Archive for the ‘Christmas Organizing’ Category

Setting Up Christmas Without Mess Or Stress [Organizing]

Face it, as Christmas grew larger in your life, or as your family did, Christmas became more and more of a Project to execute. Getting a tree, setting it up, decorating it and throwing a few decorations around the house – that was yesterday. Today your life is much more complicated and if you don’t watch it, Christmas becomes a messy stress.

Putting decorations away-2

But preparing for Christmas, from getting out the decorations to setting up the Christmas tree, doesn’t need to be a series of stressful, cluttered, jumbled days. If you have put away all or even just some of your Christmas decorations organized in boxes, setting up Christmas will be an easy thing to do this year.

If your Christmas decorations are not organized at all – no problem; you can still follow along the lines of our Christmas decorations organization. Watch out for the notes!

Count The Weeks

Take basic inventory. How many Christmas boxes do you have? 4? 8? 10? If you’re a family and you’ve been doing for a couple of years, you’ll likely have between 8 and 12 boxes. At least.

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Or; how many zones do you have that need to be Christmas-ized? Entrance, kitchen, room, bedroom. Bathroom?

Or; roughly how many types of Christmas stuff do you have? Christmas items to hang, to stand. Christmas decorations for the tree. Maybe Christmas dishes for the kitchen, right?

Don’t forget the tree, setting it up and decorating it. If you have a permanent, artificial Christmas tree you’re set for that. If you need to buy a tree, add one number to your list.

You’re now going to have a number.

This is the number of weeks before Christmas that you have to start putting your Christmas decorations out.

Add 2: one for unforeseen circumstances, one because you don’t want to finish the week of Christmas itself.

Why so many weeks? No matter what you do in your daily life, the chance that you have every day, all day to decorate your house for Christmas is very, very remote. Highly unlikely. So you work, have a job, paid or not. Family things to do and look after. You’re not going to want to decorate from 6 PM to 10 PM. And once it’s Christmas and you may have some free days – you don’t want to use your free days to “work” again, do you?

That means that in (relaxed) reality, you’ll be using either a day in the weekend or a few odd moments during the week to put that week’s Christmas items out. Goes smooth and almost automatically. You’ll see :)

Christmas One Week At A Time

Take one box out. Not more. Never more than one at a time.

Bring the box to where it is handy for you to work. This can be a table in a dining room, the kitchen counter, even the floor.

If you followed our Christmas Organization you know what’s in the box and are putting out precisely what you intended to put out.

Put out the items that you like. Maybe you have so many Christmas decorations that it’s a good idea to rotate them yearly – but putting them all out is good too; Christmas comes only once a year and not nearly enough in a lifetime!

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Often you’ll find that it’s easier to decorate your home by removing the other, common decorations and items that take their place all year round.

Simply take those other items and put them in the current Christmas box you’re working on.

If you’re not organized yet, or this box isn’t organized yet, decide what you want to put in this box and label the box already as such (see: Putting Christmas Decorations Away). Once it’s time to put the Christmas things away you’ll know what’s going to go where.

Wrap It Up

  • Count how many boxes or bags of Christmas items you have to go through in order for Christmas to be ready for you
  • That’s how many weeks before Christmas you have to start. Add at least 2 more; one week for unforeseen circumstances, one week because you don’t want to work during Christmas
  • Take out one box or bag of Christmas decorations at a time. No more
  • Put things you want gone for the Christmas days in the same box as the Christmas decorations that replace them came from
  • Once you’re done with a box, move on to the next
  • Work a little every day, every week; or work in the weekend every week

Using a Christmas gift buy list

Ever had that? You think that you have a bunch of gifts, more or less divided equally among recipients, but when it comes time to wrap those gifts you realize you have a whole bunch of nothing for one person, a pile of tiny stuff for the other, and one really big expensive gift for yet another?

What happened is that you have been shopping by intuition and impression. You buy what you think you need for the people you thought still need "stuff".

The solution: a Christmas gift buy list.

santa claus express

The Christmas gift buy list

Think of a Christmas gift buy list as a sort of inverted wish list. instead of a list of gifts somebody would like to receive, you have a list of gifts that you intend to give.

It works like this.

Following our year-round Christmas gift shopping routine you buy a gift. As soon as you come home you store the gift in your designated Christmas gift box. You then write the gift on your Christmas gift buy list.

If the gift is intended for a specific person, either write his or her name behind the gift or use a separate page and list the gift there. Which solution you will use depends on how many people you are shopping for.

Additionally you can write both the value and the price of the gift.  Sometimes you will pay a lot less for a gift versus what its real value is. Writing down the value helps you to estimate how much value each person will receive this Christmas versus what you paid for that person’s Christmas.

Gifts that you can’t assign to a specific person yet go on the Anyone list (or you write Anyone behind the gift entry) where you write anyone behind. This is your gift stash.

Bring Your Christmas Gift Buy List

Your Christmas Gift Buy List should be portable. If possible you should have it on you or bring it with you at all times. You never know when you walk in on what seems to be in good deal  When you have your Christmas Gift Buy List with you, you can quickly reference it to determine if you really should buy someone yet another gift.

Or, sometimes you run into a nice gadget or other tiny stuff and then you might want to check your list to ensure you’re not buying one person a whole bunch of nothing.

Use For Christmas Gift Budgeting

By noting both the value and the price of the gift you can use your Christmas Gift Buy List to budget this year’s Christmas and set yourself a fixed maximum amount of money to spend on each gift recipient.

How To Finish Christmas Gift Shopping On Time [Organizing Christmas]

Recognize this? This year you’re going to do it different and get the right gifts for the right person at the right time. You’re going to shop early! In November, maybe, already!

As you plow your way through a slow moving shopping mob, you suddenly realize Christmas is two weeks from now – and you still need to do most of your Christmas shopping!

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What’s worse, almost, is that everything is hugely expensive; even those items you saw on sale "just now".

Why Christmas Shopping Doesn’t Finish on Time

The reason why no matter how well intentioned we may be our Christmas gift shopping always ends too later or at the very least has some stress involved is our mind’s bad sense of time.

Be honest, when you thought about shopping in time and on time you thought "three months before Christmas – heck, even two months before Christmas is good: two whole months!"

But you know what two whole months translates to? To about four or five  chances to go Christmas shopping.

Look, if you’re anything like me you don’t have all the time in the world. This needs to be done, that needs to be done. Usually both need to be done at the same time!

Those 60 days ("two whole months!") of shopping? That’s fake. Most of those days you wake up from the alarm clock and by the time the day is finished enough that there is time for what you want to do in life, you certainly don’t want to go out and so some considerate Christmas shopping!

Which leaves the weekends. In two months that’s just 8 weekends. Can you take time every weekend for 8 weeks straight to say "ta-da, I’m out shopping!"

              »» Get Organized Now Holiday Planner «« 

No.

Realistically speaking we can’t (see: there’s always something to do).

So those two whole months you have? That’s just a handful of trips to the mall, countable on indeed one hand and each trip closer to Christmas with everything getting more expensive while at the same time more common: there are no special Christmas gifts around Christmas time.

Buying Christmas Gifts Year Round

The trick is to buy your Christmas gifts year round, starting the day(s) after Christmas with the expensive stuff that’s suddenly at half price.

Because following the logic of real time as available to us, one whole year of Christmas shopping isn’t that at all! Right? It’s what? It’s about 52 weekends – so no more than 50-52 chances to pick something up for someone. And yeah, we might not be able to go every time we want to. And we don’t find something every single time we go to a shop.

So according to our real Christmas shopping time calculation, that’s 20-30 Christmas shopping trips.

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As you develop the habit of thinking about buying Christmas gifts no matter if it’s the season or not (and of course you’ll be applying this to other gifts and seasons as well!), you’ll get a hang for it. You’ll develop a special sixth sense that will home you in to "on sale" items that are really on sale (versus just being cheaper than the day before). You’ll start to find items that are really special. And as you’re buying gifts because you want to and not because you need to right now or else… you’ll start to match up the very best gifts to the right person.

Better yet; as that gift you gave was bought in May the person receiving it won’t have seen it in all the shops for all the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s really unique!

Store & Track Your Christmas Gifts

Once you come home with a Christmas gift, store it in your dedicated Christmas Gifts Box.

You should also note the item on your Christmas Gifts List. If you know for whom it is, make a note of that. If not, leave it in the anyone section.

Wrap It Up

  • Count the number of weeks you have before Christmas and divide that number in two or three: that’s the real amount of times you’ll be able to shop for Christmas gifts
  • Start Christmas gift shopping the day(s) after Christmas, buying the luxury items that are now on 50% and better
  • Buy Christmas gifts year round
  • Store the bought gifts in your Christmas Gifts Box
  • Note down what you bough (and for whom) on your Christmas Gifts List

Holiday Planner

Image credit: Huahe, bensonkua

Putting Your Christmas Things Away [Organizing]

Christmas is one of the biggest if not the biggest holiday of the year. For many of us that means we have tons of Christmas decorations, some of them quite bulky.

Had you received all this stuff at once, you’d surely looked at it, bought an appropriate set of boxes and would have organized and stored your Christmas decorations.

pilexmas But, as it goes, our collection of Christmas things has come to us over the years. The original angel on top of the tree that we bought at the dollar shop when we had just moved on our own, remember? That set of classic (not old….) scratched Christmas baubles you found at that second hand store ("still made of real glass!!"). The inflatable Santa that seemed like such a good idea. And let’s not forget everything we’ve dug up by smartly buying after the Christmas season.

So, this year when putting your stuff away we’re going to organize it for probably the first time. Don’t worry – we don’t need to do it all at once. This is something you can do piecemeal this year, and a bit next year, and then…. And each year it will become smoother, faster, as your items increasingly have Their Own Place to be found and to go back to.

What we’re going to do is store our Christmas decorations in sturdy, plastic boxes. Not carton: we want to do this once and be done with it for the rest of our life. That rules out bags too whether they’re regular black trash bags or those nice new big Ziploc ones.

Picking Christmas Storage Boxes

What we need are plastic boxes that can be piled on top of each other.

Think Rubbermaid. Any brand will do but Rubbermaid has one important thing going for it: they’ve been around for ages and will likely still be around when you want to buy another box.

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Plastic boxes are meant to pile on top of each other the way those Duplo children building blocks do: they sort of interlock, sort of "fit" bottom to top. Mix two or three different brands and 99% of the time you end up with mixed shapes. The result is that you no longer can pile the boxes on top of each other.

This can happen within a brand as well. Sterling also makes great boxes and at a slightly better price than Rubbermaid – but the shape of their models can change every three years or so.

Get transparent boxes. Optional, especially if you need to buy a lot of boxes. But using transparent boxes to store and organize our Christmas items has its advantages. I have to admit that for the neat freaks among us, that can be hard; looking at a "wall" of transparent boxes can give a messy impression.

Although we will label our boxes with a general category of items or naming two or three item types, using a transparent box just adds another layer of convenience.

I use a mix of transparent and non-transparent boxes with the transparent ones dedicated to the Christmas tree decorations.

In general a family that has been celebrating Christmas for a while and loves dressing up the home for Christmas will need 5-15 boxes: a total investment of about $50-$150.

Get a Labeler

We’ll be writing on our boxes what’s in them. Not a detailed list but a general idea; "things to hang", "music boxes", etc.

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Surely you can write beautiful but nothing beats the neat and organized look of a printed label. You can pick up a labeler for around 30 bucks or so; they’re really not expensive. And they’re versatile; you can label anything, not just your Chrstmas items. We’re using the Brother PT-80, the follow-up of the classic and highly coveted PT-65.

Note: when sticking a label to a plastic box with Christmas stuff, I like to put some boxing tape or Scotch tape over it just to ensure it will stay in place over the coming years.

Organizing Your Christmas Items

Your goal is to store your Christmas decorations in such a way that you’ll be able to take them out in phases and put them away in phases.

That means that storing items based on size or color is out of the question.

What you’re looking to do is to store Christmas decorations by how you put them (hanging, standing) and/or where you put them (in the tree, outside, a specific room).

To get you started, here are some of our Christmas boxes:

  • Things to Hang
  • Music Boxes & Snow Globes
  • Christmas Dishes
  • Things to Put Out (small)
  • Things to Put Out (large)
  • Figurines
  • Christmas Tree

As a result we’re able to use a spare moment, grab a box and start decorating for Christmas. When we have put the items from the box in place that we want to, we put the box away. Christmas unfolds itself, almost!

And remember, as long as you can afford it, get another box when one is full. Resist the tempation to fill up a box with other knick knacks that don’t belong in that box. Rest assured that over the coming years the empty space in that one box will most likely fill up all by itself anyway!

The "Oh, I Forgot!" Box

This is a tip that took us a couple of years of experience to "get" so use it for free and use it well :)

I don’t know about your household but here no matter how diligent I am, every year I once all the Christmas decorations have been neatly put away … I find a couple more Christmas items.

Used to be that I would go to the basement and "dig out" the right box, put the item away. Then I got lazy and would just put the item on or sort of near the pile of Christmas boxes.

No more!

Next to organizing the Christmas decorations in boxes itself, the single best thing we’ve done is to label one box "Forgotten Items".

We leave it easily reachable (in our case, on top of the smallest pile of boxes) and it gets a good filling most every year.

On top of that, once you find a cute Christmas decoration to buy on sale out of season, you’ll have a place to store it right away!

The Christmas Gifts Box(es)

Something we always advocate to do is to buy your Christmas gifts year round as you find them – especially as you find them on sale, for instance right after the Christmas season has ended.

To keep those gifts new and shiny and to prevent them from getting mixed up with other belongings or gifts you buy in advance for birthdays and what not, I suggest you dedicate at least one box for your Christmas gifts.

Again, just as with the "Oh, I Forgot!" box, this will give you a dedicated place to put those items away and find them back later. And no matter how good your memory, of course you track Christmas gifts on a list.

Wrap It Up

  • Buy plastic boxes from a brand you know will be around for a good time to come:
    • Buy non-transparent boxes for best price and to store items you don’t need to "see"
    • Buyy transparent boxes for better visual organization, especially for items that aren’t clearly defined or need to be "seen"
  • Buy a labeler to keep your organization neat
  • Put items together in one box based on how you use them or where you use them
  • Don’t try to fill boxes; they’ll fill themselves
  • Do it piecemeal; you didn’t get all these Christmas decorations in one year, you don’t need to organize it in one year either