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Tips: Getting Your Home Organized For Holiday Gatherings

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The clock is ticking to get your home ready for visitors over the holidays. And if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this week, you may have spent some time over the weekend clearing out cluttered areas and cleaning up.

Now the next step is getting your rooms organized so that you’re able to make the most of the space you have, and improve traffic flow when it gets crowded.

A professional organizer gave us some tips Monday to help get Amelia and Frank’s house ready for their guests.

Everyone wants to do a great job when they host a party or family get-together, and that involves more than just the food and drinks you serve. It involves making your home easy to move around in.

If you are a host, the benefit of being organized is that you get to spend more quality time with your guests. For the guests, it means they are able to be more relaxed.

Here are some tips from professional organizer Louise Kurzeka, owner of Everything’s Together in St. Louis Park.

Mud Room/Entry Areas

1. Do a basic declutter of the whole space, placing items that don’t belong in the area in labeled bins/boxes for each family member to redistribute in their rooms. (This is a good monthly or at least seasonal maintenance strategy to keep the entry area in check all year long.)

2. To free up needed space for guest coats, move transition weather lightweight coats to family members’ bedroom closets till spring.

3. If kids will be part of the guest entourage, move all those outgrown or extra hats, mittens, snowpants and boots into a bag or bin so visitors can play outdoors, too.

Living and Family Rooms

1. Rethink the room’s furniture placement. Move pieces to open up the floor plan so additional dining or folding chairs can boost casual seating options and still foster conversation.

2. Use small portable tables to create snack and beverage stations so guests can easily navigate.

3. Have a quick clean up kit at the ready (small bucket with club soda, cleaning cloths and rug/upholstery cleaner) in any room where food and drink will be served. Store under a draped table or in a nearby closet.

Kitchen

1. Set up an event tub to hold all the non-perishable items to be used for the next entertaining event. For instance, with Thanksgiving, use it to hold grocery items, napkins, decorations, activity kits, recipes for the day and even serving pieces that are usually stored in hard to get to spaces. Everything can stay in the tub till it’s needed, avoiding the challenge of finding all these items amongst everyday storage.

2. Clean out the fridge, ridding the space of out of date condiments, never used sauce/seasoning packets and leftovers long forgotten. Take time to adjust shelves if possible to better hold larger containers or food items.

Avoid storing beverages for the gathering here since constant opening of the refrigerator will lower the temperature. Instead place in a mini-fridge and/or cooler close by. Usually an attached garage in Nov/Dec will keep surplus drinks plenty chilled and ready to bring in periodically.

3. To manage the after meal mess, clear out a lower cabinet in the kitchen ahead of time.

“Instead of taking up your prep space, you can pop them all in here waiting to get in the dishwasher until the next opportunity or run comes, or even after your guests leave,” Kurzeka said.

Line the shelves with plastic liner and place dish pans at the ready to hold used glassware, plates and pans that are waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher.

Additional Prep Tips

1. Check all mechanicals, appliances and plumbing now to avoid a mishap on your big day. The only thing worse than a clogged kitchen sink drain on Thanksgiving is a bathroom out of order!

2. To prevent last minutes trouble, switch out bulbs in “essential” light fixtures with new ones.

3. Run a check ahead of time for food storage and to go containers that will be needed to manage the leftovers. Take this opportunity to eliminate lids or containers missing mates.

4. Clean the coffee maker to remove any bitter buildup from daily use.

5. Since kitchen horizontal space is usually in short supply during a gathering, set up a couple tray tables to act as staging surfaces for serving and removing food from the dining areas.

“You want to host because you want to be with those people. And if you are stuck running around doing things, you are not really being a good host if you are not interacting with your guests,” Kurzeka said.

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