The holidays are coming—as in, fast—and that means company. While we’re always thinking about organization tips like cleaning off the china or straightening the bookshelves, it’s easy to forget about what a presence tech is in our homes and how it can really make us feel less than organized. So we’ve put together 12 of our favorite smart tech organization tips for the holidays, so your home can look its festive best.
For a long time now, we’ve really liked BlueLounge for making smart, beautifully designed organizational tech products and we’re so happy to welcome them as our newest sponsor. Especially because they’re out with a new line of BlueLounge tech organizational tools at Target, making them more accessible and affordable for everyone.
And hey, as long as we’re in the aisles of Target buying everything in sight anyway (only a small exaggeration) it’s convenient too.
Hope these tips help you get ready for a big turkey feast or just some casual visitors–or at least, as much as that’s possible with sugar-amped kids at your feet.
1. Untangle the Christmas lights while cursing and insisting you’ll do it differently next time.
When you get out the holiday holiday lights, before you put away the box, fill it up with big squares of cardboard from all the boxes being shipped to you this time of year. Because then you’re ready to make some easy DIY Christmas light storage by wrapping strings of lights around sheets of cardboard when you’re done. We find that really thick cardboard helps, or it will bend under the weight of all those lights.
And of course, plug in those light strands and test them before you’ve wrapped them around the tree. We speak from experience.
2. Get your audio setup, set up
One of the warmest ways to welcome your guests is with great sound, whatever your musical tastes may be. You have to have music over the holidays, right? There are so many incredible speaker systems out there in every price range, from a modular audio network like the Sonos (the Play:1 is shown here), to stand-alone speakers like options from Soundfreaq or Jambox.
Holiday entertaining is a great excuse to upgrade and find a permanent home for some great audio components. Just be sure to tuck away all the cords with cable clips to keep things looking sharp.
3. Hide your power strips and cord tangles in plain sight
Since you’re a lot of us use more power outlets than usual over the holidays, you’ll need good power strips. And one of the simplest things you can do to get your house looking less like–well, your house, and more like a design magazine, is to hide those power strips that might be poking out under tables or from behind wall units or right next to that tree.
We have loved the BlueLounge Cable Box (also at top) ever since we discovered it. It’s a fantastic way to hide a mess of cord tangles, or even hide your entire power strip, cords and all. It doesn’t just look nicer; it’s also much safer if you are going to have babies or young visitors scooting around the house.
For smaller strips or just a few plugs that need wrangling, there’s also the really convenient BlueLounge Cable Box Mini at Target. It’s great for hiding say, a USB hub and cell phone charger behind your living room computer or the laptop you keep sitting out; or for stashing away a couple of cables by your home entertainment setup.
4. Get entertainment components mounted and off of surfaces
Entertainment centers can be the most unsightly part of a living room or common area. Mounting your TV, speakers, or hardware like the Sonos PLAYBAR here gets it up off the cabinetry and can really make the area look significantly more organized and attractive.
5. Find your remotes a permanent home
We know it can be frustrating to have to run out of the kitchen, mid-pie-making, to explain to the grandparents (again) which remote goes to what and how they turn on the TV. Keep your remotes together in one stylish storage bin, like these from Fitzcraft.
It can’t hurt to label each remote with a pretty piece of washi tape and a Sharpie, so guests and sitters know which one is for the volume, which is for the power, which is for the cable box. You know what we’re talking about.
6. Purge your media and entertainment stash. You can do it!
We know, it can be tough parting with that Young Ones VCR box set you got in college or your very first DVD purchase. But these days, with so much of us turning to streaming media, go through your media and entertainment and you might be surprised how much you can part with and unclutter your home:
• If you’re mostly watching streaming movies, pack away all your DVDs (or eek, VCR tapes) into a closet or drawer.
• When your family has outgrown those kids’ movies and music, donate them to a local charity, library, or public school.
• Donate outdated video games if you have a console that isn’t backwards compatible.
• If you still have CDs out but don’t listen to them so often, label and store them somewhere else–for now.
If you can’t bear to part with your collection, at least add doors onto open media shelf units. That way, at least you and all your guests can enjoy your beautiful home decor instead of all those Elmo box sets.
Also, be sure to dust! Wow, that area can get nasty.
7. Fine. If you can’t purge, consolidate
Okay, so you (or your partner) can’t bear to part with that impressive collection of DVD and games. Try taking them out of their packaging and consolidate into a series of attractive CD wallet or sleeves. (Just save those cases in a box if you’re planning to resell the games later). You can also still keep them on your shelves, if they’re housed in a cool upcycled disc binder like these we found from StripeyCity.
…or if you can’t consolidate, disguise
Check out our whole list of DVD storage ideas including this favorite of ours–how cool are these faux classic Penguin book covers that disguise games like KILL ALL THE PEOPLE XXXVII into something a little more elegant?
Similarly, smart DIYers have come up with hacks to disguise other essential equipment. Obviously your Wi-Fi router needs to be out in an open space to work properly, so consider this DIY idea from Ana Maria Munoz and hide your router in a hollowed out book cover. If the vintage look isn’t your style, use a modern design. Clever, right?
8. Clip those cords!
If you have cords hanging out from behind your TV, a desk in a public area of your home, or you have phones charging all over the place, clip those cables! The tech community in general is very rah-rah about the BlueLounge Cable Drop which affixes to your desk or wall so you can just pull out the cord you need, when you want it. There are black and white options to coordinate with your decor, whether you want it to stand out or blend in.
Tip: The Cable Drops are also smart to mount behind a media console for an HDMI cord you might switch back and forth between two gaming systems. That’s what we do.
9. Keep a dedicated iPad stand in your kitchen
Don’t forget the kitchen, when you’re organizing your home for company! If you use iPad apps for holiday cooking like so many of us, we’ve found it invaluable to keep an iPad stand on the counter at all times, ideally one with a small footprint so you have room for all those pumpkin pie ingredients.
The BlueLounge Casa tablet organizing stand looks great (love the white stand at Target) and it’s smart too–it’s a regular valet for stashing USB sticks, earbuds, keys or whatever, but then when you need it, the cradle slides out to support your tablet. Pretty sweet deal for under $15.
Also, don’t forget to pick up a protective tablet cover like the Chef Sleeve to keep your iPad safe from spatters and sticky fingers.
It’s also a good trick to set your tablet screensaver to a digital desktop clock like the elegant Work Time HD app, so that when it’s not in use, you have a timer and clock right there. You can even customize the look and colors to match your decor.
10. Set up a guest charging station
Want to be a cool 21st century hostess? Grab a few Rolio chargers by BlueLounge and keep them available just for frantic guests who arrive with 2% battery power on their phones. It’s a smart way to charge gadgets safely–as in not on sitting on the floor against the wall, or balanced precariously on the arm of a couch next to a cocktail.
BlueLounge designed it so that a lightning cable wraps around a spool inside the wall dock, keeping it tidy and out of sight. In fact, it’s a great way to set up your own charging station any time.
11. Display your guest WiFi password nicely
Once your guests have charged up, they’ll surely want to hop on WiFi and Instagram their pics of your awesome party. (Isn’t that how the world works these days?) Make it easy by displaying your password with one of these cool printable WiFi password signs that you can just put out when you entertain so you’re not answering the “what’s your password?” question when you’re trying to get the wine open. Try making one in holiday colors, too.
12. Label any unused cords and get them the heck out of there!
Finally, when you’re done plugging in everything that needs to be plugged in, you want to do a good once-over of your home and gather up all the unused cords adding to the clutter. Then, don’t just cram them in a closet; stock up on inexpensive gadgets like BlueLounge Cable Clips to keep cords wrapped neatly in a drawer or bin for quick access and identification when you need them. You can even add a label or mark with a sharpie if you need to remember what’s what.
Trust us, when suddenly your daughter wants to play with your old point-and-shoot on Thanksgiving, you’ll be glad you know just where to find that battery charging cord.
We’re so glad to have this chance to work with awesome folks at BlueLounge, and we’re thrilled that we can all find a line of their smart, affordable tech organizational tools at Target now. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to get all our cords and cables wrangled before 2015.