When The Party Is Over… (A Plan For Your Party Clean-Up)

I was surprised to find that, in 6 years of blogging, I have not written a Post Party Clean-Up article.  So on the tail of a weekend full of parties, let me share my favorite tips for Post Party Clean-Up with you!

I know it’s tempting to leave your clean-up tasks until later or tomorrow, but an hour on clean-up today makes tomorrow so much brighter!  Consider, too, if your event is not at your home, you may need to clean up before you can leave, so it’s best to learn how to clean up-quickly and efficiently.

In addition to your other party prep steps (more on party prep here), make sure

  • the dishwasher is empty, and
  • you have take-home containers on hand to send leftovers home with your guests.

At the end of your event, here is your plan:

1.  Revel for a moment in the end-of-party glow, appreciating the awesome friends and family members that graced your home and / or event.

2.  Drink a very large glass of water, to stay hydrated and fend off any potential early hangover headache (just saying).

3.  If you haven’t eaten, put together a little plate now and grab a bite.  Maybe it’s just me, but I often forget to eat at our events, as I’m busy chatting and taking care of things.

4.  Take 2 minutes to change into something more suitable for an hour of cleaning, if you’re really dressed up.  Just DO NOT GET TOO COMFY!!

Now, roll up your sleeves and get to work!  Food and Floors are the biggest clean-up tasks.

5.  Empty the trash and recycling bins, and start fresh.

6.  Move all food and beverages to the kitchen!  Trash goes in the bin, recycling gets rinsed and goes to the bin, too.  We’ll get to food storage in a minute.

7.  Once the food and beverages are in the kitchen, restore order to the rest of your home:

  • Blow out all candles;
  • wipe down surfaces, clean the wine off the lamp shade (still just me?);
  • put the furniture away (folding chairs and tables), or back where it belongs; and
  • vacuum and run a quick mop if needed.
  • With a team approach, I usually handle the Restoring Order step, while my husband starts the kitchen tasks.
8.  Kitchen Clean-Up, tasks including: 
  • pack up left overs;
  • clean serving dishes;
  • load the dishwasher;
  • wipe down the counters; and
  • make sure everything is turned off before turning in.

9.  Day-After tasks may include:  

  • Empty the coolers;
  • put away the large serving items; and
  • take it easy and eat party left-overs (one of my favorite perks of hosting parties!).

With the next season of parties – First Communion, Mother’s Day, Graduations, etc. – upon us, keep these tips in mind the next time you host an event!

Dig Deep This Week, and Organize the Basement!

Basements are the hot organizing topic this week with my clients, how about you?

This phenomenon occurs this time every year.  We get a little stir crazy, perhaps with a touch of cabin fever.  We want to stretch out a little, but it’s still cold outside!  And so we look to those big spaces in our homes – the Basement!

Basements present great opportunities for family spaces, but we need to get them organized and functional before we can really enjoy our time down there!  So, how to organize that basement into fun and functional space?

The first step is my first step to every organizing project – grab a clipboard, start your lists and make a plan!

Ask the questions:  Who is using the space?  And for what purpose?  

Name Your Space.  When you call a room a junk room, guess what ends up in there?  Yes, junk. Every space needs a function or purpose, but not more than 2 or 3!  Imagine:  If you called your basement the Family / Toy  / Craft Space / Work Out Space  / Laundry Room, well, indeed, EVERYTHING would end up down there, and it would all be a hot mess!  Which leads me to…

Differentiate your spaces for separate functions.  If your basement is used to multi-tasking, make sure to set aside one corner for work out gear, and another corner for kid toys, instead of mixing the two.   You don’t have to build walls to separate spaces, either.  Imagine a couch set in the middle of room, with TV viewing / video game playing in front of the couch, and kid toy storage and play space behind the couch.  Something that simple can separate an overly large space into two more manageable and organized spaces.

Is there clutter that needs to leave?  Once you know who is using the space, and for what purposes, take a good hard look at what is already in the basement.  Are there items in the basement that do not match up with the newly decided purpose / functions?  Consider how to get rid of that crummy old couch, or plan a donation drop-off for those bags of clothes or books. Most basements I visit are in serious need of  de-furnishing!!

Plan a block of time, and enlist some aid!  If this basement space is going to be family space, it’s time to get the family involved!   Carve out a few hours on a Saturday morning, and make some big progress!

Decision making is still a stumbling block, I know.  We collect clutter from the rest of the house and let it pile up in the basement.  We delay the final decision of “Keep or Toss?” and just let it accumulate.  Then… the piles are just too overwhelming!  Therefore…

Make the Decisions, even when they’re hard.  Consider the piles in the basement.  Will the contents ever be brought up to the light of day again?  Come on… that old bedding, the wall art from 15 years ago, broken toys or dated holiday decorations?  Be honest, friend.  That stuff needs to go AWAY, and not into storage.  And you and I both know it.

One common function of basements is storage.  When it comes to long-term storage, please Remember your basement is a basement.  Protect items that you choose to store for a long time.  Basements may contain bugs, moisture, dirt, etc, so invest in sturdy plastic or Rubbermaid-type containers to store your stuff and treasures.  Soggy cardboard is not going to save those holiday treasures or family photos.

Spend a little time in your basement this week, and make fun and functional family space!

Get back to ‘Everyday-ness’ first, THEN look at your New Year!

I love the holidays. I really do.  We’ve been blessed with wonderful times with friends and family, meaningful worship, rest and relaxation.

However, after 4 days  (or more!) of celebrations, I also love the return to “everyday-ness”. “Everyday-ness” was a term coined by Father Matt at Mass yesterday, in the context of “we need ‘everyday-ness’ to appreciate Celebrations”, and vice versa.

I liked the term, and it started me thinking.  We have to start with the basics, our routines, our ‘everyday-ness’ before we can move on to the bigger stuff, too.

Shower right away when you get up in the morning (unless you are that dedicated soul who actually exercises first thing).  I know, you may want to wake slowly or linger over coffee, but just shower already.  And if you’re thinking “well, I can do it later, or maybe i’ll work out later so I’m just going to sit around and stink until then”, just do it.  You can do it again later if you need to.

Have you ever noticed how your schedule gets snagged with “I”ll run my errands / get dressed / check in with work / leave the house / do anything productive AFTER I SHOWER” and then you delay this jump start to your day?  It’s not complicated, do it and get on with things.

Make your bed.
 Yes, seriously.  You can send me links on Facebook for the fear-inducing microscopic images of creatures that will grow in your bed if you make it every day, and I will still say Make Your Bed.  Studies show a strong correlation between happiness and productivity and daily bed making, look it up.  Plus, if you wash your body and your sheets regularly, those creatures in the facebook images won’t survive.

Put actual clothes on,
if you, too, have been lounging for a few days. Nothing productive ever happens in your fuzzy bathrobe or yesterday’s sweat pants.

Put stuff AWAY!   Have piles of things lingering around?  Unopened mail, opened Christmas gifts, clean dishes, clean laundry  (These are the things that I needed to put away this morning)? What’s in your piles?  Well, put it all away!

Feeling productive yet?  I bet you are!  NOW……   On to the Big Stuff!  This is a great week for planning.  This bonus week before Christmas and New Years presents a great opportunity to do some Big-Picture dreaming / planning / imagining for your 2016.

Here are two resources for Goal Setting, check these out!
  • http://davecrenshaw.com/business-goal/
  • http://acuff.me/2015/12/16-minutes-to-an-awesome-2016/

We’ll talk more about resolutions in the weeks to come, as well as strategic planning your whole house organizing, cleaning your virtual work space, organizing your finances for the new year, and that’s just January (can you tell I planned my blog topics today?)!  Happy New Year!



Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO


Organize Your Kitchen for the Holidays: Do This, Not That

Success is not always about getting everything just right.

Instead, success may be about doing the fewest things wrong.

My priest at Mass this weekend made this statement, referencing a recent high school football game where the winning team had fewer penalties than their opponents, and therefore more opportunities to score (In full disclosure, my husband had to explain to me – the football novice – why fewer penalties might lead to higher scoring).

This week’s blog topic was swirling in my head this weekend, too, and I realized that Organizing your Kitchen successfully (or anything else) can be about doing fewer things wrong, too.   And ‘doing fewer things wrong’ may feel more attainable than doing everything just right!

So if you are familiar with these Wrongs, we can make them right!

1.  Wrong: Starting an Organizing Project Without a Plan.

Right: The quickest way to derail a project is to start without a plan.  Assemble your kitchen organizing tools (garbage and recycling bags, your grocery list, some good music and a timer set for 30-60 minutes), and get started.  Pick a starting spot (like the fridge), systematically decide to keep or toss your items, put back the keepers, and then move on.  DO NOT just dive in or take everything out of every cabinet all at once!

2.  Wrong: Neither Knowing Nor Using What You Have.

Right:  Regularly check your cabinets and refrigerator, and use the food you have on hand before buying more. Always check before you shop!  Leave a shopping list on the fridge, and add items to the list as you run out.

3. Wrong: Procrastinating.

Right:  Well, procrastinating is almost always wrong, but it can cause unnecessary stress around the holidays, and we all know – the holidays are stressful enough!  Pull out the recipes now, start the Who’s-bringing-what conversations with family members now, and start stocking up on holiday specific foods now, just a few things every week.

4. Wrong: Re-Purchasing Something Because You Can’t Find The First One.

Right: Establish a home for certain types of items, so you can check your inventory.  Re-buying items wastes money and contributes to kitchen clutter.  Imagine – If all the canned goods always live on the same cabinet shelf, you can check your inventory at a glance. Establish homes, let everyone know where the home is, and make a habit of putting things AWAY.

5. Wrong: Buying Big Specialty Items That You Only Use Once a Year.

Right: Talk to your friends and family members now, or go on Facebook and find out who has chafing dishes / holiday cookie cutters / a really big turkey platter, and borrow it!  Do not clutter up your kitchen with these specialty items: borrow them, take really good care of them and then give them back!

6. Wrong: Having Stuff on Your Kitchen Counters.

Right: Kitchens are very personal spaces, but they also need to be functional spaces.  Keep your counters clear of stuff – all the time! With clear counters, everything – unpacking grocery bags, making dinner, baking cookies, cleaning up – becomes easier!

So, this week, the pressure is off.  You don’t have to do everything just right!  Doing fewer things wrong is progress enough!

My Brain Was Tired When I Got Home: Dealing with Re-Entry

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I struggle with what I call Re-Entry.

Travel Luggage Chest Clipart

We are very lucky that we get to travel often to visit with family out of state. And I’ve gotten really good at the getting-ready-and-packing / coming-home-and-unpacking process over the years. But with this weekend marking the unofficial start of summer, I’m out of practice, it seems, as my brain was total mush when we got home today.

So, my first hour home was spent reminding myself how to manage Re-Entry, after a weekend away. Here’s what works for us, maybe it will work for you to!  First things first (30 minutes):

  • (5 minutes) Unload dirty clothes and start a load of laundry. (We carry a dirty laundry bag when we travel, to facilitate that first load of laundry when we get home and also to keep any left-over clothes we’ve packed smelling fresh.)
  • (1 min) Drink a really big glass of cold water. I don’t know about you, but I always seem to arrive home from trips slightly dehydrated.
  • (5 – 10 minutes) Unload the car all the way. Yes, ALL THE WAY.
  • (10 minutes) Put away perishable food from the cooler, grab a snack or start dinner (or lunch or breakfast, depending on the clock).  Like the commercial says, You aren’t you when you’re hungry. I find it easier to manage the unloading / unpacking / putting away tasks when I’m not also famished.
  • (5 minutes) Check the snail mail box, and any voice mail messages.

The next 45-60 minutes:

  • (5 minutes) Clean up from your snack / meal.
  • (10-20 minutes) Unpack your suitcases / bags, put away clean, un-worn clothes, shoes and toiletries. Yes, AWAY.
  • (5 minutes) Put the bags / suitcases away. Yes, AWAY!
  • (10 minutes) Depending on how you manage your tech, check your emails and such, but just for emergencies.  This is not time to get work done, just to make sure there’s nothing that needs your immediate attention.
  • (10 minutes) Move that laundry through the process. I didn’t have time for cleaning on Friday, before we left town. So this afternoon, I had a mound of clean but unfolded laundry to tackle before I could move today’s laundry along.
  • Head to the grocery? That’s where I’m headed. I am loathe to get back in my car, but we need some staples for the work and school week ahead, so I’m off.
  • If you’ve been on a long road-trip, or if there was a beach involved, stop off at a car wash and give your car a wash and your rugs a vacuum.

So, there you go.  If you struggle with that first hour at home after a weekend trip, keep this list in mind. And if you happen to have helpers with the unpacking process, this list will help you delegate tasks!

Happy and Safe Travels!

Let’s Do Lunch This Week!

I’ve been tackling a project or habit every week this year so far – for example, last week I tweaked my website.  This week I am re-committing to eating a better lunch.  And for me, that means rebooting my Lunch Packing habit.

I’ve fallen into a bad habit of not packing my lunch when I am out of my office all day.  When I am out, I have three options:

  1. buy fast food wherever I happen to be;
  2. skip lunch until I get home, which usually leaves me feeling crummy; or
  3. settling for a Clif bar or granola bar, which are better than nothing but still not a solid lunch.

Not packing a lunch costs me money, can make me late for client appointments, and is unhealthy in lots of way.

Why is a Packed Lunch better?

  • It’s cheaper:  home-cooked food is almost always cheaper per meal than food we buy out at a restaurant.  In addition, packing a lunch allows us to use our leftovers well.
  • It’s more convenient:  Packing a lunch when I am out and about saves me the time of running in or waiting in line somewhere to buy something.
  • It’s healthier: Planning ahead lets us make healthier meals, with less fat and sodium, and better nutritional content. When I work from home, planning a healthy lunch keeps me from making unhealthy choices in my own kitchen!
  • It tastes better.  I’m a good cook, so my lunches are tastier than what I might buy while I’m out.

How To Make Packing Lunch Work:  Plan ahead, of course!

  • Start small, packing a lunch just one or two days a week at first, if that helps.
  • Invest a little money in a lunch bag and re-usable containers.  You may already have such items in your home.
  • Dedicate a lunch-zone in your kitchen for lunch packing,  Stock it with plastic utensils, napkins, lunch and sandwich bags or re-usable containers, fruit bowl, etc., to make your assembly easy.
  • When you’re at the grocery this week, make sure to pick up healthy lunch items.
  • Make extra for dinner tonight.  I warmed up a delicious leftover cheeseburger last week, and soup and chili are always great the next day.
  • Busy mornings?  Pack lunches at night, after dinner.  We easily forget in the morning, so having the bags packed and in the fridge make success likely!

What’s for lunch?

  • Be creative!  You know what you like, there is no reason that all the things you love can’t be packed in a lunch!
  • A variety of small items is great for me, as I drive between clients or meetings during the day. String cheese, fresh fruit, granola or clif bars, hardboiled eggs (already peeled, of course), pretzels, carrots and other veggie sticks all satisfy my need to snack but are also easily stored and consumed in bits and pieces.
  • If I know I will be seated somewhere as I eat my lunch, I’ll pack the tuna salad, sandwich or leftovers (I just made a batch of this today, for lunches all week).

So join me in a packed lunch this week, and save time and money while eating better!

A Better Way to Hang, for National Get Organized Month!


Have I ever talked about Hangers?

023Since January is National Get Organized Month, I have worked on a number of closet projects recently, helping my clients organize their clothes and closets for the new year.  As I begin to write this, I have over $500 in hangers in my van, with a return order for one client, and Container Store order to install for another.

Using good quality hangers is worth the time and money.  Why?

  • Good hangers are better for your clothing than the disposable wire ones. They provide support and leave enough room on the closet rod for each item so your clothes are less likely to get crushed and wrinkled.
  • Good hangers put some space between your clothes. For example, a client invested in wooden suit hangers for her husband’s suits, and the width of the woods and curve of the hanger provide a little space between each suit, for protection and ventilation.
  • When used together, good hangers (heavyweight tubular plastic, flocked covered or wooden) create a great visual image when you open your closet. If you are a person impacted by what and how you see (most of us are), a calming visual in our closet can help us feel cool and confident as we get ready for the day.
  • Hanging up our clothes helps us see and use what we have better.

There is a Better Way to Hang!  Here’s What to Do:

  • As your professional organizer, I will always suggest reviewing your clothes and getting rid of anything you don’t need, use or love. This hanger project provides a great opportunity to look at your clothes and purge clutter.
  • Look around your home, you may already have some of the hangers you need. If not,
  • Invest in matching hangers: tubular plastic (cheapest), the snazzy flock covered one, or even wood (most expensive). This is one instance when I suggest you shop.  You can transition your clothes slowly to the new hangers, and spread out the expense.
  • Count your current hangers (after the review and purge!), and buy the new hangers you need and just a few more. Once all the hangers are full again, you have to purge before anything else can come in. And no cheating, you are only cheating yourself!
  • Another hanger tip I heard long ago suggests “At the beginning of a season, hang all your hangers from the back of the closet rod. Then, when you wear an item, hang it back up over the front. At the end of the season, you can see at a glance what really did not leave your closet this winter. Let those items go.”
  • Use different color hangers for different family members. In our home, my oldest son has green hangers, the middle has black, and the youngest has white. We parents have our own colors, too.  This makes sorting clean laundry a breeze, and helps us find what we need when we need it.
  • Invest in really nice sturdy wooden suit hangers for your coat closet. The matching wooden hangers create a pleasing visual image when a guest opens the closet door, and the wide wood keeps space between the items.
  • Break free of old wire hangers, and recycle them at your local dry cleaners.

Spend a little quality time in your closets this week, and perhaps a little time and money at your local retailer (Bed, Bath and Beyond or Target will have the hangers you need) or on-line.  Get a new view on hangers, and improve the state of your clothes, your closets and your brain!

P.S., a few additional thoughts posted a few weeks after:

Thanks for the great feedback! I have a few more things to add, about Kid clothes hangers:
  • Tubular plastic hangers (instead of the flock covered ones) are better for kids since they can easily slide their clothes off the smooth plastic.
  • No, you do not need to buy smaller child-sized hangers for your kids’ clothing. Save the money, and use regular ones since most baby clothes will fit even on the full sizd hangers, and if not, just fold the items over the pants bar on the hanger.  

Back to Normal, Only Better. Because I am Grateful.

For me, this week has been about getting Back to Normal.  Normal, only better.

Because I am grateful, and gratitude makes everything better.

Gratitude is central to getting organized.

Gratitude elevates even the everyday stuff to Better.

Gratitude helps us prioritize our time and efforts around the people and things that we value most.

Gratitude for what we have makes us want … less.  Less clutter, less drama, less stuff.   Gratitude helps us get organized when we can appreciate the stuff we have and purge the stuff we don’t need.

You see, while I love Advent, Christmas and New Years, I am also relieved as they draw to a close. We will keep our Nativity up until the Christmas Season’s official end on Sunday, January 11th with the Baptism of Our Lord, but we are getting back to Normal in most other areas.

And I am grateful. This Season was wonderful, and then I had the flu for a week.  I am just so thankful for our wonderful Christmas, and now to feel better, to have my family healthy and happy, to be able to do normal things again.

Expected house guests motivated me to thoroughly clean my house and get to the grocery, then the guests cancelled their plans.  So my house is clean and fully stocked, and I am grateful for our home and health, and ready for our guests when they reschedule!

I worked over the weekend, first with a wonderful coaching client and then with a new client as we reclaimed her second bedroom.  I am so grateful for what I do professionally!

As I put away our Christmas decorations, I spent a few extra minutes purging the old and broken ones, and fitting everything back in fewer storage bins.  I’ll be grateful next December that I cleaned up the decorations.

The boys went back to school, so we all returned to better routines.

I backed up, cleaned off and updated my IPhone and IPad.  And I am so grateful for technology, for keeping in touch and running a business from home.  And for making the flu a little more bearable, with downloadable books on my Kindle App, and movies via Amazon Prime.

So life is getting back to normal, only better.  Because I am grateful for normal.  We always should be grateful for all that we have, but sometimes we forget.

Today and this week and this month and this year, it’s your opportunity be grateful and to get back to normal-only-better. Be grateful for you what you have.  Let Gratitude help you focus on the important parts of your life.  Wrap around all the good things, and make room for more by letting go of clutter and want.

How To Get a Holiday Meal to the Table On Time!

During a recent kitchen organizing and menu planning appointment, a client asked “How do you get Christmas Dinner on the table all at once?”  So we came up with some Time and Project Management strategies to help with this challenge!  Here they are, maybe they’ll help you, too!

Keep some parts of the menu simple.  When planning your holiday meal menu, choose a complicated dish or two, if you want.  But not every dish!  Keep at least some parts of the meal simple, to make up for the time-consuming and complicated ones!  For example, pair a simple salad or veggie side dish with a more complicated dessert or entrée.  Better yet, accept guests’ offers to bring a menu item to share.

Prep as much as you can in advance. Hours and even days before your big meal, you can

  • Grate cheese
  • Dice vegetables
  • Make dessert
  • Assemble salads
  • Clean your serving dishes
  • Pre-make entire side dishes, per recipes (like these potatoes.)

Lay out your serving and cooking dishes in advance.  If you plan to serve your dinner buffet-style, lay out the serving 016dishes on your serving table, to ensure there are enough dishes and room for everything.  Use a post-it note or index cards (a friend uses her old business cards) to denote what goes in each dish, so it will be easy to direct your helpers to set up the buffet at mealtime.

Remember that your guests are gathered together for festivities and fellowship.  A complicated menu can be fun and delicious, but folks are together to be together first, and for a great meal second.

Mix your heat sources, and have a plan to keep food warm.  For example, plan to make some of your menu items in the oven, some on the stove top and some in a crock put.  Spreading things out means more space on the stove top or in the oven to get menu items ready to eat on time.  Also, with many menu items cooking at once, some may be ready ahead of your meal time.  Have a plan for keeping food warm until it’s served.

Leave a little wiggle room in your schedule.  Choose your meal time, then aim to have everything ready 20 minutes before that (because something is likely to get delayed!).

Use Project Management Ideas To Make Dinner Happen On-Time!  Let’s use a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner as an example.

  • Pick your Dinner Time, say, 4 pm.
  • Starting with your longest cooking item, like the turkey, determine when you need to start your prep and cooking to get everything on the table at the same time.
  • The turkey takes 5 hours, so start it 6 hours ahead of meal time.  This allows the turkey time to “rest”, and with the turkey out of the oven for that last hour before meal time, you’ll have more oven space for rolls or casseroles (and you can start on the gravy!).
  • Using your meal time of 4 (3:45) pm, work back from your deadline to determine when you need to start a certain task. Mashed potatoes are my example, but you can do this with any menu item:
    • Mashing the potatoes takes 10 minutes or less; boiling the potatoes takes 10-15 minutes; and peeling and dicing potatoes and boiling the water takes 15 minutes.  Plan for at least 30 minutes, start to finish, but 35-40 minutes may be more realistic.
    • If you have more than one dish to get in the oven at the same time, obviously you need to start your prep a little earlier!

Keep some of these ideas in mind the next time you host a big meal, to minimize stress and get the food to the table on time!

5-Weeks-‘Til-Christmas Survival Guide

A Client sent me the original notification of this article from November, 2012.  She was clearing out her in-box, but wanted to review this list for her own holiday planning.(I edited it for this week!). I have been working through my own copy myself, and you may benefit from it, too!  Take some time this week to chart your course for the next 5 or 6 weeks heading up to Christmas!

In my Holiday Planning Class, the most well received hand-out is the Holiday Planning Weekly Checklist. I’ve shared it with clients, and one said she couldn’t believe that preparing for the holidays could be that easy. I won’t say “easy”, but “simpler, less stressful and better prepared” sound pretty great.  Here are some suggestions to make your season better, tweak these suggestions to fit your life.

Week of November 17

  • Appreciate your friends and family members, and all the good things in your life. (We had a brunch for friends yesterday, and I am feeling so grateful today!)
  • Finalize Thanksgiving Menu
  • Pantry-shop to get rid of clutter, and stock up on cooking / baking  supplies
  • Hang outside lights, don’t turn them on
  • Plan Holiday Party:  dates, guests lists and menus, and choose invitation and RSVP deadlines
  • Buy multiples of your standard hostess gift, like nice wine or candles.  Make sure it’s something you use, in case you have extra left over
  • Encourage kids and adults to purge and donate
  • Heavy clean and de-clutter, or make some calls for assistance!

Week of November 24:

  • Stock up on gift certificates for teens, stocking stuffers, teachers etc.
  • Take a nice family picture at Thanksgiving, when everyone is a little dressed up. Use it for your Christmas Cards!
  • At Thanksgiving, tell or email family about upcoming Christmas concerts, children’s programs and parties.
  • Buy Stamps, while you can still get Holiday stamps!
  • Stock up on cooking and baking supplies
  • Complete your Christmas Card list, and confirm addresses (keep a copy for next year!)

Week of December 1:

  • Take out the “First Out” Box.  Our “First-Out” box is also our “Last In” box.  It contains the items that are used for the entire Advent and Christmas seasons for us, like our crèche, some children’s books, our Advent Wreath and candles, etc. Set up just a few decorations now.
  • Stock up on gift certificates, stamps, and cooking or baking supplies
  • Order your Christmas Cards, or start your letter
  • Plug in or turn on Christmas lights
  • Complete out-of-town shopping / wrapping
  • Start Christmas shopping for local recipients
  • Find and clean holiday dishes and tins

Week of December 8:

  • Continue to stock up on gift certificates, stamps and cooking and baking supplies (spread the costs out over several weeks)
  • Finish teacher gifts, like gift certificates and cards
  • Check decorations; donate any that will not be going up this year!
  • Assemble and address Christmas Cards
  • Ship all out-of-town packages
  • Complete Christmas Shopping
  • Holiday donations, service projects

Week of December 15:

  • Finalize Christmas Menu, who is bringing what
  • Decorate the house, and buy / set up the tree
  • Finish shopping and gift wrapping.  Load into labeled bags or boxes, one for each of your destinations
  • Start baking cookies
  • Mail out your Christmas Cards
  • Take a breath, and take a break.  The house is decorated, your gifts are bought and wrapped, cards are mailed, travel plans are completed, and donations are made.  Sit calmly in your living room, reveling in the beauty of your stress free holiday prep and beautiful decorations.  Go to a party or 2!

Week of December 22

  • Last minute baking / cooking for Christmas Eve
  • Last minute grocery shopping
  • Relax! Go see the Christmas lights, have some holiday fun!

December 24, Christmas Eve:

  • Family Christmas Eve traditions
  • Make ahead dishes for Christmas Dinner, if possible
  • Lay out outfits for Christmas morning Mass

Christmas:  Thursday, December 25:  Enjoy!!!

Week after Christmas:

  • Invest in some sale priced Rubbermaid or Sterilite storage containers
  • Put your decorations away by category and label the container
  • Remember to put your “Last In” away last, so you can grab it first next December!

Take steps now to make your holidays more peaceful and enjoyable!