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Make The Holidays Easier Next Year

If your holidays didn’t turn out exactly as you had planned this year, you have another chance do it a little better the next time around. Here are some tips for organizing your holiday to-dos, re-evaluating your priorities, and creating systems to make the season easier and more enjoyable.

Create A Gift Wrap Station

Checkmark-Iconkeep all of your gift-giving supplies in one place

Xmark-Iconset up your gift center nearest the point where you normally wrap gifts

Checkmark-Iconset up a long under-bed box for storing rolled wrapping paper

Xmark-Iconset up smaller labeled tubs for tags, bows, ribbon, etc. — one for each type of supply

Checkmark-Iconbe sure to include scissors, tape, and a pen

Xmark-Iconalso store the gifts you plan to give in the same place — one for “kid gifts,” another for “adult gifts”

Checkmark-Iconmake sure to include a flat surface for wrapping — a table, bed, couch, whatever

Keep Track Of Recipes You Enjoyed

Xmark-Iconget copies of favorite recipes from friends or family

Checkmark-Iconcut out recipes from magazines or newspapers

Xmark-Iconmake photocopies of recipes from cookbooks

Checkmark-Iconcreate a ring-binder notebook with page-protectors for holiday recipes

Xmark-Iconinclude dividers for each section — veggies, bread, desserts, etc.

Checkmark-Iconput each recipe into a sheet protector page in the right section

Xmark-Iconeither store with your cookbooks or with holiday decorations if you only use these recipes once a year

List Potential Gift Ideas

Checkmark-Iconpay attention to items friends and family mention they want throughout the year

Xmark-Iconkeep a running “wish list” of gift ideas for each person in your life

Checkmark-Iconcross off each gift as you give it or know they have received it

Xmark-Iconuse this as your shopping list as the holiday season begins

Checkmark-Iconbe sure to include specifics — sizes, color preferences, brand names, etc.

Make Note Of Things That Did Not Work

Xmark-Iconsome plans go smoothly and some do not

Checkmark-Iconmake a note of items that didn’t work out and what went wrong

Xmark-Iconinclude all the details so you can avoid those pitfalls next time

Checkmark-Iconalso note any particular successes or great ideas you had

Xmark-Iconinclude all the details so you can recreate it next year

Checkmark-Iconstore with your holiday decorations and supplies

Pack Your Decorations The Right Way

Xmark-Icondon’t just throw everything in a box in a rush to get packed up

Checkmark-Iconwrap lights around a piece of cardboard so they won’t get tangled

Xmark-Iconwrap fragile items in bubble wrap or tissue paper

Checkmark-Iconget rid of the 60,000 little boxes your ornaments came in

Xmark-Iconstore ornaments in a holiday box with individual divided sections

Checkmark-Iconlabel all of your boxes clearly — you shouldn’t have to guess what is in each container

Xmark-Iconthink about temperature, moisture, insects — don’t store items where they will melt, mildew, get ruined

Checkmark-Iconstore like items together — ornaments in one box, snowmen in another, candles in a third, etc.

Shop For Gifts Throughout The Year

Xmark-Iconwith your wish list, you don’t have to wait until December to shop

Checkmark-Iconkeep an eye out for sales and discounts throughout the year

Xmark-Iconpick up both gifts for specific people and generic gifts for anyone — candles, bath supplies, etc.

Checkmark-Iconshop for interesting and unique gift items while traveling

Xmark-Iconset aside a closet or storage tub for holding gifts you’ve purchased

Checkmark-Iconwrap and tag them as soon as you get home to save time

Start A Christmas Club Account

Xmark-Iconcontact your bank about special holiday savings accounts — can’t touch the money until December

Checkmark-Iconif not available, set up your own separate savings account and commit to not withdrawing money early

Xmark-Iconput aside a small amount each month — pick a minimum amount, but you can add more if you have it

Checkmark-Iconuse savings just for gifts or to pay for all of your holiday spending — decorations, entertainment, etc.

Xmark-Iconpromise yourself not to spend more than you have in your account

Checkmark-Iconthis is the easiest way to plan ahead, avoid debt, and stick to a budget

Stock Up At After-Christmas Sales

Xmark-Iconmany holiday items are only available during the holidays — wrap, cards, lights, etc.

Checkmark-Iconthese items are more expensive at the start of the season and cheaper later on

Xmark-Iconshop at “after Christmas” sales to get deep discounts on these items

Checkmark-Iconcreate a storage space in your home for these seasonal items

Xmark-Iconyou can save tremendously (time and money) by planning ahead for the next year

Take A Picture Of Your House Decorated

Checkmark-Iconthis is the easiest way to remember how you had everything laid out

Xmark-Icontake photos from several angles and points within your house — include a full shot of the exterior

Checkmark-Iconinclude shots of your table setting, mantelpiece, and other focal points

Xmark-Iconmake notes on the back of each picture about items used

Checkmark-Iconstore photos with your holiday decorations

Update Your Holiday Address List

Xmark-Icongo through cards you received and double check addresses

Checkmark-Iconmake any changes to your list for new addresses or people who have moved

Xmark-Iconadd new friends to your list and delete those you no longer want to send cards to

Checkmark-Iconmake any revisions while they are still fresh in your mind

Xmark-Iconif you have access to a computer, automate your address list

Checkmark-Iconput your list in a program that prints letters, envelopes, and labels

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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