Readying Your Home for the Holiday Onslaught – Part 3

Part 3: Whole House Purge and Cleanse

If you’ve been following the “Readying Your Home for the Holiday Onslaught” series, by now you’ve got the kids’ toys and clothes under control, your kitchen is in amazing shape, and you’re feeling exhilarated and a little exhausted.

No rest for the weary. It’s the last stretch – time to focus on getting the rest of the house in tip-top condition.

There are a few things we’re going to tackle, following the principals that we used with organizing the kids’ stuff.Sorting through your own items before bringing more into the picture is going to crystallize what you yourself want this year, and what others in your household need. We’ll switch warm weather clothing out for winter gear, if your closet space requires it. We’ll sort, organize, discard and donate as needed.  Let’s get started!

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Face Your Dressers and Closet

There’s something symbolic about cleaning your closet. Out with the old, in with the new, get rid of the skeletons and start fresh. The overarching principal I’m trying to use on my own closet is to not feel bad about letting go. It’s tough getting rid of a dress you’ve only worn once (or never) because it just doesn’t fit right and never will. It’s hard donating pants that you’re hoping will fit you again one day. But a closet that’s stuffed with clothes that don’t fit, or that you just don’t like wearing, makes it difficult to see the clothes you DO like. Marie Kondos’ book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” comes into play again here – she really helped me understand the value of saying good-bye to items, and how to do a full purge.

That said, I’m going to recommend a light purge at this particular moment – a pre-holiday taking stock and organization that will position us well for December. Here are a few tips:

  1. Give Yourself Time: There’s nothing worse than starting a closet cleanse and getting interrupted mid-stream when half your belongings are strewn across your bedroom. If possible, give yourself a few good hours (without kids, if you have them) to spread out and think.
  2. Evaluate with a Keen Eye Speaking of evaluating, there are several things to ask yourself as you begin sorting: – Will you wear this again? Shoes that pinch. Duplicates (how many pairs of black pants do you really need?). The top that makes you look fat even when you’re 10 pounds thinner than you are now. The cowboy boots you bought on a girls’ weekend in Santa Fe and haven’t worn once. (sigh) These items are just taking up space – but they could serve someone else well. Feel good about donating them (or consigning them) and giving them new life with a new owner. – Should you wear this again? This question has helped me look at my closet with fresh eyes. Items with stains, bleach spots, worn spots, holes, pills… get these buggers out of your closet and get them repaired, or get rid of them. Ask yourself how long ago you purchased something… How many years has it been? Is it dating you? These clothes are taking up room in your closet and they’re not helping you look (or feel) good. – Will you wear this over the winter? If you are lucky enough to have a huge closet, you don’t need to ask yourself this question. If you do a bit of seasonal sorting, it could be a good time to move your summer clothes to their winter destination and vice versa.
  3. Discard, donate, repair: all of the items that didn’t make the cut should be repaired or donated, so they can serve their true purpose – being worn.
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Make Room in the Coat Closet

Guests wearing coats will be visiting your home. I say this as a reminder to myself, since the past few years in California, the coat closet has been used maybe once by a visiting guest. But with rain starting to fall and El Nino on the way, the coat closet will get some use this year (yay) and it’s a great time to purge.

Evaluate your coat closet the same way you evaluated your personal closet. Let those coats you never wear be worn by someone else. Rid yourself of the glove with no mate or the itchy wool hat that looks great but feels terrible. Broken umbrellas? Gone. All the other weird stuff you scraped into the coat closet because you couldn’t think through where to put it? Find a place for it.

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Tidy Bathroom Drawers

Wouldn’t it be lovely for your holiday guests to have clean, pristine drawers to put their goods? If your guest bathroom is already spotless – congratulations. I mean that. If you’re like me, my guests will share a bathroom with my kids (sorry, guests) and there is quite a lot of randomness that has crept into the bathroom drawers. Here are a few tips for cleaning bathroom drawers (very similar to kitchen drawers) to help you on your way:

  1. Take everything out
  2. Throw out used up toothpaste tubes, dated toiletries, worn out elastics, and whatever other garbage has made its way in.
  3. Wash or wipe off any dirty items, give good tooth brushes a cleanse or replace with new ones, and pull the hair from brushes.
  4. Clean inside of drawers. Scrub off the dried toothpaste, rid yourself of stray hairs, scour make up stains.Use a can of office air duster (the kind for computer keyboards) to get stuff out of the corners.
  5. Lay everything back in, snug, clean, and beautiful.

Once you’ve completed all the above, take a long hot shower. Put on one of the long-lost items you just found in your closet. Walk through your organized, clean, purged household. Stash this memory for future dark times of household chaos and remember… complete tidiness is possible. For a moment anyway.