Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I hope these holiday organization posts aren’t stressing anyone out. Why am I posting them ‘so early’? Honestly, because part of being organized is thinking ahead. All of my blog posts are meant as tools for readers to use to simplify their spaces and can be applied at any time that is convenient for you. Last week I covered decorations and holiday cards. Today, let’s dig in to some other holiday topics.
I have found the simplest way to keep gift buying organized is with lists. You may choose to have one master list, or a variety of lists for the different people in your life. Try to condense to one list and I recommend in a closed notebook so curious eyes can’t easily see it. Start by listing out everyone you plan on purchasing gifts for this season. This will help organize your thoughts. I also like to put a maximum dollar amount next to each name. Then, as you purchase gifts you can write down the item and it’s cost next to the name. If this seems like extra work for you, you may have a good handle on this aspect of your holidays. That’s great! But there are many people overwhelmed with keeping track and, as a result, they end up over-buying because they forget about items they’ve already bought. An organized list can truly help you stay on, or below, budget.
So, you’ve tracked the gift buying and now you’ve got them in your house. Some may need to be hidden. Where is the best place? Here is mine (I am counting on NONE of our daughters reading this!): I place the gifts our children will receive on Christmas morning in the empty decoration bins that are stored in the crawl space. It may seem like a lot of work, but little ones especially won’t be able to find them. I can still recall growing up in the ’70’s and searching my parent’s bedroom closet EVERY year and finding a good chunk of my gifts. Such an obvious hiding place!
Tip from a seasoned mom: I don’t know why, but when our kids were little, I never wrapped a gift for them to receive on Christmas morning in advance. It seems like I was always up until the wee hours of Christmas Eve wrapping gifts that would be opened in mere seconds just a few hours later. If you have young kids, try to carve out some time to wrap gifts before December 24. Also utilize any free wrapping services offered when you shop.
I don’t always love aging, but there are certain advantages! I’d like to share the best system I have discovered for gift wrapping, after manyyears of wrapping gifts:
- Wrap gifts as soon as you can after purchasing them.
- Place wrapped gifts directly under a tree. The exceptions here are the obvious: unless it’s a gift coming to children on Christmas morning, or you have pets that eat wrapped gifts.
- If it’s a wrapped gift to be saved, store it back in your decoration tubs, out of sight. Everyone has their own ideas regarding gift tags for these gifts. I have always gone the simple route and simply written the receiver’s first initial on the bottom of the gift with a permanent marker.
- If you’re using rolled wrapping paper and have odd sized scraps that aren’t used to wrap smaller gifts right away, recycle that paper. I have found countless scraps in many basements that I have organized and they are never, ever put in the KEEP pile. Save yourself the trouble and recycle it now.
- When using rolled ribbon, secure the end with a small piece of clear tape to keep it from unwinding and wreaking havoc in your wrapping supplies.
- TOSS smushed bows if you won’t use them.
Are you surprised to see this on an organizer’s list? Don’t be! Organization can be done on many levels, in many areas of your life. If you are hosting a holiday celebration, being organized will ease any stress you may be feeling about the event. If you’re not hosting any events, and attending some—good for you! I’ve recently learned that everyone has different gifts when it comes to hospitality and if it’s not your gift, you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
My mom had the gift of hospitality and I am so thankful I have it as well. I truly enjoy hosting any size gathering of family and friends. My mom was a list maker and I think that’s one of the reason I utilize lists as much as I do. Here are my recommended hostess lists to make:
- Planned food to serve (then make next to each item the name of your guest that is bringing it)
- Beverages to serve (also write names of guests bringing these items)
- Tasks to do to prepare for the party.
- Write down the name of each room that needs to be cleaned and include specific tasks for each room
- How much time different recipes take to cook, adding a start time will help
- Determine any linens you will need
- Grocery list
- Plan out what utensils are needed (plastic, silver, serving pieces, and so on)
Another great benefit to using lists to organize is that it’s an easy way to communicate with your family members. If I have a big to-do list before a party, I can direct my family to the list and invite them to choose tasks to be completed to help out. If you have young children, be sure to include them as well. You can draw a list with pictures for simple tasks they can do. It might seem small, but when my mom asked me to arrange crackers on a platter, it made me feel important and I cherish the memories of working with her in our kitchen preparing for a party.
The holidays are a time to gather together with the people you care about. I hope this year brings you wonderful times with the people you love. Let me know if I can help in any way this holiday season! firstname.lastname@example.org