Not that long ago I saw a facebook post that said "less than 10 weeks before Christmas!" and although intended as a joke, I didn't think it was funny. I had that pit in my stomach just thinking of all the extra work that the holidays brings to me. But I still felt that Christmas was far away as the Christmas decorations hadn't appeared in the stores yet. I know I'm not alone. Many of us feel a sense of dread when we think about the Holidays. Our mind races with all the various tasks we need to accomplish and add to our already busy schedule. We want our house to look pretty and be ready for Thanksgiving, then Christmas, when we have barely put away the Halloween decorations. We have relatives coming to town, cards to make and send, the presents to buy, the extra cooking, buying, spending, overeating and maybe trying to finish goals we set for ourselves before the year ends...
The Holidays are supposed to be a happy time of thanksgiving and celebrating, why then do we make it so complicated?
Most of my clients have heard me say it many time "Less is More". Simplify! Things don't have to be perfect! You don't have to transform yourself into Martha Stewart. Over the years I have noticed that the only person that really cares is me. The paper napkins or some store bought gravy are just as good sometimes. Your house does not need to be decorated like the cover of the magazines. All those perfect pictures of perfect homes and perfect tables and perfect menus are only out there to entice us to buy more! So if you are stressed, don't feel like it or don't have time, keep it simple! Those cookies from the corner store are okay to buy. Not every inch of the house needs to be decorated.
2- Make a list of things to do!
Make a list of all you want to accomplish for the Holidays, all you want to do, or places to go. What are your priorities? Start with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas. Do a brain dump. Divide your to- do list into little tasks and schedule them on your calendar. For example making your card might include having a picture taken or buying stamps. Is there anything that you can skip? Anything you can delegate? Can you do it all or do you have to choose? Don't get too busy and don't forget to plan some downtime too where you get to relax and enjoy some home time. Once planned, try to stick with the plan as much as possible. For example, don't skip buying presents on the night planned if the following nights are all busy with events.
3- Make a list of who you're buying for !
Make a list of the people you want to buy presents for and set a time with your husband, wife, or better half to brainstorm for ideas. Think about concert, theater, shows or zoo & Museum tickets, gift cards to restaurants or memberships and subscriptions to things you know they want. Most people already have too much stuff and they don't need anymore, I know, as people call me for help to declutter them! Don't forget to set a time for wrapping presents and try to wrap them as you buy them.
4- Privilege experiences versus stuff!
Go through your kids toys before more toys find their way into their room. Make room and donate or sell what they've outgrown or what they don't want to play with anymore. Research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily. Research also shows that 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally. Also did you know 37% of parents said they were willing to use savings to cover holiday spending for their children? The survey also found that 50% of the parents who overspent on the holidays end up arguing about money with their spouse. What is worse is that experts in child development say that modern day children are missing out on vital experiences because they do not spend enough time having fun in the open air and may become dysfunctional adults. Makes you think about what kind of toys to be buying this year....No?
5- Follow good nutrition!
Some of you are wondering why this matters and why is a Professional Organizer talking about nutrition? I say it all the time "Body and Mind are connected". If your body does not feel good neither does your mind. This is one of the most common mistake I see all the time, the poor nutrition that people put their body through and wondering why they have no energy or can't function. Being overweight or starving yourself with diets leaves you with no energy, no stamina, makes you unhappy and not good at handling stress. And that leaves you with little energy to get organized. So don't diet but follow a good nutritional system like Isagenix that will help you shed the few pounds, boost your energy and help you focus on what you need to do by providing the nutrients that your body truly needs. You will be surprised at how much more you get accomplished in a day when your body feels good! Proper nutrition is key and you should start now and actually get to enjoy the eating of the Holidays. So take care of yourself!
6- Light de-cluttering!
This is not the time to completely de-clutter the whole house. So if you really need to do a grand job with your guest bedroom that has become the house's dumping ground, hire a professional organizer to help. However before the holidays creep up on you, go through all of your belongings and pick some items to donate or sell. Clearing space before the holidays makes organizing afterward so much easier because there will be some space created to put the new things.
7- Don't start big remodeling now!
Although it might be tempting to get that kitchen remodeling done before the holidays, this might not be the right time. As we know those big projects always seem to have a tendency to take longer then they should. You might want to wait till the New Year.
8- Make stock of what you already have!
Before you start buying anything for the Holidays, check what you already have in your home. You’d be surprised how many times people buy something that they already have only to realize that they have almost the same item already. Or maybe you've been buying gifts all year because you can't resist a bargain or something made you think of your aunt. But what's the point if you forgot you did. So look around your home!
9- Get help or delegate!
It's okay to get help! Hiring a house cleaner to do the vacuuming and cleaning the house is okay, Treat yourself! You might be able to concentrate more on a part you actually enjoy, like making your own cards or baking. And don't be scared to ask your guests to bring items for your dinner party or even recruit them in the kitchen to peel potatoes. I haven't had one guest yet say they didn't want to help.
10- Enjoy! It's the reason for the season!
Don't be slave to traditions. Things can change. Don’t feel that you have to do everything the same way just because that is how you did it in the past. Be kind to yourself. For example let go of that Christmas party that you dread going to every year, and take the extra time to do something new that you have always wanted to try. Mostly enjoy the season, your family, your friends and relax. Sometimes life happens and it is not perfect. But it's okay. Just enjoy and slow down. It is a time of celebrating, giving, and being thankful for all of the blessings that we have. So try to feel the Christmas magic that can only be found at this time of year.
Sophie Bent: Professional Organizer® & Productivity Consultant, Bent On Organizing, LLC is a NAPO Specialist in Residential Organizing in S. Florida and has been organizing businesses and homes since 2008. Contact her at 561-404-7181 or www.bentonorganizing.com