Quick -- Declutter Before Thanksgiving Guests

Try this time-tested strategy to get rid of clutter; it gives a new twist to brown-bagging it!

I've given the topic of organization a great deal of thought because I don't have it. Apparently a lot of other people are disorganized too, because there has been a proliferation of companies in recent years who will come to your house and help you get organized for the holidays. I’ve noticed that their expert advice mainly involves getting rid of your stuff.

For people with lots of hobbies, this just isn’t feasible. Someone like my friend Ellie, for example, is compiling a family history, so all the pages of photos and information must be kept organize and out of the way.

She's organizing a family reunion with 200 attendees. In addition, she has about 40 sewing projects going on, with relatives and neighbors dropping by every now and again to drop another item into her mending basket. If you take all these projects together and add a Christmas dinner, you can see it could get crowded at the old home place.

Does this sound like your house? If so, I’ve got some ideas for you. I can see that I'm missing the boat on the home organizing business, because I have a time-tested method of cleaning up, and the good thing is that you don’t have to throw out any of your stuff. I’m thinking of getting a patent on this.

My scheme is called the Brown Bag Method. Like many great ideas, it sounds deceptively simple and it works great. I used to scoop up papers, mail and other unrelated junk and hide it under the bed when company came over, but this came with a real downside later, when I forgot about the hidden junk.

Life can get fairly exciting in a hurry if you forget to pay the electric bill. Good grief, I have a good credit rating, and one would think a piddling few weeks one way or the other wouldn’t make much difference. But no. They are real sticklers about their bills down at the power company. They turned the electric off just to get my attention, and it was only then that I remembered the bills I’d hidden under the bed the month before.

But now that I have the Brown Bag Method, I have had no further embarrassing problems like this. The key is to diversify. Step one is to label several large brown paper grocery bags. One bag might be “kitchen table” and another one might be “desk in family room.” Do this for each of your junk and paper collecting problem areas.

Next, gather all the bags together and put them in the clothes dryer. It’s not a good idea to put them in the oven because, as sure as you do, one of your guests will probably want to heat up a casserole. If the dryer is full, put the paper bag into the trunk of your car.

Once it's de-junked, your spotless domicile will be ready for Thanksgiving in no time at all. 

Step three in the Brown Bag Method is the most important. Within a couple of days after your holiday party, you must take the brown bags out of hiding and go through them looking for important stuff — like electric bills, for example.

Most importantly, whether your house is neat or messy, take the time to enjoy your holiday, your family tradition and the special people in your life.


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