12/16/2011 03:03 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

How To Be Organized: When Holidays Attack

Flickr Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

Red wine has spilled all over the couch, a glass of eggnog is teetering precariously close to the edge of the coffee table, pine needles are scattered all over the floor and your guests are arriving in half an hour! We've all been there. Sometimes, you just can't catch a break and everything that could go wrong does. But, before you hit the panic button, take a breath and look through our tips for tackling these holiday disasters.


Tinsel is a fun, sparkly holiday decoration, but you inevitably find yourself and your carpet covered with the silvery strands. The easiest way to clean up this mess is with a lint roller because the tacky paper will easily grab the tinsel. If you don't have a lint roller handy, count on this old-school DIY. Just cover a sock with double-stick tape, stick it on your hand and run it across the offending stuff. Don't reach for the vacuum until you're sure most of the tinsel is gone, since errant strands can lead to clogs.


The worst part of spilling eggnog is the smell that sets in if it's not properly cleaned. The best way to prevent this is to clean with a vinegar solution that won't soil the carpet or bleach any clothes. Just mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water. Dab (do not rub) and then rinse with water.

Light Bulbs

If a light bulb breaks, the first step is to determine what type of light bulb you have. If it was an incandescent bulb, just pick up the largest pieces and then vacuum the area. Want to be sure you got every little piece? Then head to the bread box. A slice of bread, dabbed across the floor, will pick up even the finest slivers.

However, if it was a compact fluorescent light, more precaution must be taken because these bulbs contain a small amount of mercury which can be toxic when airborne. First, open a window to ventilate the area. Then, use rubber gloves to pick up the large pieces and drop them in a freezer bag. Use double-stick tape to catch the smaller pieces, and finally dab the area with a damp paper towel. Drop the tape, paper towel and gloves in the freezer bag before throwing away.

Pine Needles

During the holidays, pine needles seem to appear out of nowhere to take over your floor. The best way to clean up them up is to use a rubber broom, especially on the carpet where the rubber will brush against the fabric creating a static charge to trap the pine needles. If you don't have a rubber broom, it's best to stick with a vacuum and then use a lint roller for the last few needles.

Tree Sap

Tree sap may be some of the stickiest stuff on this planet - sometimes even washing your hands doesn't do the trick. But, you can remove it from fabrics by following these tips. Dab the stain with an oil solvent, let it air dry and then rub the stain with normal laundry detergent before washing. For non-washable fabrics, do the same, but rinse the detergent out with water instead of laundering. You can also use mineral spirits to remove pitch (and it's recommended as safe for fabrics by textile restoration experts) but in a pinch, our readers recommend hand sanitizer.


It's no surprise that wax drips, but when it's dripped right down the base of your candlestick and onto the table runner, you might get a shock. Good news is wax is not hard to remove. Let it harden (or rub an ice cube over the area to force it) and then scrape off as much as you can using a knife. Place paper towels over and beneath the stain, and then iron the cloth, heating the wax so it adheres to the towels instead. Laundering normally will remove any left-over residue.

Red Wine

Red wine spills are almost inevitable during the holidays, but luckily we already put together a guide to removing these stains from any surface in your home. Or, watch this...

Removing red wine stains

Is the party over and now you're dealing with the aftermath? Check out this guide from Real Simple on how to quickly get your home back to normal.


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