The 12 Tips of Christmas
Keeping your home and life organised during the busiest season of the year
SYDNEY, NSW, December 12, 2011 – THERE is a mere 12 days until Christmas, yet many to-do lists are still overflowing with things to do. Inner-B director, organising educator and Sydney mum Valerie Petersen said they key was to break things down into smaller tasks.
1. Start Early.
As a busy mum, one way to keep your sanity during the festive season is to start on Christmas shopping early. In fact, if you haven’t already started, now is a great time to do it. Use your diary to schedule in some shopping times (whether you plan to go out or shop in your PJs, which I highly recommend by the way), and keep a list of what you bought for whom.
2. Organise Decorations and Miscellany.
If you’re new to the idea of organisation or have struggled with it in the past, then it’s time to dig out all those boxes of Christmas decorations and bring some order to the chaos. Separate Christmas tree decorations from the others. Box gift wrap and ribbons together in a separate container, and start storing your presents in additional boxes.
3. Make a Christmas Tool Box.
You’ll need a standard set of tools along with the gift wrap, bows, and decorations as you prepare for Christmas. Fill a box with items including rolls of double-sided tape, Scotch tape, scissors, pliers, wire cutters, permanent markers, smear-proof ink pens, Velcro, spare Christmas light bulbs, extension cords, tissue paper, miscellaneous small cardboard boxes, self-adhesive labels, and a notebook. This will give you everything you need every year to make your Christmas preparation simpler. Be sure to replenish the tool box at the end of the season.
4. Label Everything.
Save yourself some embarrassment of giving the wrong person the wrong Christmas gift by labeling everything. You wouldn’t want Mum to be disappointed with a box of golf balls while Dad gets a book about motherly love. Write the name of the recipient on the box or tag the gift with a self-adhesive label as you purchase gifts. Organise the gifts according to recipient by storing them in separate bags until you are ready to wrap them. Then after you wrap each gift, add a gift label to the outside of the wrapped gift with both the recipient’s and the giver’s name (even if it’s Santa) written on it. Use a permanent marker or pen that won’t rub off on the labels.
5. Stock Up on Christmas Sale Items.
With Christmas sales, stores will usually mark down gift wrap, cards, ribbons and even decorations to get them out of the stores. Look to save 50 to 75 per cent (or even more) on these items. Stock up for the next year, and you’ll be prepared with the necessities a year in advance and save money in the process. You can also find rock-bottom bargains on generic gifts such as bath and body gift boxes, that you can purchase and save for gifts throughout the year. Remember not to go crazy and think why you are buying it before you buy. A bargain is only a bargain if it has a purpose.
6. Prepare Gifts for Surprise Guests.
We’ve all experienced that awkward moment when a surprise guest arrives with a loved one at a Christmas event. When gifts are exchanged, you are left scrambling to find the person a gift so no one feels left out. Or, even worse, you forget to purchase a gift for your child’s Sunday school teacher or that neighbor whom only comes to visit during the holidays. Be prepared for these mishaps with a bag of pre-wrapped gifts for both genders and all ages. Some great gift ideas include candles, gift cards, spa-at-home sets, and Christmas-themed stuffed animals. You can also fill a bag with Christmas-inspired gifts.
7. Prepare No-Bake Mixes.
You can save a lot of money and time spent shopping with homemade food gifts. And these gifts won’t even require you to operate the oven. Fill glass apothecary jars with homemade cocoa mix or the ingredients for cookies, brownies or pancakes. You can find recipes for each of these mixes online such as cocoa mix or brownie mix. Remember to add a tag with the baking instructions to each gift. If you want to dress up the gift, attach a Christmas-themed cookie cutter or miniature whisk to the jar. These can be made up to six months in advance.
8. Get to Baking.
If you do enjoy baking, by all means release some of your Christmas stress by whipping up some delectable Christmas gifts beforehand. Everyone loves foods, especially rich breads, homemade confections and sweet cakes, and the Christmas season is the prime time for sharing such goodies. Bake loaves of breads and cakes such as banana nut bread or fruit cakes that don’t need icing. You can wrap these in colourful cellophane or place these in decorative tins. For someone special, bake their favorite dessert for a gift.
9. Host a Potluck Meal.
If the thought of preparing a huge meal frightens you, or you simply can’t afford to feed 25 people satisfactorily, host a potluck meal for your Christmas dinner. With a bit of organisation, you will have a festive meal that won’t cost anyone a lot of money, and you’ll have plenty of food for everyone. Set a theme, a cold spread, finger foods, sandwiches, or mix it up for a more interesting meal. Maintain a list of what you will need for the dinner party as well as items that people offer to bring such as Mum’s beloved honey glazed Christmas ham, for example. Ask each person to volunteer to bring a particular item, or if they don’t have anything in particular in mind, assign them an item that you need and isn’t too difficult to prepare. Contact each person a week in advance as a friendly reminder just in case they aren’t going to be able to come. That way, you aren’t left without key items such as rolls for ham sandwiches.
10. Shop Online.
If you are a parent with a young child or simply despise the Christmas rush of shoppers, shop online. This is also a convenient technique for people who work during the day and have no time for shopping since online stores are open 24/7. Research shows that people who shop online save money by avoiding impulse buys. You are able to stick to your list and find the best deal on an item by shopping around to different online stores without having to leave your home. Most online shops also offer free shipping during the Christmas period which brings the costs down even more.
11. A Picture Says a Thousand Words
Everyone knows someone who is impossible to shop for because they have everything. This year, send them a picture gift! Nowadays, there is a plethora of picture gifts on the market to choose from. You can make a printed professional photo book online or a wall calendar. Some stores also feature-printing services for gifts including calendars, coffee mugs and pillows.
12. Get in the Christmas Spirit by Giving to Others.
If you are finding yourself stressed during the busy Christmas season with all the decorating and planning, make an effort to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas, which is giving to others. There are hundreds of organisations and opportunities to support those less fortunate during the Christmas season. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen as a server or at the animal shelter to give full-time employees time to do their own Christmas shopping. If you are a stay-at-home parent, consider visiting with the elderly in your neighborhood. Elderly people love to spend time with young children, as this seems to bring new life into their spirits.
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Inner-B director, organising educator and Sydney mum Valerie Petersen has been planning her life with style for as long as she can remember. Valerie is now a sought-after course facilitator, lecturer and public speaker, conducts engaging, motivational workshops for the corporate and retails sectors on organising your life and runs a successful blog. She also manages a team of contractors aligned to the business, which sells mum organising products.
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