I want to throw a Mardi Gras fete

Dear Naja,

Maybe you can help. I hope so!

I am a slob. If it weren’t for computers, no one would be able to read anything I write.

Help! I live in New Orleans, the great Crescent City, in the one great State that follows the Napoleanic Code-Louisiana.

I’m not stupid, I am challenged. I want to have a Mardi Gras party. I want to show my friends a good time. I want to have my not-quite-“neighborhood” fortune teller, Naja Elieva, come entertain at my party and knock those Krewe Balls right into the Bayou, so to speak.

Problem is that my place is pretty cluttered. I cook (pretty well, I’m told) in my spare time, and keep my kitchen pristinely organized. It’s just that stuff is piling up everywhere else in my place.

Help me figure out how to do this, please. My friends just roll their eyes and take a swig of coffee.

Guillaume le Juste

Cher Guillaume,

It is just that time of year for everyone. Stuff piles up, we yearn for spring, nest a little, and our diddle dawdles.

Your clutter problem does not sound as bad as you think. The fact that you are organized enough to name your problem, to figure out whom to ask you to help you find a solution, and then asking for help, means that you are much more organized than you think. Some people look organized but aren’t, and some seem not to be organized but are.

I see three possible solutions:

Mardi Gras is almost here. a) see if a friend will let you host at their place in exchange for you catering a meal (or several) for them; b) renting a venue can be very sweet; c) tuck and cover, a technique developed in the Heartland–use every closet, parked car, cabinet, piece of furniture, and cram your clutter into them. Then cover with decorative throws, tablecloths, and little tufted pillows.

A very classic approach to minor clutter was once demonstrated to me–cook ahead of time, serve cold food, and stuff your junk in the oven. Recommended–writing a little ‘Out of Order’ note and taping it to the outside. Baked mail is just not useful.

You might want to seriously consider some clutter-busting techniques for the New Year–set aside 5 minutes, put on some great, rollickin’ music, and find a corner, any corner, in which to begin. Have three containers: Donate, Trash, Keep. Pick up one item at a time, immediately and heartlessly decide which bin it goes into, and do it! Make sure that each container gets taken care of right away when you are done. Dump trash, donate items, and put the rest away.

Get ready to laisser les bons temps roulez. Fais-le, Guillaume! Remember what Naja Elieva always says, “What you don’t know can’t help you.” Or as I say, Mardi Gras without Naja Elieva is like coffee without beignets. See ya in the Quarter!

Yours truly,

Naja