Party Perfect Preparation

I love to give parties! It’s important to me to have everything in place by party time so that I can also enjoy the party.

When planning my parties, I first set my date, and then look at the guest list, the theme, the menu, and the location.

Date: I try to find a date that I feel will work for most of my friends. I usually avoid holiday weekends like the 4th of July and any weekends that I already know my best friends are unavailable. I chose the date at least 6 weeks out and send out save the date emails. About a month before the party I send out paper invitations.

Guests: Guests are the most important component of the party. I love to invite a diverse group of people who will enjoy each others’ company. I usually have a core group of long standing friends and then add some new friends that I think everyone will enjoy. For me, the whole idea of the party is to bring people together to visit.

Theme: The theme holds everything together and makes the planning simpler. The theme determines the invitations, the food, the decorations, and any activities. I feel that having different themes keeps the parties fresh.

Menu: The menu usually follows the theme. I also keep in mind my guests’ food preferences and restrictions. I try to see that everyone has at least a couple of items that they can eat and drink. My house is small so I cannot accommodate everyone sitting down to a table to eat. I have a lot of finger foods. I usually have on the menu a mixture of items I prepare and order.

Location: Usually my parties are at my home but I have had some great ones at other locations. When giving a party at my home, I go for “clean enough” so that the board of health won’t be concerned but not so clean that open heart surgery can be performed. Good enough is good enough. People are more interested in each other than my home.

Once I have found my date, I put together a timeline. I list every task that must be done before that first guest knocks on my door. Then I put an intended date by each one of those tasks and enter them into my calendar. The timeline is what keeps me sane. I know that there is a lot to do but I also know when I plan to do it.

When the date and time arrives, I am ready to enjoy my party as much as my guests. I do love to give a party!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Tax Prepartion – Setting Up the File Now

Now is the time of year when tax forms come in the mail. If you have not already done so, set up a tax folder to hold all of these important papers. I find it useful to keep a tax folder in my file drawer all year round so as I make contributions, the documentation goes directly into this file.

The information in this blog comes from a newsletter I received from Tarantino & Co, CPA (http://news.resourcesforclients.com/?u=nXgAnmPNPASd&issue=65). They have given me permission to use their very helpful lists.

Watch the mail for your tax forms. W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, and the new 1095-As will start arriving. If you used the new Affordable Care insurance exchange to purchase your health insurance you will receive the new 1095-A form that recaps this activity.

Collect any receipts that you will use to document deductions.

Also look for:

  • any other forms that disclose possible income (jury duty, unemployment, IRA distributions, etc.)
  • business K-1 forms
  • social security records
  • mortgage interest statements
  • tuition paid statements
  • property tax statements
  • mileage log
  • medical, dental, and vision expenses
  • business expenses
  • records of any asset purchases and sales
  • health insurance records (including Medicare and Medicaid)
  • charitable receipts and documentation
  • bank and investment statements
  • credit card statements
  • records of any out of state purchases that my require use tax
  • records of any estimated tax payments
  • home sales records
  • educational expenses (including student loan interest expense)
  • casualty and theft loss documentation
  • moving expenses
  • contribution records

If you are not sure if something is important for tax purposes, retain the documentation. It is better to save unnecessary documentation than to later wish you had it.

While looking at your W-2s decide if now is the time to have your employer update your withholding amounts.

Coordinate your deductions. If you and someone else share a dependent, confirm you are both on the same page as to who will claim the dependent. This would include single taxpayers, divorced taxpayers, taxpayers with elderly parents/grandparents, and parents with older children.

At this point in time, just put everything you find in your tax folder. As you start to prepare your paperwork for your CPA or yourself, pull out last year’s tax form to match the items you have with what you had last year. This way you can see if you are missing something.

Now, set a date on your calendar to actually do the grunt work of adding up your contributions, adding up your mileage, and putting all paperwork in the proper order.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Preparing Your 2015 Calendar


By now you either have your new calendar for the coming year or are seriously thinking about it. Commitments are already cropping up and you probably have written notes or circled the dates in the tiny calendar at the back of your old one and made notes in the margins and are running out of room.

Now is a great opportunity to take the time to really set up your 2015 calendar so that is will work for you. I really enjoy this annual ritual. I sit comfortably with some nice pens and a lovely hot drink. I put on some holiday music and take my time to reflect and plan.

  1. I review my current calendar. I note birthdays, anniversaries, and standard meeting times ( networking, goals group, weight watchers, etc.) I also note medical appointments that are already set for the new year.
  2. I transfer these dates onto the new calendar in red. I want them to stand out from all the other appointments and meetings that will crowd my calendar as the year goes by.
  3. At the top of each month I note what zone I am going to work on in my house (see former blogs on my zone plan). January will  have “office” zone, February will have “guest bedroom” and so forth throughout the year. On the notes side of my calendar I will write in other actions that I do in that month. January might have “take down birdhouses and clean them”.
  4. Also on the notes side I keep track of when I pay yearly obligations, renewals of subscriptions, donations, or memberships. Then when I start getting letters to “renew” something 4 months in advance, I can easily flip through my calendar and see when they are really due.
  5. Finally I write in any known scheduled events for the upcoming months such as client appointments, presentations, and upcoming adventures (Europe in July!).

Once I have all the known events in place, I feel ready for anything the new year is going to bring.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Your 2014 Calendar


By now you either have your new calendar for the upcoming year or are seriously thinking about it (if for no other reason than you are tired of sticky notes or crunching notes on that small one page planner for the next year in your old calendar). Sometime between now and the new year take the time to really set up your 2014 calendar. I really enjoy this annual ritual. I sit down with some nice pens and a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. I put on some holiday music and take my time to reflect and plan.

1. I review my current calendar. Month by month I note birthdays, anniversaries, and standard meeting times (networking meetings, weight watchers, etc.). I also note medical appointments that are already set for the upcoming year.

2. I transfer these dates onto the new calendar in red. I want them to stand out from all the other appointments and meetings that will crowd my calendar as the year goes by.

3. At the top of each month I note what zone I am going to work on in  my house (see former blogs on my zone plan). January will have “office zone”, February will have “spare bedroom zone”, and so forth throughout the year. In the margin of the calendar I will write in actions that I usually do in that month. For example, in January I have “clean out birdhouses.”

4. Also in the margin of each month I keep track of when I pay yearly obligations, renewals of subscriptions, donations, or memberships. Then when I start getting letters to “renew” something 4 months in advance, I can easily flip through my calendar and see when they are really due.

5. Finally, I write in any known scheduled events for the upcoming months such as client appointments, presentations, and upcoming adventures (Carnegie Hall in May, Paris in June).

Once I have the known events in place, I feel ready for what the new year is going to bring.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Make Your Calendar Work for You in 2013

By now you have probably gotten tired of writing notes on the back page and putting sticky notes in your old calendar.

Let’s plan how to set up your new calendar for the upcoming year.

Step One: Review your current calendar. This is the fun part. Go month by month to note birthdays, anniversaries, and standard meeting times. Also note doctor/dentist appointments that are already set for the upcoming year.

Step Two: Transfer these dates to your new calendar in a color that will stand out. As you go through the year writing in all the other appointments, you don’t want to lose focus on these dates.

Step Three: On each month, either along the edge or at the top of your calendar, write in actions that you usually do during that month. For example, in January I have “clean out birdhouses” and “organize office zone.” In February I have “deduct from checkbook deposit box expense” and “organize my guest bedroom zone.”

Step Four: On each month, Make a list of when organizational dues are expected and when you make annual contributions to organizations. For example, in March I have “National Audubon” due and in April I have “Atlanta Botanical Gardens” and “National NAPO” due. Most of these organizations start to solicit months before the renewal is actually due. This side bar of information on when items are really due keeps you from guessing or having to check back into your files or checkbook.

I always enjoy setting up my new calendar. It is fun to review what I have done during this past year and to feel prepared for the upcoming year.

Jonda Beattie
Professional Organizer