I believe, do you?

I believe

 

  • I believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

 

  • I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles. (Audrey Hepburn)

 

  • I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death. (Robert Fulghum)

 

  • I believe that two people are connected at the heart, and it doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are or where you live; there are no boundaries or barriers if two people are destined to be together. (Julia Roberts)

 

  • Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. (Anne Frank)

  • This holiday season may your every belief and your every wish come true!

7 Gift Experiences for 2017

7 gift experiences for 2017

 

 

Every year we focus on stuff. What if this year you focused on gifts that include experiences?  Having an amazing experience, that’s a gift of time, togetherness, or fun, can be a new way to celebrate the holidays.  In this year when your holiday may be a “new normal,” experiences can make it easier to skip the inside decorations and make the most of time together.  Here’s a round up of the best organizing experiences for you, your family and your colleagues.

 

“Animal encounter” at your local zoo or aquarium

When your home is under construction, it’s a great time to get everyone out from under foot.  An “animal encounter” takes you behind the scenes at a location you may already be a member. It’s a one of a kind experience for your animal lover.

 

 A day of “winter fun”

A sunny southern city, Houston has plenty of options for a day of winter fun. Discovery Green ice skating, viewing Zoo lights, or taking in the lights at Santa’s Wonderland can all be extra fun during December.

 

Attending a dress up, special performance

Each year, Houstonians treat their families to The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, Handel’s Messiah, or Mannheim Steamroller.  These special outings give your family a holiday boost too.

 

Learn a new skill

Have you or your family wanted to learn a new skill?  What about cooking class together, skiing, or golf? A gift certificate for a class can give you and your family the opportunity for a test run.

 

Family crafts

Host a family get together at a painting or pottery spot, such as MudPie, Pinot’s Palette and the Rustic Brush. All of these offer holiday options to creatively party.

 

Competitive fun

Is your family or are your colleagues up for challenging competitive fun? The Escape Room, laser tag or paint ball might suit you all for an afternoon of collective, competitive play.

 

A gift you give each other

There may be one big wish your family or colleagues have and that’s a gift you give each other.  It’s as small as coupon book of small, weekly chores. It’s as big as creating a photo book from all your iphone, Facebook or other spots.  There are endless options including making a special cake or dinner for a friend or family. We all have a special something we can do for another.

 

I hope this list inspires you this holiday season to give more than stuff. Give a memory!

 

 

How to Use Project Management For Holidays Happiness

 

Holiday organizing

Holiday planning can be overwhelming and take the joy from the holidays.  With so much to do and so many people to see, taking a project management approach to the holidays can make the season less stressful.  Using project management you can plan, execute, and achieve specific goals.

 

Define your project objectives

The hoiday experience is about meaningful family activities.  What’s most meaningful to you and your family? That’s the best starting place for you to know what you want your holiday to look and feel like. Write this down to keep on target.

 

Set your scope

How big is your holiday project?  Is it defined by a budget and how much you plan to spend this year? Is it defined by the calendar and how many events will you attend each year?  Set limits on your holiday project with these boundaries for your scope.  How big will your holiday plan be?

 

Plan your itinerary

Your itinerary can include where you are travelling to, what homes you will be visiting, or what local experiences you will attend. Coodinating locations and time frames gives you a big picture plan for where you want to be and when you will be there.  It’s often a time to consolidate and coordinate your purchasing too.

Manage quality

Your holiday expectations play a big role in the happiness. It’s a planning what your holiday can look like. Real family holidays are not perfect and are messy.  Take perfectionism off the table, for holiday decorations, holiday treats or holiday gifts. Know what you want to be “perfect” and let the rest go.  The best quality to focus on is the meaningful time spent with your family.  It’s gauged by the smiles, hugs and precious time together.

 

Close your project

Close your project with an assessment what went well. What are the things your family enjoyed together? Did you meet your budget? Are there things you want to repeat again next year? Having a short recap with your family helps you enjoy the time together even more.

 

Don’t reinvent the wheel each holiday!  Check out the holiday planning notebook here.

 

 

Holiday Organizing in the “New Normal”

Holiday organizing

 

This year will be a different year for many families in Houston and other parts of the United States.  With the holidays approaching, some areas will be rebuilding and restoring homes, offices, and businesses.  It’s going to be a “New Normal” for a while and the holidays are no exception.

 

Create holiday traditions and experiences

There have been significant losses. Your family may be in a new rental space or have fewer cherished decorations.  This year could be about new holiday traditions and experiences.  Think about the ways you can celebrate that bring you closer together as a family.  Families have started new ornament collections, decided to go on a vacation togehter instead of giving gifts and acknowledged the spirituality of the season instead of the commercialism. Spend time with your family deciding what is most important to each family member.

 

Supporting our local businesses

Small businesses are gearing up for the holiday season. Many businesses will be open at this time. It’s vital to support our local businesses now.  Big or small purchases all make a contribution.  Our local businesses are counting on us this year, and every year.

Be creative about how you can use your resources this year.  Extra large expenses for repairs wil be a part of your budget. What ways can you choose to share your blessings?  Is this the year to simplify your gift giving and gift budget?  Perhaps you have been thinking about this for many years and now it the time.

 

Keep routines to keep you organized

Your “new normal” will benenfit from  your traditional organizing and productivity routines.  Use your calendar and lists to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. During the holidays, we have more on our calendar and action lists.  Most especially this year, get a good night’s rest every night and stick to your exercise routine. Seek support if you are having a difficult time. There are community resources available at our local churches and associations.

 

I will be thinking of each of you as you celebrate the holidays this year. We have much to be grateful for.

 

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Family Holiday Traditions

family holiday traditions

 

Family holiday traditions are what make memories.  It’s experiences and gifts you remember for years to come that are repeated annually.  There’s lots of family traditions including annual cookie swaps, trips to the Nutcracker Ballet, or Ugly Sweater competitions.

Every tradition requires planning and organization.  Most important are dates and deadlines. When will you host your tradition? Invite early to be sure your guests are available.  Be sure to make a list of what you need and have it available.

 

Here are my family holiday traditions.  Each family holiday tradition shares memories of the year that has passed.

Annual Dinner

Each year we take our grandchildren for a fancy holiday dinner in downtown Houston.  It’s just the grands and Gigi and Paps (that’s us!).  It’s our time together to enjoy the holiday lights and drive.  We spend the dinner talking about our holiday together and each of their interests.  It’s a special night together.

holiday dinner

Christmas ornament

Since each grands birth, we have given them an ornament for Christmas. I order these around September in be sure they arrive early.  The theme of each ornament depends on something special each year. Some year’s the ornament is about a special activity that year, like baseball or gymnastics. This year it was an beach ornament for each grand celebrating our beach trip together.  These ornaments are a treasure each year as they place them on the tree. The ornaments have their names and year on each one.

 

personalized Christmas ornament

Pap’s Photo Album

My husband, aka Paps, only Christmas gift is an annual photo album.  I started these albums when we had print photos!  It takes time to gather the photos from the year.  I gather these from all the spots that photos comes from including my camera, my phone, his phone, and all my family.  I upload these and create an annual photo album filled with all the year’s fun.   Throughout the year I organize the photos with this album in mind and work on it throughout the month of December.  It’s the gift cherished by my husband everyone in the family looks at it all year.

 

I’d love to learn about your family holiday traditions too!  Post these in the comment please.

Happy organizing and Happy Holidays!

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My holiday wish for you!

the-holiday-season-is-the-time-to-reflect-on-our-blessings-and-seek-out-ways-to-make-life-better-around-us

 

Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons!

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4 Ways to Simplify Holiday Gift Giving

 

4 ways to simplify holiday gift giving

 

Have you been gathering gifts all year in your gift closet?  Maybe you have been tucking away your unloved gifts to regift to another.  It may be an important gesture to share gifts teachers and others you want to appreciate.  The holiday season sweeps us up into gift giving.  It’s the time of year we feel required to match gift for gift, dollar for dollar. According to a Gallup poll, American’s spend close to $850 a year on holiday gifts. At the same time, 81% of Americans would rather receive an experience based gift.  Holiday gift giving involves emotions, finances, and practicality. Is this the year you decide to make your holiday gift giving more meaningful? Here’s how to simplify holiday gift giving.

Review your gift list each year.

There’s many times that gift giving changes.  Maybe you haven’t been in touch during the year.  The nephews are getting older.  You and your siblings have all gotten to retirement stages.  When life transitions happen, it’s a good time to agree with family and friends to decline gift giving. You can open the conversation so that no one feels ambushed when you get together. Another option is to give gifts to families in need in your community.

 

Know what you want to share, more than just a gift.

There’s lots of different expectations about gifts.  Does the recipient enjoy a practical gift or a gift that is an experience? Can you gift money or a gift card? Would a thoughtful card with a meaningful note be the right gift?  Thinking about the recipients expectations makes holiday gift giving easier.  As you are creating your gift list, jot down a few ideas about that person to help you decide.

At the same time, think about the meaning of the gift you want to convey.  How can you best convey joy, gratitude, and love in what you give?  Your expression and your gift may be more powerful in something small. There’s more to share than the gift. It’s the thought behind it.

 

Homemade gifts

The word is out that homemade gifts are a thoughtful way to share.  It makes your gift special in that you took time to prepare something for friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.  Your something special can be a simple baked treat, practical item or ornament to share.  It can also be the same treat year after year as a tradition.  Start early preparing your homemade gift and be sure it is wrapped and easy  to transport. My favorite homemade gift is holly cookies and banana bread.  You can take a wallet size photo and place it in an ornament frame.  There are so many ways to simplify your homemade gifts.

 

Wrap it up

There’s a process for gift giving. Purchase -> Wrap -> Deliver.  Set  up a time and space to get it all out and get messy.  Be sure you have all the supplies including boxes, tissue, bags and ribbon.  You can delegate the wrapping or share the fun with a wrapping party.  Write on  your calendar when you are going to get this step and delivery complete.  A gift at home is of no value, and makes  you feel less, when it’s undelivered.  Wrap up your holiday gift giving with a time to deliver your gifts.

 

A word about the kiddos

Our kids have gifts galore at the holidays. Some families have chosen the 4 gift, something you want and something you need, one gift to wear, and one gift to read.  Carefully decide on what you want to gift kiddos because an overwhelming number of gifts can make kiddos uncomfortable, ungrateful and unable to play with it all.  Get relatives on board with this option to be sure everyone agrees that giving one gift per child is plenty.

 

When you are paralyzed in not finding the perfect gift, step back and think about what you really want to express in gift giving.  You will know what is the next, how to simplify and how to express what you have in your heart. As Mother Theresa says, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Holiday organizing for joy and meaning!

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We love the lights, sounds, smells and feel of the holidays.  It can be overwhelming too!  There’s lot of places to go, people to see, gifts to buy and cards to send.  Here’s simply strategies to keep this the most wonderful time of the year for you too!

 

Make lists

Have you been searching the Internet for a gift for a “just in case” hostess gift for a party?  Or not sure what to purchase for your family but you don’t know if you are a part of a gift exchange?  It all starts with a list.  It’s a list of who to buy for and a list of your budget for the purchases. That list keeps you aligned with what you plan, instead of those extra purchases and expenses. Find 3 small “general” gifts for hostesses and “surprise I brought you something” times.  My favorite list making apps are Evernote and Notes.  Your list is with you all the time on your smartphone.  Make your holiday wonderful with a list.

 

Write it on the holiday calendar

A quick family meeting, even if it’s only you and your partner, gets all the details on  your holiday calendar.  Invitations are coming in and holiday activities are starting up. Writing these on your calendar makes sure you are in the know and are at the right spot at the right time.  It’s also important to schedule time to just be.  By scheduling in this time to sit, reflect, catch up, and rejuvenate, you gives yourself the gift of time.  Otherwise, all your time will be filled and you will end up feeling frazzled.  It’s hard to not overbook the holidays however your holiday will be wonderful with a modest schedule.  Use your usual calendar and add these dates in red, green or blue to stand out.

Enlist help

Santa has his elves! Mrs. Claus is there too! It’s time for us to work as a team too.  There’s help around us to wrap gifts, make treats, and share the fun.  Ask for help from your family with specific requests but without being a perfectionist.  Look around for resources to help, ask teens who want to make a little extra holiday money and inquire when a friend mentions a service they used.  Take a small step by purchasing already cut fruit, using the gift wrap option online, hire a cleaning service or a decorating professional.  These little gifts to yourself make your holiday wonderful.

Rest up

The holidays are when we are most busy. It’s easy to stay up much later online, decorating and baking.  However, it catches up with us!  Keep true to your bedtime routine that includes sleep for 7 – 8 hours.  Be sure your sleep is restful with a cool, darkened space. Make a list at night while your tasks are fresh on your mind to keep your mind clear and ready for rest.  Stay true to your exercise routine to be tired in a good way to sleep well.

 

Simplify

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the wonderfulness of the season. Holiday fun extends to extra gatherings with friends, sharing more treats with neighbors and family, and extra good wishes with holiday cards and gifts. Simplify your holiday by choosing what’s most meaningful to you.  Reflect back on prior holidays with your family or in a moment of meditation to remember what made your holiday special. Take that awareness to the next step by reinforcing this with your holiday activities.  Just checking in and knowing that even one thing is NOT on your agenda this holiday makes for a wonderful experience.

 

Not sure what to simplify this year? Here’s how I do it.  My decorations include a festive doorway garland and my Christmas tree.   We send holiday cards at the beginning of December.  My holiday treats include make ahead holiday treats.  Find what’s most meaningful to you, and simplify the rest.

 

More tips to simplify and organize on my newsletter! Join here!

 

 

 

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Do this NOW to get ready for the holidays

do this now in October for holiday organizing

 

It’s October and we are starting to see twinkling lights on holiday trees.  It’s tempting to wait for the day after Thanksgiving. There’s a big list ahead of you. Capitalize on the time by getting ready in small ways for the holiday.  Stretch your preparation time forward into October.  Do this NOW to get ready for the holidays.

 

Write out your holiday lists.

Start with a budget, gift list, a card list and activity lists.  A budget is a guideline for what your expenses will be this holiday. It’s your way of keeping financially responsible when it’s easy to go off track.  Your gift list includes all those you will be exchanging with or thanking with a gift. This can include teachers, hostesses, hair person and others.  Your holiday card list needs tweaking with updated addresses.  An activity list adds meaning to your holidays.  Know that happens when and create a holiday calendar to share with your family.  You can keep these lists in a holiday notebook.  These are  your guide posts for the season ahead.

 

Take your holiday card photos and choose a holiday card

Holiday cards are a joy to receive. Your family photo is a special way to share what’s happened this year. Now is the time to take the photo. It’s great weather to be outside for the background.  It’s the first step for this holiday project.  Check online for possible cards. There’s an array of choices and it’s the next step to decide on your card too.  Get this mini project checked off and ready to go.

 

Shop holiday craft bazaars

This month is filled with the joy of holiday crafts and goodies. Use this time to check out local vendors to support local crafts people.  There’s treats for parties and hostess gifts.  There are theme gifts special for the holidays.  Holiday craft bazaars also get you in the holiday spirit. You can find a list of local holiday markets online.

 

Check out local resources

Maybe this year you want to have a local restaurant make the Christmas Eve lasagna.  Maybe this year you want to have a cleaning service come in and deep clean the week before you have company.  Think about what help would make a difference for you this holiday.  It’s a gift you give yourself to be able to enjoy the holiday fully.  Now is the time to gather resources and referrals for extra help.

 

Make a plan

Whether it’s logging onto 101 Days To Christmas or simply sitting with your calendar, now’s the time to make a plan for the holidays ahead.  Each holiday season we vow to be more organized and more productive with our time.  October is the time to talk to your family about simple holiday traditions, about what’s special to them and then prioritize these activities.  Add dates to your calendar, purchase tickets for the Nutcracker, and decide when you will pull out the decorations.  A plan, a list and a calendar keep us in control during the holiday season.

 

What are you doing NOW to get ready for the holidays?

 

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6 Tech Tips for Holiday Organizing

tech tools for holiday organizing

 

Holidays can be merrier with by adding some tech help.  It’s these little ways to add organizing using your computer, tablet or smart phone.  Technology can help you with holiday organizing like lists, recipes, coupons and more.

 

Evernote for Christmas lists

Make it easy to keep all your lists with you all the time with Evernote.  You can add an item after each purchase, match up your purchases with those you are giving to, and keep up with what you gave last year.

 

Pinterest for holiday recipes

No need to keep paper recipes again! Search pinterest with the ingredients and you find all sorts of recipes for holiday baking and entertaining.

 

Genius scan or DocScan to scan and print receipts

Having trouble keeping up with holiday receipts?  Not sure where to keep your receipts? It’s easy with these apps. You can store them on your smart phone and in the cloud.  It’s easy to make returns this way too.

 

Bank app for keeping up your budget

Your bank app helps you stay on track for your holiday budget.  You can access funds, make deposits, and see where money has been spent.  It’s great to keep up to date with what you spend each day for gifts, entertaining and decorations.

Pandora for holiday music

I love Pandora! It gives you instant, free access to all the genres of the holidays. Download this on your smart phone or computer to enjoy holiday themes like holiday traditional, holiday country, or Today’s Christmas.

 

ShopSavvy or Amazon app to check prices

Want to be sure you are getting the  best deal? ShopSavvy and Amazon compare prices so you can check what the lowest price for your item is.

 

holiday tech apps

 

More holiday apps of all sorts!

What are your favorite holiday apps?

 

More holiday fun on Pinterest Happy Holidays!