Vacation Organization Tips


There’s no place like home, as Dorothy famously proclaimed while returning from her “travels” to Oz.  Of course, Dorothy was lucky to come home to a place where everything was in place, even after a tornado.  But for many returning travelers, the happiness of homecoming is tainted by the dread of facing a mess that was left behind in the frantic whirlwind of departure.

And even if you aren’t in the habit of leaving your home in disarray when you head off on a trip, it’s common to return with a certain amount of clutter in your baggage.  Let’s face it–no matter where you go, it’s hard to get away from paper even with all the current electronic options.  Tickets, checklists, brochures, receipts, maps, notes, postcards…these are the ingredients of “travel piles.”

So, whether you tend to leave your vacation mess at home or carry it with you, here are some tips to help you come home to calm instead of chaos:

  •  Include “housecleaner” in your travel budget. If possible, schedule an appointment for a housecleaning service to clean your home within two days before your departure date.  This will force you to get your house in order–and on time, too.  That old saying about “cleaning up before the maid comes” actually describes a useful process:  clearing clutter off of most horizontal surfaces makes it easier to clean them quickly and thoroughly.  This is true whether you get a housecleaner or do all the cleaning yourself.
  • Transform disorder to “dis-odor.”  Don’t worry about making sure everything’s in apple pie order before you leave.  What’s more important is to get rid of those leftover apples.  Plan to banish any potentially odor-producing items ahead of time.  Typical sources of smelliness include forgotten fruit left to molder on a kitchen counter, wet laundry mildewing in the washing machine, dirty dishes in the sink, an un-run garbage disposal, un-emptied kitchen trash pail and, of course, the “fridge from outer space” filled with mysterious furry substances.  (Note: Pet owners and parents of babies obviously have additional areas to address.)
  • Prepare for the paper trail.  A few simple, inexpensive supplies will make it easier to keep papers organized during your travels.  Transparent envelopes in different sizes and colors, sheer document folders (also in various colors) and clear plastic page protectors can help you separate or categorize the seemingly inevitable accumulation.   Unlike opaque envelopes and folders, these products allow you to see contents at a glance.  A pad of small Post-it notes or some self-adhesive tags are also useful for creating temporary labels.
  • Make packing and unpacking easier.  Travel accessories such as packable shelves (designed to fit inside a 21-inch carry-on suitcase and then hung on a closet rod) can save time as well as sanity by keeping your packed items organized and easily accessible while you’re away, and easier to unpack when you get back home.

But if the mere thought of packing–or the expense of travel–are more than you can handle, a “staycation” could be what you really need.  Check back next Friday for tips on making your backyard into an oasis of order for your home vacation.





Organizing for House Guests: Part 2


Giving your guests a comfortable place to sleep requires more than just a bed and bedding.  It’s thoughtful to provide some type of nightstand or bedside surface for holding eyeglasses, tissues or other necessities within easy reach.  Keep in mind that a standard-size night table may be too high for lower guest beds such as trundles and air mattresses.

Striped Gamer Ottoman Image Storage stools, hassocks and ottomans combine seating and storage functions at just the right height for guest night stands.  The Striped Gamer Ottoman  is a good example–it has a lift-off lid and multiple storage compartments, so you can use it for hiding away whatever you might pile on the sofa bed during guest-free times.
Antique Walnut Storage Table Image


A more classic option that combines a night-table surface with hidden storage is this Walnut Storage Table .

A three-shelf rolling cart can be rolled wherever it’s needed, doing double-duty for guests by serving both as a night stand and a place to stash toiletry kits, cosmetic cases and personal items.

Magazine tables — the kind with a flat surface above an area designed for storing publications upright — are another perennially useful multipurpose furnishing. Small and unassuming, this type of table works well day-to-day almost anywhere to keep your reading materials handy, and then instantly transforms into a guest night-stand.  The Dakota Wave End Table, designed specifically to hold magazines, is an interesting variation on this theme.

After your guests have left, you may feel ready for a vacation yourself. Check back next Friday for tips on how to get organized for traveling!


Organizing for House Guests: Part 1

Opening your home to far-flung family and friends can provide a motivating deadline for putting your house in order—or at least the guest room, which after months of disuse tends to become a dumping ground for all kinds of messy miscellany. But whether you have spacious guest quarters or barely enough room for a folding cot, there are some clever products you can use for organizing your “home hotel” to create efficient yet comfortable accommodations.
Unless you have an excess of empty closet space (is there anyone who does?), providing a convenient way for guests to store their clothing can present a daunting challenge. Several simple solutions:
Over-the-door hook units take up minimal space, require no installation, and are handy for hanging casual clothes as well as holding hanger-hung garments. You can find reasonably priced examples at many home products retailers.  Another space-saving over-the-door option is this efficient over the door hanger bar.  
The super-sleek Over The Door Insta-Hanger is also a good choice–it even folds flat when not in use. 
 Foldaway garment racks are not only ideal for guests to hang their clothes on, they’re also useful year-round for drip-drying your delicates or as a clothes valet when you’re setting out clothing to pack for a trip. 
•  Luggage racks allow guests to easily access the contents of their suitcases, and can be folded away when not in use. 
Check back next Friday for more organizing tips on how to prepare for houseguests!

Answer: Kid Organization


We’ve received this question via Twitter:  “What are some ideas you have for organizing with your children?”

For helping your kids get organized, you just need to have a few good rules–and the right tools. Here’s what I suggest:

1) A few basic household maintenance rules for your children should be enforced to keep things from getting out of hand. Decide what would be most helpful and realistic for your family. Examples: Clear the floor before bedtime. No food or drink permitted in the bedroom. Outside projects (anything involving paint, glue, mud, etc.) are not allowed inside.

2) It’s hard to do any job without the right tools, and organizing is no exception. Some basic products for clutter-proofing kids’ rooms:

 • Bins and baskets. Even the youngest children can be taught how to categorize and color-code by designating different colored containers for various types of toys, games and supplies.

File tote. A portable file box gives kids a manageable way to organize their school papers and extracurricular projects from an early age. Help them decide on file names, then clearly label the folders (bright-colored hanging files are easy to use).

Desk, chair and lamp. A kid’s “home office” should be a comfortable spot to do homework and also a good place for storing frequently used supplies and books.

Adequate lighting is an essential yet often overlooked component; for flexible options, a gooseneck desk lamp can be a good choice.