It’s the holiday season. Time for buying gifts, throwing parties and decorating your home. All that work can leave little time for enjoying what should be the most wonderful time of the year. So here are some quick tips to help make your holiday season merry and bright.
Make a list of all the people you plan to shop for with gift ideas that match their tastes. Consider gift certificates, which are easy to wrap and create less clutter. Be sure to set a gift budget for everyone on your list. Check weekly flyers for sales to plan your trip to the mall. The best times to shop are weekday mornings when there are fewer people shopping. Some stores have personal shoppers who can assist you in finding the right gift. And many stores have websites that allow you to save time by shopping from home online. Finally, set yourself a deadline to complete your gift buying so you have more time to enjoy the
Throwing a party
Planning a successful holiday party is much like planning any party. Start by selecting a date, preferably one
that doesn’t conflict with other holiday gatherings. Once done, determine where you want to host your party – at home, the office or at a favourite spot – and make reservations if necessary. Now you’re ready to draw up your guest list. For a formal party,
prepare and mail out invitations. For an informal gathering, email or phone invitations will do. If you decide to hold your party at home, develop a festive menu to serve your guests. If you choose a restaurant or club, ask them to suggest a menu based on
the number of guests invited and their tastes. Some seasonal music and a few carefully chosen decorations, table settings and centrepieces will help create a festive atmosphere.
Decorating your home
Before you drag out boxes of lights and tinsel, visualize how you want your home to look and make a plan. A good plan covers everything from your theme (such as ‘An Old-fashioned Christmas’) and colour scheme to the decorations you want to use and where you’ll place them. Now you can pull out the décor you want to use. Sift through it and donate or purge any outdated or unwanted items. Be sure to test your decorations to make sure they work properly. Replace all burnt-out bulbs and frayed cords. If you need to buy new outdoor lights, consider strings with built-in timers. They’ll save you time and energy costs. Here’s another idea that will save you time: Make a party of it. Invite family and friends to help you decorate, with the promise of eggnog and other holiday treats. You could even purchase some craft supplies and have your friends over to create some memorable tree
decorations. (And a few holiday season memories!)
Be realistic. We often start off the holiday season with lots of great ideas for family fun, decorating, parties, gifts and crafts. Now is the time to take a step back and look realistically at the time frame you have remaining to get all these things done on top of your regular activities.
Remember that these fun ideas can become “one more thing” on your To Do list. Pick a few things you would like to be involved in and enjoy them. Save the other ideas for another year or as a way to ward off winter blues in the New Year.
Maintain your regular exercise routine. Don’t slip up simply because you have some extra errands to do. Don’t schedule your workouts around your other activities; schedule your other activities around your workout routines. Try to go
to the gym, swim or exercise at home at the same time each day. Give yourself and loved ones the best gift of all this holiday and take care of your health first.
Feel pulled in a million directions? If your children need you at school concerts, work has extra holiday hours for you or your friends need you to help plan a big holiday party, keep in mind that you won’t be of use to anyone if you over exhaust yourself. Take a break each day for yourself. Plan it in your calendar as you would for meetings with family and friends. Schedule “you” time for at least 15-30 minutes each day doing something that you enjoy. Whether it’s reading a good book,
going for a manicure or journal writing, take the time to relax and do things you want to do.
Learn to say no. Don’t take something on assuming you will find the time to get it done. Practice with your family. Separate
what really needs to get done from what would be nice if it got done. Focus on getting things that have to get done and delegate or hold off on the rest. The holidays should be an enjoyable time for everyone, don’t let yourself become a slave to the season.
Eat properly. Don’t use the holidays and stress as a reason to over eat. Although the holidays always seem to bring with them sweet treats and extra appetizers, don’t let them tempt you. Remember, just because someone offers you something, you do not have to accept. It is not considered rude to politely pass on a food. If you start something and know you should stop, pack it up and take it home for a snack or meal later. There is no rule saying you must eat everything on your plate or everything that is handed to you. Pick and choose the healthiest foods and indulge on those. Eat smaller portions of your selected treats.
Although some people think alcohol decreases your stress, it is only a temporary solution. Try to stay away from consuming too many cocktails as this will interfere with your diet and overall well-being. If you are careful with what you drink, you will also eliminate consuming too much at holiday parties which in turn could save you some added stress when you get on the scale.
Cut down your gift giving list. If you have too many people to buy gifts for this year, make a smaller list. Many people will understand and be relieved of the stress and pressure of time and money just as you will be. This works for especially well for larger families. Gather for a cookie or gift exchange where each person is only required to bring one item or send a thoughtful Christmas card instead.
Stick to a budget. Financial woes top of the list of relationship issues. Don’t put an extra strain on yourself and your relationship by running up big bills this season. You will decrease your quality of living by increasing stress: wondering how you are going to pay your bills, working extra hours to keep creditors at bay, and doing without things you actually need because you wanted to have the “best Christmas
Decide ahead of time how much you are going to spend on each person on your list. Remember that it really is the thought that counts, and not the size or number of presents.
Do you procrastinate? You’re not alone. It’s easy to say, ”I’ll do it tomorrow,” when faced with a project. But if you keep putting it off, you run the risk of racing the clock to complete it at the last minute. And if you do complete it, you may be unhappy with the results. So when you feel the temptation to procrastinate:
1) Ask yourself why you procrastinate – There are many reasons why we put things off, from fear to lack of motivation. Knowing why you procrastinate will help you break the habit.
2) Identify what motivates you – Is it tight deadlines? The promise of a reward? Think about what motivates you and use that to get the ball rolling.
3) Prioritize your tasks – It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have several projects competing for your attention. Categorizing tasks as high and low priority will help you to focus on the most pressing projects.
4) Consider the time required – Be realistic when looking at the time it will take to complete any project. Block out time in your calendar so you have a clear start and end date with sufficient time to get it done.
5) Avoid distractions – Easier said than done. But by focusing on the work at hand, you can complete it quickly and properly. And that will give you more time to focus on other responsibilities or activities.
6) Tell someone else – Knowing that you’ve told someone what you’re planning to do is a great motivator. Even saying it out loud to yourself is often enough to get you started.
7) Anticipate problems – There are always tasks that pose challenges. The key is to visualize them and how you will respond to them. This can significantly reduce anxiety and will help you perform better.
8) Plan a reward – It’s easier to complete a task or two when you know that there will be a reward for your hard work.
9) Do things as they occur to you – This way, you won’t risk adding another item to your “To-Do” list. You may even find the thrill of getting something extra done motivates you to take on other projects.
10) Ask yourself ”Is there an easier way to do this?” – A little extra thought can make the difference in getting a task done quickly and easily.
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Highlight and draw attention to elements in the home, such as a great view, architectural details, even repairs, renovations or equipment upgrades. Your kitchen and bathroom are prime selling opportunities, so pay special attention to these areas. For example, keep your kitchen counters clear of any knickknacks and small appliances, and remove any magnets or personal items from your fridge. Remove as many personal items as you can from the bathroom so it looks pristine and that there is lots of counter space available. Replace leaking or worn faucets to give a new look to the room. Make sure to clean under the sinks. Potential homeowners will be checking out all the details. If there are any leaks, fix them. Then clean up the damage using contact paper or paint. Spending a little extra time to fix up the existing items in the home is an inexpensive way to make great changes, therefore increasing the selling value and decreasing the time it will be on the market.
Here’s an idea that will help you get organized while warding off the financial blues—use what you have. You’d be surprised at how many items you have lying around that you’ve never used. Items that, by using them, will create more space in your home and save you money. For example:
1. Use those gift cards and certificates you received over the past year. It’s a great way to get what you want or need without spending money. You can even stretch out their value through end-of-season sales. Just be sure to check the expiry date before using them.
2. Those decorative candles? They were meant to be lit and to burn out, so use them before you buy new ones.
3. Check your books and magazines. There’s always one you haven’t read. Consider cancelling subscriptions for any magazines you don’t read regularly, and get rid of any items you aren’t going to read.
4. Take an inventory of the food you have and think about ways to use it. Got pasta and tomato sauce? Add meat and cheese to your grocery list and make lasagna. Even your freezer is likely to have several items that you can prepare. This will save you money and reduce clutter in your cupboards and fridge.
5. Why rent when you can catch up on movies you’ve collected, or programs you’ve recorded? When done, take the movies you don’t need to keep and donate them, or give them to a friend.
6. Built up a lot of points on your merchant loyalty cards for air travel, products or services? Now is the time to redeem them.
7. You probably have more beauty supplies than you realize. It’s time to take stock and start using them. This is also a great way to clear out products that are past their expiry date. If you have items you don’t plan to use, like shampoo, drop them off at your local women’s shelter.
8. Have a lot of loose change around your house? Gather it up and use it. You can roll it up and put it in the bank or divide it up and give it to your kids as lunch money.
9. Instead of a new hobby or craft, revisit one that you set aside. You’ll save money on supplies.
Remember, when it comes to excess or unused items around your home, everything old is new again. For example, consider cutting up old towels to make new cleaning cloths. And consider giving your extra or unused linen and kitchen supplies to someone who’s just purchased a new home or rented an apartment. .
Organize a great garage sale
Garage sales are a simple and fun way to clear out some unwanted clutter from your home. If you’re downsizing or just looking to let go of items you don’t use anymore, garage sales are a great way to make some money, meet your neighbours and de-clutter your home.
Organize Anything has come up with some great tips to make sure you hit garage sale gold.
1) It’s all about timing. Traditionally garage sales take place on Saturday mornings between June and October. If you live in a university town, aim to have your sale in late August/early September to take advantage of the students coming back. Set up your table early in the
morning – serious buyers start early and will visit many sales in one day.
2) Product placement. If you haven’t used it or worn it in a while, sell it. If you’re only keeping it because it was a gift, sell it. Baby equipment, sporting goods, furniture, tools, books, small appliances, toys and framed art are best sellers. Clothes don’t sell well. Put a big item or something eye-catching closest to the road. You want to attract positive attention from
3) Garage sale doesn’t equal garbage dump. Don’t sell something you wouldn’t buy. If an item is in serious disrepair, old, or not attractive, don’t waste your time or your customers’ by putting it out for sale.
4) Garage sales are a team effort. The more people involved in your sale, the better it will be. Recruit family members
to help you set up your tables and monitor customers. You’ll also need helpers to assist customers in moving heavy purchases to their cars. Make sure that you always have one person dedicated to running the cashbox. If you’ve got younger children in the family, why not have them run a refreshment stand? It’s a great opportunity to teach them about money.
5) Advertising. Beyond the tried-and-true method of putting posters on the telephone poles in your neighbourhood the week before, there are several other approaches to letting people know about your sale. Post notices on the community bulletin boards of your local community center, supermarket and schools. People will stop if they see a crowd, so recruit family members to “shop” if you’re worried about traffic flow. Post the information online on websites like Kijiji.com. Email your friends and family – don’t forget to promote items that will get attention like couches, TVs or novelty
6) The price is right. Garage sales traditionally sell items for less than $50. Exceptions being newer furniture or home electronics. If you have antiques or higher priced items you would like to sell, consider contacting an appraiser or holding an estate auction. Go through the items you want to sell before the sale and price them. Put a sticker on them in an obvious place and record the item in a notebook that you keep at the cash register.
7) Colour coded. You may want to colour code items to make it easier for yourself and customers to know how much something is selling for, green = $5, blue = $10 and so on. You can also have tables with items under for a dollar or two
dollars – get creative and make it easy for you to manage.
8) The weather factor. A perk of the garage sale is being able to spend the day outdoors. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. Use your garage or have a tarp or a tent handy in case you wake up on the morning of your sale and it’s
raining. The tent will also be handy the day turns into a scorcher and you need
to escape to the shade.
So next time you need to let go of a lot of the clutter in your home, pick a Saturday and plan for rain or shine. Recruit your family members, tell your neighbours and lay out your wares. You’ll have fun and you’ll even make a little money in the end.
Are you ready to downsize? Know someone who is? A well organized move can make the difference between chaos or a peaceful transition.
There are ways to plan for a stress-free move. Follow our Downsizing Checklist to start on the right path:
1. Start the discussion early: For some, the decision to move may not be a welcome idea. Plant the seed early to start discussing the benefits of downsizing.
2. Determine what isn’t moving:Next is the time to do some space planning and decide what you don’t want to move. Decisions can be made to sort into the following categories:
- Pass to family/friends
3. Contact a Realtor: Ask for referrals, find someone you enjoy working with!
4. Declutter and stage: Time to get the house ready for sale. Consider decluttering and staging if your home needs an update.
5. Book moving company:Make plans for truck rental, moving assistance, or hire a moving company.
6. Packing:Purchase packing supplies, enlist the help of family and friends, or hire a Professional Organizer to get the job done quickly.
7. Update address:Be sure to notify utility companies, services and personal contacts.
8. Moving day:Assign one person to be in charge of all questions of what is going where.
9. Unpacking: Make the transition as smooth as possible by unpacking right away.
If you are stuck or require assistance anywhere along the way, call a Professional Organizer – we are here to help!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!
Space Saving Holiday Gift Ideas
Gift giving, even when done with the very best intentions, is often done out of obligation and can cause problems for the recipient unintentionally. It is something to keep in mind – give something that adds value to the recipient’s life but is also respectful of their time and their space.
Consumable gifts, such as food and beverage items sidestep the dilemma of what to give the person who has everything;
- Cook a meal with a guest’s favorite food
- Take a friend to a restaurant or give them a restaurant gift card
- Give trays of baked goodies and/or fruit
- Gift cards to a quaint coffee or tea shop that they love
- A grocery gift card
- Drop-off a meal to friends who are always on the go
- Have a meal catered for a special event
This kind of gift can be customized to the recipient’s interests;
- Concert tickets, movie tickets, live theatre, comedy clubs.
- Swimming passes
- A round of golf
- A personalized tour
- A sporting event
- Massage or spa gift certificates
The Gift of Time
There are endless ways we can give our time that would be most appreciated even later in the year.
- Help with yard work, painting a room, or a household project that is on their agenda
- Provide childcare so the recipient can enjoy some free time
- Bring coffee and cake for a leisurely visit
- Go for a long walk in a beautiful location
Flowers and Memories
- A long lasting plant like an Orchid or Azalea can brighten up the long winter months
- A gift certificate to a florist could be used later in the year
- Arrange for a seasonal bouquet to be sent 4 times a year
- Make a photo or digital album of the two of you together over the years
Creative Gift Wrapping
Often the presentation of the gift card, certificate or vouchers can be just as memorable as the item itself. There are many ways to “wrap” the gift to make the experience tangible. Create a booklet, a card, or wrap the item in something else to double the pleasure.
People buy from emotion. Our senses are how we define the world around us and have a strong link to memory and emotion. What better way to create an emotional appeal for our home than through our senses.
When you decide to put your home on the market it makes good sense to consider your home not only with fresh eyes but also consider the other senses as well.
We often hear about the tactic of using the aroma of freshly baked bread or cookies to fill a house that is being shown to potential buyers. Think of unconventional ways to entice your buyer’s nose (without triggering allergies) with scents such as cinnamon, grapefruit, and cedar. But take care that nothing is too strong. Unnatural chemical renditions of flowers or herbs are highly promoted and sold but these can be very offensive, especially if they are trying to mask another unwelcome odor such as that from a pet. The reality is nothing beats the smell of clean. Overbearing scents make no sense.
Textures are hot right now in home décor and work equally as well when staging your home. Textures are appealing to the eye and make the person eager to touch and closely examine an object. Use the addition of textures as both a tactile and visual technique with the use of pillows, throws, window treatments, bedding, and carpets. Adding the depth of texture will make one want to linger in a room or home and feel more comfortable.
Treat potential buyers to the sounds of nature by opening a window to your backyard. Encourage birds to congregate and sing in your yard with an attractive bird feeder or bird bath. Hang wind chimes so that even stormy days seem cheery. Have water features running in good condition indoors and out. Play soft music to encourage buyers to relax and enjoy your home.
Eliminate sounds that mean something is wrong – a squeaky door, a toilet that keeps running. This includes cleaning your aquarium’s filter, rain gutters, water pipes, air conditioning and any other appliance or items that could raise the decibel rating or an eyebrow or earlobe of a potential buyer.
When you are staging your home think beyond pleasing the eyes: sooth the ear, nose and hand, as well. Improve the emotional appeal of your home, with improved sensory appeal and you will find a happy buyer quickly.