Preparing for the holidays is never easy, especially when you have family on the way and mountains of built-up clutter to contend with before you can even start cleaning. When your son went off to college, he probably didn’t expect you to turn his bedroom into a storage facility (and he definitely won’t appreciate climbing over a pile of boxes containing your scrap-booking material to get to his bed when he returns home for the holidays). And since you’ve started working from home, you may have found that what began as a contained office space has quickly spread to coat every room in your house in a layer of paperwork, reference materials, and computer equipment (or product, if you run a retail business).
In short, you need to think of a solution to a space overcrowded with material possessions before you can even begin to contemplate playing the happy hostess to a revolving door of friends and family. But where do you start?
The best solution is, of course, to throw away (or donate) the items you’re not using. Minimizing clutter can be easily accomplished by simply clearing stuff out. However, you may have several problems with this course of action. For one thing, most people keep items around (even though they’re not currently in use) because they have future plans for them. Those boxes of photos can certainly be disposed of once you’ve scanned them all onto your hard drive and burned them to discs, but you’re definitely not going to have time before the holidays hit. And the bulky sporting goods you keep in the hall closet may burst free whenever someone opens the door, but the fact that you go snowboarding in the winter and water-skiing in the summer is good enough cause to keep them around. In short, taking the “throw-away” approach to organization may quickly send you back to square one.
A better idea might be to retain the services of a storage facility. Some can be expensive, but self-storage is a great way to increase your space (and your options) for less. You can box up and haul unused (or rarely used) items to the facility and leave them until such time as you may need them or you have a larger home to store them in yourself. You may even be able to swing a better rate if you purchase long-term self storage in advance. And it’s not like you have to sort through everything now, when your family is practically knocking on the door. Just dump everything en masse until you can find time to sort through it.
Once you’ve cleared some space, you can get to the real preparations, from scrubbing every corner of your house and cleaning the dusty linens to setting up the tree and baking a welcoming tray of cookies. Not only will you be able to relax and enjoy the season without massive piles of clutter catching your eye (or your toe) every time you turn around, you will also provide a warm and hospitable environment for your family to feast, trade gifts, sing carols, and do all the things that make the holidays special and memorable.