Pro tip: Focus your cleaning and decorating on the main areas where family and holiday guests will spend most of their time.
Maintaining a peaceful home during the crush of holiday stress often seems too much to handle, but good organization helps calm the chaos.
“Be kind and patient with yourself, and accept that we can’t be superheroes despite the notion that everything must be perfect when families and friends arrive,” says Melanie Raelin, owner of Wits End Organizing in Medford, Mass.
Take a look at these solutions to ease into the holiday fray.
Focus on main areas
If guests throw you a curve by announcing a last-minute visit, before you start house cleaning, take time to walk through and look at it as if you were a stranger.
Focus on the main areas your guests will occupy, such as the living room, bathroom, kitchen and guest bedroom.
“You can do a lot in one day,” says Linda Goldman, owner of Altogether Organized in Highland Park, Ill. “Just putting things where they belong will go a long way in making your home clutter-free.”
Pay attention to floors and clear the surfaces of tabletops and dressers. Make sure you have enough seating and put out fresh towels for overnight guests. Take a quick inventory in any bathroom your guest might use, and clear out any items you don’t want rummaged through.
Take time to donate
The holidays provide an opportunity to decide what clothes, coats, toys and books you no longer need and gather them for donation.
“When the kids are old enough, it’s nice to have them involved in the process,” Raelin says. “When they make up their gift wish lists, it’s a great opportunity to bring up the notion of making room for the new. It’s best to pack away toys and items the kid has outgrown before the holiday season, and donate to some of the great charities serving children in need.”
Call for backup
If organizing your home feels like an overwhelming task, consider hiring a professional organizer for an objective approach.
Sometimes, a consultation helps give homeowners the kick-start they need. Rates for an organizer range from about $50 to $100 an hour, and most have a two- or three-hour minimum requirement.
During the holidays, some organizers play more of a “personal assistant” role and help with event planning, party preparation, buying and wrapping gifts or delivering donated items.
Look for a highly rated organizer with whom you feel comfortable. Many stay up on the latest industry trends and follow a code of ethics by belonging to the National Association of Professional Organizers.
Keep calm and enjoy
Whether you try to organize on your own or bring in some extra help, the experts say homeowners should keep calm about the clutter.
“Take a second to enjoy the holidays,” says Pamela Morrone, owner of Creating Clarity in Los Angeles. “With all of the chaos and to-do lists, it’s important to throw it all out at some point and enjoy your friends and family.”