Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
December 2016 – Vol. 15 No. 10

That which you cannot give away, you do not possess. It possesses you. ~ Ivern Ball

Getting your home ready for holiday guests

Company is coming. Is your home guest-ready? Whether they’re coming for dinner or staying the night, there are some simple things you can do to make their visit more pleasant while reducing the stress of making your house presentable.

Make a list of the things you need to do to prepare your home including cleaning and meal preparation. Check off the items you can do in advance such as making room in your coat closet for your guests’ coats by moving off-season coats into storage.

Prepare your guest room. Dust and vacuum. Wash linens and towels too so you have plenty on hand. Toss some Downy Fresh Protect Beads in with your linens when you wash them. The motion-activated technology turns clean sheet day into clean sheet week for your guests. (Just so you know, I’m a fabric care ambassador for Downy, but I’d recommend this product even if I wasn’t – it makes bedding smell so fresh and wonderful!)

Plan your menu – and keep it simple. This is not the time to make that fancy recipe you clipped from your favorite magazine. Choose meals that require little if any intervention in the last 30 minutes so that you are free to greet your guests and make them feel at home. Check your pantry and refrigerator and make a list of the items you need – everything from napkins to pickles to ice. Consider purchasing dessert from a local bakery rather than making it.

On the day your guests arrive, set the dinner table and check that all the serving dishes and utensils you need are clean and ready. Also set up a drinks station so that your guests can help themselves. Start preparing food earlier rather than later, remembering that things often take longer than we expect.

And if your guests ask what they can do to help? Put them to work! The more hands, the merrier.

Quick tips for easier holiday de-decorating

I love decorating for the holidays. But de-decorating? Not so much. Here’s what I suggest to simplify the process.

Take photos of your holiday decorations before taking them down so you’ll know exactly what to do next year.  Put decorations away in reverse of how you want to retrieve them next year. For example, if you store tree lights in the same box with ornaments, place them on top since you’ll need them first. Wrap strings of lights around sturdy sections of cardboard boxes (like the flaps). Label the cardboard with the location where you had them up this year; e.g., mantel, staircase railing, tree.

Consider purchasing plastic boxes if you are not already using them. They’re usually on sale after the holidays. Buy all the same size boxes for easy stacking. Create an inventory of each item as you pack it. Then tape an envelope to the box, store the inventory list inside, and label the front of the envelope with a brief description such as Christmas Tree Ornaments or Living Room Decorations.

Donate any decorations you didn’t use this year or last year.  And always pack holiday decorations, especially delicate ornaments, as if you are packing for a move because you never know what the new year will bring!

Easy cleaning and organizing ideas for a simpler life

Do you get Real Simple magazine? I was interviewed for an article in the November issue about how to clean the trickiest and ickiest kitchen spots. Even I learned a few things!

And here’s another article just published on that is full of simple, affordable ideas – 56 ideas to be exact – for organizing closets. WARNING: If you read this article, you’re going to wish you had more closets just so you can organize them!

And just in time for holday entertaining, here’s an article I wrote on how to clean carpets and rugs like a pro. (I attended a carpet cleaning technician course last summer and these are just some of the things I learned.)

Favorite products and resources

As a professional organizer and certified House Cleaning Technician, I’ve used and recommended a lot of products, services and resources over the years. Every month in this column, I share new and old favorites.

Last month, I introduced you to a really neat service that can help you find lost or misplaced items.  FOUNDio is a free lost and found website that helps you recover lost personal items without revealing your identity. Use it for cell phones, video games, tablets, keys, books, dayplanners … even pets.

Simply create an ID tag on the site. Print labels with your ID tag to affix to your belongings. Example: “If found, please notify me at TagID: YOURIDTAG. Thanks!” If someone finds your item, he can log into FOUNDio and you will be notified via email. And you get your item back! Did I mention that FOUNDio is a free service?

This month, I’ve got a great idea for organizing all your wrapping paper after the holidays – and all your everyday wrapping paper as well. It’s the Wrap iT Gift Wrap Organizer. If this organizer doesn’t hold all of your gift wrapping supplies, it’s time to pare down and give some away – or stop buying this stuff. Seriously!

What I love about this product is that you can hang it up in any closet and pull it out when you need it. (You can also store it under a bed.) It holds rolls and rolls of wrapping paper, plus gift bags, tissue paper, bows, ribbons, cards, scissor, tape and anything else you need for wrapping gifts. And…

The creator of this product just gave me a very special discount for my readers!  Enter the coupon code 12$buddy at checkout to get the Buddy WrapiT organizer for just $12.* That’s $47.99 off the regular price! If you need a gift wrap organizer, get it now because I don’t know how long this coupon code is good for. Go take a look at Wrap iT and see if it’s something that will help simplify your life.

*Coupon code will take $47.99 off the Buddy model only, and cannot be combined with any other code. It can only be used once per customer, but you can purchase multiple buddys in one order at the discounted rate.

Shameless promotion: Get paid to declutter!

Me on the set with Mr. Decluttr himself!

Earlier this month, I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to do what’s called a satellite media tour where we broadcast live via satellite to morning TV programs across the country. Our topic? How to turn clutter into cash for the holidays!

If you’re like most people, you have lots of old electronics lying around the house. When we downsized our home a few years ago, I had a drawer full of old phones and shelves full of DVDs and CDs.

Decluttr will actually pay you cash for all of these items plus laptops, tablets – even books. I recommended Decluttr in my book, How to Declutter and Make Money Now and it was really great to work with them to get the word out about how easy it is to turn your clutter into cash. Like I say, “If you have clutter, you’re richer than you think!

One thing I love about Decluttr is that they’ve got a free app that that turns your smartphone into a bar code scanner. So you can quickly learn how much they’ll pay for your DVDs, CDs, and books. Or just enter the make and model of your electronics items for an instant quote. They’ll even pay to ship your items to them. And you get paid the day after your items are received. See how much you can make by selling your unwanted items to Decluttr.

Here’s a video clip of one of the live TV news segments we did. If we look like we were having fun, we were. Happy holidays!

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links in this organizing tips newsletter may be affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I will earn a small commission. These earnings go toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter which is free to you, but does cost to distribute. Please know that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.