Kitchen or dining room tables can easily become a catch-all for everyone’s belongings. Mail, school books, car keys, pens, pencils, and other miscellaneous items can quickly appear, and at dinnertime, end up in a large pile of clutter somewhere else in your household.
To curtail this habit, try organizing a central area for everyone’s belongings right inside the door to your house. Install hooks on the wall so that purses, coats and backpacks can easily be hung upon entry. A bench or short shelf can be placed directly underneath the hanging area for clearly labeled catch-all bins for each member of the family. This will also help during the course of the day when picking up around the house. Items found around the house can be placed in these bins, and each family member should get into the habit of making sure items are emptied from the bins and properly put away each evening.
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If your kitchen table doubles as an arts and crafts studio or location for your kids to do their homework, make sure that there are bins, shelves and containers nearby that neatly organize school, office and arts supplies, and keep them within easy reach. Help establish good habits in your children by ensuring they are held responsible for putting these things away as soon as they are done using them. Make sure snacks are kept on plates and drinks are kept on coasters to ease cleanup time.
A nicely decorated table spread is also an ingenious way to keep the table from becoming cluttered. Spread a nice tablecloth and place a large centerpiece on it, or even set four or six formal place settings on a dining room table that is not used for meals each evening. Your family will be less likely to lay things on these tables since they can see there are already things there. You’ll also be ready for company at the last moment this way.