Monday, November 30, 2009

Organizing Tips for December

This month is packed with lots of activities and last minute things to do. Having a good checklist will help keep you on track.

1. Mail out of town packages as soon as possible. There are some deadlines for overseas mailings.

2. Finish that Christmas newsletter and get those cards in the mail. Be sure you have kept a master list so changes in addresses, etc. can be made. Purchase "Forever" stamps rather than Christmas stamps. They can be used even when postage goes up.

3. You should have already sent out invitations to holiday activites you plan to host. If not, the sooner the better. As responses come in, update your list of the number you are serving.

4. Watch sales for last minute gifts, decorations, etc. that you need. Most online purchases will give free shipping but be sure they will be delivered in time. Be sure to keep all receipts in a special place for easy access if needed.

5. Make a grocery list of what you will need for your holiday events or feast. Purchase items when they are on sale. Keep the list, recipes and menu close at hand.

6. Begin decorating as soon as convenient. The best time is when you have help. Make the most of what you have. Basic wreaths that can have the bows changed with the seasons never need storage. Adding holiday bows or greenery to other permanent accessories such as candles can make them festive. Avoid purchasing items specific only to this holiday as they require storage space the remainder of the year.

7. Wrap packages as soon as you have them. If you decide to set aside a specific time, be sure you don't forget where they are hidden. Keep wrapping papers to a minimum. One or two plain colors and colorful bows are best. Children can decorate brown paper or white papers with colorful markers, stamps, etc. if you want them more festive.

8. Begin traditions with your family if you have not already begun them. For young children, simple activities such as baking cookies or decorating packages are best. Older children can help with community or church events. The family can purchase gifts for an "Angel Tree", read the Christmas story together, watch a favorite Christmas movie, etc.

9. Make a detailed schedule of what needs to be done before the big event. Work backwards in hourly increments on the big day and daily for a few days before.

10. Take pictures of family and friends and the decorations you chose as a keepsake and reminder for next year.

11. Be flexible on the big day and welcome any help offered. Don't sweat the small stuff and keep the mood light and festive.

12. Avoid the after Christmas sale unless you absolutely need the items. Avoid the long lines, parking problems and traffic jams. Items that need to be returned can usually wait for a few days.

13. Keep a journal of what worked and what didn't, the gifts you gave and any changes you would make in the future. Keep a list of clutter free gifts you can give next year. Keep a folder on paper or the computer of all the lists, ideas, recipes, pictures, evaluations,etc. related to the holiday.

14. As you take down the decorations, consider purging what you can. Eliminate as much permanent storage as possible. Try to maintain only those things with special significance or cannot be replaced.

15. Set a family goal to make the holidays even more meaningful next year. Adopt a charity, volunteer in the community, participate in your church holiday program, etc. Write down your decision and make plans for it next year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Organizing Tips

The holiday season has arrived and it is time to get busy.  Here are the organizing items that should be done in November.
1.  Purchase and address holiday cards now.  They should be ready to mail by the end of the month.
2.  Review or create the gift list so you can take advantage of sales on those items.  Look for free shipping offers if ordering online.  This method also saves time and money in the long run.
3.  Mail out of town packages by the end of the month.  Overseas packages may have earlier deadlines.
4.  Send out invitations for Thanksgiving Dinner as soon as possible.  Create a menu, grocery list and time schedule for that meal.  If you are not inviting guests, create those for yourself.
5.  Save lists, names, addresses, gifts, menus, grocery lists and any other related items in folders for reference next year.  Make notes as detailed as possible to save time in the future.  These can be saved as documents in folders on your computer or as paper files in folders by categories in your file box or cabinet.
6.  Avoid the Black Friday and after Thanksgiving sales unless you vow to stick to your gift list.  Otherwise clutter may become a holiday issue you do not need.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October Organizing Tips

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1.  As cool weather approaches, check your wardrobe for clothing that is no longer useful.  Plan to sell, donate or give away those that you no longer need.
2.  Clean and store outdoor furniture.  If mildew has appeared, use a diluted mixture of bleach and water to remove it.
3.  Clean and store yard and gardening tools.  Sharpen any that have become dull with use.  Save the rakes until after all of the leaves have fallen and been collected.
4.  Clean the outside of windows while the weather is still pleasant.  If other area on the outside of the house need cleaning, do that now.
5.  Clean and organize the attic as the weather permits.  There is a limited amount of time between the cold of the morning and the heat of the afternoon to get this job done.  Some areas may need to wait until November in order to avoid excessive heat.
6.  Plant grass seed and any new shrubs that your yard needs.  Cool weather will give the roots a chance to develop without the heat of summer sun.
7.  Think about the upcoming holidays.  The decorations are already out in local stores.  You should have already made travel plans but if not, do it now.
8.  For the best selection, look for you holiday cards now and watch for free shipping on phone and online orders regardless of the size of the order.
9.  Purchase gifts that are to be mail and get them ready for early mailings.  Overseas packages should be mailed before December.
10.  Bring out the fall decorations and enjoy this time of the year.