Top 5 Ways to Tell if You’re a Hoarder

We tend to accumulate stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.  As a result, many people start the New Year by throwing stuff away. Unread issues of Reader’s Digest, boxes of Cap’n Crunch that expired in November 2012, bottles of dry shampoo and half-used, dusty, scented candles–they can all go in the trash.

But if you’ve cleared things out and still can’t walk in a direct line to your hall closet, have you considered the possibility that you’re a hoarder? (“Hoarder” is defined as “a person who hoards things.” Thanks, dictionary, for that insightful explanation.)

Here are some signs you might suffer from hoarderism:

You cannot sit on the furniture in your home. Walk into your living room. Can you see your couch? Can visitors sit on it? If it’s covered with newspapers, like your living room has become a birdcage for a free roaming eagle, you could be a hoarder.


(Can you even tell what room this is?)

You have no counter space in the kitchen. When was the last time you used your kitchen counter for cooking? The Clinton era? The Nixon era? If you have stacks of recipes ripped from 1970 Good Housekeeping magazines stashed around your kitchen, you could be a hoarder.

You haven’t seen your dog/cat/toddler/husband for days. Have you looked under the pile of shopping bags you have stacked in the corner? Could they have wandered off into the maze of boxes piled in the family room? If you’re pretty sure you have a dog/cat/toddler or husband, but have had no visible contact with them for quite a while, you could be a hoarder.

You cannot park in your garage. Can you open the garage door without boxes of discarded clothes tumbling down like a fashion avalanche? Do you have several mechanical projects that need new engines, better tires, several layers of rust removed or an entire renovation? If your garage looks like a bad episode of Pawn Stars, you could be a hoarder.

Your backyard looks like a refuge camp. Are there garbage sacks full of unidentifiable objects strewn around your back lawn? Is there a family of rats breeding on the remains of several swing sets? Do people in hazmat gear occasionally walk through your backyard with Geiger counters? If you find a family of immigrants living under a pile of old sleeping bags in what might be your garden, you could be a hoarder.


(Maybe it’s time to clean up the backyard.)

Luckily, tonight is New Year’s Eve, so tomorrow you can jump right on that resolution to rid your house of excess crap. But there are also lots of sales happening tomorrow, so you might take the opportunity to bring more useless stuff into your home. Either way, Happy New Year!

Top 5 Steps to Organizing Your Home

When I’m snowbound (think “The Shining”), I like to clear out my cluttered spaces; because clutter=claustrophobia=really grumpy Peri.


(If he would have de-cluttered instead of going all murder-rage, he would have enjoyed winter a little more.)

January is a great time to clean out the house. You’ve got cool new Christmas presents to find places for, it’s too cold do anything but complain, and there’s no real holiday until Valentine’s Day. Here’s my organizational plan:

#1–Tackle the pantry: Time to throw out all the healthy food you bought LAST January when you started your “healthy eating” phase that lasted 17 days. Toss the expired quinoa, the moldy wheat germ, the chia seeds that have grown tentacles and the Jillian Michaels protein powder you tried once–and then fed to the dog (who also didn’t eat it).

#2–Firebomb the bedroom closets: That skirt that will fit when you lose 15 more pounds? Yeah. Ain’t gonna happen. Ruthlessly purge the too-tight pre-pregnancy jeans, the sweatshirt you spilled ketchup on during your first date in high school, the yellow silk blouse with 3-inch purple polka dots you wore to your mom’s third wedding and the handkerchief top you purchased during your Bohemian phase. Throw everything out and start over.


(“But I wear ALL of these clothes! Every day!”)

#3–Pack up the garage: Are you really going to use that Health Rider? Does your husband really need two golf bags (don’t ask him)? Get rid of the deflated basketballs, broken croquet mallets, unstrung tennis rackets and the rusty bikes you SWEAR you’re going to refurbish and ride this year.

#4–Attack the kids’ bedrooms: If you didn’t do this before Christmas, now’s the time. Once kids are back in school, show no mercy on their broken and/or discarded toys. It might be easiest to throw a grenade under the bed, but if you want to be a little more subtle, toss every headless Barbie, unstuffed animal, broken crayon and all those stupid, stupid Happy Meals toys. Kids don’t notice. If they do, tell them you were robbed.

#5–Venture into your husband’s space: It might be a den, a man cave, an office or just a room under the stairs a la Harry Potter but chances are it’s packed with Pringle’s cans, dust-covered trophies from his 5th grade bowling team, piles of “important documents,” and ticket stubs from every Major League Baseball game he’s ever attended. A little gasoline and a tiny match should do the trick.

Now you can buy all NEW stuff to fill those empty spaces. Hello, pencil skirts!