Do Your Spring Cleaning Now
By Karen Cicero
Do your spring cleaning now! It’s a fact: Mess leads to stress. In one survey of 1,000 men and women, about 40 percent admitted that their clutter caused them considerable anxiety. And you don’t need any more of that — especially during the holidays.
“Set aside a couple of hours to organize your house now; it will pay off big-time during the onslaught of presents, cookies and guests,” says Lea Schneider, a professional organizer in Pensacola, Fla. Just follow our room-by-room guide to holiday harmony.
· Clear countertops. You’re going to need all the room you have for cookie sheets, dishes and other holiday goods. First, make a sweep of everything in your kitchen that doesn’t involve cooking, like bills, catalogs or your kid’s school folders. “Place it all in a laundry bin, and cart it off to where it belongs,” suggests Schneider. Then evaluate your small appliances: If you don’t use a gadget at least once a week, find room in a cabinet for it — or even stash it on a shelf in the garage.
· Plan for extra groceries. Chances are, you’ll be buying lots of baking supplies, plus party and holiday dinner food. Where is it all going to fit? Clear your pantry of out-of-date items to create space for new goodies. Bonus: It’ll help you find out whether you need to restock baking basics, like cinnamon or vanilla extract. “When you bring home the new non-perishable groceries, store them in a plastic bag by recipe,” says Schneider. “So, when you want to make chocolate chip cookies, for instance, all the dry ingredients are together.”
· Tally your tableware. Don’t wait until the last-minute to discover that you don’t have enough china for a 12-person dinner party, or that some of your favorite holiday cloth napkins are stained. “Do an inventory of your plates, glasses, flatware and linens now to see if you need to replace or borrow anything,” says Jodie Watson, of Supreme Organization in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
· Streamline the vanity. Let’s face it: No holiday guest needs to see your hair gel or deodorant. Stash all your supplies under the sink, including paste, floss and toothbrushes. Even though it’s not really a faux pas to leave out toothbrushes in a pretty holder, they’re better off out of sight so that bacterias don’t get on them every time the toilet is flushed.
· Make way for supplies. You’ll need extra soap, toilet paper and cleaning products this time of year. Either designate a space in the bathroom closet for them or find somewhere else to put them.
· Add a couple of hooks. Nothing looks messier than an overstuffed towel rack! If you have guests staying with you over the holidays, pick up a couple of removable hooks to hang bathrobes and towels.
· Decorate smart. Some of your regular decor will need to disappear to make room for your holiday stuff. Stash it in a labeled tote before you pull out your seasonal favorites.
· Pile on the presents. “Wrapped gifts are beautiful and shouldn’t be hidden away in a closet unless you have young kids,” says Schneider. Designate a place in the living room for them now so you won’t even have to think about where they go later.
· Make a fun center. Gather board games, books and holiday CDs near the coffee table so guests can help themselves, says Watson.
Kid’s Room/Play Room
· Tidy up the toys. If you have a young child, of course you do this every day — even every hour! But organization experts say to use the weeks leading up to the holidays to clear out toys that are broken, have missing pieces or ones you’re certain he’s outgrown. So when new presents come in, your house won’t look like Toys “R” Us.
· Organize holiday clothes. Put away pumpkin T-shirts and other fall-specific wardrobe pieces. Designate a section of the closest for holiday outfits so you can easily pull out a cute shirt when your family is invited to a cookie exchange, or for the holiday party at school.
· Keep it merry and bright. You don’t have to deck out your kid’s bedroom for the holidays, but think about one little touch — maybe a New Year’s countdown calendar, paper garland or a snowman music globe.
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is Completely You’s Need to Know blogger. A health journalist and magazine editor with more than 15 years of experience, she has contributed to such publications as Prevention, SELF and Health, and she has edited the dental column for Heart & Soul magazine.