Hellen Buttigieg

Article Summary:

A top ten list of organizing tips for the holiday season from a professional organizer.

Holiday Organizing Tips

Below is the Top Ten List of my favorite holiday organizing tips. Some are new and some are tried and true. My hope is that these will save you time and energy so you can truly enjoy this special time of year with your friends and family.

1. Make gift-wrapping a pleasure.
Save time and make wrapping gifts an enjoyable experience by transforming a spare room (or part of a room) into a gift-wrapping center for the holidays. Set up a table or use a rolling cart to put out your supplies (gift wrap, scissors, tape, pen, cards, bows, etc.) and keep everything you need in one place. Create the right atmosphere by adding some music, a scented candle and a cup of hot chocolate to get you in a festive mood.

2. Clear away the 'every day' to decorate for the holidays.
For more impact and less clutter, remove your every day decorative items from tabletops and mantels before you display your holiday decorations. Store them temporarily in the boxes your decorations were kept in.

3. Let go of the excess - you don't have to keep decorations forever.
When you are unpacking your holiday decorations, consider letting go of the items you no longer like. Our tastes change and styles come and go and there's no rule that says you have to keep every decoration forever. Give some away to charity or offer them to friends/family members that have recently moved into their own place.

4. Don't think it - ink it.
Our brain is like a computer; if we try to keep too much in our memory, it slows down (and sometimes crashes!) Get holiday details off your mind and on paper to free up some RAM. Buy a small, festive-looking notebook and keep it with you at all times. Any time an idea pops into your mind, write it down under specific headings: gift ideas, clothing sizes, party food ideas and ingredients, etc. Then, when you are ready to go shopping, you'll have your 'to buy' list ready to go. An added bonus: you can use and refer to this notebook year after year.

5. Stop cluttering people's lives.
Streamline your gift list - most people already have too much. Ask for wish lists. Give gifts that don't have to be displayed or take up valuable storage space. Here are some suggestions: savings bonds, movie passes, spa or salon gift certificates, massages, restaurant gift certificates, preserves or homemade cookies/cakes, gift certificates for services that simplify and improve life, i.e. maid, personal shopper, professional organizer, personal trainer, life coach, etc. Our time is the most precious gift we could give. Is there anyone on your list that you could offer your time to instead of a gift? You could cook dinner for a friend, run errands for a senior, or baby-sit for a busy mom.

6. Clear the decks.
Reserve one day early this month to catch up on unfinished business like filing, making calls and entering data before the holidays arrive. Most of these 'loose ends' take only a few minutes to tie up but are put off because they don't seem urgent. However, you know in the back of your mind that they have to be done and this takes up space in your brain and tension in your body. Eliminate these energy drains and you will be free to enjoy your holidays.

7. Clarify expectations.
The holidays shouldn't be about endless lists of tasks. Ask family members what's essential for their enjoyment of the holiday season. Scale back to only the traditions that matter most to you and your family. Everyone will be less frazzled and better able to relax and have fun.

8. Avoid holiday over-load.
Limit social engagements to only those you truly want to attend. Book some downtime between social events so you don't feel overextended. Aim to schedule only 75% of your day to allow for traffic delays, long line-ups and other unexpected occurrences.

9. Get a supportive system.
Want to enjoy the holidays more? Accept that you don't have to do it all and do it perfectly. Get the whole family involved and do only the things that really matter. Make a master list of everything that needs to be done and let family members choose the jobs they enjoy and have a talent for. Some people are great at wrapping gifts while others would prefer to decorate cookies. If you have the budget, consider hiring help to take some of the pressure off i.e. a personal shopper, a cleaning service, and a student to run errands or to help out during a party.

10. Pay yourself first.
Block time now to give yourself a break later. Choose a day (or at least half a day) during the holidays to do what's fun for you. You can spend it skating, relaxing at the spa, or taking in a movie. The important thing is that you feel renewed and refreshed because you gave the gift of pleasure and relaxation to yourself.

Hellen Buttigieg, CPOŽ, is an award-winning Certified Professional OrganizerŽ, life coach, Gemini - Nominated TV Host and President of We Organize U. For free tips on organizing your home, your office and your life, visit www.WeOrganizeU.com and sign up for her newsletter, emailed to you monthly. To contact Hellen or for information on hiring a We Organize U organizing specialist, call 905-829-2219 or e-mail info@WeOrganizeU.com.

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