Staying organized during the holiday season is something that we all need and want, but forget to consider while shopping for presents, cooking, entertaining, wrapping gifts and decorating. This year, I decided to ask Jacquie Ross, professional organizer and owner of CastAway the Clutter, some secrets to keeping this holiday organized. She says:
Once you've created a system, you can tweak it over the years, but all the work is done at the beginning. First, you'll want to list all of the tasks and responsibilities that you always perform every year. For example, do you entertain every year? Do you purchase the entire family's gifts? Do you make gifts? Do you write and mail all of the holiday cards? Once you know what you need to do, you can then create a schedule that will work for you. You can also create a Holiday Planning Binder to keep track of everything.
I have found that the demands of the holiday often take over and I find myself somewhere between baking projects, cooking preparations and wanting to leave for some family or friend get-togethers, parties, and impromptu light shows, but I always feel like there is something else to be done. I do enjoy all of the preparation, but at 1 a.m. on Christmas morning when I am still wrapping presents I think, "How can I organize this holiday better?" Shopping for gifts is easy for me, but consistently getting the holiday cards out is where I get a C- for both effort and completion. Holiday baking generally works, but somehow it seemed a tad easier when my children were younger and we had less party invites. I could consistently bake without having to leave my home. So I asked Jacquie to share her tips on how to create a holiday organization systems that really works. She suggested the following:
1. Holiday Event Planning -- Write down all holiday events including parties, plays, shows, etc. on your calendar. What will you need for these events? A new outfit? A dish to bring? Once you've determined this, you'll need to schedule time to get it all done.
2. Holiday Gift Shopping -- Create a holiday gift shopping list that you can use and refer to every year. Shopping for holiday gifts can take a lot of time and it will take even more time if you have kids in tow. Can you schedule time to shop alone? If you're struggling to find the time, ask your spouse, partner or friend to take care of the kids while you're out.
3. Holiday Cooking and Baking -- At the beginning of the holiday season, plan what you want to bake and when. Create a holiday baking favorites list that you can refer to. Your list should include recipes or details of where you can find the recipe -- saving you time. Then, schedule your ingredient shopping and baking time on the calendar, just like any other appointment.
4. Holiday Card-Giving -- Writing and mailing holiday cards can be a time consuming task, especially if you like to write a special note inside each card. Keep your card list in a simple, typed-up spreadsheet and write your cards over a period of a few days to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If your children are old enough, ask for help with stamping and labeling the envelopes.
5. Holiday Gift Wrapping -- Purchase gift wrap early so that you're not running out to buy gift wrap during peak holiday shopping time and schedule one or two evenings to wrap gifts. Set up a gift wrapping station, if space allows, and be sure to have all supplies on hand, e.g. pen, scissors, tape, gift tags, tissue, ribbon and bows, etc. Store excess gift wrap for next year inside clear, labeled containers and keep it with the rest of the holiday supplies.
6. Holiday Home Decorating -- Decorating the Christmas tree or the exterior of your home is definitely an event. Make it fun and festive by scheduling a day or weekend to get it all done and enjoying holiday treats like hot chocolate, hot apple cider, eggnog or a tasty appetizer.
I love her strategies and could see myself using many of them, especially holiday card-giving and holiday gift wrapping tips. How are you keeping your holidays organized? Share your tips with me. If you would like more information about Jacquie visit www.castawaytheclutter.com and visit her life makeover blog at www.FamilyMakeoverMaven.com.