Organizing the Attic/Basement Zone

November is a great time to organize and clean out your attic or basement zone. It is not so hot or yet too cold for comfort. Also, many of us store our seasonal decorations in this zone.

As you prepare to organize this zone, make a list of all items you store here. The list might include:

  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans/heaters
  • Extra furniture and household accessories
  • Toys or items to pass on to children or grandchildren
  • Out of season clothing
  • Suitcases
  • Sports equipment
  • Archival paper
Plan where you want each of these categories to live. Items that you do not plan to use in the next year or more should be stored the farthest from the entry. This might include the extra furniture, accessories, toys, and archival papers.
As you place items into their areas, if you come across broken or unloved items or multiple items (how many suitcases do you really use?) that have been hanging around for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel so much lighter when they are gone and next year, when this zone rolls around again, it will be a much easier task.
Leave space between each zone so that you can safely maneuver to get or store items.
Label all containers. Use large labels that you can see from some distance so that you know what is in each container. Even if a container is clear, it is hard to see what is in it if the lighting is dim. It helps to locate holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations, but still label the container with the primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or crèche you want early in the season.
Your organized attic or basement will make decorating and undecorating a much easier chore.
Happy Holidays!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Controlling Your Holiday Budget

It is easy to get involved in all the excitement and joy of the holidays and get caught up in the flurry without stopping to take stock of our behaviors. We tend to overeat, under sleep, and way over spend.

Having a holiday budget is the best way to outsmart the overspending chaos. Much of our spending is tied to a combination of emotion and family traditions.

Before things get out of hand, do two things. First, develop a vision of what is really important to you this year. Then decide how much you can spend to make this vision happen. Once you come up with your big total, break it down into categories. Start with the categories that are really important to you and your vision. Is decorating your home a really big part of your vision? Is baking and giving your goodies as gifts a part of your holiday tradition? Is it important that gifts are a big ticket item? Would you like to give gifts that help make memories – like tickets to the Nutcracker?

Decide how much money you want to spend in each area. You may have to play with this as you go along but keep your eye on the big final total. Consider ways to make your budget work for you. If you like to give more expensive gifts for your family, you might arrange a system where you only buy for some of the family. Our family has a tradition among the siblings of only buying for one sibling and their family. We do this on a rotation system where we buy for a different member each year. When our parents were alive, we pooled our money for a big ticket item and then individually bought some small stocking stuffers.

After your budget is determined, really keep track of all expenses. Save all receipts and if there is not a receipt, write the amount on a piece of paper. Keep a running total as you go through the season. This keeps you on track and prevents you from stressing out about cash. Keep your priorities in order.

You’ll thank yourself as the New Year rolls in.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Recipes

I love to cook and I usually follow recipes. I must admit that at one time I had a huge collection of cookbooks but then a few years back I started my downsizing and many of the cookbooks had to go.

Some of my clients who are overwhelmed with cookbooks and recipes have asked me for advice in corralling and organizing their collections. They have shelves and shelves of cookbooks. They have recipe boxes stuffed with family favorites, pages torn out of magazines or newspapers, and computer print outs. So here are a few suggestions:

  • If you have handwritten recipes from a family member, which may become memorabilia, either laminate the reicpes or put them in a special container. I first make a copy of these recipes and actually use the copy when cooking and keep the original in a safe place.
  • Sort loose recipes by categories. My categories are soups, main dishes, vegetarian dishes, seafood, family breakfasts, low calorie, deserts, and fondue. As you sort your recipes, toss any that no longer appeal or ones that you cut out years ago but have never even tried. Conversely, copy recipes where the original has become so stained or torn that you can hardly read it. I keep my recipes in colored folders but I have seen others use notebooks effecively.
  • Take old cookbooks that have only a few favorite recipes and copy those favorites. Then give the cookbooks away. The copies now go into your folders or notebooks. Only keep the few cookbooks that are really favorites that have many recipes or have a sentimental attachment.
  • Moving forward, if you see a new recipe that you think you would like, leave it out or put it on your refrigerator. Try out the recipe in the next week or two. Then you will know if you really love that recipe and want to repeat it. If it is a “keeper” store it into the proper category

I have found that these tips keep all of my recipes manageable. They are stored on part of one shelf in my living room where I pull them out weekly to make my menus and shopping list.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer