It’s officially fall. The clocks have been turned back, and the holidays are just around the corner, so let’s get to organizing. Here are a few tips that will help you leave the stress behind, so you can enjoy the season with family and friends, as it is meant to be.
Time is essential. Make it a goal to only do what makes sense for you. Let’s get started!
- PLAN: Visualize what you would like the end result to look like. Start now choosing menus and writing your lists: food, guests, gifts, etc.
- PREPARE: Once you have a plan, start preparing. Make that photo appointment now for the family holiday card. Which leads me into…
- CHUNK IT OUT: Or break down each task so it’s not overwhelming. Step 1: Research photographers. Step 2: Make an appointment. Step 3: Pick outfits. Step 4: Design the holiday card, and so on.
- SCHEDULE: Whether it is paper or digital, don’t leave it to memory! With so many options, you don’t want to double book. Write it down!
- PRIORITIZE: Remember, it’s okay to say no. Don’t feel you have to attend every event or help every person in need. Oh, and don’t forget about you. Stop and take that exercise class, or go for a walk on the beach. You will thank yourself after.
Now that we understand the time frame, let’s get down to the work. So say goodbye to jack-o-lanterns and hello to pumpkin pie. Let’s get ready for the happiest time of the year!
- OUT OF TOWN GUESTS: Start early to clean and prepare the room ahead of time. Clear a space in the closet, and get some extra travel size toiletries for the room in case they forgot something. Not everyone will be as organized as you! Also, make a point to declutter the common areas where guests will be spending time: living room, dining room, backyard, etc. Don’t forget to attend to the fireplace. A cozy fire with friends and family is the perfect recipe for a relaxing night.
- THE MEAL: Order or buy your turkey well in advance to ensure the size and kind you want. If frozen, make sure you plan for the right amount of defrosting time. Want to use a new recipe? Try it ahead of time. Don’t forget to delegate! Let everyone bring a dish to contribute. Always prepare anything you can the day before. Make sure you have enough reusable/disposable containers for the leftovers. Or even have the guests bring their own. Clear space in the refrigerator/freezer for your leftovers.
- TABLE/SERVING PREPARATION: I like to pull out my serving dishes and platters a few days ahead of time. Determine what dish works best, and tag it with a sticky note. As my mama used to always do, set the table the day before— it makes such a nice presentation for people when they arrive. Use place cards on the table if you would like your guests to sit in a specific spot. If you don’t have your own decorations, check Pinterest for some festive and easy ideas. Create a beverage serving area where everyone can help themselves.
- THE DAY: Unplug from technology and plug into the moment. Enjoy all your effort and cherish the moment with family and friends.
Now your tummy is full, hopefully you had a moment or two to relax –because here we go again!
CHRISTMAS, HANUKKAH, KWANZA.
They all have different meanings to different people. We will be focusing on the areas that tend to bring the most stress: decorations and gifts. Hope these little bites of info help!
- Take time this year to discard any damaged, never used, or never-going-to-use decorations. Start fresh and organized. Make a list and check it twice. Take inventory. Know what you have before you buy anything new.
- Use sturdy bins to store your decorations. There are a few options. Colored bins that match the holiday, clear bins with color coordinated tops to match holiday colors, or plain clear labeled bins.
- Store your decorations by area: If you have several different areas to decorate, store all the decorations for that area in one bin. That way you can do a little at a time. (i.e: all the mantel decorations in one box, tree decorations in another). Be sure to label your boxes, even if they are clear. Holiday decorations can all start to look the same.
- If you have a hard time remembering the set up of a certain area, snap a photo before you take down the decorations and put it in the appropriate box.
We have a tradition in our house. The day after Thanksgiving we stay in our PJs all day and decorate for Christmas. It is a relaxed, festive and one of my favorite days of the year! Don’t like decorating, but you like baking? Swap chores with a friend. “I will do your baking and you do my decorating.” Could be a fun day!
Did you know the average household has over 300,000 items in it? That is a lot of stuff! Try to limit the number of presents. Here are some creative ideas to inspire you.
- Four Presents: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. Or add in, something necessary and something fun. Or instead of stuff, give “things to do!” They usually bring more happiness, better memories and less clutter!
- Memberships: Find a place they love to go. Or make it a family membership that can be enjoyed together.
- Events: Having something to look forward to is always exciting. Play, concert, ball game, etc.
- Classes: What better way to honor what the recipient loves than to give her an extension of her class. Or give her a class to try something new!
- Activities: Include yourself in this one. “A day with auntie at the zoo looking for monkeys!”
- Restaurants: Especially for adults. Get a gift card to a restaurant they have been wanting to try or isn’t in their budget.
- Coupons: Create your own. An envelope filled with love, no cost. “I will do one of your chores, go for a stroll on the beach, enjoy a movie and popcorn night at home.
- Donations: Make a donation to a cause you know they support.
- Volunteer: Make it an outing together giving to others.
But…if you really want to get a gift, here are some ideas that might be useful.
First of all…make a date night and go shopping with your significant other or friend. Dinner first of course!
Write your list on the front of an envelope and use the envelope to hold the receipts.
Handmade gifts give the personal touch. Some of my favorites are a special recipe with the ingredients included. Make something together. Kids love baking. In our house it is homemade peanut brittle, and everyone loves and expects it every year.
A playlist of your favorite music.
Go for REAL: Fishing pole, batting glove, sleeping bag, baking utensils.
Jewelry box with a special piece of jewelry. Maybe an heirloom?
Rain boots: what kid doesn’t love a puddle? Maybe an umbrella to go with it.
Piggy Bank with money inside. Start teaching about saving money at an early age!
For younger children who don’t understand about gift cards/certificates so much, you can add a little something to the present. Zoo animal cookies to go with the zoo membership.
So why not take some of these simple-plan-ahead steps and enjoy the holidays. It’s the best present you can give yourself this season!
Need some visuals of these and more holiday organizing ideas? Head on over to Monkey See Monkey Do Organizing and take a look!