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.
keep all of your gift-giving supplies in one place
set up your gift center nearest the point where you normally wrap gifts
set up a long under-bed box for storing rolled wrapping paper
set up smaller labeled tubs for tags, bows, ribbon, etc. — one for each type of supply
be sure to include scissors, tape, and a pen
also store the gifts you plan to give in the same place — one for “kid gifts,” another for “adult gifts”
make sure to include a flat surface for wrapping — a table, bed, couch, whatever
get copies of favorite recipes from friends or family
cut out recipes from magazines or newspapers
make photocopies of recipes from cookbooks
create a ring-binder notebook with page-protectors for holiday recipes
include dividers for each section — veggies, bread, desserts, etc.
put each recipe into a sheet protector page in the right section
either store with your cookbooks or with holiday decorations if you only use these recipes once a year
pay attention to items friends and family mention they want throughout the year
keep a running “wish list” of gift ideas for each person in your life
cross off each gift as you give it or know they have received it
use this as your shopping list as the holiday season begins
be sure to include specifics — sizes, color preferences, brand names, etc.
some plans go smoothly and some do not
make a note of items that didn’t work out and what went wrong
include all the details so you can avoid those pitfalls next time
also note any particular successes or great ideas you had
include all the details so you can recreate it next year
store with your holiday decorations and supplies
don’t just throw everything in a box in a rush to get packed up
wrap lights around a piece of cardboard so they won’t get tangled
wrap fragile items in bubble wrap or tissue paper
get rid of the 60,000 little boxes your ornaments came in
store ornaments in a holiday box with individual divided sections
label all of your boxes clearly — you shouldn’t have to guess what is in each container
think about temperature, moisture, insects — don’t store items where they will melt, mildew, get ruined
store like items together — ornaments in one box, snowmen in another, candles in a third, etc.
with your wish list, you don’t have to wait until December to shop
keep an eye out for sales and discounts throughout the year
pick up both gifts for specific people and generic gifts for anyone — candles, bath supplies, etc.
shop for interesting and unique gift items while traveling
set aside a closet or storage tub for holding gifts you’ve purchased
wrap and tag them as soon as you get home to save time
contact your bank about special holiday savings accounts — can’t touch the money until December
if not available, set up your own separate savings account and commit to not withdrawing money early
put aside a small amount each month — pick a minimum amount, but you can add more if you have it
use savings just for gifts or to pay for all of your holiday spending — decorations, entertainment, etc.
promise yourself not to spend more than you have in your account
this is the easiest way to plan ahead, avoid debt, and stick to a budget
many holiday items are only available during the holidays — wrap, cards, lights, etc.
these items are more expensive at the start of the season and cheaper later on
shop at “after Christmas” sales to get deep discounts on these items
create a storage space in your home for these seasonal items
you can save tremendously (time and money) by planning ahead for the next year
this is the easiest way to remember how you had everything laid out
take photos from several angles and points within your house — include a full shot of the exterior
include shots of your table setting, mantelpiece, and other focal points
make notes on the back of each picture about items used
store photos with your holiday decorations
go through cards you received and double check addresses
make any changes to your list for new addresses or people who have moved
add new friends to your list and delete those you no longer want to send cards to
make any revisions while they are still fresh in your mind
if you have access to a computer, automate your address list
put your list in a program that prints letters, envelopes, and labelsClick here for reuse options!
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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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