A Special Place for Gifts

Gift season is upon us. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, weddings for sure are on our radar. There are always birthdays, baby showers, and hostess gifts to buy. We know well in advance that we need to have gifts for these events.

We might be out shopping and see the perfect gift for our sister’s birthday or for a special nephew’s upcoming graduation. The event may be months away. Where do we stash the gift until the right time?

A tendency is to stick the gift in a closet or under a bed just because that spot is available. It’s not unusual during a decluttering session to find gifts that were meant to be given years ago.

It is a good idea to designate one special spot for all gifts (well, maybe two if you have young children and need to really hide their gifts).

When planning your special spot, consider:

  • What size gifts do you usually buy? – books, clothes, jewelry – or sets of cookware, large games, musical instruments?
  • How secure does your space need to be? – will family members peek? can items be easily stolen?
  • How easy does the space have to be for you to access it? – do you visit this place frequently?

I use a couple of drawers in a dresser in a guest bedroom. When I see something that I really like, I usually have some special person in mind. I purchase the gift, put a sticky note on it with the person’s name, and stash it in the drawer. This is especially helpful during holiday times when I can get a bit crazy about buying gifts. Every time I open that drawer, I can see what I already have (really, three nice items for a sister who is easy to buy for and one book for my brother? Sigh!).

Other places I have seen used for storage of gifts are a designated spot in the basement, a closet, the attic, and in under the bed bins.

Do whatever works for you.  Just be consistent.  Happy shopping!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Your Attic or Basement Storage Areas

The attic or basement is the perfect zone to work on in November. It’s not too hot or too cold and very likely your seasonal decorations are stored in this zone.

While you are up in the attic (or down in the basement), look around before you start. Make a list of all the categories you store in this zone. You might store:

  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans/heaters
  • Extra furniture and household accessories
  • Off season clothing
  • Suitcases
  • Archival papers
  • Sports Equipment
  • Toys to pass on to grandchildren.

Group all related items together and then designate zones for each category. Items that you do not plan to use in the next year or so should be stored the farthest from the entry. This might include the extra furniture, toys, and archival papers.

Leave space between each zone so that you can safely maneuver and get to items.

Label containers. It helps to locate holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations, but still label the container with primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or crèche you want early in the season.

While sorting, if you come across broken or unloved items that have been languishing in this area for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel so much lighter when this is accomplished and next year, when this zone rolls around again, it will be a much easier task.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Attic or Basement Zone

If you work on a zone plan in cleaning and decluttering your home, this month is the perfect month to work in your attic or basement. It is not too hot or too cold and you are probably already in that area looking for seasonal decorations.

So while you are up there (or down there), look around. Besides the seasonal decorations, what else do you store in this area?

Make a list of all the categories you have in the storage space.

You might store:

  • out of season clothes
  • suitcases
  • archival papers
  • seasonal house items like fans/heaters
  • sports equipment
  • toys to pass on to grandchildren
  • extra furniture and household accessories

Group all related items and then designate zones for that category. Items that you will not use in the next year should be stored the farthest from the entry. This might include the extra furniture, archival papers, or toys.

Label containers. It helps to locate the holiday items if you use colored or themed boxes to store your decorations, but still label the boxes with the primary items. If you containers are well labeled, you will not have to dig through every box to find that advent wreath or crèche that you want early in the season.

While sorting, if you come across broken or unloved items that have been languishing in this area for years, get rid of them now. You will feel so much lighter when this is accomplished and next year, when this zone rolls around again, it will not be nearly so difficult.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Taming the Closet Clutter

If you want an organized closet, you have to tame the clutter that seems to accumulate over the year.

First decide how you plan to use your closet. Is it only for your clothing or do you also use it as storage? Do you store all of your clothes in this closet or do some of your clothes (like off season or special use) go into another closet? Do you store some of your clothes in dressers?

Now, pull out everything and separate into four piles: keep, toss, donate, and goes somewhere else.

Next, sort the clothing that is to go back into the closet. How you make your sort is up to you but some options are: long sleeve tops, short sleeve tops, pants, jeans, jackets, skirts, dresses. You might prefer to sort your clothes by outfits or usage (work, work out, casual, dressy). This same sort goes for shoes and accessories that are stored in the closet. The sort is helpful for a couple of reasons. First, it shows you how much you have of each category (and maybe helps you add some of those 15 pair of jeans to the donate pile). It also makes it easier to retrieve your clothes and put together outfits.

Hang up what goes on hangers. It is a good plan to hang up all of your hangers backwards at this point and then the first time you wear the item, hang it correctly. This way, at the end of the season, you can see what has been worn.

If you have shelves in your closet, use boxes that fill up the shelves. Designate each box for the type of clothing: workout clothes, short sleeve T-shirts, long sleeve T-shirts, etc. Label the boxes. Use open boxes for items that you use frequently. The boxes keep like items corralled and leave no space on the shelves for clutter to accumulate.

Keep loose items off the closet floor. Use that space for your laundry basket or shoe corral.

If shoes are stored on shelves, use plastic, clear shoe boxes. They are smaller than the cardboard boxes that shoes come in and the plastic boxes will stack neatly.

The top shelf of your closet can be used to store suitcases or large, light items that you don’t often use. It might be helpful to store a small, folding step stool in your closet.

Once everything is in order, label the shelves to help you keep your closet in order.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

“Isn’t that coffee pot still under warranty?” or Why Organize Warranties and Manuals

In the past I have always kept my manuals and warranties in a plastic bin. If I needed anything, I just shuffled through until I found it. The important step for me was that annually I would look through the paperwork and discard anything that I had replaced or trashed. If I gave away a space heater to a friend, I could find the manual.

Now that I am putting my house on the market, I am rethinking my system for a couple of reasons.

  1. I want to separate all paperwork that will stay with the house.
  2. I want to clean up extraneous paperwork on my personal items

First, I sorted my entire product related paperwork putting like with like and stacked it into categories, such as appliances, computer/office, tools, cameras.

Next, I did a cleanup. I tossed out anything on items I had gotten rid of this year, any expired warranties, instructions in French, or any other information I no longer needed. I kept the model, serial, and other important numbers on the front of the instruction manual. I kept the receipts stapled to the paperwork so that I can keep track of when/where I bought the item and how much it cost.

Then I stored the paperwork into two labeled containers – one for the house and one that will stay with me. I did make some exceptions. I kept all car warranty information in my car folder in my desk. I kept the answering machine manual under the machine as I make changes to it fairly often. I left the furnace manual on the furnace as the people who do maintenance work refer to it.  I also have some directions on how to make adjustments to my alarm system near the keypad.

I am counting on this saving me time and reducing stress in the upcoming move. If something does go amiss on an appliance, I should have all the necessary paperwork to put it right.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Off the Floor and Out the Door

You’ve had enough of all the clutter lying around. You decide to take action – either by yourself, with a friend, or with a professional organizer.

You start the sorting process. This box I keep. This box I donate. This box is for items that I plan to give to specific people. This I trash. This I will try to sell. You are on a roll. But time gets away from you and you need to stop for a while. You know that you still have a lot to do. So, you just stack up those sorted boxes and get on with life.

Much, much later, you start in again – and then later you start yet again. Meanwhile, those sorted, labeled boxes are stacking up.


You don’t have to finish the whole job before getting those boxes out of your space.

Go through the keep box. Ask yourself where you would use these items. Take the items to that space even if it messes that space up a bit.

Put the donate boxes into your car and in the next day or two take them to your donation site. If you have time, inventory them for a receipt. If you have not had time for 2 years to inventory the items – just take them anyway.

Take the items from the box for specific people. As yourself when you will see those people next. Make a note to take the item to them at that time. If it will be more than several months, you might mail the item. Remaining items put in your gift holding area until the proper time.

Trash – well, you probably did do that one.

Go through the sell boxes. Decide now – are you going to consign them, take them to an antique shop or flea market, or get someone to put them on Craig’s list or EBay for you? Make those contacts and see what will sell. If after a couple of years of saving up stuff thinking you will eventually have an estate sale, ask yourself how much will you really make? Is it worth having your house look like a storage unit for the last few years?

Get everything you have sorted out of your living space. Then, repeat the process when you have the time. You can do this decluttering project in bites. Reward yourself after every round! Enjoy your open space.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Gift Storage Organization

Many of us buy gifts throughout the year and hold them until the appropriate time. This can be a time and money saving tactic – or not.

If you have a designated place to stash your gifts and if you don’t buy years of gifts in advance, this can save you having to run out at the last minute to buy “something” and pay full price and maybe even a shipping cost. It is an especially helpful tactic if you label the item with the name of the person you intend to receive the gift. This will keep you from buying 15 items for one person.

If you buy every time you see something “cute” and bring it home and stash it “somewhere” still in the bag with the receipt because you might want to exchange it, you can end up spending extra time and money.

I have found potential gifts under beds, in closets, in the basement or garage, in closets, and in bags near the front door – and this was just in one house. The client would buy something. Then she would bring it home and put it in a random spot. Then she would repeat the this process. She would forget where items were or even what she had bought. When asked who an item was for, she was often vague. When it was time to give a gift she was not sure what she had and would go out and buy something new. Now this situation is extreme. Most people fall somewhere between the “always put the intended gifts in one area” and the “just stick it anywhere” syndrome.

I find that many parents like to stash gifts in a closet in their bedroom. This area is supposedly off limits to their children. However, this can start to make the closet feel crowded and unorganized. If using the closet , put the items towards the back of the closet, not just inside the door. Put the items in labeled containers – maybe not clear if little eyes are around. You could also use two locations. One location might be for generic gifts like baby gifts, children’s gifts for parties, or hostess gifts. Another area might be designated for those special gifts that are hidden away until the big day.

Make it a habit to always shop for gifts from you home before heading out to the store. By always looking in your cache of goodies first, you will save time and money.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Project Bins

It seems I am always working on multiple projects. Currently I am working on three presentations, updating my web page, and updating my social media. I also continuously snag ideas for future blogs, future workshops, future newsletters, and future presentations. My business plan is also an ongoing project.

I also belong to several organizations where I am actively working on projects.

A couple of years ago, after continual frustration with the stacks of paper that were sitting around on and beside my desk due to these multiple active projects, I came across the idea of project bins.

I currently have two project bins. One bin is for projects concerning my business, Time Space Organization. The other bin is for any committee work. When I was writing my book, From Vision to Victory, I had a third project bin dedicated just to the writing process.

Each project is in a labeled folder or notebook. When I am working on that project, I grab my bin and pull out what I need. When my project time is finished, I slide everything back into that folder or notebook and drop it back into the bin. The bins sit behind closed doors in the cabinet that faces my desk. I do not have to look at the project material except when I have it out for work. I find that this keeps my mind clear for whatever I am working on currently. These bins have greatly reduced my stress because the projects are not always in my face yelling at me.

This month I am organizing in my office zone and I will review these bins. I will get rid of any material that is no longer relevant and just generally tidy up the folders. I am very pleased with this simple way of organizing all of my projects and keeping them hidden away until I need them.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Your Storage Area – the Zone Plan

OK, it’s time to get back into the attic, basement, garage area, or wherever you store your seasonal decorations.

While you’re there – look around. What else is stored in this area? Since you’re here, now is a good time to evaluate what is lurking in the corners (or what you are tripping over right at the entrance). It is such a temptation when putting items into storage to just dump them wherever there is some space. This leads to difficulty maneuvering in the area and actually finding that special box when you want it.

Make a list of all the categories you have in this storage space. Are you keeping out of season clothes, archival papers, furniture and household accessories, seasonal house items like fans/heaters/humidifiers, toys to pass on to grandchildren, as well as all of your holiday decorations?

Group all related items that you find. Put like with like and designate a space for each category. Put up signs to clarify the zones. Put the categories that you rarely want – like old furniture – the farthest from the point of entry. Put them most frequently used zones nearest the entrance.

Label boxes if it is not clear what is in them. Moving forward, it helps if you use holiday colored or themed boxes to store your decorations. Mark the boxes with the primary items. If your boxes are well labeled, you will not have to dig through every box to find that advent wreath or creche that you want early in the season.

If you run across broken or unloved items that have been languishing in this area for years – get rid of them now.

If you work on this zone once a year, it will never become a nightmare.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Valentine Day Clutter

Valentine Day rolls around every February. Cards and gifts are exchanged. Depending where you are in your life, this can be just a few items or a ton.

If you have small children, they will be making you gifts and cards. They also will be receiving many cards and Valentine items from school or interest groups.

A special someone in your life may give you a card and/or a gift.


Now, let’s look at someone 60+ years of age. What if you kept every card, every remembrance, every dried flower? That could be very overwhelming.

Then what do you do with all of these handmade or carefully chosen cards and gifts?

This is a very personal decision but I am pretty sure you don’t want them lying around all over your house.

  1. Box up the best and label them. Then put them away on a shelf and if you wish, once a year, take them out to look at and remember.
  2. Take a picture of a group of cards or items and then let them go.
  3. Make a collage of the best cards and bring it out for decoration each Valentine Day.
  4. Save the best – the ones with meaningful messages written inside or a special poem – and let the rest go. Put the significant items in a special box.
  5. Pass on old cards to schools or nursing homes so that they can re-purpose them into projects.

If this seems like an overwhelming task, break down the project into manageable bits of time and then move on to something else. Get help from someone who will help you talk through why you want to keep certain items and give you permission to let items go. After all, when you toss out a card that your mother gave you 20 years ago, you are not tossing out your mom.

Letting go of some of the memorabilia will clear up space for more happy memories to come your way.

Happy Valentine Day!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer