Thursday, December 25, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #1 Celebrate

#1 Celebrate - If you are celebrating Christmas, best wishes for you and your family for a very happy, joyful time in your celebrations. Enjoy.

If you are not celebrating Christmas, I wish you a peaceful and restful time during this holiday season.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #2 Wrap

#2 Last Minute Wrapping - Last day to shop. But you finished ages ago right? So you have a few small things to finish wrapping while you enjoy watching A Christmas Carol, White Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street for the “umpteenth” time. Remember to buy milk to get you over the holidays.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #3 Church Services

#3 Attend Church Service - Celebrating Christmas? Haven’t been to church for awhile and wish you had? Check your local newspaper listings for pageant services you might consider taking in this weekend. Many churches have special Christmas Eve services.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

This week I highly recommend you check out OrgJunkie. Laura has posted pictures to go with her scrumptious menu for the week. I wish I could claim the same but creativity but the reality is, I'm cooking very little this week!

Monday - Roast, potatoes, vegies, left over deserts
Tuesday - Caserole from slow cooker
Wednesday - Pasta night this week, tomato sauce with ground beef
Thursday - Turkey, compliments of PSC
Friday - Turkey, ham compliments of in laws

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #6 Volunteer & #5 Gingerbread Houses

#6 Volunteer at a Food Bank - For many people this is a season of giving and yet many more have little to give. If you have often wanted to volunteer at your local food bank, consider giving them a call and slotting in over the holidays.

# 5 Decorate a Gingerbread House with your children - No children? Why not buy a kit and invite your nieces/nephews or the neighbours to come and help you decorate it.

Welcome to the Winter Solstice. Happy First Day of Winter. Now the days in the northern hemisphere get longer - yeah! Sorry to the folks down under who will now start to get less daylight each day.

To our friends honouring their Jewish faith, Happy Hanukkuh.

Friday, December 19, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #7 Thank You Notes

# 7 Prepare to Write Thank You Notes - The writing of thank you notes for the receipt of gifts, dinners, visits and good gestures is perhaps a dying art. Not only do many of us exist online with communication almost solely through cyberspace, but many of the manners of the previous generation are being lost as quickly as our computer chips speed up and our computer memory expands.

Why not revive this tradition. A handwritten note is a welcome and friendly addition to the usual collection of post holiday bills. To make sure writing thank you notes doesn't become just another stress, book the time into your calendar. Save the space in your schedule. Keep a short list of gifts or events for which you would like to write a thank you and check your note card supply. Last but not least, remember to keep your contact/address list handy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #8 Clear out Toys

#8 Clear out Kids' Toys - There will be more toys arriving in a week's time. Why not get a jump start on your organization before they do?

Give your children each a box appropriate to their size and age. Tell them they have 10 minutes to fill the box with toys that they no longer play with, may have outgrown or do not like.

Ten minutes later you could all make a trip to a local charity office to donate the toys. (Depending on your space for storage you may want to save them for a garage sale in May or a toy box for younger sibings.)

With the toys reduced, you will have an opportunity to review if the toys storage for your children is still appropriate for their age. If you have children moving from toddlers to preschool age, do you have shallow bins on the floor for them to access their toys? If you have school age children, have you moved from the shallow bins for preschoolers to sorting bins? Sorting and patterning is one of the first task children master in school. They can do the same thing at home sorting toys into difference coloured bins for pre-readers and labelled bins/boxes for the older children.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #9 Planning for Hanukkah

...Because not everyone celebrates Christmas. Many thanks to Lisa Brisbois from The Wisdom Practice who helped me out with today's post.

If you are celebrating Hanukkah you may have already used some of the planning tips in our countdown to December 25. Your countdown is ending sooner though as Hanukkah starts this year December 21 at sunset and lasts 8 days to December 29 at sunset. Lisa offered these tips to get organized.

  • Send Hannukah cards to family and friends.
  • Decide who’s doing the family Hanukkah party this year. How many people are coming?
  • Buy the fixings to make latkes for the party.
  • Check your box of December decorations if you have one: is the dreidl set for the kids to play with still there? Do you need to get a new one?
  • Dig out the Mennorah and check your Candle supply for it.
  • Buy Hannukah gelt to give away or enjoy for yourself!
  • Find your family’s copy of the story of Hannukah so you can read it to your kids and remind them of the Maccabees and the miracle of light.
  • Buy eight small appropriate gifts for your kids, one for each day of Hanukkah.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #11 Regain Perspective

The month of December is a challenging one for many people. As an organizer and blogger, I offer my clients and readers suggestions for easing the burden of multiple commitments and a fast paced society by organizing space,time and "stuff".

Laura over at OrgJunkie has reminded us all that it is important from time to time to sit back, take stock and remind ourselves of what is really important in our lives at the end of the day. I commend you to her post When You're Not Enough from December 9.

I hope that my posts would never lead you to feel that you are not doing enough in your life. If you are spending time on your top priorities, then clear the rest of the clutter and give yourself breathing space to do a great job at it. If your are wondering why you are doing what you are doing, then step back and take stock. What really is important? Enjoy putting your time and energy into that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #13 Candles & #12 Silver

#13 Candles for the Season - If you use candles in your home, in the window or on your diner table, check to see of your supply will last the season. The red and green are notoriously hard to get at the local shops once December 23rd rolls around.

#14 Clean the Silver - Do you use good service during the holiday season? When was the last time you checked the condition of that service? Last December 27th when you put it away? Take a good lood and make sure it is presentatable for the company to whom you are serving it. Uh-oh! Need some spit and polish? Call a friend, mother in law, mother, sister to help out. Put on the tea kettle and most inspiring music you can find. Check out some of the easy cleaning suggestions. Here is a suggestion for cleaning silver with basic household cleaners: Clean Your Silver with Househole Basics

Friday, December 12, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #14 Gift Wrapping

#14 Gift Wrapping - Maybe you like wrapping gifts at the last minute and scrambling at the 11th hour. On the other hand, maybe you wish you could have all your holiday gifts wrapped and waiting for their recipients while you relax and calmly enjoy your friends, family and holiday festivities.

If you fall into the first group of people you are reading this blog because you think I'm an outstanding writer and due for an award. I'm guessing that's not the case for most of you and you really would like to get a grip on the season.

OK - Book a date in your calendar to wrap presents. Now book a second date. It always takes way longer than you think. Check that you have a copy of your favourite movies to watch or music to listen to while you wrap. Pull out all your wrapping supplies, gift tags and ribbons. Is there enough? Replenish only if necessary. Get ready for that calm enjoyment of the season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #16 Gift Cache, #15 Gather Friends

The countdown continues. Hope you're still with us! Only 2 more weeks 'til Christmas:

#16 Empty your Gift Cache - Many people purchase gifts year round and keep a cache of them in their home. This is an excellent idea if you have the money to tie up in a gift cache and the space to store it. If you have neither, this is not an idea for you. One of the challenges of such a cache is remembering what's in it and remembering to shop at your own cache store before shopping retail again. If you store your cache in a box in a cupboard, this might be the time to lay it out and use up some of the contents. If you don't need to worry about little eyes (or big ones) searching for Santa's stash try laying out the gifts on a shelf or book case. Then reviewing and using up the items is litereally like going shopping in your own home.

#15 Gather up Friends who will be Alone this Holiday Season - Not all of us have a home full of family or friends and a calendar full of Christmas dinners to attend. The reality is that many people or new to their neighbourhood or city, can't afford to go home, live alone and may be alone during the holidays. Whether or not you are one of this group, why not gather of a few friends who are and start your own tradition of a Christmas or holiday dinner with them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #17 The Tree

#17 Organizing the Christmas Tree - If you are planning to put up a tree this year you may already have made plans to do so. Or maybe not? Did I hear you say "OMGoodness, we still have to get a tree?"

Many people have moved away from the real deal in order to preserve the trees, their family rooms and their sanity. Whether you go artificial or a sap dripping, needle shedding original article that will fill your home with the smell of a midwinter's forest, there are still some challenges common to both that can be mastered with a little organization.

  • You know it! Book the date in your calendar to buy the tree, bring it up from the basement/attic/garage and set it up. Remember when buying a real tree you will require 24 hours to allow it to settle before decorating it.
  • Book the date to decorate the tree. If your family is like mine, that requires everyone home and that requires checking in with 3 other calendars.
  • Get out your decorations. Check the lights (switch to high efficiency).
  • Throw out any decorations that are broken. Consider giving away any you no longer use.
  • Check out your storage for your decorations. Now is the time to consider upgrading to a sturdier box (than the wine bottle box you were using).
  • Book a date to take down your tree and pack it all away. Check to see when your municipal garbage collection, if you have one, will pick up the trees at the curb. Remember how you missed it last year and the forlorn tree stayed in the yard until the first yard waste pickup at Easter?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Have to keep myself organized as well!

Monday - Tacos (that's right, no fish this Monday)
Tuesday - Pasta (2 extra at the table), fresh baked bread, salad
Wednesday - Choir Party - Fish, rice, vegetables, salad
Thursday - BBQ Chicken, baked potatoes, grilled vegetables, salad
Friday - Make your own pizza
Saturday - Family Birthday celebration - lasagna, quiche, salad, birthday cake
Sunday - away skiing, note to self, arrange enough food for the day.

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #20 Baking, #19 Babysitters, #18 Cards

...and the list continues.

#20 - Organize your Baking. Are you doing any bakin this holiday season? Get your recipes out and pick the ones for this year. Now take out your calendar and book the day(s) that you will be baking. Check your pantry for ingredients and prepare your shopping list. Go back to the calendar and book in the time to shop.

#19 - Organize your Childcare. Do you have children home over the holiday season? Did you happen to notice that the kids are off school for a full two weeks (longer if you are in an independent school). Do you have activities prepared for the kids to do during the full two weeks or are they going to sit in front of the video games, computer or TV for two weeks straight. Are your working? Do you have adequate childcare or babysitting booked for the days that you are working or going out?

#18 - Organize you Christmas Cards. Many people have given up on holiday greeting cards. Other people have gone back to sending out this timely message of good cheer and greeting around the holiday season. By now you know the first step. That's right, get out your calendar and book the time to write them. Follow up by finding the cards from last year (or five years ago) that never got sent i.e. don't buy more until you have used up what you have! This is a great time to review your address book or contact file and update or clear it out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

25 Things to Do Before Christmas - #22 Decorate & #21 Menus

# 22 - Are you planning to decorate your house for the holidays? Book some time into your schedule. Maybe invite some friends or family? Check you decorations and make a list of any that need to be replaced or repaired. Have you switched to energy efficient bulbs yet? Why not switch this year.

# 21 - Review the meals that you will be cooking this holiday season. Prepare your menus and shopping list. Schedule time to actually do the shopping and any other preparation that is required ahead of the meal.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

25 Things to Do Before Christmas: #23 - Goals

Many of us look forward to the New Year as a time to refresh, start anew and accomplish goals and make resolutions to get some things accomplished. Problem is, we don't make the resolutions until he spur of the moment on at New Year's and don't book in the time to make sure they happen.

Pull out your calendar and next year's as well. Don't have next year's yet? (That was #24). Start by booking yourself some serious time to think about your vision for your life next year. An hour alone is a great time to start but a three hour stint or 3, one hour sessions is not too long. Get it booked before the holiday swirl robs you of your planning time.

Take a look at next year's calendar and start to book in the things you want to accomplish. Loose weight? Book in your time in the gym, your session with your trainer, time to investigate a nutritionist. Whatever it will take, get it booked.

Putting things in black and white on paper has a way of increasing the intention and commitment from "would really like to" (i.e. not likely to happen) to "am really going to". Clear your vision for your life, get those goals identified and book them into your life.

Enjoy looking forward to the New Year and all the great things you will accomplish. Aim high.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

25 Things to do Before Christmas - #25 Gifts & #24 Calendar

This post idea came from my 14 year-old-will-definitely-conquer-the-world daughter. She felt that my readers would need some help getting through the holiday season. Since today is the second day of December, I will cover off two items.

25. Prepare your exhaustive gift list. Make sure everyone you will need to prepare a gift for is on the list so that you avoid any last minute surprises that could have been anticipated. Note on the list what needs to be bought, what you already have and what needs to be made.

24. Check your December calendar and ensure that it is up to date with all the social commitments you have for the month. Make sure it includes any items that you need to take to those social commitments. Book in the time to make/purchase the items you will be taking. Find out who is cooking the Christmas dinner that you will be attending. Is it you?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Frustrated with Files

Probably the number one item that clients want me to help them fix in either their home or their office is paper and filing. It seems that paper, and keeping track of the pieces we wish to keep, is a struggle even for the most organized.

Most people struggle over the structure of the filing system. "If I file something in here, I never know where it is and can never find it again."

My advice to clients is that there is no perfect filing system. There are good commercial systems, (e.g. Paper Tiger), there are common systems (alphabetized) often used in corporate settings and then there are the rest of us.

It is important that you pick a structure that works for you. If you organize visually, try using coloured files. If you are tend to talk to yourself and are auditorily oriented, try using file headings like "Keep this for Income Tax Time" or "Things I keep to refer back to". Sound corny? Who cares? If it works for you, that's all that matter.