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12 Ways to Get Organized Before the Holidays!

Getting Organized for the Holidays!

Every year you say you are going to do it. Get prepared before the holiday rush. And every year, you find yourself running around the mall at the last minute when you could be home wrapping gifts or baking cookies. It’s the perfect time of year to make your holiday fantasies come true. This year you can be watching holiday movies while everyone else you know is at the mall.

Here are a few steps to start you on your way to holiday organization and bliss:
1. Plan Ahead. Start by planning out what you need to do for the holidays.This most often starts with a shopping list. Plan whom you need to buy for, what your price range is, etc. Also, make a wish list. Not for presents,but for things you’ve always wanted to do during the holiday season, but never have had time. You could visit a local light display, or make a gingerbread house.

2. Divide up your shopping list. Make yourself responsible for a certain number of gifts each week between now and the middle of December. The more you buy now, the less you will have to fight the crowds for later. This also decreases the financial impact of shopping and spreads it out over time.

3. Consider giving gift certificates. You can purchase gift certificates while you run your normal weekly errands. Think about the various places you visit in a week and think about who might like a gift certificate to that establishment. Some businesses that offer gift certificates include:restaurants, gas stations, super markets, super stores, movie theaters, salons and spas, and of course, mall shops. Also consider using travelers checks as gifts. These can be used anywhere and are not subject to the same fees as many gift certificates. Many establishments that sell gift certificates online do not charge for shipping. If you are shopping for the person who has everything consider making charitable donations in their name. For example, adopt a whale for a child, or buy a village clean drinking water on behalf of a gift recipient. (Email me for websites and other ideas!)

4. Buy extra gifts. Buy extra gifts that will be good for any of those last-minute gifts, and those people who didn’t make it on the list. Items such as candles, restaurant gift certificates, and gourmet chocolate are all great items for mail persons, administrative assistants, teachers, or co-workers.Have a stock of these gifts on hand. If you don’t give them all away, use them for birthday, hostess, or thank you gifts. (Make sure to try not to buy holiday related items.) If you have any left over restaurant gift cards, treat yourself to a post-holiday dinner out!

5. Take out the holiday dishes. Take out your holiday dishes before the big meal. Swap your normal every day dishes for the holiday dishes. This way they will be clean and ready to go before your holiday meals and you are able to enjoy them throughout the season. If they are fragile, consider keeping out an everyday plate or two for the kids.

6. Get the cards done now. I know what you are thinking… Now?? The answer is yes; start doing the addressing, signing, stamping and labeling now. Keep the cards in a basket where you sit down to watch television.This way you can work on them little by little over the next few weeks. You never spend too much time on any given day, and they will be ready to mail before the holidays are over! Also, consider getting your kids involved. They may love to put stamps on each envelope, help you sign the cards, or even put stickers on them. Purchase a holiday card book to help track who you send cards to, and who you receive them from. Is there anyone you haven’t spoken to in years that you can skip sending a card?Make sure to update your book throughout the year with marriages, friends who have passed away, and new addresses. When you sit down to address your cards you can do so right from this book.

7. Plan your menu. Plan your holiday menu now and start stocking up on non-perishable items like baking goods, stuffing, canned goods, etc.Think about items you can purchase now and freeze, such as pie crusts. This will save you time running from store to store trying to find the last bag of chocolate chips.

8. Get the Kids Involved. If you have children, get them involved in the holiday preparation. Have them write their wish lists early (this is never a problem!). They can also create cards, wrap gifts, or decorate the tree.They love taking part in the holidays, and they never think it’s too early to start preparing! With the extra time you are going to have this year, you can actually spend more time with them!

9. Get into the holiday mood. If you need to set the holiday to start wrapping gifts and writing out cards, take out the seasonal CDs or movies and pop one in. You’ll be surprised how quickly you are ready to tackle the holidays! It’s also a great excuse to watch those movies you never have time for!

10. Order Early. If you plan to do any online shopping, place your orders now.This way you won’t have to worry about delivery schedules or paying more in shipping costs. Some online stores even offer discounts or free shipping before the holidays.

11. Have holiday preparation mini parties. Have friends or family members over to have holiday preparation parties. Everyone wants to be organized and prepared for the holidays so invite your friends over for a wrapping,baking, or card party! Focus on one set of gifts, cards, or cookies at a time. The work will go much faster with many sets of hands. Don’t worry about cooking a meal for this party. Order a pizza, bake some ready-made cookies, or open a bottle of wine and you are sure to have a good time, and get lots of work done!

12. Start a holiday book. Keep a notebook with the names of the people you are shopping for, what you purchased, what you paid for it, when you bought it, etc. This will help you stay on track and determine the people who still need gifts. At the end of the holiday season, don’t pack the book away with the holiday items. Keep it out and use it throughout the year to keep track of gift ideas, gifts purchased, and supplies such as wrapping paper.

This way you don’t waste time or money next year shopping for supplies you already purchased this year.
The most important thing to remember about holiday preparation is that it is fun! When you are not rushing or trying to get things done in the middle of the night,you can have a stress free holiday season!

Bonus Tip:  Give the gift of organization this holiday season. Give a gift certificate for the services of a professional organizer, or to a home organization store. Otherwise,consider giving a consumable gift such as food or movie tickets. This way you are not giving friends and family more clutter or items they need to find space for.
Bonnie Joy Dewkett is a professional organizer, author, and motivational speaker. Her company, The Joyful Organizer®, creates and implements organizational systems for the home or office. These changes allow her Customers to create calm from chaos at work and at home. She is a member of The National Association of Professional Organizers(NAPO). She has published The Joyful Organizer’s Guide to a Joyful Move, which is available at http://www.thejoyfulorganizer.com

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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