Tag Archives: holidays

5 Ways to Manage Your Holidays

Pacing Yourself During the Holidays

If you regularly have a lot going on in life the added tasks of the holidays can wreak havoc on your time management. Shopping, hosting, holiday cards, parties, travel…where does the time come from to fit everything in?

Time Estimating

One of the biggest traps of time management is magical thinking around how long tasks will take. An easy rule of thumb is to estimate how long a task will take then double it! If you end up with time on your hands you’ll have no trouble filling it.

Be realistic about your schedule. Some things have to give to make room for the extra tasks of the holidays. Time isn’t going to magically appear in your calendar. Be vigilant about passing on opportunities that arise that don’t help your goal of having a wonderful holiday. That could mean saying “no” to the 7th Christmas party invitation!

Simplify Your Task List

There are many ways to enjoy your holidays and some are less time consuming than others. For example, if you realize it will take you 10 hours to put together holiday cards (including addressing, stamping and getting them to the mailbox) you may choose to do something simpler – or choose a different time of year to reach out and connect. Remember your original desire to make connections with family and friends. Realize there are many ways to do that.

Other time saving examples:

  • Store-bought food instead of homemade
  • Pot-luck instead of full hosting
  • E-cards instead of mailed cards
  • Gift bags and tissue instead of gift wrapping

Don’t Go It Alone

It’s easy to feel like we are solely responsible to make a memorable and magical experience for our loved ones. That can be pretty unrealistic and overwhelming. Have a look at your task list and see how you can share the load…where can the kids participate or invite a friend to work with you- baking or gift wrapping are examples. Is there cleaning or errands you delegate or actually hire out? Where possible, focus your time and energy on the tasks you really enjoy and figure out how to get help with the others.

Learn from holidays past

Think back on what worked before.  Was there a year where you breezed through the holiday with ease?  What worked?

If there was a December that went poorly, you felt more stressed, you didn’t enjoy the celebrations – ask yourself what could you do to avoid those pitfalls?

You could jot notes and track how long it actually took to: prepare for a party, to do the gift shopping, to pick out clothes to wear to the gala, to find the best gifts for your friends and family or to determine which character you’ll come as to the Dickens Faire.  These estimates could provide a template for happy holidays to come.

Balance

Holidays can be a time when life gets out of balance. In order to make more time in our schedules we often sacrifice personal time for exercise or re-charge. Make it a priority to plan in time for self-care so you can give the gift that really matters – yourself!

Taking this time to practice time management can help you in the rest of your life!

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Filed under General Organizing, Holidays, Strategies, Time Management

Organized Hosting

Hosting doesn't have to be stressful!

Hosting doesn’t have to be stressful!

What makes a successful party at your home? Good company, good food and good atmosphere!

Good Company

  • Be choosy about your guest list. Keep the numbers to a limit where you can still enjoy your party. For larger groups consider hiring or recruiting some prep and party help to lighten your load.
  • If there is a challenging personality included in the guest list be mindful to also invite someone who may get along well with them and also be mindful about where you seat them.
  • When guest offer to lend a hand, take them up on it. Think ahead of a few simple tasks they could do. Being involved helps some people feel more engaged and comfortable in social settings.

Good Food & Drink

  • Use tried and true recipes. Don’t let your party guests be the guinea pigs for your first soufflé.
  • Use food that can be prepped in advance OR buy prepared food for some or all of the dishes to reduce cooking time.
  • Consider having 2 entrees and a variety of sides. Make lots of flavors available and accommodate guests with dietary restrictions.
  • Don’t go overboard on drink variety. In the holiday theme, a simple offering of a spiced wine, spiked eggnog OR hot cider is sufficient–in addition to the standard wine & bubbly water.

Good Atmosphere

  • Music: make managing the music easy by using online streaming services such as Pandora, or creating a party playlist that can run for several hours. If this isn’t your fortè, recruit a music fan or techie to help you out.
  • Layout: if necessary re-arrange furniture to create easy flow during the party. Position the food and drink strategically to pull people through the space and not clog up one area of the house.  Place a few extra trashcans around to catch cups & plates. Folding chairs are a simple way to add extra seating or create small conversation zones.
  • Décor: Keep it simple. Focus on one or two key areas – such as the front door, food and drink tables. You can always add to decor if time allows. But getting some basic decorating done a day or two in advance lightens your load on party day.

Remember, hosting a party is something you do share time and experience with friends. And, your guests are coming for the same reasons! If you’re comfortable and prepared, you’ll create a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere for everyone, including yourself!

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Filed under General Organizing, Holidays, Strategies

5 Organizing Gifts

Stuck on what get that special someone for a gift this holiday season? Here are a few of our favorite organizing gifts in no particular order:

 

Purse Organizers

These handy bags are ideal for the organized person who likes to use different purses and bags. It sits inside a satchel, keeping items separate and lifts out easily to transfer contents to another tote. They come in a variety of colors that appeal to both women and men.

 Purse Perfector®

InBag handbag organizerInBag® Handbag Organizer

 

Label Maker

Labeling containers makes knowing where to put things back clear and easy. Don’t forget to include batteries and label tape! Label tapes come in ¼”, ½”, and ¾” widths. The 3/4″ width tape is our favorite for large containers…and the tapes come in a variety of colors!

 

         Brother P-Touch®

Charging Station

There are many different styles and sizes of these. They can really help to minimize device and cable counter clutter. Consider purchasing short charging cables that stay with the station and save the long ones for travel.

 

Griffin® PowerDock-5

Bedside Organizer

These are a handy way to keep nightstand clutter down. They’re also available for couches!

Richard’s GearBox

 

Clip and Keep Sofa Organizer

BONUS! Stocking Stuffers

 

gift-GuardYourIDPLUS brand GuardYourID Roller: An easy way to get more paper clutter into recycling instead of keeping a pile for shredding…

 

Post-Its® Super Sticky Pads are fun for the whole family!

Belkin® Cable Ties are handy little chaos-tamers

We hope this helps stimulate your brainstorming while shopping for the best gifts for your friends and family.

Next week, we’ll showcase some consummable presents we think are pretty special.

What are your favorite practical holiday gift ideas?

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Filed under Decluttering, Holidays, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Top 3 Ways to Pace Your Holidays

Time Management The_Persistence_of_Memory

Does your time feel like it’s melting away?

If you regularly have a lot going on in life the added tasks of the holidays can wreak havoc on your time management. Shopping, hosting, holiday cards, parties, travel…where does the time come from to fit everything in?

Time Estimating

One of the biggest traps of time management is magical thinking around how long tasks will take. An easy rule of thumb is to estimate how long a task will take then double it! If you end up with time on your hands you’ll have no trouble filling it.

Be realistic about your schedule. Some things have to give to make room for the extra tasks of the holidays. Time isn’t going to magically appear in your calendar. Be vigilant about passing on opportunities that arise that don’t help your goal of having a wonderful holiday.

Simplify Your Task List

There are many ways to enjoy your holidays and some are less time consuming than others. For example, if you realize it will take you 10 hours to put together holiday cards (including addressing, stamping and getting them to the mailbox) you may choose to do something simpler – or choose a different time of year to reach out and connect. Remember your original desire to make connections with family and friends. Realize there are many ways to do that.

Other time saving examples:

  • Store-bought food instead of homemade
  • Pot-luck instead of full hosting
  • Ask for help or hire some help
  • E-cards instead of mailed cards
  • Gift bags and tissue instead of gift wrapping

Balance

Holidays can be a time when life gets out of balance. In order to make more time in our schedules we often sacrifice personal time for exercise or re-charge. Make it a priority to plan in time for self-care so you can give the gift that really matters – yourself!

Taking this time to practice time management can help you in the rest of your life.

A good resource for more reading is Julie Morgenstern’s Time Management From The Inside Out

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Filed under General Organizing, Holidays, Strategies, Time Management

Organizing Products for Overnight Guests

Guest rooms can be useful for more than the occasional guest

Be prepared to welcome guests without losing your spare room

Is the work to prepare for hosting guests overwhelming? Do you feel like a whole room in your house is dedicated to occasional visitors?

A few simple organizing products can help free up your extra room to be used mostly for your routine needs AND to keep guests comfortable and self-sufficient; making your job as host easier:

  • Clothes
    • Instead of dedicating an empty dresser for guests clothes, a foldable luggage rack creates an instant home for a suitcase or bag and stores away when not in use.
  • guest-luggage rackCreate some instant shelving in a closet by using hanging sweater shelves:

guest hanging shelf

  • Sleeping
    • Consider using an inflatable guest bed instead of a permanent bed. They come in a large variety of sizes and heights: guest-bed
    • A larger investment in a guest room is adding a Murphy Bed. They are sold as cabinets that can be attached to an open wall. A simple google search will yield many different vendors:

murphybed_open

  • Toiletries
    • Keep a dedicated container (shoe box size) to store a few extra supplies for guests. Stock it during the year as you do your regular shopping or use extra hotel travel size supplies. When guest arrive pull out the box and use a decorative container on the sink if desired.
  • guest shoe boxActivities
    • Keep an extra supply of maps and a list of places of interest in a binder or oversize plastic envelope that you can pull out when guests arrive. During the year you can add to the envelope or binder – include a section for freebies – extra gift cards, BART tickets, guest passes.

guest doc envel.

  • Food – stock up with some easy snacks such as nuts, crackers, protein bars, cheese sticks so guests can take care of themselves between mealtimes.

Follow our tips on getting the room clear enough to be a welcoming host. A little advance preparation will free up your time to enjoy the company of your guests and making hosting a breeze.

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Filed under Bedroom, General Organizing, Holidays

Decluttering for Guests

Prepare for house guests & accomplish your declutter goals

Prepare for houseguests & make progress on decluttering

Do you dread the thought of family or friends coming to visit because your spare room (if you even have one) is overloaded with “stuff” you’ve been meaning to deal with?

You’re not alone.  We estimate that 75% of families with spare rooms have no capacity for hosting spare people.

If you want to make a room usable in a short amount of time, you can employ some basic organizing strategies.

Your guest room is a jumble, where do you start?  Many people load up paper bags and stuff things in closets.  There may be a better way.  It involves changing your mindset from immediate gratification to long-term goals.

As you approach a pile of unrelated stuff, notice that there are usually distinct categories of things in the piles.

  • Clothes and bedding
  • Craft supplies and tools
  • Paperwork
  • Photos/Memorabilia
  • Dishes and Decor

Do a “rough sort” with the things in the room using broad categories.

Determine if some of the items just need to be donated or if there are homes for them elsewhere in the house (is there room in your linen closet for those extra blankets and comforters, for example?)

Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping, procure banker’s boxes or plastic stackable bins—just enough for this project. Consider buying a couple shallow bins (usually 6” high) for storing things under the bed.

Fill the bins with “like” things.  Label them – noting the category of items stored, the location where the stuff came from and the date it was packed.

Use space under the bed and in the closet. Or dedicate some space in the attic, basement or garage.

If there is no extra storage space, you can employ the pop-up credenza technique.  I’ve made some make-do credenzas with bins filled with off-season clothes, boxes of books, trunks full of sweaters … even masses of canned soda cartons!  The credenza is created when an attractive bedspread, tablecloth or piece of fabric is draped over it and tucked in as if wrapping a package.

If you have no room for a credenza, you may have a free corner to stack boxes.  Use a folding screen to hide the stack.

Space bags can be very helpful when you have lots of fabric/bedding.  It can be put into a large bag and, with the air vacuumed out, it takes up a third of the space.

In any case, while preparing for guests, you’ll be halfway through organizing your stuff.  After your guests have left, pull out the bins and begin making those postponed decisions.

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Filed under Bedroom, General Organizing, Holidays, Strategies