Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things I LOVE right now!

So the past couple of weeks have been hectic for me. Work has been unbelievable and I am just treading water trying to keep my head above it. I thought I was basically going to be in Green Bay, WI the whole month of December, actually from this week on, so I ran around like a mad woman the first couple of weeks here to get myself organized so that I would not be stressed through the holidays. Well, as things like this go, my project is being delayed and we are not going to implement until FEBRUARY! So, I have some time to play with, but in the mean time, I feel very organized and in pretty good shape for a lot of things on the horizon. (Granted getting to this point and being stressed out with work was not all that much fun.) So I thought I would share a couple of my organization tips for the holidays with you!

I found this list from an email that Real Simple sent me containing their weekly tips. Real Simple is one of my favorite magazines that I read cover to cover, and I hate it when I am done and cannot wait for the next one. Right now I am a little behind on my magazine reading and just waiting for a night to curl up on the couch with a few. But here it is and there are some fabulous ideas on here. 25 Ways to Get Ahead for the Holidays. I thought maybe I would highlight a couple of my favorites.

Order stamps. We all know what a drag the post office can be during the holidays, I went to the Post Office site and whah-la, post stamps arrived in the mail! Really saves a lot of time and hassle especially if you are like me and the office locations near you have terrible parking. You can also order boxes for sending gifts at the same time, very convenient.

Organize your table linens. I have several different dinners and events planned over the next couple of weeks, the first being this Sunday, my parents and the boys parents coming for dinner, oh and meeting for the first time. . .talk about stress. . .but I also have several other events coming up, so what I did was go through all of my linens and then took large ziploc bags and put the napkins, tablecloth, napkin rings, and if placemats were to be used in that setting, those, labeled it with the date, event and centerpiece or chargers that are going to be used for that event or dinner. Then I put them in date order in a bin, so all I have to do is pull them out and set the table.

Start a holiday binder. I cannot tell you what a lifesaver this one is. I have a few binders but we will get to that at a later date. You can set your binder up one of several ways, you could do it by category, Holiday Cards, Holiday Events, Holiday Gifts, Holiday Contact Lists (this can include caterers, pack and ship places, unique gift stores, restaurants, events, limo/taxi services, pet sitters), Holiday Menus, Shopping Lists, whatever really suits your needs. Or you can do it by year. That is how I have it done, I basically take each of the above sections and then update it year to year and keep it all in one binder. I have a spreadsheet which I keep all of my contacts on for holiday cards and gifts and such, and after the holiday is over I just print it out and put it in the binder. This also helps me keep track of what I bring people for hostess gifts over the years and what I give the kids and my family for gifts as well. It also is a great way to weed through the holiday card list. You can get some fabulous binders now all over the place, even Target has some great options as well as See Jane Work.

Plan a holiday play list. At this point if you don't have an iPod or something that you rip your CD's to, you are considered old school. But taking the time to make a play list can relieve a lot of stress. Then also burn a couple of CD's to have on hand so that when your guests ask you what it is, bonus, they have something to go home with. Take the time and personalize the label even! Here are some of my personal favorite holiday CD's to pick from, but there are always new ones out every year!
Garth Brooks & the Magic of Christmas
Mariah Carey-Merry Christmas
Harry Connick Jr.-Harry for the Holidays
Harry Connick Jr.-When My Heart Finds Christmas
Celine Dion-These are Special Times
Trans-Siberian Orchestra-Christmas Eve and Other Stories
Jimmy Buffet-Christmas Island
The Brian Setzer Orchestra-Dig That Crazy Christmas
Diana Krall-Christmas Songs

There are of course a ton of classics as well. But these are a few that make me smile.

If you have the space, make and store appetizers and cookies in advance. Unfortunately I don't, but oh how I wish I did. I used to have space to do this out East, and I would always make my mini quiches, stuffed mushrooms and some other items ahead of time. Now what I do is I make a list of every recipe that I am going to make for each event, or what I am taking where. I do an inventory of my cabinets and pantry. I do one grocery shop for all of the non-perishables and then I make a grocery shopping list for each week with the items needed listed out, then I just add to it that week as other things come up. At least this way I know that I will have everything on hand. As I find recipes throughout the year and think that it might be good for the holidays I add it to my binder in the recipe section.

I learn something new everyday to take with me in my day to day life that makes each day a little better and a little easier. It just takes time!


J said...

Thanks for the stamp reminder! Usually I pilfer stamps from my mom's stash but last year she ran out and I had to use boring flag stamps, which was quite un-festive.

Muffy Willowbrook said...

You make my head shrink with all of your organization skills! You should really hire yourself out!

tulipmom said...

I wish I was half as organized and prepared for the holidays as you seem to be.

Love the binder idea.