photo by Erin
socks

Anyone with more than one child knows that it can be a real headache to organize socks if you let them pile up. I'd love to say that life's too short to pair and fold socks, but I have a large family. If I put off sock duty for any length of time, one entire day would be dedicated to playing the sock version of Concentration.

I could do the bare minimum: Share white socks with my husband and just toss them loose into a drawer, but I'd rather not. While it certainly seems wasted time to fold them, I try my best to keep areas that affect others well organized. Socks seem insignificant, but organizing them is one of those small things that, with minimal effort, I can do to make life more pleasant. Plus, I don't really want to share my socks.

If you've been meaning to tackle your socks, these tips will help you keep up with a system so they don't end up in the "hosezone" layer.

If you have a great tip for socks, let me know.

DOOR ORGANIZER: Free up space in your dresser drawers by using over-the-door pocket shoe organizers for socks. You can fold them if you want to, but you don't have to. Because it's made of clear vinyl, you can see them easily.

BUY A LOT: Have each person in your family wear their own individual kind of sock. This reduces the amount of time playing the sock-matching game. This works well when a sock disappears or gets a hole in it. Simply pair up any two socks.

FRUGAL DIVIDER: Use Velveeta boxes, shoe boxes or egg cartons to organize kids' socks. Have a leftover wooden bottle crate? The bottle dividers are perfect for holding socks, and it is a great trash-to-treasure conversation piece.

FOLD DIFFERENTLY:
If you have family members with socks that are similar, but different sizes, fold them differently. You can lay them flat one on top of the other and fold in half or roll them up from bottom to the top.

REUSE PLASTIC:
Save the plastic rings on milk jugs to help you pair socks before laundering.

USE TOTES: Use small totes for socks, and store them on closet shelves.

BASKETS:
Put a basket in the laundry room for each family member. Place their socks in them and let them match and fold their own.

ORGANIZE SPARES:
Pin odd socks to a corkboard so they're easily accessible to match. You can use a pillowcase or bin for each member in your family for strays, too. Set a deadline for purging odd socks. You can only use so many for cleaning, sock monkeys and crafts. Only you can decide whether three socks is one missing or one extra. Consider helping homeless cats. Visit Operation Happy Socks (www.operationhappysock.com).

MESH LAUNDRY BAGS: Consider washing socks in mesh bags made for delicates so you don't lose any. You can hang them in each bedroom, so socks go into the bag once removed.

SOCK CLIPS: Clip together as you place them into the washer so you don't lose any.

TRY HANES:
Hanes EZ-Sort socks are color-coded for boys and girls and make matching socks a breeze.