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Clearing clutter, getting organized, makes December less stressful

December 5, 2012

» click to enlarge «
Clutter can crowd out decorations and add to holiday stress.

Once the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the tree and halls are decked and the home is ready for Santa up on the rooftop, it can begin to look a lot like Christmas.

Or it can look like an episode of “Hoarders” on A&E.

But local experts have tips to get you in the holiday spirit without feeling buried under mounds of clutter and décor.

“Many times, we have all these keepsakes and memorabilia, and everybody wants to display them in the home. (But) you need to put a limited amount of that memorabilia out and then rotate it, and it gets a fresh look,” said Karen Cynowa, a professional organizer with Time’s Up in Rochester Hills.

She says when it’s time to break out the holiday décor, the year-round items can go into storage.

“Put a lot of that away in a plastic bin because you have so much that comes out with the decorations,” she said. “A lot of times, they just don’t go with the whole ambience that you have.”

Sometimes that means it’s time to get rid of things in order to make room for holiday décor and guests, and to get a fresh start in the new year, she said.

Patrick Lipa, co-owner of College Hunks Hauling Junk in Berkley, said spring and summer are popular times for cleaning out homes, but when fall and winter hit, “people start to be indoors a little bit more, and that’s how things start to accumulate.”

But that’s also the time when being able to park in the garage to get out of the weather becomes a priority.

He said his company hauls away almost everything, and it will also donate and recycle as much of the trash as possible so that customers don’t have to worry that it will all end up in a landfill.

“Over 60 percent of everything we take, we’re either recycling or donating,” he said. “We definitely try to find a home for it.”

Chris Nylen, general manager of Organize-It in Shelby Township, said purging is the first step to getting organized. The second step is to make sure there’s a place for everything.

“That’s where we come in,” he said. “We sell all kinds of storage containers and racks. It gives you a place to put things so they’re easy to find and they’re organized.”

He said drawer organizers, dividers and shelves are some of their most popular products because they keep clutter from taking over.

“We say that anytime you’re able to find things more easily, it de-stresses your life, and the holidays are a stressful time for so many people,” he said. “So it’s just a matter of being able to find things easily and having them organized.”

Nylen said one of the biggest months of the year for the store is January, when New Year’s resolutions to get organized are made. But there’s no reason not to get a jump on things before the season, he said.

“We get really, really busy and sometimes we run short on stock, so if you do it ahead of time, you make sure you get the items that you want,” he added.

Having holiday décor organized — with different containers for wrapping paper, bows and ornaments — can make a difference in the experience of the season, as well.

“You can keep all your wrapping paper in one spot, so you’re not having to look for things, run around the house like a mad person,” Nylen said.

But getting prepared for guests sometimes takes more than just clearing off the countertops, Cynowa said.

If you prefer guests not wear shoes in the home, make sure the front closet is cleared out and stocked with an empty boot tray to catch the slush. She said it’s also a good idea to clear out the family’s coats and put them in another closet, then stock the entryway space with strong wooden hangers for everyone’s coats.

Having overnight guests? Cynowa said it’s important not to wait until the last minute to prepare.

“If you’re organized with the whole process of who’s coming into your space, that’s going to eliminate the last-minute chaos,” she said. “Part of being organized and eliminating the clutter on your mind for company … is to just stop for a minute and think ahead.”

She recommends making a master list of items needed, so you’re already prepared when you hit a store.

“It’s all thinking ahead and just putting your head into it. Making your list ahead of time so that … when you’re already in those stores, you won’t forget you need these things,” Cynowa said.

For more information about Time’s Up in Rochester Hills, visit

For more information about College Hunks Hauling Junk, call (248) 246-1055 or visit

Organize-It is located at 2079 25 Mile Road in Shelby Township. For more information, call (248) 656-3350 or visit


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