We did a two-part interview with Clearissa before (see Part I here and Part II here), and now she’s back to give us some incredible pro tips about getting yourself organized and ready for the holidays! Enjoy!
It’s time to get yourself into the holiday spirit. But before you get swept away by all of the rushing, shopping, and holiday glitz and glitter, I am going to suggest that you do a bit of decluttering and adjusting of your schedule before it all gets away from you. I believe in lists: to-do lists, gift lists, grocery lists, lists, and more lists. But I’m not the only one.
Abby, the writer at Simplify 101, also touts the positive aspects of list making. Abby suggests that you should first imagine the perfect holiday season for you and your family. Go ahead and imagine yourself in the midst of the perfect holiday. And once you have that image in your mind, you should own it and go about making it happen. She further suggests that you should turn those thoughts into a list of activities. Just dump those thoughts onto paper and turn them into a list that will be step-by-step instructions for you to get to that special holiday.
Over at Thirty Handmade Days, they have a suggestion that you may think is outside of the box but if you think about it, it is very practical. Because many families find themselves in a lot of unnecessary debt after the holiday season, Thirty Handmade Days suggests that this is a great time to create a budget. They suggest that you speak to your family members both immediate and extended and let them know that you will not be overextending your budget this year. If you are a member of a large family, perhaps suggest that adults do not exchange gifts and you only purchase gifts for the children. Or better yet, why not suggest giving homemade gifts? There are so many options for homemade gifts now-a-days. You can visit Pinterest and find a zillion DIY gift ideas. The key is to find an alternative that works best for your budget.
A Cultivated Nest offers a host of great ideas to help you work toward reaching your goals this holidays. Manuela, a self-proclaimed frugal living and homemaking blogger, suggests the following to get yourself off on the right foot.
If you are like the few of us who still enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards via snail mail, you should purchase your stamps in advance. A great frugal tip is that you can print your own Christmas themed address labels. Which will save money and start you on the right track to one of your goals of starting your budget.
She also suggests avoiding the crowded malls and purchasing gift cards at your local supermarket. How about that for smart shopping? You are in the market anyway getting your ingredients together and you can avoid the crowds at the mall.
This next idea is one that I do, though I only do it with family only. Manuela suggests having a wrapping party with friends. If you do not mind your friends getting a whiff of their own gifts, I think this is an excellent idea and it provides yet another opportunity to spend time with loved ones doing something relaxing and fun. Add some hot chocolate, a glass of wine, or a holiday cocktail and voilà! A holiday party with a purpose.
These bloggers have some great advice and if you follow their advice, you will be ahead of the game as it pertains to preparing for the holiday season. I have a little advice as well. My advice is focused on keeping your head about you if you are the hostess of a holiday function.
If you are the hostess, I suggest you follow the steps below to get prepared in advance of your event so that you can enjoy your party and not spend the time separated from your guest.
- Put together the menu for the event(s) you will host at home throughout the holiday season. You could be responsible for both Thanksgiving & Christmas but do not allow yourself to get overwhelmed (prepare for one event at a time to avoid the stress of trying to plan for two large events at once).
- Pull all recipes for the dishes you will prepare (you do not want to have to stop to look for a recipe when you begin cooking).
- Make a shopping list of the items that are not in the house but required to make the dish(s) for the event.
- If the kitchen is unorganized, set a day, prior to the event, to organize spices, dishes, silverware, and cooking utensils because you can be more productive in an organized kitchen.
- If you organize ahead of time, you can cut prep and cooking time by a third.
- You will save time by knowing where everything is located in your kitchen all year long.
- Be sure you begin with a clean kitchen because there is nothing worse than trying to prepare for a party and discovering that the kitchen is a mess.
- Do not plan to shop and prepare on the same day – give yourself the entire day to cook and prepare for the event without being distracted by shopping. You do not want to feel rushed and disorganized.
- Get any prep that you can done ahead of time like cutting onions, peppers, etc.
- Set tables and bars a couple of days ahead of time. This will provide time to tweak the look before the party.
- Wash dishes as you go – after each dish/recipe is prepared, wash and put away the dishes you do not need for the next dish. Do not leave dishes until you are completely done cooking – keep the kitchen tidy and you will move along much faster.
I hope my advice and that of my fellow lifestyle bloggers is helpful for you this holiday season. My goal this year is to spend less, prepare more, and to enjoy my family and friends. I intend to have cozy and calm celebrations this year. I intend to enter the new year without a lot of additional debt due to overspending and I intend to start now to achieve all of my goals. I hope you will join me and if you do, please reach out and let me know how it works for you. Do you have suggestions for organizing the holidays that you would like to share? If so, meet me at The Command Center because I would love to hear from you.
Clearissa Cowards is the creator and editor of the blog Clearissa Coward’s Command Center. Lifestyle blogger with an emphasis on organization and redesign and a personal organization consultant with a flair for design on a dime. Her website is a conglomerate which includes, Divinely Organized - Professional & Personal Organization & Redesign, Customized Virtual Business Solutions (CVBS) - a full service virtual assistant business, and Clearissa's Avon Boutique. Although there are several tendrils to her business, they are all centered around living an uncluttered, successful and feel good life. She blogs about her passions and you can feel it in every article or blog post she shares with her readers.