the season for guests, parties, shopping, decorating,
wrapping, cooking and entertaining. Keeping your home a
peaceful haven during the crush of holiday stress can
sometimes seem too big to tackle. Yet taking time to
declutter and organize items around the home can help
calm the chaos that oftentimes accompanies the holidays.
kind and patient with yourself, and accept that we canít
be superheroes despite the notion that everything must
be perfect when families and friends arrive," says
Melanie Raelin, owner of Wits End Organizing in Medford,
Mass. "Iíve realized people really donít look
around at the perceived mess as much as we think, and
that theyíre there to see you and your family, not
your stuff." Here are some solutions to ease you
into the holiday fray:
the holiday decor
you start to pull out holiday decorations from storage,
keep your favorite items and give away the rest.
"Ask yourself if you really love it," says
Diane Luck, owner of Diane Luck Personal Organizer in
Portland, Ore. "Or is it something you just picked
up on sale? The things that donít give you joy should
be passed on to someone else who might enjoy them."
you finish decorating, take a photograph to document the
display and store the picture with the decor. "That
way, next year someone else can help set everything out,
and there wonít be any guesswork," says Deb Oppel,
owner of Decluttered by Deb in Minneapolis.
time to donate
also a good time to decide what clothes, coats, toys and
books you no longer need and gather them for donation.
"When the kids are old enough, itís nice to have
them involved in the process," Raelin says.
"When they make up their gift wish lists, itís a
great opportunity to bring up the notion of making room
for the new. Itís best to pack away toys and items the
kid has outgrown before the holiday season, and donate
to some of the great charities serving children in
whoís coming to dinner?
guests throw you a curve ball by announcing a
last-minute visit, take time to walk through your house
and look at it as if you were a stranger. Focus on the
main areas your guests will occupy, such as the living
room, bathroom, kitchen and guest bedroom. "You can
do a lot in one day," says Linda Goldman, owner of
Altogether Organized in Highland Park, Ill. "Just
putting things where they belong will go a long way in
making your home clutter free." Pay attention to
floors and clear the surfaces of tabletops and dressers.
Make sure you have enough seating, and put out fresh
towels for overnight guests. Take a quick inventory in
any bathroom your guest might use, and clear out any
items you donít want rummaged through.
in the big guns
organizing your home feels like an overwhelming task
with the holidays looming, consider hiring a
professional organizer for an objective approach.
Sometimes, a consultation helps give homeowners the
kick-start they need to finish the task. Rates for an
organizer range from about $50 to $100 an hour, and most
have a 2-3 hour minimum requirement. During the holiday
season, some organizers can play more of a
"personal assistant" role and help with event
planning, party preparation, buying and wrapping gifts
or delivering donated items.
for a highly rated organizer with whom you feel
comfortable. Many professionals stay up on the latest
industry trends and follow a code of ethics by belonging
to the National Association of Professional Organizers.
Whether you try to organize on your own or bring in some
extra help, our experts say homeowners should keep calm
about the clutter.
a second to enjoy the holidays," says Pamela
Morrone, owner of Creating Clarity in Los Angeles.
"With all of the chaos and to-do lists, itís
important to throw it all out at some point and enjoy
your friends and family."