Getting Organized for the Holidays: How to Save Yourself from Holiday Stress
Do you find yourself loving the time with family during the holidays but dreading all that comes with it? Decorating, gift giving, cookie making, Elf on a Shelf, the list goes on of all the tasks that come with the season of gratitude, merry-making, and cheer. What's the best way to make life less stressful so you can slow down and enjoy the Thanksgiving turkey, Hanukkah moments & the Christmas lights? It's by getting organized for the holidays ahead of time.
Here are our Top 3 Tips for Getting Organized for the Holidays and staying that way into the New Year.
Tip Number 1:
Organize your holiday décor. Are your holiday decorations spread-out in nooks and crannies throughout your whole house? Or is it piled up in unmarked boxes with that smell of mildew in your basement storage room you can't walk through? Or worse yet, is it shoved into that scary crawl space above your garage where only the bats lurk? It's time to gather all your holiday decorations from throughout the house and take an honest look at them. Ideally, this would take place in your basement. Start by sorting like with like, each holiday in its own area and subcategories within that. For example, you would categorize all Christmas items, all tree ornaments, all mantel décor, all the kitchen decorations, and so on. Make decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of by keeping only the items you need, use or love. Is it broken? Haven't used it in years? Does it only hold sentimental value but it isn't something you'd put out? Those might be items to get rid of or in case of the latter move that item to your keepsakes/memorabilia bin, which should be stored separately from your holiday décor. Once you've sorted and purged everything, tested all the lights, and made the tough decisions it's time to organize the décor. We recommend utilizing plastic storage totes with lids for your holiday décor. Clear is always the best option but some people love doing color coding so black & orange for Halloween, red & green for Christmas, blue for Hanukkah & so on. Gently wrap all fragile items in tissue paper or bubble wrap, pack the totes the way you sorted the subcategories within each holiday, and then clearly label each tote with the holiday name and what's inside but be broad. I've even put Christmas PJs, headbands, sweaters, etc. all in one tote for families, especially when their closets and dressers are maxed out. This way you're not battling the Christmas PJs in July when you're putting laundry away. If you don't have shelving units for your basement storage room now would be the time to get some. Line your basement storage room with shelves and even in the center if there's room, think of how the grocery store or library sets up their shelving in aisles, you can do the same. Now place your totes on the shelving units in the order that holidays occur. For example, start with the calendar year beginning with January (New Year's) and end with December (Hanukkah/Christmas). If you think about your year in terms of the school year, start with September (early fall décor/Halloween) and work your way through to July/August (4th of July/summer décor). Organize the totes from left to right. Now take a step back & breath in the organized bliss that is now your storage room. It's breathtaking!
Tip Number 2:
Make lists, and check them twice…it's not just for Santa Claus. Take a moment before everything gets hectic and make some master lists.
The top lists I recommend are:
Gift-giving list. I include whom it's for, the gift requested/idea, and the goal dollar amount to spend. Once the gift is purchased I update the list to the actual item purchased and the amount spent. You can use this list for future years to help budget and to make sure you're not giving the same things over and over.
Gift receiving list. This is where I track the gift ideas for gifts that I'll be receiving. I write down the idea/s and to whom I gave it. You can do this for yourself but also for your spouse and children as well. This way you don't give the same ideas to everyone and when you're asked for ideas you have thoughtful suggestions that you can give right away. On a side note, I highly recommend asking people for their wish lists; I even go so far as to ask what they don't want more of. It's a great way to make sure the gifts you give and receive don't end up in the donation pile by New Year's Day.
Menus and ingredients lists. If you're hosting or bringing a dish to the party this is an easy way to stay calm when the party approaches. Make a menu list spelling out everything that will be served noting which dishes you're making. If you're bringing a dish just skip this step. Then, in a separate list or as bullet points to each dish make a list of the ingredients you need for each dish checking them off if you've already got them in stock. Use this list when you go grocery shopping closer to the party date.
To-Do List. What are the extra things you need to do surrounding the holiday season? It can be a brain dump where you just get it all out and then add items to your calendar from there. Think schedule cookie making with sisters, shopping for gifts, decorating the tree, and the list goes on. Getting it all out in a list will help lower your anxiety and will help you stay organized…it may also help you become more realistic about all you're trying to accomplish in a short amount of time. You just might take some things off your list when you see it all in black & white.
To make your lists use whatever method works best for you, for some that's a dedicated notebook for the holidays, for others it's the Notes App on their iPhone (that's me). Make sure you update your lists as the holiday season progresses and don't forget to cross off what you've accomplished for that oh-so-wonderful dopamine rush!
Tip Number 3:
Gift-wrap early. Start by organizing your gift wrap just like you organized your holiday décor. If you have enough room in your home for a gift wrap station complete with a flat workspace for wrapping gifts on, even better! There are tons of gift-wrap station organizers out there and it all depends on your space and budget. As you organize take inventory of gift wrapping, gift bags, tissue paper, ribbons, bows, and tags. Throw away the scraps and anything you won't use and make a list (there's another list!) of the items you need more of. Then, as you buy each gift, wrap it! Don't wait until Christmas Eve to do all the wrapping, divide and conquer and wrap those gifts as you buy them. You'll thank me later!
If you organize your holiday decorations, make master lists to work from, and gift wrap early, you'll be able to put your feet up and sip some hot cocoa more often than ever before during the holiday season. Organizing takes time, but it gives you time back, which is the best gift! Save yourself from holiday stress and get organized this holiday season.
Not sure where to begin? We have a full list of recommended products HERE! Need some help getting your home ready for holiday guests? Are you feeling overwhelmed by your basement? We've got you covered. Reach out to us today, and we'll be your elves helping you this holiday season.
The Joy of Living with Less
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the thought of moving because of all of your belongings? Is being at home stressful because your clutter is suffocating? Do you have a hard time finding items in your home? It may be time to consider the joy of living with less and lighten the load you’re carrying.
I’ve moved a lot in my lifetime and have always lived in small spaces. From a house that was less than 600 square feet to a studio apartment that was 400 square feet, I prided myself on being able to make small spaces warm and inviting yet organized and clutter-free. You don’t have to live in a small space though to live with less. You can do this in any size of home. What are the benefits of living with less?
It makes it easier to move. When the time comes to move you can easily pack your belongings knowing that you’re not moving things you haven’t used in 20 years that were never unpacked from previous moves. You can pack faster and smarter. The less you have the less you spend on movers. Stay away from storage units. They just become a place where your belongings go to die, often never used after being stored for a long time. Move what you Need, Use, and Love, and that alone will make your load so much lighter. When your home is organized your move is organized, you can pack things room by room and unpack the same way. No more mixed-up boxes of miscellaneous items all jumbled together. This brings joy into your life because it makes the moving process so much less stressful. Moving can be joyful when done in an organized way.
Another benefit is that it’s better for your mental health. I’ve worked with clients that don’t enjoy being in their homes because the clutter is suffocating, making it hard to focus, causing fights amongst family members, and all in all, being a joy killer. Living with less frees physical space so that you have the mental space to enjoy your home. A clutter-free space brings calm and peace into your life. It makes it so that you can enjoy your home, entertain in it easily, make dinner without having to clean first, get ready faster, the list goes on and on. “Outer order, inner calm” is one of my favorite sayings from author Gretchen Rubin. It’s so true, as the outer space comes together and you live with less it truly brings an inner calm to your mental state. It creates harmony amongst family members. And it saves money making stress go down as well. What’s more joyful than that?
Living with less also means that you’ll find your belongings when you need them. The Pixie Lost & Found survey finds the average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items, collectively costing U.S. households $2.7 billion annually in replacement costs. This is a lot of time and money lost throughout the years of your life just because of disorganization. Living with less will save you time and money, and a whole lot of it in the end. Imagine having a place for your keys, your charger, and your purse. Everything that you use throughout the day has a home and you know not only where to find it but where to put it when it’s not in use. No more cleaning before the cleaning lady comes over. No more panic-stuffing items into clothes baskets and hiding them behind closed doors when company comes over. No more buying multiples of items you already own because you can’t find them. That is the joy of living with less.
I hope that this sparks some motivation for you to get moving towards living with less. A 400 square foot studio apartment may not be in your future but moving easily, feeling joy in your home, and finding what you need when you need it most definitely is. May you find joy in your home today by living with less!
One of my favorite achievements as a Professional Organizer is when kids see their freshly organized space for the first time. Whether it's in their bedroom, playroom, or another area in the house, their reaction is almost always a precious testimonial to the power of organization. They notice the organization, feel the shift in the space and appreciate the work that was done to get there. So, if kids notice the change once a space is organized, does that mean they pick up on your clutter habits? The answer is absolutely.
Kids are affected by clutter the same way adults are. Clutter increases stress, lowers the ability to focus and makes it hard to make decisions about what to wear, play with, or eat. If a child sees their parents leaving stuff out on the counter for days, weeks or months they can see that putting things away is not important to their parent and therefore why should they put away their things? If they see paperwork piled up and dishes on the counter, it’s sending them the message that their toys and clothes on the floor isn’t an issue and can often be confused when parents erupt in frustration over a messy room. Why is their clutter an issue but their parent’s clutter isn’t?
Children are expected to put things away at school. I’ve seen kids as young as two years old in a Montessori classroom pick up after themselves without being prompted. The expectation is clear; pick up is a part of play. When given the right prompts and patience, kids can put away their belongings. It’s just like eating vegetables, if they don’t see their parents doing it why would they want to? Something key to changing clutter habits is seeing organizing as part of self-care and respect. If a child wants to keep an item then the expectation should be that they take care of that item with respect for it, the money it took to purchase it and out of respect for themselves. If they’re expected to brush their teeth before bedtime then part of that should be putting away the toothbrush and toothpaste as part of their self-care. If they don’t see their parents putting away their toothbrush and toothpaste why would they?
Something else that children pick up on is when a parent struggles to let go of unused and unwanted things. Learning to let go of clutter and donating gently used items can help a child learn not only to declutter but also to help others by donating to a good cause. Seeing a parent do this with ease makes an impact on children that will last a lifetime. Sometimes growing up in a cluttered home can make it hard for children to declutter as adults. They develop a fear of letting things go because of a “what if” scenario they learned as children. What if I need it later? What if I remember what this piece of plastic is for? What if I regret getting rid of it? Teaching children how to make good and honest decisions about what to keep and get rid of will help them for the rest of their lives. Learning to let go healthily at a young age will help them stay organized in the future. It is a gift that lasts a lifetime.
So if you’re struggling to find the motivation to get organized for yourself (which is the best reason) think about your kiddos. Are they living in a cluttered environment? Is their sleep being affected by the chaos in their room? Are they often bored in an overflowing playroom? They are a great reason to get and stay organized. They are watching your every move and learning from you every day. Do you want them to live controlled by stuff or by the freedom organizing brings? See their faces light up in an organized space. I’ve seen it countless times now and I know that the power of organizing is not lost on the little ones, the pre-teens or the teens. They feel the difference and notice the change just as much as the adults. It’s worth doing it for them.
Cheers to good decluttering habits!
Getting Ready to Sell Your House?
Don't Forget To Tidy Up Before Listing Your Home!
Decluttering & Organizing is one of the most important factors that should be taken into consideration when preparing your house for sale! The tidiness of your home greatly influences potential buyers’ perception of the space and can have a major impact on their decision-making.
Some important spaces potential buyers will be paying attention to are your:
Here are some actions you can take to prepare your home for sale and present it in the best possible light!
Rent a Storage Unit (if necessary)
6 Benefits of Properly Managing Your Food During Quarantine + Beyond
On March 12th, at 7:45 AM, as I briskly walked through Target down the bare aisles of where paper towel and pasta were supposed to be, it hit me that what we were about to go through was going to have a significant impact on our lives. Forty-five minutes later, panic had begun to set in.
Thoughts of "how long will this shopping trip be able to sustain us for if we can't leave to get more food?" followed by "how much is this going to cost, where will I put it all, and how do I make sure we don't waste any of it?" flooded my mind.
I imagine many people experienced similar thoughts the first time (if not the first few times) they went to the store at the start of this pandemic.
Many people are facing these roadblocks:
How does one combat these issues?
Creating a plan and managing pantry and fridge organization, similar to how you would organize your closet, is essential. By following these six steps, you can develop sustainable habits that will extend beyond quarantine, and it will save you time and money in the long-run.
The 6 Steps:
To assist with this, I have compiled a few of my favorite resources to help with extending the life of your produce and prioritize what you need to eat first to reduce waste:
I am also attaching 2 FREE printable downloads to help with your weekly meal planning and grocery shopping!
What is your biggest challenge when trying to keep your pantry and refrigerator under control?
The phrase "there aren't enough hours in a day" generally rings true during the usual hustle-and-bustle of our busy lives. Right now, however, during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are in a unique situation. We are staying at home more than usual due to self-quarantining in an attempt to keep healthy and flatten the curve.
This situation poses the question:
"What should I do if I have some extra time at home?"
Hours of sunlight are getting longer, and we are spending more time at home than usual! What better time than NOW to jumpstart spring cleaning & decluttering and get a fresh start!
Spring Cleaning & Decluttering is HEALTHY!
Spring cleaning & decluttering is therapeutic! Several health benefits come along with going through your house and clearing your clutter:
Not sure where to start? Here are some tips:
What is the first area in your home that you want to tackle & declutter this spring?
Helping feed your urge to purge clutter from your life!
DISCLOSURE: My blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that I earn a commission from qualifying purchases should you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you!
Copyright © 2023 Utterly Uncluttered, LLC