Yours, Mine, Ours

Pro organizer Monica Ricci gives six simple tips for blending two households.

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Professional organizer and Mission: Organization guest Monica Ricci offers web-exclusive tips.

How exciting, to be getting married! How joyous the occasion! How much extra "stuff" you'll now have!

Gone are the days when a girl had a hope chest where she saved the things she'd eventually need for marriage. These days, people are getting married later in life, which means they often come into the marriage with a full house. Suddenly, you're the proud owner of two of everything and not sure what to do.

Here are six simple tips to help make blending your lives easier and help others in the process:


  1. Go through each house together, and identify which items are duplicates. Talk about each item honestly. This is the time to decide whose wine rack you'll keep, whose kitchen table you'll keep and so on. If you can legitimately use two of something in your new life, such as televisions or stereos, go ahead and keep both.

    Try not to be too attached to something simply because it is yours. Realize that the more you streamline now, the easier your move will be. If your kitchen table is circa 1971 and your partner's is only two years old, be realistic about which to keep. The idea is to choose the things that will blend well to best furnish your new place, not to fight to keep everything that is yours.

  2. For things such as silverware and kitchen items, cookware and other small items, do the same evaluation process as for the larger items.

  3. As you decide which things to keep, tag the things you are letting go with brightly colored sticky notes.

  4. If it's not winter where you live, pull your tagged items outside and have a yard or garage sale. Don't be greedy when pricing things. Remember, you want this stuff to sell quickly so you don't have to move it.

  5. Take everything that doesn't sell and donate it to an organization that can use it, such as your church or synagogue, a homeless or day shelter, or the Salvation Army. Presto! You're down to one set of furnishings, and you've donated items you no longer need to people who can use them.

  6. One more thing to consider when combining two households is files. It is not necessary to keep all your files in the same file cabinet, and you don't have to combine your household files if you aren't comfortable doing so. If you choose to keep yours separate, make sure that your filing system is easy to navigate in case your partner needs to retrieve any of your information.

    If you do elect to combine your household files, be sure to keep files of the same type together, in a truly integrated filing system. For example, keep both your auto-insurance information under the same category, instead of filing yours under Car and your partner's under Insurance, for example. Also, do not keep all the paperwork for any given subject in one folder. Divide it into two folders, one labeled with your name and one with your partner's.

So you see, you can successfully blend two households if you take the time to set it up right in the beginning. The key, as with all organizing projects, is proper planning.

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