Fresh Start with a Big Fall


The change in weather, the leaves dropping, school back in session…there’s something to the fall season that feels like a fresh start. Here are three areas of the home that can reap the benefits of that sense of new beginnings while we dig out Halloween costumes and still have weeks before the holiday crunch.

  1. Decorations:

Pulling out that light-up plastic jack-o-lantern and dusting off that cornucopia presents the perfect time to take a good hard look at holiday décor and determine what still has a joyful vibe and what has lost its sparkle.

With the decorations sorted by holiday, think back to the last time they were used. If not last year, why not? It could be that the collection is too big for the space, which happens with downsizing or over-shopping, or items just aren’t loved (scary witch a little too scary, Charlie Brown Christmas tree a little too slight, strung macaroni barely hanging on). Separate the ones that spread holiday cheer from those that spread holiday fear.

For the keepers, clean them then contain them in a way that makes them easy to find, reach, and return. Pass on color-themed totes (orange and black, red and green), unless you are super into that sort of thing. Instead invest in clear, lidded totes, preferably with handles and of the same size so they can easily stack. Mark them with peel-off labels (painter’s tape and a Sharpie can do the trick). If you have a dedicated roomy storage area, position the decorations in calendar order so you always know how far back/over to look to find them. Make use of vertical space for the funky-shaped items…hanging with nails, hooks, looped rope, and bungee cords works wonders to keep wreaths, baskets, and lawn ornaments from taking up valuable floor space and lights and garland from getting mangled and tangled.

  1. Costumes:

Whether you’re 6 or 96, there is a good chance there is something in your wardrobe you held on to because it “could be worn as a costume someday”. That is true, since anything can be worn as a costume. There’s the lazy yet reliable sheet-over-the-head for a ghost. My cousin put a twig in her hair and called herself a tree. A friend wore my National Association of Professional Organizer’s nametag and covered it with a sticker that read, “Hello, I’m a Good Hombre”.

No one is arguing that there is not a potential costume application in the things lying around the house. But your home is not Scary Bill’s Halloween Superstore. Unless you are Scary Bill. If you’re like most, your home has a limited amount of space to store items that may be worn once a year, if that. In weeding out the collection, consider how many costumes you/your family wears a year, how many times in a lifetime you/your family members will wear that costume, and if you like that costume. And let’s not forget to check if it still fits. The decades-old New Smyrna Beach High School cheerleading outfit I intended to wear to a costume party last year to my surprise, but no one else’s, DID NOT.

If you can’t stand to part with those sparkly red shoes in anticipation of the one Halloween when you finally get the whole family to dress as the cast of Wizard of Oz, you can (1) clean them (wash, polish); (2) remove them from the area of the working wardrobe to a separate storage place; then (3) contain them as appropriate for where stored and mark the container “Costumes”. The pieces that don’t make the cut you can toss into a donation bag and feel great that someone else may put them to good use, maybe even in a regular rotation. Like the grown woman I see at Starbucks each week wearing a tutu as if she’s Misty Copeland or Betsy Johnson.

  1. Wardrobe:

We start to dress differently in fall months even if the temperature is still screaming “summer”. We know cozy sweaters and boots make us look chic, who cares that we’re still running the AC – it’s time already!

We can use some of that excitement for sweater weather, whether here or not, to invigorate our enthusiasm for our full cold weather wardrobe.

  • Examine the condition of closed-toe shoes and boots. Get the ones needing TLC polished up and, if the heels are worn down, get them re-soled or put them in the donation bag with those Mardi Gras beads and Hawaiian lei held on to for but never used for a costume or holiday décor.
  • Try on those sweaters. How do they make you feel: comfy and stylish, or comfy and frumpy? Did moths have their way with them this past year? Keep those that make you feel great and get any snags or holes addressed, let the others go so they don’t smother the winners in the stack.
  • Try on those “holiday party” dresses and shirts. Do they still feel super festive? Are they just the right thing to wear for photos and to leave a great impression on family, friends, and co-workers you only see socially at the annual holiday get-together? Or, with the passing of time, has your “holiday best” become your “holiday costume”?
  • Inspect jeans, cords, and slacks. Are they loose or tight in all the right places? Are they cut in a way that still feels “current”? Are they on-trend distressed or more-or-less a mess? Dump those that are dumpy.
  • Let go of any gloves that lost their match or magically shrunk, let go of any hats that itch the head or unflatteringly frame the face, let go of scarves that never looked good with your skin tone or tied nicely, let go of jackets that require too much cost to repair holes in pockets, broken zippers, tears in lining, or have simply had their day fashion- and fit-wise. There are drives for winter clothes, but you don’t have to wait for them. Look up charities that collected them in the past and drop them off so they can have value beyond waiting patiently in your closet to be worn “one day”.

Reviewing our bounty of decorations, costumes, and go-to clothes to crop those not giving us good reason to keep through the season is a terrific way to embrace the changes of fall. We’ll harvest additional space and enjoy increased ease with which we find things. Those are things to be thankful for.