Simply Put Organizing

Keep it Together Christmas!

Each year I rely on all the information I have accumulated in my Christmas binder. No matter which holiday your family celebrates you can keep a wealth of tips and inspiration all in one simple place. Here’s what you need:

A 1″ binder. I like the binders that you have a a pocket style cover for labeling.
Scrapbook paper (optional) cut to fit the pocket on the binder’s cover and spine. The picture to the right is the cover of my holiday binder.
A three hole punched zippered pouch. This is a great place to keep all the receipts for your holiday purchases. If you need them for returns you’ll know right where to find them.
CD holders. I keep all my holiday music in my binder. No more hunting for the elusive holiday music.
Page protectors. I keep a few page protectors in my binder to hold things like Christmas carol lyrics, poems and prayers.
Photo pages. I like to take pictures of my decor so I can remember how I set things up the previous year.
Binder pockets. You can find these at any office supply store. I always shop at Office Max as they have the Peter Walsh line of organizing products that I love. The pockets come five to a pack and each hold up to 70 sheets of paper. Use a labelmaker or simply write with a sharpie to assign a category to each pocket. Here are some of the things you can keep in your binder pockets:

Christmas card list
Decoration inventory Assign a number to each one of the bins you use to store your decorations and then list the contents of that bin on a sheet of paper and keep it in your binder. When you go to decorate next year you’ll know which bin to grab first.
Entertaining ideas. This pocket is for everything you tear from magazines. It’s great to have all your ideas in one place before you decorate.
Gift ideas. This is by far my favorite pocket. I tear pages from magazines and catalogs all year long and tuck them away in this pocket. When I start my Christmas shopping I am always thankful for the reminders.
Recipes. I keep all my holiday recipes separate from my other recipes so they can be easily located when I need them.
Tips. things pertaining to the holidays that I don’t want to forget (like this newsletter).
Travel. A great place to keep itineraries of friends and family that will be visiting for the season.
Anything that you need to keep at your fingertips during the season

I keep my binder with my cookbooks in the kitchen so I can easily add to it throughout the year. Choose a place in your home to keep the binder where it will not be forgotten and enjoy the gift of a holiday with a little less stress next year.

Five Ways to make your Holidays Merry

The holidays are here again, if their arrival has once again caught you by surprise you are not alone. This is a season filled with fun and festivities, but for many it can feel like a season of stress. If you’re feeling more frantic than festive the following tips can help.

1. Identify your priorities. As an individual or a family consider your values and priorities. Many of us do what we do during the holiday season because we always have turning the month of December into a mad whirl of activities. If the things on your list that you have to do outnumber the things you want to do, it’s time to identify the things that truly bring joy to you and your family and consider eliminating the rest.

2. Make a list. It works for Santa and it will work for you. Lists reduce stress. Getting it out of your head and onto paper help keep you in control of your time and relieves the mental pressure that comes with trying to remember everything. Use a master list to keep track of the big picture and a daily list to make the most of your time and daily to-dos. Don’t expect to get it all done each day-strive for progress not perfection. Transfer anything you haven’t done on your daily to-do to the next day’s list. Cross the things you’ve completed off the master list. Keep your lists in one place, whether on paper or electronically and maintain them each day.

3. Clear Clutter. Less stuff equals more time. This is a great time of year to reassess all of your possessions to identify the things that are truly useful to you. Consider donating household items, toys, and holiday decorations to those in need. It’s a great time to teach kids about charitable giving by helping them to identify toys and clothing they may no longer need or love. Recycle wrapping paper you haven’t used in years or donate it to the art department of your local school, church or synagogue. Evaluate your decorations annually and discard anything damaged or overly worn. Excess items only complicate your storage.

4. Reassess your holiday storage. When it comes to storage I am a big fan of consistency. If you are storing your holiday decorations in cardboard boxes or mismatched bins consider buying a new set of containers this year. My favorite bins are available year round at Costco. They cost around seven dollars and have interlocking black lids that remain attached. These industrial strength containers will stack together to create a storage system that will last for years. Use numbers to label the bins and list the contents of each numbered bin in a Christmas binder. If you love to save cards that you receive, create a home for them in an archival photo box you can find them at www.exposuresonline.com. Gather all you kitchen supplies that you only use once a year and designate an out of the way shelf to store them. If your kitchen is small store them in a bin. Bins work great for holiday linens as well.

5. Plan ahead for the next holiday season. Create home for holiday information using a binder, binder pockets and a zippered pouch all found at office supply stores. Use the zippered pouch to store receipts for purchased gifts. Use the binder pockets to keep track of the following categories or create your own.

  • Christmas card list. You can add any address changes you receive throughout the year.
  • Christmas Decoration Inventory. List each box number and the contents. Take photos of each room’s décor to make decorating a snap the next year.
  • Entertaining. Be an inspired hostess by saving entertaining ideas throughout the year.
  • Gift ideas. Use this pocket to capture all the perfect gift ideas torn from magazines.
  • Recipes. This is a great place to store your favorite holiday recipes old and new.
  • Tips. Anything you tear from a magazine or print from the web you want to refer to each holiday season.
  • Travel. Keep travel itineraries, tickets and directions here.

I have added CD pockets to my binder to store holiday music and added lyrics in page protectors. Another helpful addition is a business card page to keep track of vendors you use seasonally. This binder can be tailored to fit your family and your personal needs.

The holiday season should be a pleasure, not an ordeal. With a little planning, a great list and a dash of simplicity you can bring back the comfort and joy.

Repurpose. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Relax.