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10 Strategies for a Stress Free Holiday Season

1. Shorten your to-do list.  Ask yourself, “If I don’t do this, what will happen?”  I’m usually a get-it-done-now-so-you-can-relax-later kind of girl, but in this case, see what you can put off until after the holidays.  When things get crazy and hectic, I ask myself, “will my kids/family/friends remember I did this?” and if the answer is “no” it gets knocked off my list.

2. Limit gift giving.  Not being Scrooge here, but try limiting gift giving to children only and consider do a “Secret Santa”.  You’ll only have to shop for a few kids in the family instead of all the cousins, nieces and nephews!

3. Wrap as you go.  Wouldn’t you rather spend Christmas Eve with a mug of hot chocolate (or hot toddy) instead of doing a gift wrapping marathon?  Label to/from right away, and use sticky notes if necessary to keep track of gift contents.

4. Buy, don’t bake. We bake and decorate Christmas cookies each year, but to save time, you could buy plain sugar cookies from a local bakery or supermarket for the kids to decorate.  I buy a pre-assembled gingerbread house that the kids decorate (baking and or assembling our own house was NOT contributing to the joy of the season!)

5. Use labels for addressing Christmas cards. Last post was about using labels to address your Christmas cards.  If you do it this year, imagine how easy it’ll be next year!!

6. Scale back décor.  We still get a fresh Christmas tree each year but there are several reasons why folks turn to artificial trees. It’s efficient (the lights are already strung), it’s less expensive over the years, and is environmentally conscious.   You can display a pretty door wreath instead of doing large scale outdoor lighting, and a tabletop tree instead of over-the-top entire home decor.

7. Put home projects on hold.  Wait, what?  Yup, just close the door on the messy office or spare bedroom that’s become the dumping ground.  Put off the organizing and house projects until after the holiday season.

8. Downsize dishwashing. Maybe you still want to use your fine china for Christmas day, but hand-washing fine china is no fun, so use everyday dishes or paper plates for other gatherings.

9. Less is more.  Consider serving a variety of appetizers and finger foods instead of a entree and sides.  We’ll always have a Christmas turkey at my in-laws (LOVE it!!) on Christmas day but for other gatherings during the holidays it’s easier on the host to do several appetizers than a big sit-down dinner.  Hosting a pot luck would make it even easier.

10.  Be a homebody. Staying close to home beats holiday travel any day. Staying close to home allows you more time to do the things you really want to do with your family.

Happy Holidays!!
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Garage organization. Getting ready for winter!

Just finished a project at a client’s home this morning. We had purged and organized items in the garage and decided what was going where.  I ordered an Elfa system for her from The Container Store (passing along my 20% professional organizer discount) was installation went well yesterday.  Today we got everything up off the ground. Nine bicycles in various sizes, 2 balance bikes, 3 scooters and 1 tricycle hang on one wall, along with all the helmets. One spot is was designated to hang wet snow coats and snowpants.  Gardening tools and shovels are along one wall and there is additional storage on shelves and in pull out bins for off season items like coolers, summer toys and gear, car accessories and cleaning supplies.  We both agreed, it was extremely satisfying to see the finished project.  Here are a few pictures for inspiration.  Now they can park their two cars in the garage before the snow comes!!!  IMG_2505[1]IMG_2508[1]

Organizing girls’ hair accessories!!

My husband is one of 3 boys.   We have 2 daughters ages 7 and 5 and more pink and purple girly things than he could have ever imagined.  We have a fair amount of head bands, barettes, clips and hair ties.  How to keep it all organized?  I’ll share how we organize ours, and a couple of other ideas.

I bought a decorative basket at HomeGoods that measures around 15″ x 12″.  The headbands “sit” along two sides of the basket in rainbow order, which makes it easier to find one to (hopefully!) coordinate with their outfit.  I actually repurposed packaging from two Melissa and Doug crafts (Decorate your own heart box or something similar) and placed them inside the basket to keep large hair ties, small hair ties, metal hair clips, small jaw clips, and other hair clips organized.  You could also purchase a divided tray like this one at The Container Store.   Ribbon and other “stretchy” headbands hang on a couple of 3M Command hooks.   This hair station is in the bathroom on the first floor, where they often do their hair right before breakfast.  You could also place the divided tray into a bathroom drawer and hang headbands on a few 3M Command hook inside the cabinet door or on the wall.   Our hair brush and detangling spray sit inside the basket.  You could use a divided tray like this one that has many sections and separate small hair accessories by color.

I found this hair accessory organizer on Etsy– hair clips get attached to the ribbons which I like because you can see each one, headbands get hung on the rod at the bottom.  You can hang this kind of organizer with a clear Command hook and use a small tray acrylic or other decorative tray to hold brush, hair detangler and small container of hair ties.  Sometimes brushing their long beautiful and tangly hair is so painful (to me and to them!) finding a hair tie or barrette shouldn’t be!

hair station

 

 

Donate those clothes, toys, household items!

There are several organizations that will pick up used clothing, toys, small furniture, and household items.  As a general rule of thumb, they will not take anything that requires 2 people to move, i.e. a sofa or china cabinet.  Also, even if you think the article of clothing is hideous, they’ll take any clothing that isn’t torn or stained.  Most organizations will not take televisions, computer monitors or microwave ovens.

Some organizations like, Vietnam Vets, are on a weekly schedule by town.  For example, they come to Wellesley on Wednesdays, Newton on Tuesdays.  You can go to www.scheduleapickup.com to schedule Vietnam Vets to pick up donation items.  You choose where you will leave the items, for example on the driveway or front porch.  Items are requested to be out by 8 AM, so it’s often easier to get them out the night before, but beware of a rainy forecast when scheduling donation pick ups, or cover with nylon/plastic drop cloth if you have one.  You can print out the donation pick up confirmation and tape it to one of the donation bags/boxes to clearly identify what’s being picked up.

If the Vietnam Vets donation pick up schedule doesn’t work for you, or you just want to see what other organizations might be in  your area, check out www.gooddonor.org.   Here you’ll create a free account and you can schedule a pick up from your organization of choice or schedule a donation pick up by date.

Often times, my clients get started on an organizing project, but then they lose momentum when they can’t get the donation items out the door, and those giveaways get shoved into another closet or some other dumping ground, so I often schedule donation pick ups for them and/or take small amounts to our towns “take and leave” recyclable area.

These organizations will take smaller donations (1-3 bags/boxes) medium sized donations (4-15 bags/boxes) or even larger donations (15+ bags/boxes).  If you have larger items, such as furniture and appliances, you may need a clean out company to help you organize your space.  More about that next….