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Ask Erin: Your Holiday Organizing Guide

By Melanie Moffett
In Center Block
Nov 25th, 2014
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by Erin Sharplin Love

Doesn’t it always seem that as soon as Halloween passes Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner?  Those weeks between each holiday seem to fly by in the blink of an eye, so it’s essential to get organized as quickly as possible to head off any last minute issues that might arise, as well as to save your sanity!

The first step to getting and staying organized for the holidays is preparation!  My first piece of advice is to start a to-do list if you haven’t already! Never underestimate the value of writing things down, especially during such a hectic time of year.  I suggest keeping a small notebook in your purse or within arm’s reach for when an idea or an impending errand run strikes.

Now on to the fun stuff!  Let me help you get ready for those parties you will be attending, gifts you will be buying, cards you will be mailing, menus you will be making, and all of the other fun holiday festivities.

Get Your Holiday Cards Organized – Sending out holiday cards this year doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you prepare for it.  First, I suggest marking time off on your calendar to create, address, and send the cards.  If you can’t set aside enough time for taking care of the task in one sitting, it’s ok to do it in small increments, but I suggest beginning immediately so your time doesn’t get away from you.  Second, check your address list for anything that might be missing – Did you make a new friend?  Did someone recently have a change of address?  Organize your list now to avoid complications later.  Third, choose and order your holiday cards.  And, finally, address and mail them!  Four simple steps is all it takes and the task is done!

Get Your Holiday Events and Hosting Organized – Begin marking your calendar of events now so you will be sure to know when and where you need to make an appearance this holiday season.  Getting organized early ensures that you will not overbook yourself or miss an important gathering.  As the invitations flow in, go ahead and RSVP immediately.  Don’t wait or you could forget entirely.  Another great tip is to choose a party-ready outfit for each event.  Try it on and take a picture, complete with accessories and shoes, so you will be completely prepared and stress-free before each event.  And one last piece of advice – brush up on your dining etiquette!

Get Your Holiday Gift-Giving Organized – Make a list and check it twice!  (I couldn’t resist saying that!)  Seriously though – Make a list of all of the people you need to purchase a gift(s) for and also note if you’ve already decided what you’d like to purchase for them.  I always suggest shopping with a list so you don’t overbuy or forget something.  Also, search online to see who has the best deals before going shopping.   You might find it cheaper to purchase some items from the comfort of your couch instead of having to face the crowds.  Finally, designate an out-of-the-way (away from prying eyes) spot in your home for storing the gifts until you are able to wrap them.

Create a Meal Plan – Grocery shopping gets a bit amped up during the holidays when you are hosting and attending numerous parties, so creating a game plan helps minimize stress.  Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what to cook and what to prepare for the potlucks you will be attending.  Create a shopping list and stick to it as much as possible to avoid wasting money or purchasing duplicates.  Be sure to include items on the list for the occasional last minute visitor, and you can never go wrong by having a little wine and cheese ready!

Get Organized for Holiday Travel – Hopefully, you have already purchased any plane tickets that are needed; otherwise you could face sold out flights and/or high prices.  In the meantime, create a list of travel items you will need, complete with outfits and important documents.  Review the guidelines for travel so you don’t miss something that could cause a delay at the airport.  If you are driving, I suggest mapping out your route to ensure there are no roadblocks or construction that could cause unneeded stress.

Below are a few more steps you could take to get you well on your way to an organized holiday:

Take stock of what you already have – Avoid wasting money on duplicate purchases by taking stock of what you already have. For instance, do you have tape?  Wrapping paper?

Decorations?  Mushroom soup?  That ongoing to-do list will help you keep track of what you already have and what needs to be purchased.

Sort through your child’s toys and clothing – Mark off thirty minutes in your schedule to sort through toys and clothing that your child has outgrown.  The holiday is a perfect time to donate them to another child in need, and it will help you make more room for this year’s gifts as well.

Sort through your old decorations –  As you unpack your decorations this year, throw away and/or donate any items that you don’t like or want anymore.  Your home should be filled with items you love and use.

As I stated before, the key to creating a stress-free and organized holiday is by being pro-active!!  Prepare now and save your sanity later.  Happy Holidays!