Storing Your Gift Wrap 

Get yourself a long narrow box that can fit under any bed, or can be stored upright in a closet. Promise yourself you will only keep what will fit in it. IF you do a lot of gift wrapping, you might consider getting two-one for Christmas and one for birthdays, baby showers, etc.

1) Store gift bags in two sets: Holiday and non-holiday: Put all the smaller bags inside the larger bag, and fold them flat.

 2) Store smaller boxes inside a larger boxes. 3) Keep smaller items in zip lock bags like bows, ribbons, tags 4) Include a few pens, a few rolls of tape, and some scissors. 5) Stock some white and colored tissue.

Note: If you can't close the box, you have too much stuff.  Happy wrapping!

Keeping a Handle on Paper Clutter

For those of you drowning in paper clutter, there is good news: Most of your paper clutter is pure junk! Plain old junk mail, dog show magazines you still get from the previous owners, and coupons you will never use- though I KNOW you look through all of them just in case. 
If you don't believe me, go look for the ones you cut out last time. I bet they have all expired. I know because I do the same thing!

Most of your mail probably isn't even worth opening it at all. Haven't you figured out that anything with a return address in Wilmington, Delaware is a credit card application?

First off, sort through the mail right after you take the mail in. No more than two piles-toss and keep. Immediately dump the junk mail into the recycle bin. Look through the grocery circular and make note of anything on sale. Then toss it. You have just reduced the size of the pile by half.

Second, sort the remaining mail into two more piles- immediate things (bills, time sensitive material) and "other". Open all the envelopes and immediately recycle them and and any non essential pages. 

Bills or important docs should go to your "to do this week" spot. (I have a clipboard in the kitchen.) The remaining stuff should be coupons or things to file. Put all coupons in a coupon wallet:

Put anything that needs to be filed in some type of paper holding container to be filed when it gets full. Something like this:

Pile gone. 

Organizing Spices

If your spice drawer look like this chances are you aren't having a lot of fun cooking.

 Spice Drawer Before

Here are my tips for this common household problem:

1) Always be able to see the label. If you can't, you won't easily be able to find what you are looking for. 

2) Consolidate consolidate. Keep larger containers of the spices you use all the time, and smaller ones of the ones used less frequently. Spices do expire and get rancid, so you are better off with smaller quantities of the ones you don't use very often. Chances are you have three containers of peppercorns. Put them all in a larger screw-top jar and recycle the smaller containers.

3) Buy similar sized containers. You don't have to have a custom spice system. We reuse old salsa jars and buy certain things in bulk, like peppercorns and fennel seeds. Then you can store them according to their size. I love having a spice drawer, but if you don't cook much or don't have a spice drawer a narrow cabinet or section of the pantry can work too. 

Spice Drawer After

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