Organizing Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner. What organizing tips can we incorporate now to make this Christmas and the next a little less stressful?

As the Christmas cards come in, take the time now to check addresses and update your contact list. Plan on how you want to handle the cards you receive. Do you want to keep all of your cards, just the very special ones, or none at all? If you like to use some pretty cards for gift tags, after the holidays put them in a small box, label them, and store them with your holiday wrap. If you want to keep some of the notes and pictures, consider scanning them. Another option is to place very special cards in your memorabilia box. If you plan on answering notes that you received in your cards, schedule the time to do this now or very likely they will sit in a bag or basket for the whole year (This I know very personally).

Wrapping Paper:
Let go of those little bits and pieces of the roll that are left after wrapping your gifts this year. You might want to keep some smaller pieces to use as gift tags. If this is your plan, put them in a small box, label them, and store them with your holiday wrap. Paper that came off gifts you received might be kept for next year if it is pristine. The same can be said for keeping and reusing gift bags. If you find that you have a lot of paper left from previous years, Now is the time to decide what you really love and let the excess go. Extra tissue paper can be used to wrap fragile ornaments when packing up after the holidays. Do have one place to store your entire holiday wrap collection.

Start your gift list for next year now. What have you discovered that your friends and family really love? Make a list. Keep a list of all clothing sizes. Shop all year round and keep all gifts that you buy in one place. This shows you how much you already have when the holiday shopping season hits next year. Tag the items with the names of who you though of when you bought the gift. If you do re-gifting, mark who gave you the original gift.

After Christmas, wrap up carefully all of your decorations that you plan to keep and use next year. As you box them, divide them up so that it will facilitate putting them out next year. I have all early advent items in the top of one marked box. Others, who do more extensive decorating, mark boxes by the rooms where the decorations are used. Discard broken or unloved items now.

As you receive gifts, now is the time to donate what you no longer need or love. If you receive a new coffee pot, donate the old one. If you got a new robe, let the old one go to charity. Have children participate in clearing out toys they no longer love to make room for their new gifts.

Have a happy holiday season!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

To Tree or Not to Tree- That is the Question

A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I saw my first live tree on top of a car on its way to some one’s home. It made me consider when or if I was going to put up my tree.
My friends and family always seem to have a discussion about this time of year about putting up a tree.
I hear comments like:
“It’s just one more thing to trip over.”
“I’m not going to be home for Christmas anyway.”
“I don’t mind putting it up but I hate the job of taking it down.”
“I love my tree and I only want a real one.”
“My tree is up all year in the basement. I just unwrap it and bring it up.”
In spite of all the discussion, most of us do what we have always done. If we have had a tree in the past, we’ll have it now.
I thought about not having a tree this year (for about 30 seconds) because I would not be here for Christmas and it is a hassle to put up alone. Then I thought, “Well, what are friends for?” and asked a girl friend to help me put up my tree. In return, I will take her out that evening for a tour of homes in Decatur.
I will be simplifying and downsizing my decorating this year. I have made my schedule for all that I plan to do for the holidays and there is only so much time. But, even though I will be gone on Christmas, I will still enjoy my tree. I love getting up in the morning and turning on the lights and having my coffee just looking at my tree. My ornaments all hold meaning for me and I love to look at them.
Do you put up a tree or trees? What makes you want or not want the tree? I would love your feedback on this debate.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Christmas strategy

Christmas is coming closer. We look at the calendar with a mixture of anticipation and fear. We look forward to seeing our grown children return home or visiting our family. We look forward to the favorite holiday rituals.
We panic over the things that have not yet happened. The cards to family are not yet mailed. When is the last date I can safely mail these packages? The gifts I ordered to be shipped overseas had to be back ordered and now I get an email that one of the items has been discontinued. When am I going to get the cookie baking done that I had scheduled for last week but couldn’t get to?
Remember your vision for the perfect holiday. Close your eyes and visualize what it will look and feel like. Now, come up with a plan for the setbacks. Put the cards not yet finished in a cloth bag, carry them with you, and work on them today and this weekend when waiting or when there is a few free moments. Set aside time on Sunday for wrapping those gifts that you have and prepare them to mail Monday.
Look at the calendar again and find another time to bake. Follow up on the unarrived gifts and send an email to Scotland explaining the problem. After all, your gift is not their only Christmas. The children will have lots of gifts and yours coming later will just be fine.
Take the time to see your friends and enjoy your mostly decorated home. (Finish decorating Saturday evening and put the boxes away.)
Enjoy your holidays!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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November zone- storage

November is a good time to declutter storage areas. Often these areas are in an attic, basement, or garage and the weather in Georgia is not too hot or too cold to tackle these often unheated/not air conditioned areas. Seasonal decorations are often stored here as well and now is the time to sort through these boxes and see what can go.
Often people just “throw” things into their attics, basements, and garages without any sense of order of design. Things pile up and make it difficult to find or get to the items that you are looking for.
When organizing the storage area, first define the purpose of this space. What do you plan to store here and why. Once you have decided that, divide your storage area into zones.
One area could be for Holiday decorations and supplies. Then you would subdivide this area into the different holidays. Each box should be labeled. I have a lot of Christmas boxes, so I label the boxes to readily access what I want to find. The first Sunday of Advent I will really only want my creche and my advent wreath. I don’t want to have to pull down a lot of boxes just to locate these items. If the boxes are clearly marked, I just pull those boxes down then and then bring the rest down when I am ready for them.
Spare household supplies might be another area. Extra furniture and accessories that you are not currently using but are in good repair and you think you might use or give away to a family member later would go in this area. Fans, humidifiers, lamps might end up here.
Off season clothing might be an area of your storage. Archival paper, if properly contained, could be in a section. Sports equipment that is rarely used could be housed here.
The main thought is to have a plan for this area and make it usable instead of a dumping area.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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Christmas redo

I’ve been in this house about 15 years and unless I have something new I seem to put the same items in the same place every year. This year I felt it was time for a change. I started by moving the tree to a new location. Then I pretty much put things where they had been but when friends come over I have them move 3 to 5 items to a different location and tell me why they moved them. The place is starting to look different and it is a lot of fun. I’m really seeing my things that I love again and some decorations are simply being “retired”.