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A Handy Guide to Hosting Guests During the Holidays

by The Hat Team

It’s that time of year again.  A time for friends and family to come together to celebrate the holidays.  Many of you will be hosting guests in your homes over the next two months and while you are surely delighted to spend time with your loved ones, it can be a stressful time as well.  If you are opening your doors to family members or friends this holiday season, here are some ideas for prepping your home so that you’ll be ready to welcome them with open arms.

Tidy up the house.  Use this as motivation to thoroughly clean your house.  Get rid of clutter, make small house repairs and complete that decorating project you’ve been putting off.

Stock up on food and drinks. Make sure you have different types of beverages and snacks that your guests enjoy. It’s nice for them to be able to easily grab a quick snack whenever they want. Check with your guests to see if they have any food allergies or dietary needs so that you can provide safe and healthy choices for them.

Have activities planned for your guests. Depending on how long they are staying, you may want to plan some special events or activities for your guests.  Whether it’s a shopping excursion, a day at a museum, a holiday concert or just a nice dinner out, your visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness in keeping them entertained. Click here for a list of fun events happening in the Montgomery area this holiday season: Holiday Events

Be mindful of the little ones. If your guests include children, be sure to plan for them as well.  If you don’t have children, you may want to pick up a game or some arts and crafts to have around for them.  Find out their food preferences prior to their arrival so that you are prepared to accommodate them at meals. 

Provide comfortable sleeping spaces. Be sure to have nice, clean sheets, pillows and extra blankets.  If you have a guest bedroom that has not been used in a while, strip the bed and wash the bed linens so that they are fresh for your guests. 15 Tips for Turning Your Guest Bedroom into a Retreat

Provide toiletries.  The guest bathroom should have soap/body wash, shampoo, conditioner and lotion available for guests. 

Give instructions for electronics. If the guest room has a television, leave written instructions for how to use the remote.

By following these tips and prepping your home ahead of time, you will be able to offer a warm welcome to your guests and enjoy the time you have with them!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: frugalandthriving.com.au

How to Declutter in a Snap!

by The Hat Team

A cluttered house can be overwhelming.  You might be frozen in fear of decluttering because you just don’t even know where to start.  When you’ve worked all week and you finally have some free time, the last thing you want to do is clean up the house. But trust me, once you declutter, you will be able to enjoy your free time more in an organized and tidy home.

Decluttering doesn’t have to be a massive, time-consuming project.  There are small projects you can do in 30 minutes or less.  Pick one or two projects a week and in no time clutter will be a thing of the past!

- Edit one bookcase - If you have collected a lot of books over the years and you have them spread throughout the house, sorting through them all at once may not be practical.  So, start with something more doable - one bookcase.  Have an empty box or shopping bag handy and fill it with books you no longer want or need.  When you’re done, immediately put the box/bag of books in your car and plan to drop them off to donate.  Here are questions to ask yourself while doing this:

  • Have you read the book?  If not, be honest with yourself - do you think you are likely to ever read it?
  • Did you enjoy the book?  If it isn’t a favorite, pass it on.
  • Will you reread it, refer to it or lend it out?  Nope?  Let it go.

- Clear the kitchen counter - The poor kitchen counter.  It’s a dumping ground for all sorts of stuff: school notices, hair ties, shopping bags, receipts, etc.  Don’t worry! You can  Get Rid of Kitchen Counter Clutter! You just have to start somewhere.  Recycle unneeded papers and put away items that belong elsewhere.  If you need a drop-spot on the counter (because face it…you’re probably going to put more stuff there tomorrow), make it a clearly defined zone to prevent clutter sprawl in the future.  A cute bowl for pocket change or a decorative tray or basket for mail will look nice and keep things neat and orderly.

- Make space under the kitchen sink - If you haven’t looked under your kitchen sink in a while, you might be surprised to discover that it has become a storehouse for random cleaning products, plastic bags and miscellaneous tools.  Pull it ALL out!  Give the cabinet a good cleaning.  Then only replace the items that you actually use, that are full and in good condition.  Recycle empty containers, and move items that belong somewhere else to their appropriate spots.

- Create a calm oasis on your bedside table - How can you rest peacefully when a cluttered nightstand is the last thing you see before closing your eyes to go to sleep?  And chances are you start your day feeling discombobulated because the disorganized mess is also the first thing you see in the morning.  Clear away the toppling pile of books, scribbled notes and old water glasses.  Wipe off the dust - it’s time for a fresh start.  Replace only your current reading, a journal and pen and perhaps a meaningful photo in a frame or small vase of flowers.

- Go through your wardrobe one drawer at a time - Trying to tackle your whole wardrobe at one time will feel like a staggering task.  Instead, set a timer for 30 minutes and start with a single drawer.  Keep working your way through your clothes one drawer at a time until the timer goes off.  Eliminate items you know you won’t wear anymore.  If they are in good condition, pack them up to donate. 

- Simplify the linen closet -  If your linen closet is a jumble of towels and sheets that you’ve been accumulating for years, it’s time to purge some of the old ones.  Take 30 minutes to sort out your household linens, pulling your least favorite (or most frayed) sets to have picked up by a local charity. Find charity organizations who pick up donations here: Donation Town

- Clear your desktop - It’s next to impossible to concentrate when you’re trying to work at a desk with a mountain of “stuff” on it.  Set a timer for 30 minutes and have a desk clutter-blasting session.  Sort and file important papers, shred and recycle unneeded documents, test the pens in you pen cup (hint: throw out the ones that don’t work), and clear out the drawers.  Work tasks will be much more pleasant with a neat and tidy desk

If you are decluttering to prepare for listing your home for sale, let experienced Realtor Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you in understanding how to stage your house to sell!  Call them at 334-834-1500 today!

Photo Credit: organizedmom.net

Preparing to Sell Your House: Getting Organized

by The Hat Team

If you are planning to put your house on the market, there is no time like the present to start getting organized for the process of staging, showing and moving out of your home.

Begin now by following the tips listed below and you won’t feel so overwhelmed when it’s time for that first open house!

  • Eliminate Piles before you sell.  Some of us suffer from "flat surface syndrome" .  If there is a flat surface, it’s covered with “stuff”.  Now is the time to eliminate any of the “stuff” cluttering the horizontal surfaces in your home. Things such as mail, magazines and other odds and ends that are piled on the tops of tables, desks and shelves should be removed. 
  • Clear out storage areas.  If your closets, bookcases, pantry, and other storage areas are overstuffed, this is a red flag for potential buyers that screams, “not enough storage!”.  Keeping a minimum number of items in your house will leave the impression that there is a generous amount of storage in your home.
  • Get rid of excess. Eliminate or pack up items that you won’t need before you move.  For example, only keep enough dishes, towels, sheets, toys etc. that you will use during the time your house is for sale. Why have ten sets of sheets in your linen closet when you will only need one or two?
  • Remove seasonal items.  Pack away things that are only used during other seasons.  If you are selling in the fall/winter, pack away your spring/summer clothes.  You can also pack away off-season holiday items. 
  • Throw things away. If it’s worn out, broken, rusty, stained, torn or incomplete, it is time to let it go.  If your belongings look shabby and old, your house will look that way too.  Don’t hesitate to throw such items away.
  • Donate items you no longer want or need.  When you are cleaning and sorting items, if you come across things that you don’t use now and won’t use in a new home, donate them.  There is no point in packing and moving something you will never use.  But if it’s in good shape, someone else will get use out of it.
  • Sell before you sell. If you find that you have many items to eliminate from your home, think about selling what you don’t store, throw away or donate.  You can sell at a yard sale, bring items to a consignment shop, or list items online.  But have reasonable expectations regarding how much money you can make; don’t overprice.  Remember the goal is to dispose of as many things as possible.
  • Rent a storage unit.  Move large items/equipment that you don’t use often to a storage unit.  It can also provide space for packed boxes to give you a head start in preparing for your move.
  • Improve curb appeal.  Remove any clutter (toys, lawn ornaments, garbage bins) from your yard.  The outdoor spaces provide the first and last impression for potential buyers and as such, it is important that they look neat and tidy.

Moving can be stressful, so don’t wait to start preparing.  Get a head start before putting your house on the market!

http://www.homesforsaleinmontgomeryalabama.com/Blog/Choosing-a-Self-Storage-Unit-What-You-Should-Know

http://www.homesforsaleinmontgomeryalabama.com/Blog/Items-to-Throw-Out-Before-You-Move

http://www.homesforsaleinmontgomeryalabama.com/Blog/Organizing-Your-Home-Made-Simple

Items to Throw Out Before You Move

by The Hat Team

Moving from an old house into a new house can be an exciting. It can also be a very stressful time for those folks who don’t like to throw anything out.  Don’t worry.  You can keep most of your items, but there are a few that should most definitely be thrown out before you move and those are listed for you below.   
 

  1. 1. If you have a lot of old towels and rags lying around your house, whether you use them or not, you might want to get rid of those before you move  into another home.  These types of things can carry bacteria on them.  And you don’t want to start out in your new place with dirty items when you can purchase new ones once you arrive.   
     

  1. 2. Make-up is good to have but it does have a shelf life.  Once that has passed, it isn’t really good to keep it around.  Avoid the compulsion to throw all of your old makeup into a box and take it with you.  Although you use it once or twice, there really is no need for it because it won’t look as nice as a new pallet of makeup.   
     

  1. 3. Soaps, deodorants, nail polish,  and sunscreen may be things you use on a regular basis but you really don’t need to take up space in your moving boxes for these types of items.  These things don’t cost a lot of money and can easily be purchased anywhere.  
     

  1. 4. Once you start packing and you find a ton of USB cables, realize that you don’t need them all and get rid of a few of them.   You may have a friend in need of a USB cable that you can bless with one or two.   
     

  1. 5. Don’t pack paperwork unless it is absolutely necessary.  Of course you will have to keep important contracts and tax information, but most of the paperwork you’ve collected over the years is likely now obsolete and can be thrown out before you head out.   
     

  1. 6. Last but not least, go ahead and let go of all of the clothes you can no longer fit into.  Donating these types of items can many times be a big blessing to others.   

  2.  

These are just a few ideas of things you might want to get rid of before you move.  By doing this you will avoid having to unpack all sorts of unnecessary items and will save yourself a ton of time in the process.   

 

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Spring Maintenance Check List for Your Home

by The Hat Team

Spring cleaning has likely already become underway in your household.  What you may not have given much thought however is spring maintenance for your home.   There are several things that folks generally check around their homes before the winter months but there are also a few things you need to check in the early spring months.  Below is a spring maintenance check list for your home.   
 

  1.  Springtime means it is time to start mowing your lawn again.  If your lawn mower has been outside all winter due to lack of storage space you may need to do a bit of maintenance on it before you get it going.  Sharpening the blade is always a good idea before a new season so that you get a nice clean cut on the grass.  It’s also a good idea to check the oil on your lawn mower before beginning to use it for the warm season.   

  1. Spring is a great time to check your house for worn paint areas such as your shutters.  If you find worn or chipped paint on your house what better time to fix that than in the typically perfect weather of spring.   

  1. Be sure to check your crawl space vents for any debris that may have accumulated there over the winter months.  Also you want to keep your eye out for any animals such as snakes or rodents that may have made their home in your crawl space over the last few months.  Get rid of anything that doesn’t belong and repair anything that may be broken such as the vent covers.   

  1. Get your flower beds and any garden areas ready for spring by cleaning out any debris that may have accumulated and trimming back any old growth.  It is also a good time to add mulch to your flower beds and fertilizer to your garden.  
     

The above list of spring maintenance ideas is just a start in the right direction.  There is certainly much more that you need to do in and around your house before the summer time approaches.  Once you get started with these, you will likely find and think of more things that need to be done.   

 

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Organizing Your Home Made Simple

by The Hat Team

It is almost time for the seasons to change once again as we move from winter slowly into spring.  As the seasons change many people find that they like to get things around their home organized to make the transition seem smoother.  Organizing your home can be made simple with a few of the following tips. 

  1. One way to organize your home is to get rid of “junk drawers” throughout the house. Many times folks tend to throw things they don’t know what to do with into a drawer that soon becomes a drawer full of junk. While these drawers DO keep the junk out of the eye of those that come to visit, you just never know when someone may open one of them looking for utensils or other useful items and you may be embarrassed by them.  Simple fix…..throw out the junk once and for all and have no more junk drawers in your home!
  2. Another great and simple way to organize your home   is to organize and de-clutter your pantry.  Typically there are items in your pantry that you haven’t used in years and they end up just sitting there taking up space.  This is very true for old canned food items that tend to have a shelf life of forever.   Once you get this simple organizing of your pantry complete, be sure not to let it get messy again by throwing away things you don’t use periodically. 
  3. Yet another simple way to organize your home  is to use all of your closet space for things you will actually use instead of just getting things out of the way.   If you have a lot of games for example why not make a game closet just for the purpose of storing all of your family games.  This type of closet will make it more likely that your family may have a game night once a week because you will know exactly where to go to find the games. 
  4. Keeping all of the books in the house in one spot is another great organization tip.  If you have various bookshelves in your home, you can utilize them for other purposes and keep one for only books.  Organize each shelf for books from each family member if you have a lot of books.  

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

Tips for De-cluttering Your Bathroom

by The Hat Team

De-cluttering any room in your house can sometimes feel like a huge job to take on but for some reason de-cluttering the bathroom can seem to take on a whole life of its own.    Truth is there are many items in our bathrooms that we no longer use.   Take an hour or so to go through your bathroom with this list of tips for de-cluttering.

  1.  The first tip to de-cluttering your bathroom   is to do what was just mentioned, take the time to go through your entire bathroom looking for items you no longer use.  If you haven’t used an item in the past week you should consider either getting rid of the item or at least finding a spot for it that will help to cut down on clutter in the bathroom.
  2. Another tip for de-cluttering your bathroom is to throw out old toothbrushes.  Some folks may not know this but you are supposed to change out your toothbrush once every three months to keep it from forming bacteria.   If you want to keep your old toothbrushes you could do so and perhaps use them as cleaning tools in other areas of the house.  You might find that they are good for such things as cleaning in between tiles and other small areas that you can’t otherwise reach.
  3. Take a look in your bathroom medicine cabinet when de-cluttering your bathroom.  If you find medications that have expired, go ahead and toss them in the garbage right away. 
  4. Another tip for de-cluttering your bathroom  is to toss out any old makeup or nail polish you may have stored away in a drawer.  Old makeup and nail polish will not work like it is suppose to so there is no use to keep it around. 
  5. If you have a lot of half empty shampoo and/ or conditioner bottles laying around your bathroom you can use what is left in them to refill your soft soap container.  Throw out all the old bottles once you have used their contents to help de-clutter your bathroom in a great way. 
  6. If you have a lot of hotel soaps, shampoos etc, why not toss them into your gym bag and use them there to help make your bathroom less cluttered. 

De-cluttering your bathroom is quite simple really; you just have to take the time to do it.  Once you do, I am sure you will like the clean fresh feeling you have as a result.  

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

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