Article originally published in House Beautiful
1. Clear out the kitchen cupboards
Re-stock all your staples – flour, sugar, condiments and tinned goods – but as you do so clear out all the items you know you aren’t going to use until next Christmas. The New Year is not the time to be hoarding half-opened jars of cranberry sauce or mincemeat so use it up now or lose it.
2. Store like with like – and never lose a thing
Tackle the challenge of finding a home for presents and special Christmas items by operating one simple rule: store ‘like with like’. Keep all decorations in one place – attic, garage, loft – labelled for ease next year. Organise children’s rooms so similar toys and games are stored together, likewise scarves, jewellery, socks and underwear.
3. Don’t double up – it creates clutter
Vow to check your stocks of toiletries, cleaning materials and other household staples before you go shopping this year. Too many of the same item creates chaos in your cupboards, and will also cost you money. Keep a memo pad in the kitchen or utility room to make a list of what you really need to replace.
4. Keep shoes and boots under control
A shoe rack is a great idea, however, a wooden crate, pop-up storage bench or tub by the front door or in the hallway might work better if you have small children who ‘forget’ to put their shoes, boots and trainers in order when they come home. Top tip – allow only two sets of footwear downstairs at a time per person: encourage the family to take everything else to their own rooms daily.
5. Put your post in one place
Don’t allow letters, bills and circulars to accumulate on the kitchen table and worktops. Assign one place for all post and treat this as a ‘holding area’ (this letter holder from Garden Trading is ideal). Set aside some time twice-weekly to go through the pile, dealing immediately with urgent matters, and filing away the rest.
6. Find a user-friendly way to file
If paperwork terrifies you, don’t make it too complicated this year. Simply take a pack of card document wallets and mark each one with categories, for example – ‘gas’, ‘electricity’, ‘broadband’, ‘school’. Pop each letter or bill into the relevant file and find an accessible place to keep them all. Better still, opt for paperless billing whenever possible.
7. Get recycling regimented
Make this the year when you really get to grips with recycling. Place bins and bags in a spot where they are easily reached, and if collection facilities are not readily available, set a regular weekly time when you take everything to your local recycling centre.
You can separate your household waste with ease by investing in clearly labelled recycling bags (try this set from Amazon) or a nifty recycling unit (Joseph Joseph stock a good range of waste & recycling bins).
8. Work out what to do with washing
Instead of a laundry bin in the bathroom, invest in a set of drawstring cotton laundry bags (buy from Amazon) to hang on the back of every bedroom door. This avoids dirty clothes piling up on the floor and is also more hygienic, as the bags can be washed too.
9. Make cleaning easy on yourself
It’s easier to clean the bathroom, for instance, if cleaning materials are to hand, so keep a basic brush-up kit in every part of the home: bathroom, kitchen, nursery. This will also save you time and effort and make an ongoing domestic routine much less of an overbearing burden.
10 .Work out a weekly system
Enlist the help of every family member to help your house run smoothly. Hold a family meeting before the children go back to school and agree a range of age-appropriate tasks which can be undertaken at a specific time each week; remind them that the time they help you save around the house can be spent doing fun things together.