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.


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.

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!









Pantry Organizing

Pantries are definitely a great place to get organized!  The holidays are coming and it will feel pretty great to swing open the door of your pantry to find exactly what you are looking for.  It is also gives you an amazing feeling when you have company over during the holidays, and you can feel proud when anyone goes perusing through your pantry for a snack or to help you cook.  Having everything in its place sounds like the type of thing that dreams are made of.


Pictured above is a typical pantry. It is stuffed with all the food necessities and favorite foods of a family. Pantries typically have everything from water bottles to medicines, to pantry staples like cereal and flour.  There are lots of items families use and consume, but often they are not things that everyone puts away in the right place. Then, over time, it becomes a continuous game of trying not to knock over the front items when reaching for the items in the far dark corners in the back.

This pantry was a little more challenging because all the contents needed to be cleared out and the old shelf paper removed. Then, once the shelves were all wiped down the new gray shelf liner was put on the shelves.  This really cleaned up the look of the pantry, and the new shelf liner also made it easier to wipe down the shelves.  But believe me, old contact paper likes to stick, and isn’t easily cleaned up without removing the paint and re-painting.  In this pantry it was possible to cover up the bumpy residue with the new shelf liner.

Once all the contents were removed from the pantry, the kitchen looked like it was the dumping ground for a year’s worth of food!  I barely had any room on any horizontal surface, and I couldn’t believe how much food I had removed from the pantry and that it had actually fit inside the pantry.


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After all the shelves were re-lined with the new gray shelf liner, the fun part began. Fitting it all back into the pantry!!  I guess that is why I am a nerd, because that was my favorite part. 🤓 The corners seemed like such wasted space in the prior version of this pantry, so I purchased 4 corner shelves.  They worked great for storing rarely used items on the 3 corners, and then on the more utilized corner, the corner shelf  housed the supply of seasonings.

In the other 2 corners I used large Lazy Susans.  One of the lazy susans became the perfect place for sauces and extra ketchups.  The other one housed all of the coconut milks.  This made it so that each sauce or milk could be easily reached, and it is now easy to see all the contents of the spinning shelves.


My favorite way to corral cans and dressings is with the tiered expandable shelving.  It creates height and also lets you see everything you have at one glance.  Another option for this pantry, because of the deep shelves is adding shelf riser behind the tiered shelf to hold more cans right behind the shelves.  I did this near the medicines, which I’ll show you later in this post.  By using this concept, when the amount of food stored increases, the shelf can easily be added to create more usable space.


For smaller items, like spices, I prefer to use the bamboo expandable shelving. These create stable surfaces for organizing spices and  extracts. Another trick is to organize your spices alphabetically or group them according to their use.  Here the spices are alphabetized, and then the rubs are grouped together in containers that can easily be pulled out for cooking.


The right side side of this pantry is mostly dedicated to kids’ snacks, food storage and family medicines. On the floor is the long-term food storage, along with bags for shopping, and another basket with lots of bagged popcorn.  Cereal and baskets with chips and snacks are on the lowest shelf for easy access for the children.  The next shelf up has awesome bamboo stackable containers for different types of snacks.  The homeowner loved these so much that 3 more are on order and will fill that entire space soon. A cool metal basket houses all the crackers, while the turn-table next to it holds different drink mixes, shake mix-ins, and spoons.  The white wire basket holds paper plates, straws, and cups.  Behind that basket is extra cutlery and more cups for replenishing the wire basket as needed.

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On the medicine shelf, there are just the most frequently used medicines of the family,  along with the thermometer so it can be quickly reached. Behind, on the expandable shelf, are medications the family needs organized and in sight, but not necessarily on a daily basis. Next to the shelf of meds is another container with allergy medications, and on the other side is a first aid basket with easy accessibility.  On the top shelf, in two baskets, are the cold medications, and headache medications. Behind those is another basket, stacked under a bamboo shelf, filled with cotton balls and q-tips.



Here are the BEFORE and AFTER side by side photos.  Creating organization and different zones for all the things in your pantry can create a calm and peace to your home.  This helps you find what you are looking for, and the labels help everyone in the family learn where things are supposed to be.  Then, as things are put back, the organization will be better maintained, and life will be a little smoother for your family, at least when accessing the pantry.


Happy Organizing!!!

Just Start Organizing: Part 2

In the last post I talked about how getting started with a bookshelf was a great beginning to your organizing process.  Once you get going, and see the progress you can make, you will be encouraged to keep going and take on a little bigger organizing project.

Another good space to begin organizing is your medicine cabinet.  This is a helpful area of your home to have organized, because when you get into your medicine cabinet, it is usually because you are looking for something.  Also, that something you either NEED to find or you will HAVE to run to the store and buy another medicine.  So, for those reasons, it is best to have everything right where you KNOW it should be.

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Benjamin Franklin Quote

The first step in organizing your medicines is go through them.  Check expiration dates and properly dispose of outdated meds. I also like to wipe the bottles down and get all the sticky stuff off of the kids liquid medications.  You know, from when your child was throwing a fit and did not want take the medicine, and in the midst of the flailing arms and legs the bottle gets knocked over and it gets all gooey! Or the bottle tips over in the cupboard and leaks on the shelf!  Been there, done that. Just wipe away the memory.

The next step is to sort through all the medicine.   Start organizing by separating all the prescription medications and organizing them. You can group together all the kids over the counter medicine, another grouping can consist of supplements/vitamins, and then another one will be all of the adult over-the-counter medications. Another section I like to make a separate group for is all the creams and ointments like: hydro-cortizone, benadryl, & neosporine. They don’t usually stand up well so I put them together in a basket or small bin.

Whew! You got all that?  Good, because that was the hard part.  The rest goes down like a spoon full of sugar.  Now for the next part, there a few ways you can organize your medicine.  It depends on how much space you have to dedicate to medicine storage and also how much medicine your family uses regularly.

At my house I have a simple method. I have small plastic bins (they are easily wiped out) and I group the medicines according to ailment: One bin has adult headache/cold medicine, another bin has stomach/indigestion medication, the third bin has band-aids and first aid, and the fourth bin has all of the kid’s medicines.  I also have a short bin with the creams/ointments. Then I also keep the thermometers handy on the shelf.

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Another way I like to organize medicine is with the small stepped shelves that are usually used in pantries.  With these shelves, even if you only kept the meds on one shelf in the kitchen, you could still see everything you had at a glance.

When you have more room to spread out, then you can separate your groups onto the tiered organizer.  Dedicate one tiered shelf for prescriptions, one for kids, one for over the counter, and one for vitamins and supplements.  If you want to make sure you will easily be able to grab the one you are looking for, alphabetize the medicine, front to back and left to right.  Also, be sure to leave space between the bottles so they don’t come tumbling down when you reach for one in the back.


A bin for loose items like ace bandages, boxes of band-aids, and ice pack bags help to keep all those items contained and neat.  Also, to help you when searching for the liquid syringe for the kids medicines, you can keep a small container for them and also one for the thermometer(s).  Another bin is good for all the half-opened boxes of allergy medicine and the like so they are great housed together and so they don’t fall on the shelves.

I have complete faith in your ability to get the medicine cupboard/shelf/closet organized, and make the next time you have to access it a much better experience.  You may find yourself walking by and opening the door just to look at your organized space and smile.

Happy Organizing!!