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Author: Ellen TozziGoal Setting Holidays Project Management

Make Lists and Check Them Twice

Did you ever wonder how Santa gets so much done?  The secret to his success is making lists and checking them twice.

 

Why are lists beneficial?

–       Getting the ideas out of your head helps you to think more clearly

–       Writing (or typing) encourages a commitment to follow through

–       Reviewing lists makes prioritizing tasks easier

–       Categorizing tasks and listing baby steps help to prevent overwhelm

 

There’s much to be done during the holidays and lists can be a lifesaver.  The information is valuable for the current year and a great reference for holidays to come.  Create a holiday journal or use software, such as Excel spreadsheets, to stay on top of your tasks.  If others you live with use your computer, set up a password for the electronic document to keep gift-giving ideas a secret.

 

What to keep track of:

–       A timeline, by week, with what you plan on accomplishing, and when

–       A holiday card or eCard list – noting which style card you sent

–       Decorating – themes, details, etc.

–       Gifts – people and charities and what you plan to give

–       A shopping list – include stores, eRetailers and what you hope to purchase

–       Party planning  – menus, guests, grocery lists, etc.

–       Post-holiday review – note what worked and what didn’t

 

May this be a low-stress holiday season filled with high joy; and may you accomplish your goals with clarity and ease.

Author: Gabrielle Watters-SmithHolidays

Holiday Organizing Tips

Brought to you by the Professional Organizers of NAPO-GPC

  1. Have a plan to get you through the season.  At least four weeks prior to the holiday,  schedule a few tasks to be completed each week on your calendar.  For instance: week 1 – interior/exterior decorating, week 2 and 3 – shopping, week 3 – sending greeting cards, week 4 – baking and wrapping.  A few days in advance of the holiday, shop for the holiday meal.
  2. Keep a holiday notebook to write down gifts as they are purchased throughout the year.  Include where you have stashed them for safekeeping, and have an envelope for holding the receipts.  Create a gift-giving budget, and use the notebook to keep track of your expenses.
  3. Label all your room decorations with the location – such as “kitchen window sill” for a candle or “front door” for a wreath on the back or bottom, where they can’t be seen.
  4. After you have all your holiday decorations out take a picture of each section and store it with your decorations. It will be even easier to decorate next year and others can help!
  5. Use command strips and hooks for all kinds of decorations from wreaths to inside lights. They don’t damage walls or paint so you can put decorations in unlikely places.
  6. If you mail out holiday cards, keep the addresses on your computer and print out sheets of labels.  Be sure to stop by the post office for stamps or order them online.
  7. For holiday photo cards, use pictures that you have taken during the year to make a card.  Enlist the help of family to sign, address and stamp the cards in one night.
  8. Once you have finished setting out your decorations, consider donating the rest to a thrift shop so that needy families can benefit from your surplus.
  9. For holiday entertaining, keep your beverage and food menu simple.   Pull out the serving dishes and utensils that you will need and label what food will be placed in it.
  10. If an old tradition isn’t working for you, start a new one.  For example, instead of letting the number of gifts escalate each year, set a limit on the number.
  11. Try to do your shopping during the non-peak hours or try shopping online.
  12. Photo albums that you can create on-line make great gifts for grandparents or relatives out of town. You can share all your family’s special moments throughout the year in one 20 page book for about $30.
  13. Write yourself a list of what changes you want to make next holiday season. Put it with decorations, card list or have it remind you electronically next Thanksgiving.
  14. Plan your holiday wardrobe for everyone in your household.  Determine if you need to purchase items, etc.
  15. Be kind to yourself.  Schedule downtime to relax and enjoy the holiday.
  16. Delegate tasks where you can.

(NAPO-GPC) is the resource for organizing professionals in Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Central and Southern New Jersey. Visit our website at www.napo-gpc.org and use the online “Find an Organizer” search tool to find a Professional Organizer in your area.

Author: Danielle OBrienFamily General Holidays Seasonal

Holiday Entertaining – Happy 4th of July!

When I was a child, my parents used to have these huge picnics on 4th of July. Everyone was invited. My parents spent weeks prior to the party cleaning, shopping and preparing enough food to fill our two refrigerators. My father worked the grill all day and my mother worked in the kitchen sending food out to the backyard and cleaning the platters that were coming in. It took a least a week to clean up the house and put it back to normal.

Now- a- days my sisters and I don’t seem to have the time for a huge BBQ nor do we wish to work that hard, but I missed those holiday picnics, so I decided to start my own holiday tradition for the 4th of July. Equipped with some organizing skills and a good imagination, I have planned a party that takes a lot less hard work. Here’s how:

I’m lucky. I live on a public park and every year on the 3rd of July our borough plans a wonderful fireworks display. So we invite everyone over for our “Ice Cream & Fireworks Party” which starts at 7pm. The invitations go out one month prior to the party. The preparations begin by defrosting and eating all the contents from the freezer. This is also a good time to scrub the freezer. Shopping is done over the course of the next few weeks by watching for coupons on popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, water ice as well as other ice cream novelties. Every week I check for sales on the five gallons of ice cream I will need. The week prior to the party my family and I form an assembly line in the kitchen. We collect all of our drinking glasses, the juice glasses are the perfect size. We create delicious ice cream sundaes such as traditional, caramel, cookie crumbles and blondie sundaes. We cover them with plastic wrap and label them. They are then layered with small pieces of cardboard in the freezer.

On the day of the party I set up the drink station with iced tea, lemonade, soda, an ice bucket and cups. I put a cute red bucket of spoons and a cute red bucket of napkins on the dining room table. Helpful hint: buy all your paper products in red. Red can be used for your New Year’s party, birthdays, Valentine ’s Day, Christmas, memorial day, labor day and of course 4th of July. I put a huge teak bowl on the table for the ice cream novelties, the toys go outside, the pets go in the garage, the music gets turned on and we are ready!

Around 8:30 my helpers and I huddle in the kitchen. We top each sundae off with whipped cream, cherries, jimmies and a mint leaf. I carry them into the dining room on trays and place them around the big bowl of novelties. Now is the time to try not to get run over by the mad rush to the ice cream. After ice cream our guests are adorned with the neon jewelry that my husband loves to purchase for our guest, and we take our places on the deck with blankets and chairs that our guests know to bring.

After the fireworks the children usually raid the freezer for one more sundae.  While I say goodbye to our fifty guests and direct traffic off our tiny street, my friends help me out by tossing the trash for me. A quick wipe down on the table and a wet swift of the floors and this party is over until next year.

Don’t think of the holidays as being so daunting with all the shopping, cooking and cleaning. Keep it simple. Start early, create your own traditions. You too can entertain without wearing yourself out or putting a big dent in your budget.

Happy summer!

Author: Anna SicalidesClutter General Holidays

28 Last Minute & Clutter Free Gifts

Ok, so you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  You can still give great gifts!

Here are some ideas for gifts that you can pick up this week. Lately there are a lot of gift certificates that you can buy online, and then print! Instantaneous.

Service Gifts

Entertainment

Memberships

  • Museums
  • …of the Month Clubs – they have everything from perfume to cigars to dog treats and peanut butter!

Consumables

Classes

  • Cooking classes – great for the beginner and the gourmet cook.
  • Art lessons
  • Yoga
  • Personal trainer

Financial

  • Charitable donation in someone’s name – are they interested in art, the environment, education?  Just look at all the requests that you are getting on the mail for ideas. Check them out here before you make your purchase.
  • Gift Cards – available pretty much in every grocery or drug store.

Hopefully this list will give you some last minute gift ideas that will make your life easier and your gift recipient happy! The extra bonus is that these gifts will not create or increase the clutter in one’s life.

If you have any other ideas, please let us know… we are always looking for new ideas.

Author: Naomi CookGeneral Holidays

‘Tis the Season for Regifting! (Fa la la la la, la la la la)

Do you have closets filled with items that you have never used?  Is money a bit tight these days?  Does the thought of shopping in crazy crowds make you feel sick?  Consider regifting this holiday season and you can go shopping in your own home!

Did you know that December 15th, 2011 is National Regifting Day?  What a great way to save some money and clear your closets at the same time!  Here are 3 valuable benefits to regifting:

1) You Save Space – Go on a scavenger hunt throughout your home for items that you have never used before and never plan to, or that you just don’t care for.  Why hang onto these things if they are just taking up precious space?  Unless it is a family heirloom, don’t feel like you need to hold onto anything you don’t want to.

  • In the Pantry look for good bottles of wine that have been unopened and other non-perishables that have come from gift baskets like unusual  jams and mustards.  As for that mystery fruitcake that has been sitting on the top shelf forever, please throw it away…nobody wants it, probably not even the raccoons who like to dig in your trash can!
  • In the Coat Closet look for unworn hats, scarves and mittens that aren’t your style or that jacket that you thought you wanted at the time, but that still has its tags on.
  • In the Bathroom/Linen Closet look for unused jarred candles, body care gift baskets and makeup kits.
  • In the Bedroom Closets look for sweaters that have never been worn.  Be sure though to check them to make sure no moths have taken a nibble out of them!
  • In the Hall Closet look for small housewares that are still boxed and board games that have never been played.

2) You Save Money – Like most of us feeling the effects of the down economy, buying gifts can create a lot of financial stress.  By regifting, you can treat your loved ones and colleagues to great items that just aren’t right for you.  However, make the gifts personal by buying new festive wrapping paper or a gift bag and a card that will make them laugh!

3) You Save Time – Since you don’t need to brave the mall, you can spend a little time to add a personal touch, like slipping a recipe or article that you know someone would appreciate, into their card.

All in all, have a happy and warm holiday season and most importantly don’t forget to make sure you don’t give the gift back to the person who gave it to you first!

Author: Annette ReymanClutter Holidays Home Organizing

Ten Clutter-Free Holiday Gifts

Need ideas for those hard to shop for people on your list?  Want to give something that won’t just sit around unused or add to anyone’s already full home?  Here are ten ideas for useful gifts to delight your friends and loved ones for the holidays:

1.  Collapsible fabric totes

These totes are the best!  They can be used in the top or bottom of a closet for a multitude of essentials: winter accessories, pet supplies, extra slippers, spare toiletries… just about anything!  And, when they’re not in use, they fold flat and store easily.  You can give a set of two or three, collapsed, or open each one up and fill them with snacks and treats to use as gift “baskets!”

2.  Slim non-slip hangers

Know someone with lots of clothes and not enough closet space?  These work great and take up less than half the bar space as the plastic ones.  Dress the gift up with a silk scarf (that will be sure not to slip off these hangers!)

3.  Craft Storage Case

Is there a knitter or crafter in the family?  So many craft stores now carry quite an array of craft supply organizers – from bead sorters to long knitting needle cases – thoughtful and practical gifts for anyone who loves to be creative.

4.  Under-bed Shoe Storage

Those zippered cloth shoe storage bags that can hold 10-14 pairs of shoes and slide right under the bed can be a perfect gift for someone who’s always wearing something different on their feet.  It keeps shoes out of the way, easy to reach and dust/pet hair free!  Want to add some pizzazz?  Top it with a pair of slippers or all-weather crocs.

5.  Lap Desk

Lap desks are perfect for almost anyone these days.  They offer a firm work surface while providing cushion for your legs.  They’re great for students sitting on a bed using a laptop or for grandma sitting on a couch doing a crossword puzzle.  And they store easily beside whichever seat you choose.

6.  Car Organizer

There are several different types of car and trunk organizers.  Some hang over the back of a seat and some sit upright on the floor or in the trunk.  Great for busy parents who are always on the go!

7.  Photo Storage Box

Although many stores carry photo organizers, my favorite type is the Power Sort Box sold by Creative Memories.  It holds and safely stores over a thousand photos and makes sorting them a snap!

If you know someone who has a lot of paper, numbers 8 or 9 might be the perfect gifts:

8.  Paper shredder

In this day and age of identity theft, there is nothing more necessary (or fun!) than having a paper shredder on hand.  It’s a wonderful gift of peace of mind.

9.  File Cabinet

If you’ve ever tried to battle with old file drawers that no longer slide easily, you can appreciate how much of a treat having a new, easy-gliding file cabinet would be!

10.  Gift Certificate

Make sure that any gift certificates you give can be used online or locally: Spa, Grocery Store, Movie Theatre, Babysitter… or time with a Professional Organizer!

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and clutter-free holiday!