonly hear, with no disrespect, the item won’t help you remember it any better!
I need storage containers before I can get organized.
So many clients rush out to buy containers thinking that this will solve all of their organizing woes. Until you determine what you want to contain and how much of it there is to contain, buying containers is senseless. In fact, boxes, bags and containers are one of the leading contributors to clutter.
So follow this procedure BEFORE you buy any containers. Collect, group, eliminate and then and only then are you ready to think about containerizing!
Clutter is a bunch of junk that I should be able to get rid of on my own.
There are actually 2 myths in this statement.
#1 Clutter is a bunch of junk
#2 You should be able to get rid of it on your own!
I have to keep this because my friend gave it to me.
It is always the thought that counts when it comes to giving and receiving gifts. Just because the person giving you the gift liked it, does not mean that you have to like it too. Also, even if you do like it, but you have several other similar items, you do not have to keep it. Thank them and quietly give it away to a charity that actually can use that item.
As you do this, the gift becomes more than it was. It is a big sign of disrespect to hoard items that you do not love, use or need. Move the gift forward and magnify it’s reach by helping someone else who actually does love or need it! I give you permission to let go of any gifts lying around that you have been holding onto because of guilt or a sense of obligation.
I need to find the perfect place or person to give my donations.
Many clients get stuck with boxes full of donations because they are waiting to find the perfect person to give them too.They spent a lot of time clearing their clutter and making decisions but then ran out of time to research where to donate these items too. They feel that they must find the perfect recipient before they can let it go. This is a very thoughtful gesture but not productive. If you believe in passing your good out into the world, you will probably also realize that no matter where you send your donations, they will end up right where they should and find the person who really needs them.