Nancy: Save just one of five photos of the same scene. A box made by Creative Memories in St. Cloud ($35) “stores 2,400 photos, is portable, has 12 removable sections and fits under your bed. Not that I’m advocating stuffing a lot of stuff under the bed.”
Jane: Clip or clothespin your favorite photos to a hanging section of 8mm film from your old family movies (which you have, of course, archived on DVDs). A tape measure works, too.
Nancy: Purge everything from your cabinets and put it in another room. Bring it back as you use it. In a month, you’ll know what you use regularly. Give away rarely used stuff or keep it — but not in your kitchen.
Jane: Suspend any metal grid — a baby bed spring, a piece of fence, a metal basket — from the ceiling and add “S” hooks for a hanging pot rack.
Nancy: “By some bizarre force of nature, check boxes are exactly the same length as ballpoint pens and highlighters, and they’re free!” Use them to compartmentalize all the loose stuff.
Jane: Recycle dead pens and pencils with no erasers. Glue them around a tin can to hold pens and pencils that actually work.
Nancy: Glue a cup to a saucer, flip it over, and glue a dinner plate on top for an instant cake stand.
Jane: Cover a plate with chalkboard paint and stand it on a mini-easel for a message board. Put three plates on a tiered stand to hold desk supplies. Or “send leftovers home on 'real’ plates that don’t need to be returned!”
Nancy: Store in clear plastic totes that are all the same size. They stack better so there’s no danger of tipping, and you’ll be able to see what you have. Make sure you have extra totes for all the items you inevitably acquire.
Jane: Use what you have. A three- or four-drawer dresser can hold as much gift wrap, tags, cards and ornaments as do two large plastic totes. And a vintage egg carrier accommodates a lot of ornaments.
Nancy: Store two sets of sheets for each bed in the closet. Save a few sets of older sheets for protecting plants, tents for the kids, etc. But don’t store them in the linen closet.
Jane: Sew two towels together and add a handle for a beach bag. Two sheets sewn together on three sides will cover an artificial Christmas tree so you can store it assembled and upright.
Nancy: Provide two storage containers for a bills-in/bills-out system.
Jane: Ditto. Metal lunch pails and cigar boxes work well. A dish drainer holds mail. A bread box with a flip-top door will hide desk supplies and papers.
Nancy: Shred to use in place of tissue to cushion gifts.
Jane: Old sheet music works well, too.