Christmas organization

Reduce your mental holiday clutter

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When people think about staying organized over Christmas, more often than not they focus on physical clutter, like organizing presents and decorations. However, over the busy holiday season, people can develop mental clutter that can make it difficult to truly enjoy the season. Many people have a lot to do over the holidays in addition to their regular jobs or tasks – there’s visits with family and friends, holiday parties, gift shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, and plenty of other obligations. This holiday season take some time to organize your mental clutter to avoid feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

 

Remember: you’re not in this alone

If you’re hosting a meal for family and friends, don’t think that you have to do everything yourself. Ask your guests to pitch in and help with the meal by bringing a side dish or beverages so you don’t have as much to do. Cooking a turkey and bringing it as a guest can be difficult, but if you handle the turkey, it is easy for someone else to bring a salad or vegetable. Desserts and appetizers are also easy to delegate to other guests.

 When you’re assigning items for guests to bring, be sure to write down what each person is bringing so you or another guest don’t accidentally make the same thing or forget to bring a dish. Make sure you know what everyone is bringing, and if they will need to heat up their dish or keep it in the fridge until the meal is served. This way, you can plan your own dishes accordingly.

 

Change your gifting habits

A lot of mental stress during the holidays comes from having to buy gifts for your friends, family members and co-workers. Not only is it difficult to come up with ideas, but shopping can be very time-consuming and financially draining. Consider reducing your gift consumption without sacrificing the fun of giving and receiving gifts. Instead, try drawing names for “Secret Santa” or hosting a gift exchange with a lower budget. This way, everyone still gets a gift, but you won’t have to spend the same amount of time or money.  

Gifts don’t have to be expensive, and they don’t have to be a tangible object either. Consider going out for a nice meal with friends instead of buying each other gifts or take a loved-one to an activity or performance. These “clutter-less” gifts don’t have to be enjoyed during the holiday season either – they can wait until sometime in the New Year, so you aren’t scrambling to fit everything in December. Postponing your gifts will also help keep your spending down during the holidays.

 

Take time to relax

There may be a lot you want to do over the holidays, but it is important to make sure to do set time aside to relax and spend time with friends and family. Plan on meeting with friends for lunch or set aside time for after-work drinks. If you really want to relax, a trip to the salon for a quick pedicure or manicure with friends might also be a good way to unwind. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time but getting together can be a great way for you to take a break while spending time with your loved ones over the holidays. Finding time to get together can be more special than just sending them a gift.

 

Purchase supplies ahead of time

It’s not too early to start purchasing your groceries for the holiday meal. Start looking for sales on cranberry sauce, condiment spreads, crackers, pickles, and other non-perishable foods. Turkeys, hams and other meats and fish can also be purchased in advance and frozen – just be sure to give yourself enough time to safely defrost them before preparing. Some desserts and baked goods can also be made up ahead of time. You can start baking simple bars, dessert squares and cookie dough now and freeze them. Whenever you have people over or need a dessert, you can simply pull them out of the freezer before the meal, so they are ready to go when you need them.

 

It can be hard to have fun over the holidays when mental clutter is weighing you down. Take time to relax over the holidays and make visiting family and friends a priority. Do what you can ahead of time but remember that you don’t have to do everything on your own. Giving gifts is a popular holiday tradition, but it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time or money. With these simple steps, you can enjoy the holiday season!  

Stay on track during the busy holiday season

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Having a hard time keeping track of everything in December? The holidays are a busy time for many people, with parties, activities, and usual appointments and errands – and that doesn’t even cover everything that needs to be done! For many people, their “to do” list can be never ending. While you may have tasks written down or programmed into your phone with reminders, it can be easy to ignore them when times get busy and stressful. Here are some suggestions on how you can stop ignoring your to-do list and keep on top of all your tasks:

Use a calendar

If you have any appointments or events coming up this month, make sure you book them directly into your calendar, whether it is electronic or manual. With an electronic calendar, you can email yourself reminders in advance, so you won’t forget about them or double book yourself. By using a calendar, you can also get a good view of what other activities you have coming up in the week or month, so you can plan ahead. Don’t be afraid to use your calendar for smaller reminders as well, like when to defrost the turkey, when to wrap gifts, and when to go shopping.

 

Organize tasks into categories or projects

If you have a big project to work on or have multiple tasks that fit into one category (like “holiday meal”), only set one reminder to review the project or category. In your reminder you can list all of the tasks that need to be completed, but don’t set a reminder for each separate task. This will quickly fill up your calendar and can make you feel overwhelmed. By setting up only one reminder, you can keep all the tasks related to that one project or category together. When you categorize tasks or activities, you can focus on the big picture and stay on track..

 

Use a digital app for your lists 

If you prefer checking off tasks on a to-do list, consider using an app on your phone that will help you keep track of what you need to get done. Apps like ASANA and Wunderlist have robust search features and a great task list that can help you record everything. They even let you categorize tasks into separate folders, so you can keep all related tasks together in one place. With a digital to-do list, you can also set reminders to be emailed to you or sent to your phone. You also don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing your list if you keep it on your phone – some apps even have the option of exporting your list or accessing it on a desktop for added security.

 

Make it visible

When you’re figuring out what you need to do, make sure you record your tasks or events in a place that you are sure to check regularly. If you have a calendar in your office but you never go in there, then you shouldn’t use it to record your holiday events and tasks. Instead, use your phone or electronic calendar, which you may be more likely to check regularly. For families, it is also important to make sure everyone is on the same page. Consider syncing your online calendars together or setting up a large format calendar in your kitchen or family room where everyone can see it and stay up to date on what is going on and what needs to be done. You can also use it to delegate tasks to each person, so everyone knows what they are responsible for doing.

 

Don’t take on more than you can

You can only stay on track of your holiday tasks if you have a manageable number of tasks to complete. If you try to take on more than you are actually able, you will have a much harder time trying to get things done on time and done properly. Don’t be afraid to get help from family and friends for holiday tasks like preparing for meals, decorating, and shopping for gifts. It’s also okay to say no to events or activities if you can’t make room in your schedule. Instead, try and plan get togethers after the holidays, so you don’t have to worry about making time for everyone.

 

If you have a lot that needs to be done during the holidays, make sure you take the time to properly plan and organize your tasks, so you can stay on track during the busy season. Find a method that works for you – one that won’t let you ignore or forget important appointments, events, and tasks. During the holidays, you can stay on top of everything and still have time to enjoy the season!

5 clutter-free gift ideas for the holidays

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Shopping for the holidays? Calm Order recommends giving a gift than can be experienced or consumed. This way, your loved ones can enjoy their gift without adding unnecessary clutter into their lives. If you’re having trouble thinking of gift ideas, don’t just buy something at random. Chances are, whoever gets the gift won’t be able to use it and will end up having to give it away or put it in storage and forget about it. Don’t be afraid to buy gift certificates or tickets for gifts that won’t turn into unwanted clutter.

 

 Enjoy dinner and a movie

This classic weekend activity is a great gift to give anyone on your gift list. It can easily be customized to everyone’s tastes and interests because you can be general movie passes that aren’t specific to a certain movie, theatre or time. This way, your gift recipient can make plans to use their gift whenever works best for them. Better yet, it can be a completely clutter-less gift! Consider buy the movie passes and restaurant gift certificate online and sending them over electronically. You can print out a certificate or card that can be opened the day of but doesn’t need to be saved (and most likely lost) when the recipient goes to use it. This idea also works well as a couple or group gift.

 

Give a night at the theatre

Calgary is home to many different theatres and performance groups that provide entertainment for all ages. From musicals to comedy shows and family-friendly performances, there are many different performance companies like Theatre Calgary, Pumphouse Theatre and StoryBook Theatre that can also make great gifts for family and friends. If there is a specific show you know your loved ones will love, then it might be a good idea to purchase specific tickets for them and other friends and family before they sell out. You can even consider purchasing general admission tickets, so they can see a show whenever they want. This gift can be a unique experience, and an activity they may not have thought to do on their own. If you have friends or family that really enjoy seeing performances, consider also buying them season passes to their favourite place.

Explore Calgary’s museums and galleries

For an even more engaging gift, consider giving friends and family passes to one of the many museums and galleries in Calgary and the surrounding area. From places like the Glenbow Museum, Heritage Park or even the Royal Tyrrell Museum, season passes, or one-time admission tickets make a great gift for any individual or group. Admission passes will allow recipients to make a visit at a time that works with their schedule and be a fun afternoon or day activity for them to experience by themselves or with other friends. If you’re looking for a bigger gift, you could buy multiple admission tickets to multiple places, and cut down on the number of physical items your loved ones will receive this holiday season. Give them a gift they can actually experience and remember!

Test culinary skills and taste buds

If you know anyone that likes to cook, bake, or eat food, find a cooking class or demonstration on a food type or cuisine they like, so they can enjoy an afternoon or evening learning about (and eating) something they love! Most classes can be group or partner activities, so this could be a great idea to do with your recipient, or to give them to do with someone else. There are classes available in Calgary from a variety of organizations like ATCO Blue Flame, The Cookbook Company Cooks, Sunterra, and more. If your recipient isn’t a fan of cooking, try a tasting or pairing event instead, which usually offers beverages and food samplings for guests to try. Restaurants and bakeries offer events like this that allow people to purchase tickets in advance, which makes for a great gift to enjoy after the holidays. Not only are they engaging activities, they can also be very educational!

 

Treat your loved ones

After a busy holiday season, nothing is better than getting a relaxing day at the spa! Whether it is a massage, pedicure, or full treatment, consider giving a gift certificate to a spa for your friend or loved one. It could be their regular treatment, or something new they wouldn’t normally get to do. There are also spa treatments available for couples or groups that you can also give. Some packages may also offer the option to get food or drinks to turn it into an even more engaging activity. A spa-day is the perfect gift for friends and family who may need rest and relaxation after spending a busy few days with family or travelling.

  

Give a gift that won’t just take up space in the homes of your friends and family. This year give them something they can actually experience and enjoy. Not only will it save you time and eliminate your gift-wrapping time, you can be assured that your recipients will actually use and appreciate their gift without adding more clutter to their lives.