Aside from spending too much money, nothing brings more stress to the Holidays than having company… especially if your home is disorganized and cluttered and with little time to prepare. With just 2-1/2 weeks until the first major holiday, Thanksgiving, NOW is the time to begin the preparations. And, here are a few pointers to help you stay SANE in the process:

  1. Very few people keep their homes absolutely organized all the time, so do not kick yourself if not everything is in its place. Perhaps there is a reason why your guests are coming to your home versus opening their homes up to company. Stay cool… aim for order, not perfection.
  2. It is okay for the process to spread over the next couple of weeks. However, the sooner you begin, the less stress you will experience as Thanksgiving nears.
  3. It is most important you enlist the support of all household members, and hold them accountable for not only helping you perform the work, but also maintaining the newfound order. No reason you should shoulder the full responsibility yourself unless, of course, you are the only member in your household.
  4. Make a list of everything you can realistically complete, and set achievable goals for completing these tasks. Do not expect to reorganize your entire house in two weeks. Before you being, prioritize your tasks. That way if you do not get to everything you planned; at least you tackled the most important items.
  5. The best way avoid being overwhelmed is to Declutter first. Decluttering can begin with removing items from accumulation points throughout the home and placing them in their appropriate areas. Once everything is in its place, it is much easier to start putting things away.
  6. Begin the process in the areas where visitors congregate the most during their stay. If they are like most guests, that location will probably be the kitchen. You can then move to the dining room, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Remember to work on only one room at a time, before moving on to the next.
  7. Select one location in which guests can place their coats, bags, purses, etc. It is best to steer them toward a location other than your master bed. If you have the room and expect many guests, consider borrowing a coat tree or two from friends or neighbors.
  8. If your home layout allows, try to keep activity and visitation to the main level. This will reduce the extent to which you need to organize and declutter. If your guests like to roam your home, close, and if necessary, lock the doors to off-limits rooms. Good news… you will have more time for organizing and decluttering between Thanksgiving and Christmas!
  9. Last, but not least, while you are going through your home, collect unwanted, unused items that can go charity, and arrange for an immediate pickup. If you will be taking the items to a drop-off point yourself, place the items in your vehicle immediately. It will be a less than gentle reminder to drop things off right away. Fewer items stored in your home means more space for you and your visitors. You will find housecleaning much easier and your time spent greatly reduced. Remember to leave a few days in your schedule for cleaning.

Room-by-Room Decluttering and Organizing Tips: (with each of these areas, you will want to keep like items together and remove items you no longer need)

Kitchen:

  • Clear off your counter tops, stove, and surfaces and place those items in their appropriate location(s)
  • Leave out only the few appliances that you use every day
  • Remove personal clutter from your refrigerator doors/sides
  • Placed the most used items to the front of your cabinets
  • Place all pots, pans and dish ware used during the holiday in easy-to-find location(s)
  • Rid the pantry of expired items
  • Do not over-buy perishable food items. You will need more room than usual in your refrigerator and freezer during the holidays.

Living Room:

  • Remove clutter from all flat surfaces (coffee and end tables, couches, chairs, cabinetry, book shelves/cases.

Dining Room:

  • Remove and relocate everything from all surfaces.
  • Clean any special serving plates, dish- and silverware ahead of time.
  • Make sure placemats, runners, and centerpieces are clean and within reach.
  • Clear off chairs and arrange for additional seating if necessary. No Thanksgiving meal is complete without the kiddie table.

Bedrooms:

  • Remove clutter for all horizontal surfaces (dressers, beds, shelves, etc., and (yes) even the floor.
  • Get in the habit of making your bed every day. It takes so little time, but makes a big impact in making the room look neat.
  • Place children’s toys in logically labeled boxes and place them out of sight. Enforce cleaning up after every use.

Bathrooms:

  • Clear personal clutter from the counter tops.
  • Assign a drawer to each household member that each person can use exclusively for storing his or her personal care items.
  • Add storage over the toilet and on and/or over the door.
  • Place hand towels in a small basket for easy access to guests.
  • Leave a small plunger in a discrete location within close reach of the toilet. You will find that guest are not inclined to clean the toilet, so place the brush caddy and cleaning supplies under the sink and out of sight.

Miscellaneous:

Whether you have one spot or many where you drop your mail, newspapers, fliers, etc., that come into your home, find only one location in which to address all incoming items. Allocate one spot, such as your office or den, where you can find your bills to pay them on time. Place multiple in/out boxes on your desk where you can address other items that come into the home. Things will be easier to find when you keep like items together in one designated area. Since a majority of most items coming into the home usually result in piles of junk mail, get rid of it immediately by placing it in the trash.