If your seasonal celebrations could use a little more peace and joy, heed this advice from the pros.
Some people are born with a propensity toward organization. The rest of us are not. If the thought of an organized office, pristine closets and a pretty pantry do not motivate you, how about a merrier Christmas? We asked top organizers to share their tips for adding more joy to the holiday season.
Start With Your Closets
Lisa Adams, owner of LA Closet Design, has a golden rule: Donate or purge anything that you haven't used in one year. "People get paralyzed under all the stuff," she says. Separate clothes by season if your closets and drawer space will allow. Sorting that way makes sense, and such a system will simplify seasonal cleaning. Visibility is also important when organizing closets. "If you can't see it, you don't use it." First and foremost, Lisa says, "Figure out what works for you, and stick with it."
"Dig out. A lot of people are buried," says Vicki Norris, organizer, author and founder of Restoring Order. "Organizing is not an activity; it's a lifestyle," she says, a lifestyle which can't rest during the holidays. Be prepared when relatives ask what to buy your spouse and children; Vicki suggests checking toy chests and closets.
Simplify Card Giving
As for the often daunting task of card sending, Vicki suggests, "Give yourself a break during the busy Christmas season, and consider sending cards at a different time of year."
"Automate your card list," Lisa advises. "Enter contact information in a spreadsheet using separate columns for each category such as first name, last name, street address, city, state and ZIP code. Add columns for gift ideas, ages and birthdays. Refer to it year after year, without having to invent the wheel each time." Go a step further and convert a spreadsheet into mailing labels. Addressing cards is as easy as print, peel and stick.
Don't Stress Over Decor
Vicki makes holiday decorating an event and enlists the family. She likes to incorporate readily-available natural items such as boughs, holly and cranberries. "Resist over-accumulation, purge unused decorations and swap decorations with a friend." Before you decorate, "give the house a good cleaning," she says. That way, your house will be fresh-smelling and sparkly, in more ways than one.
"If you like to set up decorations the same way each year, do not leave it to memory," Lisa advises. "Write down steps, take a photo of your decor and store in a binder."
Make a List & Check It Twice
Take an inventory before you buy. "It's very tempting to pick up new tableware and decorations," Lisa says. "Know exactly what you have before buying anything new" and set a budget. "Don't overspend. If a budget doesn't allow for cards this year, then send free e-cards," she suggests. Consider handmade gifts such as baked goods, photo gifts and customized playlists.
Vicki is a proponent of simple, heartfelt gifts as well, especially those that make shopping easier. She enjoys buying gift cards that encourage loved ones to spend time together, like dinner and movie. When it comes time to wrap, Vicki suggests throwing a wrap party. "Invite your friends and family, and make it collaborative and fun."
It's important to create a space for all of your wrapping needs. "Keep a holiday storage bin for gift-wrapping supplies," Lisa says. "It will keep everything in its place, and you will know exactly where to go for these supplies the next you need them."
After the Holidays
"Undecorate with ease by storing ornaments, wreaths and lights in separate containers that are clearly marked," Lisa says. "Christmas lights are always tricky to store, but there is a fast and inexpensive way to manage them with the leftover cardboard boxes or wrapping paper tubes. Cut silts around the edges/surface, and start wrapping the lights around the cardboard, threading the lights into each slit."
Get inspired by the coming of a new year. "Find new and old ways to bring your life back into balance," Lisa says. "Whether it's getting your budget together, writing down goals or reinstating your gym membership, you must have a clear game plan for the new year."
For more information, tips and resources, contact professional organizers Lisa Adams at www.laclosetdesign.com. and Vicki Norris at www.restoringorder.com.