Get organized for the holidays (and throughout the year) with our clutter-busting, time-saving, space-maximizing tips.
Here are handy Christmas tips designed to make the festive season not only more enjoyable, but stress-free, too.
Instead of dismantling mantel arrangements and centrepieces after the holidays, simply store each as is in large clear plastic bags placed in labelled containers. Both decorating and cleanup will be so much easier. -- Jennifer Trussler, A Welcoming Home, Orillia, Ont.
When decorating for the holidays, remove everyday accessories and store them in your Christmas decoration box to reduce clutter and make your holiday decorations more noticeable. -- Kelly Brown, Tidy Trends.com, Stayner, Ont.
Store small, breakable decorations in labelled foam egg containers to eliminate the need to wrap each one. -- Duhita Speck, Your World In Order, Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Spend more time relaxing with family and friends by ordering a special holiday dinner. Many fine hotels offer delivery service. All you have to do is set the table! -- Andrea Hodgins, Organized Results, Vancouver
Hire someone to clean your house for the holidays. Consider it a gift to yourself and your family that reduces stress and increases the time you have for shared activities. -- Susan Yearwood, Yearwood Efficient Solutions, Ottawa
Carry a small notebook in your purse year-round. While shopping or looking through catalogues, write down gifts you see that would be perfect for someone. When Christmas arrives, your gift-shopping list will be complete. Use the book for birthdays and special events, too. Keep previous years' notebooks to avoid giving duplicate gifts. -- Jane Cownley, The Organizing Way, Milton, Ont.
If your stepchildren visit on weekends, help them properly schedule their time so they don't lose too much of their everyday routine. Plan for homework and chores, and make room for special parent-child quality time by organizing fun activities like tobogganing or festively decorating their bedroom for the holiday season. -- Clair Roxburgh-Giamprini, Roxburgh Organizing Solutions, Ajax, Ont.
Choose one behaviour you want to change, such as putting something back where it belongs after using it. Do it consistently for 30 days, rewarding yourself every five days. After 30 days, it will become automatic. -- Shari Puddicombe, 5-S Simple Organizing Solutions, Montreal
Edit your greeting cards after each occasion; keep only a few special cards from each person in your life. Store the keepers in a card box. -- Susannah Coneybeare, The Sorting House, Toronto
Divide light and dark laundry into designated baskets so you don't have to sort while loading the washer. Wash and dry socks in separate mesh bags filled by each family member to avoid the trouble of sorting later. -- Lina Phan, Organized by Design, Pointe Claire, Que.
Cover the inside of an armoire or closet door with bulletin-board cork and hang necklaces, bracelets and earrings on push-pins. Stick the brooches right into the cork. -- Carol Manuel, Everything In Its Place, Lower Sackville, N.S.
Have a mending bin to store clothing in need of repair, otherwise shirts without buttons and pants needing to be hemmed can become clutter at the bottom of the closet. -- Douha Al Sawan, Dives Solutions, Laval, Que.
Keep your rented videos and library books separate from your personal collections by storing them in a large basket in your family room. -- Faye Stone, Organizing Coach, Burlington, Ont.
If you see something out of place -- keys, mail, newspapers or toys -- and you're going in the direction where they're kept, pick them up and put them away. -- Jacqueline Donovan, Organizing Your Lives, Oshawa, Ont.
Organize tools in the garage or workshop in old heavy-duty steel filing cabinets outfitted with casters (label the drawers so the contents are easy to find). -- Sandra L. Sornberger, Absoluteorder.com, Dunsford, Ont.
Organizing your time is crucial for a more organized life. If you feel overwhelmed by too many things, decide on a maximum of five to seven key areas that are directly related to your happiness and success, and try to focus only on those areas. Make sure daily tasks are always related to the areas you've chosen and let the unimportant stuff go. -- Jane Veldhoven, Get Organized! Professional Services, Halifax
Turn crawl spaces into accessible storage areas with bins on wheels or build a plywood storage platform and attach casters and a rope handle. -- Judy Besserer, Homefree Organizational Service, Ottawa
Store gold and silver earrings separately if you own a lot. You'll save time finding a pair. -- Eileen Chong, Simple Organizing Services (S.O.S.), Thornhill, Ont.
Corkboards cause clutter! Instead, buy a mounting strip and hooks (like the kind for hanging kitchen utensils), mount the strip above the desk in your home office and hang big bull-nose clips from the hooks. The strip holds a ton. -- Marie Harrison, Be Organized -- Achieve More, Vancouver
Remove closet doors in children's bedrooms and store toys and clothes in closet organizers easily reachable by kids; hang a colourful curtain across the opening. -- Kimberly Lathigee, Organize This! Services, Richmond, B.C.
Give yourself a junk drawer. Many people can't live life defined by a label maker. If having a little bit of controlled chaos makes you happy and keeps you stress-free, go for it. -- Alex Fayle, FayleSafe Solutions, Toronto
Put all of your tried and tested recipes on four- by six-inch cards and place the cards in both sides of plastic sleeve pages in a stand-up photo album. -- Jacki Brown, Well Organized/Tout Bien Rangé, Quebec
Try the 10-Minute Toss. Each day, set aside 10 minutes to unclutter a drawer, cupboard, shelf or area that needs attention. Doing that daily keeps clutter under control. -- Katherine Gibson, author of Unclutter Your Life, Victoria
If you reuse zip-lock bags but find they clutter counters and dish racks while drying, hang them from mini clothes pegs on a retractable clothesline above the sink. -- Soraiya Kara, POSabilities Personal Organizing, Burnaby, B.C.
If you're building or renovating, work with a professional organizer before meeting with your interior designer or architect. An organizer will examine your lifestyle -- including your job, hobbies, sports, habits and more -- and detail how everything that supports your lifestyle will fit into your new space. -- Janis Nylund, Orderly Concepts & Solutions, South Surrey, B.C.
Fold linens and tablecloths and hang them on multipurpose skirt/pant hangers that have four to six rods. Also, hang a sheet of fabric softener with bedsheets for a fresh scent. -- Suzy Polanco, Organize It & Cleaning Co., Toronto
Keep a health history diary. Include dates and details of medical procedures, tests and results, past and present prescription medications, lists of alternative health treatments, notes on genetic medical conditions, and phone numbers for health-care professionals. That will save you hours when filling out medical forms -- Patricia Saya, The Organizing Goddess, Aurora, Ont.
Dedicate one clean kitchen counter strictly to cooking. Store your ingredients (spices, seasonings and so on) close by. That saves time because one counter will always be ready for you to work on, and you won't have to spend time running around gathering ingredients. -- Dolly Bhatia-Frolick, Organized Environments, Whitby, Ont.
Use simple, inexpensive utensil trays with square or rectangular compartments to organize small items in bathroom and home office drawers. -- Kathy Vincent, Organizing Solutions, Windsor, Ont.
Keep a small dish near every place you take off jewelry; for instance, beside the kitchen and bathroom sinks, sofa, bed. When you take your rings off, you'll have somewhere to put them so they don't get lost. -- Shelley Beaubien, Organized By Design, Edmonton