Monday, December 22, 2008

Tips for Organized Holiday Clean-Up

I know, we're just in the throws of the holidays, and no one wants to think about cleaning up...but it will all be over before we know it. So I wanted to share some tips for making set-up next year even easier.

Take your time with packing up. It can be tempting to throw everything into the nearest bin or box and toss it in the garage, but careful packing can protect your sentimental decorations and fragile ornaments and make it easier to find what you want next year.
  • Put "like with like" as you pack up. All of the ornaments together, lights together, tabletop decorations together, etc. Label your containers, or use clear storage bins.
  • Avoid a tangled mess (and frustration) with your lights next year with these handy cord wraps available at The Container Store.
  • Pack holiday gift wrap and accessories together and take the opportunity to do an inventory of what you have; make a list for yourself for next year, or take advantage of post-holiday sales now to stock up, and you won't overbuy next winter.
  • Spend time entering address updates from holiday cards into your database or address book and then toss the envelopes that you received this year. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you tackle it now, next year's holiday cards will be so much easier.
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pre-Holiday Purge

There's no better time than now to do a purge of your stuff to make room for the influx of holiday gifts - especially your children's toys. By setting - and sticking to - a "one in, one out" rule, you can maintain a comfortable volume of belongings and help control clutter. Your kids can be involved in the process, especially if you intend to donate unwanted items to charity. Letting them make the choices and understand that they'll be helping families in need can teach some valuable lessons and instill the true spirit of the holiday season.

If your kids are too young, you can make some decisions for them. If you're concerned about discarding a toy that they'll ask for later, try an "out box" system. Pack up the items and leave them out of sight for a period of time. If they don't ask within a few weeks, it's probably safe to let the items go.

And don't forget to go through your stuff, too. Charities are in need of warm clothing, food pantry donations, and basic household items throughout the year, but especially during the holidays.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Organized Gift-Giving

If you're anything like most people, your head is swimming with holiday to-do items and a mental shopping list. Don't let the spirit of the holiday escape you by getting stressed out and overspending this season. Leave time to enjoy time with your friends and family, doing the things that mean the most to you.

One surefire way to get in front of it all is to follow Santa's advice and create a list. I like to pick up a ziploc bag or pencil case and a notepad (small enough to fit in my purse) and use this as my shopping list for the season. All receipts go into the ziploc or pencil case together, so that it's easy to track what you've spent, and also easy to find the receipts for any returns or exchanges that might be needed.

I like to make a few columns in my list: Recipient Name, Target Budget, Gift Ideas, and Items Bought. This makes it easy to see what your target spending is, and what you have purchased at a glance. Also, as budgets are tight, you can prioritize shopping week by week to avoid one massive hit on the credit card.

The great news is that if you do save your shopping until the last minute, then you won't be as easily tempted by the impulse buy at the register for that Chia Pet or foot massager that no one really wants anyway.

Happy Holidays!