holiday

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!  

How to organize and store your holiday decorations

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With many people going back to work or starting school again next week, the holiday season can be declared official over. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s time to put away your holiday decorations – and with the weather so nice for the next couple of days, why not take down your outdoor decorations too?

No one likes to take decorations down, clean them and organize everything, but it is a necessary and helpful step that you will appreciate in the future. Below, we’ve outlined some organization and storage solutions to help you properly store your holiday décor:

 

Declutter your décor

Before you put away all your décor for the year, go through your ornaments, lights, wreaths and ceramics. Throw away or fix anything that is broken – don’t put away anything that is cracked, torn or ripped until it is repaired. If light bulbs are burned out, replace them or test the lights to see if they are still working and replace them if needed. Any loose branches, leaves or decorations from wreaths should also be cleaned up and tossed before they are placed in storage.

If you have noticed that there are some decorations you don’t seem to use or have the space for, consider giving them away to friends and family, or donate them. There is no point in storing items that won’t be used – the chances are good someone else would appreciate it!

 

Keep similar objects together

Avoid having to open all of your storage containers looking for garland or a stocking. Instead, make sure all of your similar décor items, like ornaments, or candles, or lights, are all stored together in one place.  Not only will this make it easier for you to find the items you need, it will also make it easier to store items if they aren’t all different shapes and sizes. Wreaths can be hung or placed side-by-side in a plastic bin or cardboard box. Instead of storing ornaments in their individual boxes wherever you have room, keep them together. There are special ornament storage containers that you can buy, or you can make your own by using plastic cups and cardboard or egg cartons.

Try and keep all of your holiday décor stored together in the same space. If you have the space, try and clear out one area in a closet, garage or shed to store any containers, lights or other items that you use during the holiday season. If you don’t have room to store everything together, try keeping all outdoor décor together in a place that is easy to access like a garage or shed, and all indoor decorations together in your basement or closet. Since holiday décor is seasonal, you can easily store your décor on the top shelf of a cabinet or closet, or another storage space that is more out of the way.

 

Room By room Decor storage

If you have a large home, or like to decorate the same year by year, pack away and store your seasonal decorations by room. Label clearly "living room Christmas decorations". That way your living room decor will end up all together and you will have an easier time remembering where things belong one year to the next. 

 

Label, label, label

Regardless of how you store your items, make sure whatever they are stored in is clearly labelled. This way, you can grab the items that you want when you need them. This is especially helpful for people who don’t put out all their decorations at a time, and prevents them from pulling out all of their boxes to determine what is in them.

While labelling storage containers seems obvious, there are other décor items that are also important to label. If you use an artificial tree, label each tier of the tree. Once the tree is fluffed out it is easy to determine what part goes where, but when it is packed away in a box or bag with the rest of the layers, it may not be clear. Labelling will make it easier to put the tree together next year. If you store your lights in plastic bags or boxes, make sure the label includes what colour(s) they are, and if they are smaller or larger bulbs. It may also be helpful to label what the lights are for, like the outside of the house, the tree, the back deck, or wherever else you put them up.

 

Untangle your lights

Lights are always tricky to take down, and even more complicated to put up because the cords so often tangle when they are put away. However, there are many different methods to neatly organizing your lights so they won’t get tangled. Consider using a piece of cardboard from a gift box or parcel to wrap the lights around. If you have any left-over ribbon, use it to bundle and tie together each strand of lights. Alternatively, you can purchase storage containers that will wind up your lights.

Make sure to cushion your lights with a softer material, like used tissue paper, newspaper or paper towel to prevent the bulbs from breaking. This is especially important if you are planning on storing your lights in a cooler place like a garage or shed where they could become cold and brittle.

 

Take down the tree

Many people do not have space to store their tree fully-assembled, so cut down your storage space by storing parts of your tree in separate containers. Most boxes and containers aren’t big enough for larger artificial trees, so store each layer in a storage tube. These containers will easily fit the length and width of the layers once they are folded down. For small artificial trees, the entire tree could easily fit into one container. While many may store their tree in its original box, the cardboard starts to break down and bend over the years, and it isn’t always easy to store or take out every year. By using separate containers, you can minimize storage space and keep your tree safely stored.

For people who do have the space to store their whole tree, there are many options available to easily bring it in an out of storage each year and protect it while it is not in use. For starters, consider using a tree stand that has wheels on it. When the tree is up, you can lock the wheels in place, and unlock them when it is time to put the tree in your garage or shed. When you store your tree together, you can keep any lights or garlands on your tree, and protect them by covering the tree with a large plastic or storage bag.  

 

Cleaning up and organizing your décor after the holidays is an essential task that can save you time and space for the year ahead!

 

Eliminate your holiday meal stress!

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Hosting a Christmas meal can be exhausting and expensive. A lot of preparation goes into planning a menu, buying the ingredients, and putting each dish together the day of. Then, there is always a home to clean, a table to set, and beverages to be put together as well! This makes the holidays tiring and stressful, and doesn’t let the host enjoy the meal with family and friends.

Planning early or making a schedule only goes so far – a lot of work must still be done the day of, and a lot of the stress cannot be avoided. However, if you’re hosting a holiday meal, consider lightening your load by assigning others to bring a dish!

Just because you are hosting the meal, doesn’t mean you should be afraid to ask for help. Side dishes like casseroles or vegetables are easy for others to bring and quickly heat once they arrive. You can also ask some of your guests to bring one or more desserts. If your aunt makes the best green bean casserole, or your sister has time to make a dessert, don’t be afraid to ask them to contribute to the meal. Beverages or appetizer dishes are also easy to assign to others.

Allow yourself to enjoy the meal by taking some of the load off of your feet. Many of your guests will be happy to help and contribute to the meal. To prevent people from bringing the same item, or bringing a dish that doesn’t fit with the meal, consider delegating a specific dish or giving each guests a couple of options to choose from. This way, you will still have control over the menu and dishes, but won’t have to prepare everything yourself. You can also stay more organized the day of by confirming with each guests a couple of days before whether or not they will need to heat anything in the oven or microwave, so you can plan your own cooking.

Make the holidays more enjoyable this year, and spend time with your family and friends. Too often, hosts spend most of their time organizing menus, shopping for ingredients, and preparing turkeys, and don’t get to visit with their loved ones. There is only so much organizing you can do beforehand – the only way to really cut down on stress is to eliminate some of the tasks that need to be done for the meal. Get your guests to help and bring a dish of their own, or even dessert – anything to help you enjoy the meal with them!

This year, have a relaxing an enjoyable holiday!