As the weather changes, it’s important to properly prepare your home for the new season. Fall is the perfect time to declutter and organize. Plus, fall is the perfect time to properly prepare your home for decorating and hosting guests and holiday festivities.
Here are a few tips on what to do as you travel about the house and prepare to snuggle in for the cold season.
• Put any seasonal bedding and linens on the bed.
• Dust blinds and ceiling fans.
• Purge your closet/switch seasonal clothes. Fall is the perfect time to evaluate your summer AND winter wardrobe and/or rotate seasonal clothing. If you live in a smaller home or condo unit, create more space in your closet by packing up your summer and spring clothes. Vacuum seal storage bags are perfect for under-the-bed storage.
• Flip your mattresses.
• Audit your pantry (including your spices!). Toss expired goods and donate items you know you won’t use and create your weekly meal plans around what you will use.
• Evaluate your cookware and appliances. Did you toss a few baking pans last year or realize mid-baking, that you need a new hand mixer? Make sure you have exactly what you need to prepare seasonal meals.
• Clean your oven. This way, you’ll avoid that curious burning smell when you have guests.
• Audit your food storage situation. Do you have more lids than actual food storage containers? You’re definitely NOT alone. Take some time to match up lids and containers, toss any mismatches and stock up on a few new storage containers, so you’re prepared for post-party cleanup and leftover nights. If you are turning away from plastic usage, wide-mouth quart canning jars make excellent storage and freezing containers.
• Clean the fridge. Empty your fridge out completely, wipe down the walls, drawers, and syrup-filled books and crannies. Toss any expired items, and re-organize it.
• Clean grout, if applicable.
• Stock up on amenities. Sure, most guests may bring their own shampoo and conditioner, but we always think it’s a nice touch to have some toothpaste, an extra blow dryer, and fresh soap on hand for guests.
• Seasonal towels. Small details like decorative hand towels help spread holiday cheer throughout every room in your home. Local boutiques or discount stores offer affordable and adorable seasonal hand towels and holiday-scented soaps.
• Evaluate guest bath towels. If you haven’t hosted guests in a while, you might want to make sure your extra towels are in good enough condition for your guests (you want them to be stain-free and not fraying at the edges). If they haven’t been washed in a while, now’s a good time to do so.
• Clean grout. That goes for your tub tile and your floors.
• Check smoke detector batteries.
• Wash and disinfect your garbage cans.
• Vacuum under beds and other furniture (including area rugs).
• Condition leather furniture.
• Clean the chimney or have it checked.
• Check your air filters.
• Clear out the gutters.
• Swap out your welcome mat.
• Lay down fresh mulch.
• Audit holiday decor. For many households, decorating for the holidays is a fun family event, complete with festive music, hot cocoa and your favorite holiday movie on in the background. The last thing you want is to realize, mid-cocoa-mixing, that your light strings don’t work or your favorite inflatable has a hole in it. Before you get to the fun part of decorating, take an hour or two to evaluate what you have and purchase what you may be missing.
A DECLUTTERING OPPORTUNITY
Fall is also the season of giving – a time to reassess your clothing, home furnishings and appliances, and declutter as you prepare to host guests and simplify for the new year. Another added benefit of decluttering? The opportunity to give back by donating your items to people and organizations in need.
This is the time to declutter your kitchen, closets and living room, while simultaneously giving back by finding homes for items ranging from book collections and jewelry to instruments and figurine collections. That piano you haven’t touched in years might bring joy to a young child or an avid piano collector. That antique armoire might just be the perfect piece for a DIY enthusiast looking to refurbish their next piece of furniture.
Here are a few tips and resources to help you declutter your home while giving back this holiday season.
Give Your Good Clothing to a Good Cause
You’ve likely heard that most of us only wear 20% of the clothing in our closet. Ouch! What’s more, we’re betting you have clothing that is in excellent used condition and may benefit someone else.
There are many organizations across the country (like Soles4Souls, Success in Style and Dress for Success) that help people in need find clothing for job interviews and other professional events. There are also organizations like Operation Prom and Becca’s Closet that donate homecoming and prom dresses to low-income schools.
With that in mind, it’s time to shake down your wardrobe. Comb through every item (maybe even host your own little mini fashion show) and ask yourself if it’s worth keeping. A few considerations:
• When was the last time you wore it?
• Is it in good condition?
• Does it fit well and is it comfortable? Is it too big, too tight, too short?
• Do you have an occasion to wear it? (formalwear or skiwear, for instance, may not be practical in your life anymore)
• Does wearing it make you feel happy and confident?
Organize the “no” pile into two separate categories: Donate and Toss.
Asses Your Furniture, Housewares, Appliances
As you prepare your guest rooms, living spaces and kitchen for the holidays assess what items you haven’t used in a bit, or no longer fit your lifestyle. That mixer or InstantPot that’s been collecting dust? Someone else would gladly take them.
If you have gently used furniture, housewares and appliances that are in good condition, organizations such as Goodwill accept donations. Local churches and civic organizations are always looking for items to use in their spring sales. You’ll feel good knowing that these items often go to people in need.
If you’re planning to undergo some home renovations or even redecorating, your appliances and furniture could help make someone else’s home complete.
Books are often the most difficult thing for people to part with, but there are plenty of ways to make sure each book gets its very own new chapter—after all, if you’re never going to read it again, wouldn’t you rather someone else enjoy it? Here are a few places to consider donating your books:
• Local library
• Local schools (daycares through high school) and universities
• Local hospitals and nursing homes
• Community centers
• Homeless shelters
• Retirement homes
• Operation Paperback sends paperback books to deployed members of our military
• Local non-profit literacy groups and organizations
Collectibles and Miscellaneous Items
These items can be difficult to let go of. Especially if they were handed down from a family member or they remind you of your childhood. However, if you’re looking to find a good home to an old instrument, a coin collection or an old train set, chances are, there is an organization or individual who would love to have it. Often, finding the right home comes down to having patience and a little creativity. Here are some tips for helping you find the right home for your most obscure items:
1. Spread the word. Let friends, family, and your “social network” circles know what you are trying to donate.
2. Search the internet. This should give you a few leads, and from there, you can make a few phone calls to find the right person.
3. Call local experts. If, for example, you’re looking to donate an old violin, call your local violin repair or rental shop. They might just have the contact you’re looking for.
Screen the organizations you donate to!
Charity Navigator is a wonderful tool to help evaluate large national charities.