I bought a really nice wire basket at Staples. It's the kind normally used for "in" baskets. It's bright red and sits on a short filing cabinet near my desk. The basket serves one purpose: it holds things I need to take care of. Seems simple, but it works.
Whenever a student has something he wants to give me--something from home such as a note from Mom or a signed form for a PTA function--they know to place it in the Red Basket. If I don't have a place for students to place these items, I end up reinforcing the fact that they should bring all of these items to me personally. And if I do make myself the clearing house for all of these bits and pieces of our day, then I can't allow myself to get frustrated when one of my students interrupts my guided reading group to give me a note from Mommy saying that they were at Gramma's house last night for a birthday party and couldn't do the homework.
I know me: I'd get somewhat perturbed if a student tried to hand me that note while I was with a small group.
Having the Red Basket available for students just makes life easier. Either they remember to place things there on their own or I can offer a gentle reminder when they try to hand me something. "Red Basket, please."
Within one month of using the Red Basket, I have students showing me notes from home and asking, "Should I put this in the Red Basket?" That kind of student-directed behavior is the Teflon coating in my classroom frying pan.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Postscript: They no longer make red wire baskets. You will find nice black ones and silver ones and gold ones. The important thing is that what you're using is not normal school issue. You don't want a tote tray or the cardboard lid from a case of ditto paper. The wire basket stands out clearly.