Count Down to Christmas

December is finally here, and Christmas will be here before you know it!  Are you ready?  Are you close to ready?  How will you get ready?  Here are some ideas on how to get organized and ready for Christmas.

If your goal is to just be ready to have company and have your home looking presentable, now is not the time to tear open the closets and drawers and try to get every perfect. Company will not be inspecting your drawers, cupboards, or closets.   Go through the house, one room at a time and get it looking clean.  Clear off the “horizontal surfaces”  aka tables and other flat surfaces that collect everybody’s things

IMG_6647If you find you aren’t using things, as you come across them, now  is the time to let them go.  Get yourself a few trash bags, one to fill with things that are broken or just trash,  and the second to fill with items that you or your family aren’t using or don’t need that you can donate.  You will also need an empty tote.  Fill the empty tote with items you are still keeping, but belong in a different room.  This will keep you from getting distracted as you focus on the room at hand.  You can’t organize clutter, so give yourself permission to let some things go.

Then, when you are done clearing out the room, immediately take the trash out (so no one tries to reclaim anything you have discarded). Also, put the donate bag into the trunk of your car (so you can drop it off tomorrow when you are out and about).  Last of all, take the tote and put the things away you have found that were out of place.  Now you should have a room that will be fairly easy to clean.  Continue this process, room by room.  Focus on the surfaces and floor.  Don’t be tempted to conquer the hall closet or pull out all the tupperware.  In order to get the house presentable you need to clean up what people will see.  After the holidays you can systematically get the whole house in order.

 

With the house cleaned up there are still more things that need to be done so that you can enjoy Christmas this year. You need to pull out your Christmas Decorations,  get your gifts purchased, gifts wrapped, some gifts mailed, and don’t forget the baking that goes along with this time of year.  Whew!  No wonder so many people get stressed out over the holidays! By gaining control and having a plan, there is no need to  feel so overwhelmed and pressured to be ready for Christmas.  So let’s get to it!

Nothing says Christmas is here like the Christmas Decorations.  You don’t have to do it all in one day either, it isn’t written anywhere.  The tree is usually the first decoration I put up at my house in my living room. I like to put my decorations on it and have it be pretty.

IMG_6644This year I put Christ centered ornaments on my tree and I love it.   Then on another day, I like to put up lights and an extra tree on my front porch, the kids help with this. I also have akids tree I keep in the family room.  Every year on Christmas Eve I give the kids their own ornament.  They decorate  their tree with the ornaments they have collected over the years.  Another bonus to giving them ornaments each year is when they move out, they will have about 18 of their own ornaments.  The next weekend I ask my husband put the lights on the house. Usually, within about a week I have time to get all the decorations out, from towels to tablecloths to cute little reminders of Christmas throughout the house.  Now, on to the gifts under the tree!

   

Have you ever been there?  Late at night on Christmas Eve?  Wrapping all the kids’ presents and then looking at the piles of gifts?  Do you see that you thought you had gotten a few more gifts for one child, but now you realize that you forgot to pick it up?  I have a solution for you.  You need a list for each child/person on your list.  You can also keep their wish list/Santa list there too, then  as you are shopping you know what they would like.  I really like the list available  on FlyLady’s Holiday Control Journal.    The list I use is  on page 18, but I print one for each child, this helps me  to keep each child separate.  There is also a list available on Fly Lady for Catalog orders. This is located on on page 22,  I use that list to keep track of the Online orders.  When you have it all in one place you will know what you have purchased and what you still need to buy. I keep my list in my purse so I can find it and use it at the store.  Yay! Keeping track of gift buying has a solution!  That’s a wrap!

Wrapping presents!  Wrapping  can be a time consuming endeavor.  If you break it up a little by wrapping some presents each time you go shopping, then you won’t be stuck on Christmas Eve wrapping at the last minute.  I also like to set up a table in my room, along with plenty of tape and wrapping paper, put on a movie, lock the door and wrap away.  As I finish a gift or two, I put them outside my door.  Then, my kids, who understand I am wrapping THEIR gifts not only leave me alone, but  they excitedly look for when I put some by my door, and then deliver them under the tree for me (as they shake and feel them). So I get my wrapping done, enjoy a movie, and they put the gifts under the tree.  That’s a win-win-win scenario!  Some of the gifts go out of town though, so you need to get them sent, on time.

Although I am not in the habit of mailing Christmas presents (my family live close to me), I do know that you will save money if you get those gifts in the mail sooner.  According to the USPS there are a few dates to keep in mind when mailing out your gifts.  December 14th is the last date they recommend to ship out retail ground for Christmas packages.  Then as late as December 20th, you can ship with First Class Mail  or Priority Mail to get there in time.  You can also ship out on December 22nd with Priority Mail Express.  Your best bet though, to save money and time in line, is to send out your packages by December 14th. That gives you two more weeks!  You can do this.

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The last hurdle to jump, in getting yourself ready for Christmas is the Holiday Baking!  Sometimes this gets pushed to the back burner (pun-intended) because everything else on your list seems so pressing.  BUT, now that you have a plan and know that you CAN get it all done you will have time and energy to bake to your heart’s content.  There is hardly anything else more frustrating  than setting some time aside to get baking, and halfway into the recipe find out you are short on an ingredient.  Dig out those recipes! Check your cupboards! You can stock up on the ingredients you need now.  Then, when you go to bake the cookies with the kids everything you need will be right at hand.  You will have the house smelling like Christmas Joy in no time!

Christmas is wonderful time of year to spend time with family and loved ones.  I hope that as you go through this month you will have a wonderful Christmas and it will be enjoyable.  If you will just take one step at a time, you can get your house ready, gifts bought and wrapped and enjoy the time with your families.

Happy Organizing!!

Organizing Christmas Gift Giving

Occasions for giving gifts comes up fairly often.  If you have kids, there are plenty of birthday parties.  There are also times when you need a gift for a friend’s birthday, or even someone from work.  Also, Christmas is just around the corner.  Why not get the gifts you need ahead of time and not spend the last two weeks in December trying to get it all done? Running to the store at the last minute is not much fun, and there usually isn’t enough time before you need to give the gift (or before your child tells you he/she has a party they are supposed to go to).  Here are some ideas to help you get ahead!

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I have many clients that have space dedicated in their homes for a surplus of gifts ready to save the day for such an occasion.   The problem they most often encounter is that the gifts are stuffed into different cupboards and not all contained in the same location.

In this cupboard the top 3 shelves hold all the gifts, and the bottom shelf has 4 of the plastic bins stacked behind each other.  There is a bin for large bags, one for medium bags, and one for small gift bags.  Behind the bags is a bin for all the gift paper and small gift boxes.  Everything is right there.  In an adjacent cupboard there is a container with gift cards/envelopes.

Keeping the gift wrapping supplies near the gifts creates a win-win when it comes to gift giving. Another nice added benefit for buying gifts/bags ahead of time is you can save money by picking up items on sale or clearance!

What about Christmas shopping?  The best tool I have found for keeping all of my gift giving under control is the Fly Lady Holiday Control Journal.  On pages 17-19 & 21 there are fill in the blank pages that help organize your shopping.  There is a list of items to purchase, items to make, and then a list of your online orders so you can keep track of them all.  This really helps when you are buying for multiple children to ensure you don’t buy too much for one child who is easier to buy for, and then only have a few gifts for another child.  It helps you keep track.

Christmas gift boxes on wooden table with snow. Top view with copy spaceHere is another gift giving idea which helps create a more simplified Christmas.  It’s commonly referred to as the Want, Need, Wear, & Read Christmas.  This idea focuses more on each specific child and what they are really interested in versus on accumulating a lot of gifts under the Christmas tree.  I also added a Santa Gift to the list for my kids.  I told my kids we were going to try this idea and they were reluctant, but in the end, they all got something they had wanted and it really made my job of creating an enjoyable and affordable Christmas a reality.  The Want-Need-Wear-Read Christmas really made the holiday season easier when I tried it for my family.

How many times do you find unopened Christmas gifts, like games, art sets, or toys stuffed in the back of a closet?  When you get your child something they really want then you know that it won’t be stuffed in a closet.  The next item, the need, could be a new set of headphones, or even a new backpack, you decide what your child needs. Then, picking out something they can wear could mean a jacket or a new outfit. Usually, in the case of teens though, I like to get a gift card to their favorite clothing store so I know they will love it.  And the fourth gift, read. When buying books for my kids, I like to get them one from a series they are reading or an  audible book from Amazon.  Christmas made easy!

I also like to keep the gifts in a tote, hidden from the kids until I am ready to wrap. And sometimes, after I wrap them I still keep them in a tote.  I have a few sneaky kids that like to peak and shake the gifts.  Then I go over my lists of gifts and make sure that I have gotten all the ones that I have ordered and that I don’t need to run to the store.  This year my goal is to get everything purchased and wrapped by December 1st so I can enjoy this special time of year with my family.

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Gift Cards

Some of my clients keep plenty of gift cards for popular restaurants , music, or Amazon on hand for gifts.  In this case an entire cupboard or closet isn’t necessary.  You could easily devote a drawer with the gift cards.  In this drawer you could also the keep some of the old fashioned gift cards that you actually write in.  By keeping them  near the money filled gift cards it will make for easy gift giving.

After all is said and done, gift giving is meant to come from the heart.  Keeping your gifts, and your gift wrapping/bagging supplies in an easily accessible and organized place will make your life that much easier.  Also, by organizing your Christmas shopping, you will be sure to know what it is you have purchased and what you still need to buy.  Another plus is that by staying on top of your Christmas shopping you have a better chance of staying within your Christmas budget too.  Make Christmas Great Again!

 

Happy Organizing!