When the calendar struck November 1, you might have reacted like any normal American and rushed to set up your holiday decorations. Whether you respectfully set up your turkeys and pilgrims every year or head straight for the twinkly lights and snowmen, you probably realized as you dug through box after box of decorations that your garage is an utter mess.
If you park your car in the driveway or if you don’t have a car at all, it is easy to stash stuff in your garage and forget about it. However, come holiday season, it’s hard to overlook the chaos of your garage. It’s not too late to tackle the task of cleaning and organizing your garage. Here are three ways you can wrangle the junk before the holiday festivities begin.
Ditch the Junk
It’s time for an age-old cleaning game: keep, toss, or give away. After allocating a sunny Saturday or Sunday to garage clean-up, you should start picking through your stacks of stuff and arranging them on your driveway into one of three piles, depending on quality, necessity, sentimentality, and other factors. In one pile, you can aggregate the items you will definitely keep; these might include your go-to holiday décor, yard equipment, and frequently used recreational gear, like bikes and golf clubs.
Ideally, the other two piles will vastly outweigh the “keep” pile because these are the items you are going to ditch. Your “toss” pile should consist of items that are broken, unusably outdated, or otherwise impossible to give away. For example, you likely have no business holding onto old issues of newspapers or magazines, and no one else needs them either – especially when your local library saves all of them digitally in case there is an old article you want to read. Clothing that has holes or stains, electronics with frayed wires or obsolete tech, and any canned goods past their expiration dates should go straight into the trash or recycling bin.
Meanwhile, items in good condition but that no longer see use can find a new home. Charities accept all kinds of donations, from baby clothes and toys to old and broken-down vehicles like cars and boats, so it is worthwhile to research a few charities to know what kind of items you can give away and what each organization will take. Even better, most charitable donations are tax-deductible, which means by cleaning up your garage and doing good for your community, you’ll get a fatter refund come April.
Arrange the Junk
Whether you chose to sort through your garage-mess first or not, you definitely need a new organization system out there. Depending on what you have to store, you might make find any or all of the following tips exceedingly useful:
- Use pegboard to hang up tools or often-used gear. You can create labels to ensure your pegboard doesn’t become disorganized and confusing.
- Use rolling shelves to allow more compact storage that is easily moved aside when you look for specific items. You should label each shelf and make a map of the garage, so you won’t get lost when you start searching, especially anything you use infrequently.
- Use ceiling racks to stash long, flat items – like skis or lumber – overhead to protect them from pests.
- Use a variety of solutions including large and small spaces, vertical and horizontal spaces, and closed and open spaces to accommodate the breadth of items you need to store.
Use the Junk
It’s hard not to love a good craft, and the following crafty projects transform typical garage clutter into gorgeous holiday decorations:
Holiday Gift Baskets
Any item that can hold stuff inside, such as an empty paint can, a leaky bucket, or even an upturned lampshade, can find new life as a holiday basket. Using holiday-themed fabric or paper, you can wrap up your baskets-to-be and stuff them with goodies like cinnamon-scented candles, eggnog, mulled wine, and more.
Old plastic or glass bottles can easily be morphed into a collection of decorative snowmen, -women, and -children that will look cute keeping watch over your front door. After spraying the bottles white, you should cover them with Snow-tex – a miraculous wintertime craft tool – and embellish them with items like felt hats, stick arms, and button eyes.
With a little imagination and a lot of twine, nearly anything can become an ornament. Aluminum cookie cutters are particularly charming, especially when they are used to frame holiday pictures, like a baby’s first season. However, nearly anything in your garage can find a space on your tree, including old lightbulbs (painted to look like penguins), scrap metal (belt or folded into holiday shapes), or salt and pepper shakers (filled with small festive candies).