The holidays are a time when we have extra people, food, and gifts all coming into our homes, and while this is a wonderful thing to be grateful for (especially after last year), it can also turn our living spaces upside-down. That is why experts said it’s important to get a handle on it now, prior to the hoopla, to put a few organizational systems in place so the aftermath isn’t as overwhelming and exhausting.
“If you are hosting, I suggest that you focus on the rooms where your guests will be,” said professional organizer Camila Marquez of TidyUp Solutions. “Once you finish decluttering those rooms that are a priority, then you can move to other rooms (if we have energy left!).”
The main areas you should tackle prior to visitors arriving are the entryway, guest room, kitchen, and powder room. The entryway is the first thing guests will step into, so you want to make it as decluttered as possible. You also want to make room for their winter accessories, like boots and jackets.
“If you have people who are staying overnight, you also want to organize the guest room so that they feel welcome and at home,” Marquez explained. “In these past two years guest rooms have become dumping zones. Pull everything out, sort it, and then purge, throw away or donate what you don’t need. Store the things you’re keeping. That way, you will create a clean, peaceful guest room.”
The kitchen also sees a lot of traffic around the holidays. With bigger meals and lots of edible treats coming in, it’s a good idea to put some order into food storage areas now: this includes the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
“Take everything out of those places, give them a good cleaning, throw out expired items, and then put things back in an orderly way while leaving some empty space for the meals you’ll be preparing and friends will be bringing,” Marquez said. “For now, eat the food you have and avoid grocery shopping and getting extra things.”
The powder room that guests will be using could also use a quick cleaning and decluttering. Add a few decorative accents or a candle to make it feel cozy and warm.
For those with children, another major area of the home to organize before the holidays are the toys. Not only will it help to manage excess clutter, but it can also become a great lesson for kids too.
“Before your children start receiving toys, try and get rid of things they no longer use, or things that are broken or have missing pieces – it’s good to have an inventory of what they have, and then you can make room for the new toys at the same time,” said Marquez. “As soon as they are 3 or 4 years old, you can involve them in the process. They can help make the decisions of what to keep and what to get rid of, and in the process, you’re showing them that you respect their belongings. It is also a great opportunity to teach them how donations help children in need. They will start having a sense of helping others as well.”
And one final piece of advice from our organizing guru:
“I always tell people to try and make time for yourself. Don’t go crazy organizing your whole house, and take the time to declutter your mind,” Marquez recommended. “Of course, we have kids and there will always be things out of place in the house. The only way you can keep your house organized 24/7 is to live there by yourself. If you have a partner and kids, take a deep breath, and try to relax. Let’s try and remember the meaning of the holidays. It’s more about the interactions, the meals you prepare, and how much fun you have.”