Our hearts are never more full than around this wonderful time of year, and often our homes are the same way: full of warmth and people we love, and certainly full of stuff!
Leftover food, presents, wrapping paper, host gifts and more are signs of good times had and foreshadowers of hours of cleanup and organization ahead. Enjoying precious moments with family and friends is far more important than being on cleanup duty during a gathering, but there are ways to stay on top of the holiday clutter and still have fun doing it.
1. Assemble Task Forces: If your gathering includes kids, this is a great one for them! Assemble a task force (a term that is much more motivating than “cleanup crew”) and assign a job to each person during gift exchanges: someone can be in charge of collecting wrapping paper in a trash bag, another can collect and fold tissue paper, and someone can be in charge of gathering bows and ribbons. Hosting a large dinner? Ask a different person to be in charge of collecting all of one item from the table afterward; silverware, plates, glasses and cloth napkins can each go to a different person and make cleanup a breeze.
2. Make Space: It’s always fun to be surprised by a gift, but if you’ve made gift requests that you know will be fulfilled this holiday season then try making room for new items before you receive them. Did you put a new coffee maker on your list? Donate your old one a couple days ahead of time, and you’ll have the perfect spot for your new machine, someone else will appreciate your generosity and you can treat yourself to a seasonal latte or two in the meantime. Perhaps your wardrobe is in need of an update and you requested gift cards to some of your favorite stores? Go through your closet and pick out some items that no longer get much use, and then hand them down or donate them in preparation for your new outfits.
3. Decorate Intentionally: Holiday decorating is a sacred practice for many families, and if that applies to you then by all means please hold on to your traditions. But for many homeowners, boxes of decorations and seasonal items that only see the light of day for a week or a month of the year take over our storage space and collect dust. Instead of hoarding hundreds of different decorations for each holiday, try choosing a few pieces or traditions that are important to you or that can serve a purpose for more than one holiday and get rid of everything else. Does your family love to drink hot cocoa together during the winter months? Keep your snowflake mugs for that special time together, but switch out the rest of your winter-themed dishes for something more classic that you can use year-round. If you love to spread holiday cheer throughout your home, try choosing one item like leafy garlands or greenery to hang throughout the house instead of unpacking tons of tiny trinkets.
4. Let Someone Else cook: If you’re in the process of selling your home or you’re tight on space for large gatherings, this unconventional idea will really take the pressure off of you. Many restaurants are open on holidays, and since the employees already have to be away from their families you may as well give them some business and a nice tip! Take your family out to dinner or cater dinner from one of your favorite places, and soak up all of the extra quality time you get to spend with your loved ones instead of sweating over the stove or doing dishes at midnight. The three-part feature in this month’s newsletter features some great local restaurants that would love to cook up your holiday feast.