Holiday Gift Giving – Thinking Outside the Box

Tidy Up put out a brief survey out asking people about Holiday Gift Giving. Forty-four people responded and the results might surprise you.

One hundred percent of respondents give Holiday gifts. About 3/4 of people remember a gift they gave and a gift they received last year.
When asked to pick one gift that they would want to receive (picking the answer that best fits) between:

An item like clothes/accessories/electronics
An adventure/activity like a ski day or a movie or just time together
Gift Card
Something disposable like flowers/alcohol/food
Honestly nothing

Over-whelmingly, the most popular answer was an adventure/activity (68%), followed by an item like clothes/accessories/electronics (11%), then something disposable (9%), gift card (7%), and nothing (5%). NOT ONE person anwered money, but we have to note that 2/3 of respondents were adults in the 45-54 age bracket.

About 60 percent of respondents stress out when shopping for the holidays (we thought it would be even higher). Three-quarters of respondents keep a gift they don’t care for out of obligation, which is really just good manners. But, sadly, 86% feel like they have too much stuff in their lives.
When asked to name the best gift they ever received the responses were all over the board: jewelry, time with my family, a puppy, Ugg slippers, a trip, homemade flowers.

So what does this all mean? Perhaps using some imagination and coming up with an adventure, class, trip, or activity might be the most-appreciated gift! One couple I know thought about what the other loves and he bought her a class where you learn how to be a clown and she got him a membership in a magicians group and tickets to some magic shows. Love this! There is always skydiving (maybe together!), tickets to a concert, a plane ticket for spring break, or even movie tickets or a day of ice skating.

Best gift I ever got was when my husband and kids EACH wrote about 70 reasons why they love me or are thankful for me and put the slips of paper in a jar. I took one out most mornings until they were gone and taped them in a blank notebook. So meaningful and no clutter! A few people borrowed this idea and the recipients LOVED it. It’s not late to do this for the holidays!


My sister and I make a calendar with photos of the grandkids (even though three of them are now in college). Low cost but loved by the grandparents.

One idea that took some work but was fun was to find an old photo of the kids, find similar clothes on-line and recreate the picture! Frame both photos (new and old) in one frame!


We aren’t trying to be a scrooge! Give gifts to the ones you love but think outside the box. Don’t clutter up someone’s house, especially someone in a smaller house or apartment, just so they have something to open. Spend more time (instead of more money) with your loved ones. Happy Holidays to you all from Tidy Up!

A Professional Organizer’s Kid’s Room

As a professional organizer, I am often asked about the state of my own home.  Is it perfectly organized?  The answer is definitely NO!  Although a good part of my home is clutter-free, I also have my share of junk drawers, out-dated clothes, and unused Tupperware, etc., etc.  I also have four kids – one elementary-school age, one tween, and two teens.  That amounts to a lot of stuff for a lot of people.
And when it comes to their bedrooms I have one piece of advice – pick your battles!  Their rooms are never going to look like a Pottery Barn Kids catalog – I would be scared if it did!  They all have their “stuff” that they want in there, and as it isn’t trash or food-related, I am OK with that!
My youngest daughter, in particular, likes stuffed animals.  Lots and lots (and lots) of stuffed animals!  At one time, they all lived in a very large clear bin in her bedroom closet with a few favorites on her bed.  Now, they have escaped their closet prison and her room resembles a very small, crowded petting zoo.
They are on the beanbag chair, in bins, on tables, and on the bed.  Not my ideal scenario but not a battle I want to fight.  She is a good kid who willingly cleans out her desk and under-bed area periodically.  And in a couple of years, our whole house will probably be free of these furry toys.  Maybe I am going easy on her because she is my youngest, but I am fine with that!
These are photos of her room, posted with her permission.  Not how I would keep my room but it isn’t my room, it is hers!  And right now, it looks great to me!

The Ten Minute Rule

Walking into the house with little ones can be stressful. Everyone seems to need something at the same time and you have things that you need to do. The solution: the ten minute rule. Whenever I entered the house I would politely announce, “Ten Minute Rule!” My kids knew what that meant – don’t ask me for anything for ten minutes. This ten minutes gave me a chance to do the following:

Put my keys away on my key hook (maybe you have a bowl or a ledge) so they could be easily found later


Put my pocketbook away

Empty the dirty clothes out of my gym bag

Go through the mail – recycling unwanted mail, and filing my “to read” mail in my hanging file holder




Put any leftover dirty dishes into the dishwasher

Put away any items that I purchased from CVS, Target, etc.

Jot down any notes on my To-Do list

The kids were expected to put away their lunch boxes, emptying any leftovers. They could also get themselves a snack and a drink of water if they couldn’t wait.  Sometimes I set the timer to remind myself (and them) when it was over.




It sounds simple but it let me get the house tidy and it put me at ease and ready to help the kids with their homework. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

Solutions for Toy Storage!

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

I have worked with so many Moms over the years, organizing their toys, books, and clothes. I love it when I come across a new idea to solve an old problem. Here are some out-of-the-box solutions to consider.


Stuffed Animals


Stuffed animals can be a challenge. We have all seen the hanging, mesh holders and the hammock. But I really liked this DIY idea because the kids can grab just one animal without dumping the whole lot. They can see the animals and, most importantly, put them back! It reminds me of zoo!

This was made from a $15 bookcase, some bungee cords with the ends cut off and hooks removed, and a drill. Impressive!


Barbie Dolls


Consider using a clear shoe holder to store Barbies. It keeps them within reach and off the floor. And it looks great!


Craft Supplies


Use food storage containers to corral craft supplies. These are clear so your little ones can see what is inside. And it will make putting away these supplies a snap!


Bath Toys


A fruit basket can become a toy caddie in the bathroom. The toys will dry out and stay in one place. Inexpensive and useful!


Small Toys


Toys with small pieces can live in tool chest. One drawer for each type of toy. It gives your space a cool, industrial look!

Try one of these solutions and see how it works for you!



Five Tips to Maintaining Your Organized House

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

You did it! Your spring cleaning was a success! Everything has a home and your rooms are tidy and neat! But then, a few weeks later, the clutter-monster has returned! I am constantly asked – how do I maintain an organized room?


Here are a few tips:

Make it easier to put day-to-day items away.

But how? Store things where you use them. If you are constantly using band-aids in the kitchen, store them there instead of in the bathroom. Don’t stuff your containers until they are overflowing. This leaves no room for new items. Try to leave some room at the top. This may require more storage containers than you thought you needed.

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Let it go! Let it go!

 Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or



Spring cleaning your house can be rewarding but challenging. For some, deciding what to toss, what to keep, and what to donate can seem daunting. This stops some people in their tracks, causing them to give up their organizing project completely. After pulling all items out of the area that you are organizing and sorting them by kind (legos with the legos, cars with the cars, etc.), now is the time to make some decisions.

Although there is no one strategy that will work for all people, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide when it is okay to let it go!

Consider these questions and decide which one(s) resonate with you. Ask yourself only the question or two that will move you into action:


Have I used this item in the past year?

If no, and it is not an heirloom, you should toss or donate it.

Continue reading “Let it go! Let it go!”

Conceal or Reveal – Find Your Organizing Style

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or


As you try to conquer your clutter, it may help to think about your organizing style as a concealer – someone who likes items out-of-sight – or a revealer – someone who likes to keep their items in view. Finding your preference will help you decide where to keep items and what kind of storage containers and systems you should use.

How do I find my style?

Ask yourself these yes or no questions:

  1. If I put something away do I forget where I put it or I forget that I have to take action on it?
  2. Do I find that out-of-sight means out-of mind?
  3. Do I gravitate toward clear bins so that I can see what is inside them?
  4. Can I live with seeing toys, files, mail, etc., out in the open?
  5. Do I prefer to use labels so that I can tell exactly where each item belongs?

Continue reading “Conceal or Reveal – Find Your Organizing Style”

Organizing Mistakes – What not to do when conquering your clutter!

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

Sometimes we have good intentions – let’s get rid of some clutter this weekend! But then Sunday night rolls around and all you have are new piles of stuff and a few things thrown away. Here are some mistakes that people make when trying to declutter their homes (and how to avoid them).

Zig-zag – The biggest mistake that people make when organizing is what is called zig-zagging.  You are planning on an organizing session in the kitchen, you find a book there, you go into the office to put it away, you find a toy there so you go to the playroom to put that away, then you start putting away toys and you never make it back to the kitchen.  When organizing, keep an “upstairs” bag and an “office” bag, for example, near the door and put those items away after you are done in the kitchen.



Getting Distracted – Another common mistake is not making a commitment to focus on the organization without distractions – no kids, no phone calls, no emails, for a set amount of time. Set a timer if needed and keep working until the timer goes off!



Continue reading “Organizing Mistakes – What not to do when conquering your clutter!”

DIY Organizing Projects

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or



We all love a good DIY project and if it helps keep our lives organized, even better.  Here are a few ideas. I have to admit, I have only tried the ribbon box (I made this one years ago for my mom).  Let me know if you try them!  Would love to hear some success stories!

Ribbon Box

I first made seven holes in one long side of the box with a utility knife. I then made one hole on each of the short ends of the box at the same height. I covered the bottom of the inside of the box with fabric, using fabric glue.

Then I covered the entire box and lid with fabric, wrapping it like a present and using more fabric glue to hold it in place.


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Habits From College That Can Help You Stay Organized Today!


 Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

College dorm rooms are typically small with multiple occupants sharing one space. Although you may not want to return to those living conditions any time soon, some habits that you had back then could help you stay clutter-free today. Here are five ideas to keep in mind:

1.  Shower caddies – If bathroom space is limited, give each family member a portable shower caddy for carrying toiletries to and from their bedroom. They are light and inexpensive!


Continue reading “Habits From College That Can Help You Stay Organized Today!”