Autumn officially begins this Thursday which means today is a great day to organize a few summer leftovers. Ready for my 5 mini ideas that will take just a few minutes each? 1. Have a party in a box A party in a box idea uses one of my favorite rules is: store like with like. Designate a single box or container as the party box- the single place to store party items. Label the box and toss in all items you use when you entertain. If you have an excessive quantity of paper goods like plates and napkins may I suggest you use them up! If you don’t believe me just try it for yourself, occasion specific plates WILL hold your food on any other day of the year. So, bring them out and set the table with all sorts of festive paper goods. Unless you use mini paper umbrellas for fruity cocktails every day, no sense having them in your kitchen drawer. Other items like birthday candles, extra wine glasses and even party decorations like streamers can be stored inside your party box. 2. Store the margarita machine Summertime comes with lots of items we won’t use during the winter, like a margarita machine. When left out in the kitchen these items take up valuable space, space that can be used for holiday platters or other seasonal items. Box up and label the margarita machine, ice cream maker, s’mores toaster and all the other season specific items. Unless you are making margarita flavored ice cream then by all means leave these small appliances out and invite me over! 3. Keep BBQ tongs closed Am I the only one who has wasted hours of my life trying to close cooking tongs that popped open in the utensil kitchen drawer? Simply slip the tongs into the cardboard tube from the center of a roll of paper towels and no more slipping your hand in a drawer that won’t open. 4. Re-consider the flip-flops Those two-dollar flip flops you bought on a whim. The ones you wore all summer. The ones that need the sole glued back together. The ones that are missing a tow post. The ones that are peeling, warped, melted and otherwise worse for the wear? Please let them go. You can pick up a new pair next year. These need to be put out of their misery as soon as possible. They served you well, let’s all move on. 5. Clean the cooler Nothing is as icky as opening your cooler months from now only to realize you didn’t fully dry it before closing it up last summer. Or worse, you left something inside. Clean the cooler. And while you are at it freeze the ice packs so they are ready for your next trip. Bonus tip: De-junk the car trunk This is the week to give your car a good cleaning: take it to the car wash, do it yourself or hire the teenager next door. Get out all the remnants of summer like sand and food wrappers. Clear out the trunk, take out and store what you won’t need for the winter like the folding chairs and the beach umbrella. And if you have an extra shower curtain, liner or plastic table cloth (check your party in a box) use it to line the car trunk. If you potted mums tip over on the way home from the garden store simple shake off the soil. Muddy shoes? Spilled groceries? No problem, clean-up is a breeze.