Sometimes those odds and ends can accumulate all over the house, and we just don’t know where to put them! In order to truly have a “place for everything” you must identify those items in your house that don’t have a permanent home. To do this, take a walk through your house and play the game of “one of these things is not like the others…” This will help you identify what’s in a room that doesn’t really belong there, like a sewing needle and thread in the kitchen, or a vacuum in the bedroom, or gifts that need to be wrapped on the office floor. Gather those items together and think about the most logical place to keep them. Here are some examples of mini-categories you might encounter and some options for where to keep them.
Wrapping Paper/ ribbons
Most moms have wrapping paper and ribbons on hand at all times because you never know when someone will need to go to a birthday party. There are several products on the market now that are made especially for these items. There are hard plastic stand up bins or soft vinyl tote organizers that will help you contain all the wrapping items in one place. Some stores who sell these are: Rubbermaid, Lillian Vernon and Improvements Catalog.
You could also create an organizer for yourself out of a box from the liquor store. These boxes usually have dividers for bottles that work just as well for large rolls of wrapping paper. You can remove some of the dividers to make space for ribbons, scissors and tape. Either way, you need to assemble and contain your wrapping materials and find a home for them. Think about where you usually do the wrapping. Is it in the den, your bedroom or in the living room? Find a closet in or near that room that has enough space for whatever container you choose. Make the decision to keep wrapping paper there and let the whole family know where it belongs.
If you have the luxury of a completely empty closet or empty shelf in your home, you can shop in advance to have gifts on hand, ready to be wrapped. One client I had devoted an entire custom closet in her office for just this purpose. Another client I had used one shelf in her linen closet for extra gifts. With this category, you really need to adapt to your living space. No extra room in the house — no extra presents. You will have to shop for gifts as needed. However, it is a good idea to look at your monthly calendar and consolidate your gift shopping for that month. If you only have a handful of presents to buy, you could probably find somewhere to stash them before the event. With little children in the house, it’s best to keep these out of sight so curious hands don’t open the gift prematurely! Like any of the big categories, have all the gifts in one place so you remember what you have! Decide where this will be: your linen closet, an empty closet, your bedroom closet or in the attic (if it’s climate controlled) and don’t tell the family! Let this one be your little secret place.
Items that need to leave the house
This category could include mail, donations, things that are going to a friend, or items you want to return to a store. After seeing many clients of various income levels, I have come to this conclusion: the more you shop, the more you return. Piles of returns might start to grow in your garage, your car or your bedroom. If you are returning household things for size, make sure you measure next time. If you return things for color, maybe take a sample of what you are trying to match. If you are returning a lot of clothes, make note of the new size you or your children need. A little planning ahead can save you a lot of time on returns! If you do need to take something back, make sure you keep the receipt with it until that decision is made.
To keep the return piles out of your living space, try these options:
1. In your car – There’s nothing like going right to the finish. Put the items on your passenger seat so you see them every time you get into the car. Visual reminders are great.
2. On a table near your door –Let them stick out like a sore thumb so you’ll return them soon. You might even designate a “going out table” that is just for this purpose. If you tuck them away, you’re more likely to forget about them. Also, write it in your planner to “do returns.” And then you can have the satisfaction of checking it off your list.
Gift certificates and gift cards
One of my pet peeves is people who never use their gift certificates! Why don’t they use them? Usually because they can’t find the certificate or they don’t make a plan to use it. There’s a couple of ways you could remind yourself to use these.
1. If you think of gift cards as money, put them in your wallet. When you go to that store and open your wallet to pay, you’ll see the gift card and use it.
2. Keep gift cards and certificates for on-line shopping in your top desk drawer.
3. Keep retail gift cards in an envelope in your car. If you forget to bring them in, you can at least run back to the car before you check out.
4. Keep certificates for places that need reservations in your planner.
What odds & ends are cluttering up your home? Leave a comment or question.