Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Organizing Checklist for December

This month I have edited what I wrote this time last year. It is a busy time for all of us and having a master checklist as well as more detailed to do lists will help keep you organized. This checklist is more detailed and longer than most monthly posts because of the importance of this time of the year.
  • Children and adults should take time to donate any items that are no longer useful. Many families will be forced to shop at thrift stores for holiday gifts and donating toys and clothing can be a blessing you will never see. 
  • Finish that Christmas newsletter and get those cards in the mail. Purchase "Forever" stamps rather than Christmas stamps. They can be used even when postage goes up. Better yet, try sending an email message saving time and money and not adding clutter to the receivers. 
  • Most online stores have sales and purchases will have free shipping now . Be sure they will be delivered in time.  
  • Keep all receipts in one special place for easy access if needed later on. 
  • Purge the refrigerator and freezer of as much as you can to make room for holiday items. Make a grocery list of what you will need for your holiday events or feast. Keep the list, recipes and menu close at hand. 
  • Begin decorating as soon as convenient. The best time is when you have help. Make the most of what you already have. Basic wreaths that can have the bows and decorative items changed with the seasons never need storage. Adding holiday bows or greenery to other permanent accessories in your home (such as candles, lamps, plants, etc.) are a festive touch that can be tossed afterwards. Avoid purchasing items specific to any holiday as they require storage space the remainder of the year.  
  • 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. (I have done that more than once!) Keep wrapping papers to a minimum. One or two plain colors and assorted colorful bows are best. Children can decorate brown paper or white papers with colorful markers, stamps, etc.
  • 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. Keep it simple.
  • 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. 
  • Take pictures of family and friends and the decorations you chose as a keepsake and reminder for next year. 
  • Be flexible on the big day and welcome any help offered. Don't sweat the small stuff and keep the mood light and happy.
  • 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. 
  • 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. (A list can be found in my book on pages 103-105.) Keep the collection of all the lists, ideas, recipes, pictures, evaluations, etc. related to the holiday in a manilla folder or create a folder for them on your computer. 
  • 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 that cannot be replaced. Donate or pass on the others. 
  • 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.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Organizing Tips for November

Ready or not, the winter holidays are coming quickly.
  • If you send holiday cards, buy, address and get them ready to mail. Consider creating an attractive e-mail card wherever possible and save the environment, time and money. You can even include pictures, etc. If the recipients love paper cards, they can print it.
  • If you choose to send a holiday newsletter, remember to keep it short and sweet. The shorter, the sweeter. No bragging is allowed; keep it newsy with love and appreciation for the input the recipients have had in your lives.
  • Have packages for mailing out of town ready to send. Some overseas deadlines occur in November.
  • Now is the best time for online shopping. Almost all stores are offering free shipping and the selection is better now than later.
  • Send out “save the date” or invitations for holiday gatherings. The earlier the better as this is a busy time of year for everyone.
  • Maintain a current inventory of food supplies. Check the pantry often to be sure you do not get caught short as grocery store shelves get depleted quickly. I have already purchased my frozen pumpkin pies and Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crust. (Please don’t cringe; my family doesn’t know the difference!)
  • Create a holiday folder on paper or on the computer. Include your calendars, schedules, gifts, menus, decorations, invitations and invitees, etc. I even make notes of how much food I prepared and how much was left over. This makes planning the next year so much easier.
  • Avoid shopping on Black Friday unless you absolutely must go and be sure to stick to your “needs” list. Going into the stores with their displays of special pricing, etc. is an emotional trap waiting for your hard earned cash. And all that stuff you don’t really need will clutter your house. If you love the adventure, you will only buy what you need, and you don’t mind crowds, go for it and send me your stories!