Holidays

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!  

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.

Organized travel during the holiday season

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Many people travel during the holidays to get away from the cold weather, or visit family and friends. The holiday season is one of the busiest travel period of the year, and it can be hard to stay organized, especially when travel can get busy and chaotic and all you want to do is get to your destination. To stay on top of your holiday trip planning, try following these suggestions so you can enjoy stress-free travel this holiday season:

Make sure you have the essentials

It goes without saying, but make sure you have everything you absolutely need for your trip ready to go, including passports, ID, phones, chargers, tickets, and booking confirmations. For people who are travelling by vehicle, phones and chargers are especially important in case you run into bad weather and need to call for assistance or to give family and friends a heads up that you may be late or have to delay your trip. When times get busy, it is easy to forget the most basic and essential items, so make sure you pack these items first and put them in a bag or place you are not likely to forget them.

Expect the unexpected

When you’re travelling during the holiday season in Calgary, you need to be prepared for winter weather. Keep in mind that travelling during this time is not the same as travelling during the summer, and prepare yourself for possible delays, whether your driving or flying. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination if your driving, and scope out possible places along the way of your route where you can pull over or stop for the night if the weather is especially bad. Make sure to also pack extra blankets, gloves and toques in case you get stuck in your car or have to wait on the side of the road. If you’re flying, give yourself enough time to make it to the airport, and make sure your vehicle is equipped and ready to be stored outside for an extended period of time. When you’re booking your flights, make sure you have enough time there and back in case your flight is late, and pack a book or game in your carry to keep you and your travel companions entertained if you have to wait for a long period at the airport.

Book as early as possible

Don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight or accommodations! December is a peak time for travel, so be prepared for popular resorts to be busy, and for airlines and hotels to charge higher prices during this time. Get in touch with family or friends you are travelling with as early as possible and decide on the details - when you’re leaving, how long you’re staying, and how you’re getting there. The longer you wait, the more you will have to pay, and the greater the chance you won’t get your desired flight and accommodation options.

Avoid the crowds

Wherever you decide to go, you can be sure that public places like restaurants and shopping centres will be busier than usual. Avoid the large crowds and purchase snacks and drinks to keep in your room so you don’t always have to go out (or spend more money!). Breakfast is also an easy meal to enjoy in your hotel room - you can purchase instant oatmeal, muffins, or granola bars at a grocery store an keep them in your room to eat. This way, you can save money on eating out and not have to worry about waiting for a table at a restaurant or getting there very early to try and get a seat.

Travelling can be stressful at the best of times, but the holiday season is always worse because there is a significant increase in travellers, and everyone is impatient to get to their vacation or see their loved ones. If you’re planning on travelling during this time, start planning early and make sure you’re prepared for any situation, especially bad weather!