Written by Heather Lambie
Bring order to a bulky mess of multiple jackets by hanging them one on top of the other, organized by how often you wear them. And yes, that means your fab but less-used leather coat should hang beneath your everyday winter parka. You can also put the space below the coats to work by adding shelving or drawers for overflow items.
An over-the-door shoe organizer is ideal for keeping winter accessories in check. Get an organizer with an ample number of pockets, so each family member had four or five spots to stow gloves, hats and scarves. Remaining pockets can hold lip balm, sunglasses, sunscreen and other grab-and-go winter items.
Once you've established this stash system, be vigorous about enforcing it. Label the pouches to make it easier. It takes only a minute to put things in the proper spot. Your reward? No more crazed searches for lost gloves as you race out the door in the morning.
When possible, wet boots and sport shoes should be removed in the garage or at the doorstep to keep soggy footprints at bay. (No one likes indoor puddles.) Rest shoes in a shallow, waterproof box filled with river rocks to catch mud and melting snow. (Check out these simple instructions for making a boot box.) If you have a garage, attach wire racks or baskets low on the wall to hold footwear. Place a small, cushy rug or slippers nearby to make taking off boots a pleasure instead of giving everyone cold feet.
To help tall boots retain their shape, keep rolled-up magazines or empty wine bottles at the ready.
If you have frequent sports practices and games, or venture outdoors often for recreational activities, laminate a checklist of needed gear and zip-tie it to your athletic bag. (Not a bad idea in any season!) Check the list before you leave, and again before you return home, to make sure no skate or pad is left behind.
As the seasons change, take some time to go through last year's gear and purge the items you aren't using.
First to go should be items that don't fit or are in poor repair. There's no need to keep a jacket with a zipper that sticks, even if it was expensive. If that tricky zipper keeps you from wearing it, it's gone. And clear out hats, gloves and mittens you seldom use. Chances are, you'll be so distracted by the new tidiness that you won't miss them.
It would be idyllic if every family member came inside, neatly folded his or her scarves and gloves, and carefully put them away in a sweet-scented, decoupaged drawer. But that's Martha's world. The reality is closer to a method best described as—well, dumping everything into a pile.
There is a middle ground, however. These three easy ideas provide an alternative to messy piles and misplaced mittens, and they're simple enough to actually follow.
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