We are all getting ready for the upcoming holidays, whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanza and don’t forget New Years! More than likely you will be having company over, whether it friends or family or both. Perhaps, you will want to prepare a fabulous holiday party or have guests stay with you during this festive season. Here’s some Quick Tips to start the holidays off organized and eight simple things you can do to help plan that gathering without a headache:
1. MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE: Making a simple list can help you unclutter your mind so that you can concentrate on the task at hand. Make a detailed list of everything you need to get done. If you will be delegating tasks to family members (as you should), mark down who’s doing what. Likewise, if you absolutely must tackle one task before a certain date, write down that date, too. Make sure you list any supplies you might need to accomplish each task. If you are in charge of a meal, you can even list your recipes right on your list for the next time you go to the grocery store.
2. COOK EARLY: Make your side dishes and desserts the day before your big meal. Most side dishes and virtually all desserts will keep just fine overnight in the fridge or freezer. This way, on the day of your party, you can concentrate on your main dish and simply warm up the side dishes before dinner. If you’ll be spending the day baking, take the time between cookie batches to wrap last minute gifts! If you’re all caught up on your wrapping (good for you!), take that time to put your feet up for a much deserved rest.
3. GIVE SIMPLY: Avoid long lines and crowds at the malls and department stores by giving gift certificates. (A great gift idea is a gift certificate from A BETTER SPACE!) They don’t clutter and they don’t cost much to ship to friends and family out of town. Plus, everyone gets exactly what they want.
4. TRY A POTLUCK: If you’re organizing a large family gathering, ask everyone to bring their favorite dish. This way, everyone can show off their culinary expertise and you’ll be saved from slaving away in the kitchen all day. (I suggest getting a general idea about what everyone is bringing to avoid duplicates.)
5. CREATE A WRAPPING STATION: Save time and energy by designating a corner of your home for gift wrapping. If you have a nice, comfortable space to work and wrap gifts, you’re more likely to get it done before the last minute. Put up a card table in the corner of a spare bedroom or in a space in your basement to keep your gift wrap, bags, tissue paper, tape, scissors, bows, etc. All of it can be right where you can easily get to them. You won’t have to pull your supplies from various places in your home every time you need to wrap a gift. Also, if you wrap gifts as you buy them, you’ll save time too. When the season is over, carefully store any leftover paper and bags in clearly marked containers for next year.
6. SEND AN E-CARD: So, you’ve already mailed out your cards for this year and the holiday is only a couple of days away. You get a card in the mail from someone you forgot to send a card to. It might be too late to mail them your holiday wishes in return, but email is instant. E-cards have come a long way. Most of the popular greeting card companies offer e-cards on their web site and can be personalized with text and photos.
7. PICK UP EXTRAS: When you are out and about and find a great sale, buy a couple extras. Have something on hand just in case someone drops by with a gift for you. You don’t want to be in a situation where you don’t have anything to give them. Holiday treats, candles, restaurant gift cards and ornaments all make great, simple holiday gifts for anyone. These gifts are also something you can use personally if you don’t end up giving them to someone this year. Wrap them up and mark a code on the bottom so you know what’s inside.
8. PREPARE FOR OVERNIGHT GUESTS: It only takes a few simple gestures to make your guests feel welcome and at home. Leave a basket of travel sized toiletries in a basket in the bathroom. Place a few books or magazines on the night stand. Provide space for your guests to store their clothing while they are staying with you. Provide space in some drawers and some hangers in the closet. (See my previous blog from April 30, 2008 for more tips on creating a five-star guest room.)
With some simple planning, you have avoid the stress of preparing that holiday meal, gift giving and providing arrangements for guests to stay overnight.
Enjoy the holidays!
Audrey Cupo is a full-time Professional Organizer and sole proprietor of A BETTER SPACE based in Bucks County, PA. She specializes in residential organizing and focuses her business on helping busy moms and women entrepreneurs get organized with her in-home services and her U Can Do It product line. To get your FREE “U Can Do It Room By Room Organizing Checklist”, go to www.4abetterspace.com.