“What’s the hot toy the kids want this Christmas?”
“What size clothes do they fit into now?”
“What do you want for your birthday?”
My family is blessed with generous, far-flung relatives who thoughtfully want to give my kids (and my husband and me) wonderful gifts. But fielding all of these questions for every holiday and event was more than I could manage. Then I had to remember which gift idea I’d given to which relative. Not to mention the added dread of new toys and stuff flooding into a home that I’d tried so hard to keep organized.
THE SOLUTION? WISH LISTS!
People register for weddings, kids send their lists to Santa, Amazon even has a list option. So why not keep an ongoing wish list that relatives could consult for any gift-giving occasion?
I started keeping a Wish List for each of my family members and soon my whole extended family jumped on board.
But I know what you’re thinking...
“If a gift has come to you wrapped in obligations and tied tightly with a ribbon of guilt, then it's not really a gift at all.” -Peter Walsh
Why is giving so tied up with guilt? Guilt about overspending, guilt about underspending, guilt about having to give equal gifts to various people, guilt about giving in proportion to what you’re getting, guilt about not liking a gift you received…the guilt list is as long as Santa’s list!
Of all of the gift guilts, the one that causes the most consternation is the problem of receiving a gift you don’t love.
For our first Christmas as a married couple, my husband really wanted to delight me. I gave him several not-so-subtle hints that I had my eye on a chocolate brown Persian lamb coat in a local vintage shop.
I couldn’t hide my excitement on Christmas morning when he handed me a box stamped with the shop’s logo. Lifting the lid, my face fell when I pulled out a mangy-looking, poison-yellow rabbit fur jacket. Seriously, what was he thinking?!
January: New Year, New You! GO Month: Get Organized and Be Productive! Have you made your resolutions? Hitting the gym every day? Are you crushing it?!
Um, not so much.
Honestly, once I clean up from the holidays and start getting back to the reality of a normal schedule, January is nearly half over!
It’s natural to want to set some intentions for improvement. What’s unrealistic is thinking that you’ll accomplish them in the first month. This year, to take on your organizing projects, make January your regrouping and brainstorming month.
What comes to mind when you think about holiday preparations? You’re probably thinking about getting out the decorations, baking yummy treats, juggling the party and event schedule, and wrapping gifts.
This season, I invite you to prepare by paring down. Simplifying and lightening your load is a great way to give yourself more time and space to enjoy your family and friends—and your home—during the holidays.
I like to focus on paring down these three areas:
Are you ready to tackle your holiday shopping? It’s time! In my family, we traditionally start shopping way early. In fact, according to family lore, my grandmother always had all her gifts bought, wrapped, and stowed in her closet by the end of August.
By contrast, when I owned a store (Who knew that little fact about me?), lots of last-minute shoppers would show up on Christmas Eve with a look of panic in their eyes, frantically trying to find a gift. They were so relieved when I offered them free gift wrapping!
This year, with the supply-chain problems causing shortages and delays, you definitely want to get a head start so you don’t end up grabbing whatever you see on the shelves.
My biggest tip for this season is to keep it local. As much as possible, I love to support my local businesses, both because I used to own a main street shop so I know how tough it can be and also because these businesses create the flavor that makes your neighborhood fun.
Years ago, a change of seasons was a fraught time for me. Excited as I was about the warmer or cooler weather ahead, I dreaded the looming Big Closet Switch.
It was a messy, days-long chore. It always looked worse before it got better: clothes spread all over the room; keep/donate/does-it-still-fit piles everywhere; last-season’s clothes needing to be washed before being binned; next-season’s clothes needing to be ironed (nooooo!) after getting crumpled in bins.
The problem is, I really love the change of seasons. It’s fun when you first pull on a cozy sweater in the fall or head out the door in only a light jacket in the spring. But the way I had organized my closet was turning the change of seasons from a fun celebration into a dreaded chore.
How did I free myself? I discovered the Year-Round Closet.
It happens predictably every year in the early fall. Is it triggered by the kids going back to school? Or when I notice the sun setting earlier and the air getting cooler?
Whatever the cause, I feel compelled to pare down the excess and spruce up the house, creating a more streamlined, restful space to live in.
“We don’t need this many mugs,” I announce to my husband as I peer critically into the kitchen cupboard, pulling out one with a chip and throwing it into the trash.
That evening, after I toss an extra deck of cards into the donation bag that I keep by the door and tell him that I’d like to repaint the living room, I see a look in his eyes like he’s just figured something out. “Oh,” he observes, “you’re nesting again.”
“Yup!” I laugh, “I do it every fall.” Organizing isn’t just something you do once and it stays that way forever. Things pile up, new things come into the house, and life changes. It’s rituals and routines like this fall clearing that keep me organized.
Clear the space so you can enjoy your place.
One question I always ask a new client is, “Do you think your space has the problem of too much stuff or is it just that things are not properly organized?”
I admit that this is a bit of a trick question because nearly always the answer is “both.” Having too much stuff will always stand between you and organization as you struggle to maneuver around the excess.
Sure, you can file-fold your entire t-shirt collection and just barely manage to cram it all into your dresser drawer, but those shirts will be so jammed together that you’ll struggle to pull one out without others coming with it. Not to mention that your t-shirts will have permanent wrinkles from being so tightly packed. And I’d like to see you maintain your composure while trying to put it back into the drawer!
In a typical December, I like to help you out with a clutter-free gift guide. However, this is anything but a typical December. This year, everything seems a little more complicated, even gift giving.
With restaurants, gyms, and other in-person experiences closing off and on, your go-to gift certificates might not seem right. Even clothes are a bit different with so many of us working from home more and wardrobes becoming much more casual.
Let me help get your creative juices flowing as you check off your gift list!
It's almost here: holiday giving season! Be organized and prepared with my fillable or printable Gift Tracker. Keep your filled-out list to reference for next year so you don’t accidentally duplicate gifts or so you can purposely duplicate (E.g. Aunt Edith gets a fruit basket every year.).
And don't just use the Gift Tracker for holidays, but keep your list going all year round to track birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and other gift-giving occasions.