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To do: Your holiday organizing checklist

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Holiday parties can be a blessing and a curse -- sometimes the prep can get overwhelming. Get started now by tackling this pre-party to-do list. Getting your infrastructure organized before all the activity begins will ease party prep later, and you might even start off the New Year organized, too.

1. Organize your pantry. Whether you're hosting a party or having family stay for a few days, it's easy to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Make cooking easier for all with a spic-and-span pantry. Clean out all those random boxes and cans, and organize items by type to make them easy to find.

2. Clean out the linen closet. Make sure you have a neat and tidy space for guests to access towels, extra sheets and other necessary supplies. If you don't have a dedicated linen closet, clear out a space in a small closet or bathroom cabinet where overnighters can grab an extra pillow or towel without having to knock on your bedroom door.

3. Get your fireplace ready. For those lucky enough to have a fireplace, you'll want to make sure it's in tip-top condition for winter nights. Clean out your glass or louvers, and make sure a professional services your wood or gas fireplace before you get a roaring blaze going.

4. Declutter your junk drawer. Despite your efforts to keep your junk drawer hidden, the drawer's often prominent placement (near your front door or in the kitchen) means guests are likely to happen upon it at some point. Save yourself a little embarrassment and keep necessities at hand by getting your favorite junk drawer into shape.

5. Tidy up kids' spaces. Even though it might not stay clean for long, it's worthwhile to make the effort and get your children's play space under control before the holidays. Using organization techniques that'll encourage kids to put things away may help the space stay tidy -- at least until the end of the day.

6. Clean out your coat closet. It's time to get rid of those wire hangers and piles of snow gear to clear the way for visitors' outerwear. Don't forget to clean the space, too -- dust, sweep and give everything a good wipe down.

7. Organize the bathroom. Getting your guest bathroom ready for the holidays means more than doing just a quick wipe down. Make sure it's clean and organized so visitors can find what they need without having to dig through piles of old lotion bottles.

Use the holidays as an excuse to get your bathroom exactly how you want it -- toss out old beauty items, wipe down drawers and shelves and put hand towels and other necessities where they're easy to get to.

8. Double-check safety precautions. Keep first aid kits fully stocked, check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and make sure your home is ready for rough weather. Guests will stay comfortable, and you'll have peace of mind.

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Houzz is the leading online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish - online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals around the world. Vanessa Brunner is a contributor to Houzz.

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