As Professional Organizers, we meet people who are anxious about what to give their loved ones that are personal, valued and “green.” One solution is to give “consumable” gifts. The advantage of a consumable gift is it gives the recipient a special experience, doesn’t take up any room and doesn’t leave behind any clutter.
Edibles and Drinkables
- Gift baskets of food – nice fruits, cheeses, nuts, chocolates. Who wouldn’t want to try a variety of yummy foods put together by you…or from your favorite vendor? The SF Bay Area is home to many artisan chocolate and food makers; a basket of local treats makes a personal touch.
- Your parents might appreciate a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant or one you think they’d like.
- Gift an invitation to dine out with you at the hot new restaurant or a known old favorite – your treat of course!
- Teens love gift cards to Peet’s, Starbucks, ice cream, lunch food.
- How about a wine or beer club membership?
- Consider an outing to an Escape Room – a group game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles.
- Tickets or gift certificates to movies, dance, theater, museums or sports events can be prized by people who can’t seem to justify frivolous expenses.
- How about Poetry by Request? My colleague, Claire Tompkins brings her trusty Royal typewriter to events and creates personalized poetry on demand.
- Subscriptions to entertainment services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix can provide easy access to movies and entertainment at home.
- Gift of a special outing with you: ice skating, a picnic in the park, a visit to a children’s museum, the zoo or an amusement park.
- Annual pass for a ski resort or for a fun place like Six Flags Magic Mountain.
- Lottery tickets make great stocking stuffers!
- Did you know that AirBNB offers gift cards?
- Get cooking! Kitchen on Fire offers a variety of classes. Cooking lessons are fun to do with a group or with one special friend: either at a store, a cooking school or in your own kitchen.
- A stack of specialty magazines on gaming or weaving or architecture – whatever they’re into – are a treat!
- Would your giftee love an art or other adult education class? Offer to take it with them!
- How about a subscription to a meditation website such as Headspace – a gym for your head?
- A block of classes at the local pilates or yoga studio can inspire them to get going on their health goals.
- Sign them up for a historical tour of a local hot spot
- Massages, facials, and nail services are always welcome treats
- A thorough and expert housecleaning session is great for folks who always do it themselves
- Hot tub session at a place such as Piedmont Springs
- Do you know someone who complains about the state of their closets, garage or playroom? Give the gift of a session with a professional organizer!
- What do YOU do well? Offer a session with your loved one sharing your skills and time with them: interior design help, personal shopping, gardening, back rubs, clutter-clearing, cooking a meal or teaching a cooking technique, a personalized sight-seeing tour, iPhone instruction-sessions…the sky’s the limit!
Remember to follow up with your giftee. Sometimes people forget about gift certificates. Put a reminder in your calendar for a couple months in the future to touch back with your recipient. Re-invite them to take you up on your offer of a fun experience or remind them of the gift certificate you gave them.
Have a great consumable gift idea? Share it here!
Do you have a room in home that when you walk into it you just say, “Ughh!”?
These are spaces that are enough out of sight and out of mind that they are the perfect spots to accumulate years of random items. Attics, basements, garages, guest room closets, dining buffet bottom drawers … every home has them!
So why bother? For the most part they don’t affect daily life – the few times a year you have to retrieve something from them is a hassle but rarely hassle enough to raise the daunting task of cleaning out the space to the top of your to-do list.
These spaces may seem benign…not a problem, no worry…but they actually do have quite a presence. Spaces that trigger guilt, shame, inertia, and paralysis contain psychic weight. We know this from the decades of working with clients. Our clients almost universally describe the feeling of clearing out old clutter as having had a huge weight lifted from their backs. They had become used to living with the problem and hadn’t realized just how much of a mental burden putting off dealing with the clutter was. Feeling the relief of the cleared, organized spaces made it crystal clear what a weight they had been carrying in the background of their consciousness.
Observe and measure how you feel in each room of your home. The spaces can be as simple as a drawer, a cabinet or an entire room. Identify where you are being drained:
- Where do you find yourself sighing?
- Is there an area of your home that you completely avoid?
- What space triggers a sense of feeling trapped?
- When you want to use a space that’s cluttered, is it a complete hassle to reclaim it?
- Would you be embarrassed for someone else to see the space?
- Does the thought of dealing with it make you want to take a nap … or go on a trip?
Take stock of how much mental weight you are carrying around. Where is your extra weight hiding? Wouldn’t it feel great to be relieved of the heavy feelings of those spaces?
If you’re inspired to get started, choose a small project or part of a room that you can get through in about an hour. Getting to experience that wonderful sense of relief that comes from making progress will fuel your motivation to go further. If you get stuck, reach out!
Cartoon courtesy of Donna Smallin Kuper of Organized Greetings
Do you and your sweetheart have wildly different ideas about what clutter is? Do you find yourself fed-up and frustrated by their organizing “style”? Do you feel like they’re trying to take over the world one surface at a time or leave things out just to piss you off?
Stress between couples over clutter is very common. Here are a few Valentine’s Day tips to manage the stress with your loved one.
What doesn’t work:
- Purging behind their back
- Storing empty boxes on surfaces to prevent their things from landing there
- Surprising them with a gift certificate from Crime Scene Cleaners
- Deciding that if they can be cluttered, you do them one better and be messy yourself
What does work:
- Realize that it’s not about right vs. wrong… it’s about compromising BOTH your styles because you’ve chosen to share space together.
- Agree to de-clutter together. Set a shared goal that you both agree will improve the quality of the home. Make a game plan and work together to implement it.
- Give each person a dedicated space (a room or a portion of a room) that they can control completely.
- Take responsibility for managing your own clutter before trying to “fix” your partner.
- Get objective outside help: use an organizing book, online resources, a couples therapist or a professional organizer.
What easy-to-tackle project could you and your Valentine take on that would create a little more space at home?
Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700
An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:
TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.
TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.
TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.
TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.
TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.
* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.
Active thought … and discipline will serve you well.
Recently Katherine has been listening to the audio book of Decisive* which is a resource written for business leaders. She found lots of interesting parallels to the decision making process our clients go through to reduce clutter.
We often see indecision at the root of clients’ clutter – “I don’t know what to do with this…” “What if I need this again?” “Well…I don’t know…” “Should I keep this or not?”
Here are some ways the core principles in Decisive apply to home organizing:
Widen Your Options
We can get tunnel vision about options and have a hard time visualizing a change. Let’s take the decisions around making an effective home office:
- What’s the best location for the workspace? Is it the dining table, kitchen, guest room, living room, or a closet? What is the best desk orientation and size?
Reality Test Your Assumptions
Dip your toe in the water of change by trying out an option rather than just relying on your gut instinct.
- Terrified of the prospect of letting something go in case you’ll need it? Store it in a box out of your active space and date the outside. If you don’t go into the box within a set amount of time (week, month, year?) you’ll know you really can live without it.
Attain Distance Before Deciding
Introduce some objectivity into your decision-making.
- What would I tell my best friend to do? What would someone else do in this situation?
Prepare To Be Wrong
We can’t predict outcomes, really. We tend to be overconfident about what we think the right thing to do is.
- As part of the decision making process, weigh the consequences of making a wrong decision.
Where do you see your indecision creating clutter in your home? Try applying one of the principles above and let us know how it goes!
*Thanks to Organization Development Consultant, Danny Ceballos for introducing us to this great resource!
Spring is the time of the year for renewal and growth…and bringing more light into our lives. Which, for us, means it’s time for the annual National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference! This year we head to Los Angeles to join organizers from across the country – and even across the world – to get educated and to network.
We hope to gain lots of new knowledge and resources to share with you and help our clients. Some of the topics we’ll be learning:
- Using technologies, such as Evernote, to work more efficiently
- Techniques for better helping people who are chronically disorganized
- Building organizing teams to expedite projects
- How to better help clients who are compulsive buyers
- Helping efficiently preserve and manage our clients’ ballooning digital photo collections
- Making household moves easier
At the large expo hall filled with vendors of organizing products and services we’ll be on the lookout for must-have solutions to share with you. Vendors include Smead®, Target®, Fujitsu, Julie Morgenstern, Freedom Filer® and Brother®.
How many organizers does it take to change a lightbulb? We expect over a thousand enthusiastic professionals to join us in LA for this enlightening experience.
Don’t miss out! Follow our live daily tweets from @JunkDrawerNotes for fun tips and products.