Whether you’re getting into the spirit of things by throwing a swanky cocktail party for 50 or you just need a place to put that mountain of gifts you’ll soon be receiving, no doubt you’ll need to get rid of some clutter in the coming weeks. These practical tips and effective products can help you get ahead before the festivities begin.
IN THE LIVING ROOM
Goal: Turn your family’s hangout into a junk-free spot with plenty of places for decorations and gifts, not to mention plates of hors d’oeuvres.
Create clearly defined zones
Place DVDs, video games, remote controls and other easily scattered items in decorative bins; sort magazines and gather the keepers into a basket or tray. Try this idea: Drape additional magazines and newspapers over the rungs of a wooden ladder leaned against a wall. The display echoes those in some coffee shops and invites guests to browse.
Pare down collections
Now’s the time to clear shelves of videos, board games, toys and books that you no longer want. Once you’ve purged, follow the “one in, one out” rule, eliminating an older item to make room for a fresh one.
Give each family member a color-coded tote to keep in a nearby closet. When you have only a few minutes to pick up, stach everyone's things in the appropriate bag. On Christmas morning, use the totes to hold all the opened loot.
Conceal the mess
If your living room includes an office or a play area, consider hiding it with a folding screen. You can briefly dump random odds and ends behind it when guests drop by unannounced.
Make peace with the piles of kicked-off shoes by setting a tray in a corner or near a door, for frequently worn pairs. The catch? When the tray fills up, the overflow must move to a closet.
Make it mobile
Bring in a slim rolling bath cart for extra storage. Load up the shelves with drinks, glasses, snacks, coasters and cocktail napkins, and nudge the cart around as needed.
Dedicate attractive bins—one each—for trash and recycling so you can quickly tidy up snack wrappers, used tissues, old catalogs and any empty cans and bottles lying around.