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!

 

 

10 Organizing Gifts for Everyone

organizing

 

 

It’s gift giving season. While we often think of giving gifts of experiences, you can also give gifts for organizing.  The gift of organizing is a functional, practical and fun way to share.   Here are my top 10 favorite organizing gifts.

 

Vera travel bag Travel time is the best time to be organized. Give a gift of a Vera Bradley travel accessory to help keep makeup and jewelry organized on the go. It’s also a great gift for people who exercise and get ready at the gym.

 

little black dress jewelry organizer Enjoy all your favorite pieces of jewelry with this Little Black Dress jewelry organizer.  It’s easy to find your earrings, necklaces and bracelets with slots for each piece.

 

lay and go lego organizer Gifting legos this holiday season?  The Lay and Go Lego organizer is for you!  It’s easy to store and play with all your legos this year.

 

bin Too many stuffed animals or blankets in your child’s room? The Sprouts bin is the perfect place to organize and store these.

 

electronics organizer Our families have lots of technology! Make it easy to store and access with this Kbag electronics organizer.  The zipper section is great for cords or flash drives.

 

password directory Struggling with all the passwords we have? Give the gift of a password directory.  It’s easy to store at your computer desk.

 

table topics for dinner Make dinner time special with table topics.  Every one will have a chance to share.

file tote Make it easy to file with this stylish file tote.  Everyone has paper and everyone needs paper storage.

 

men's organizer A spot for watches, phones and more with this men’s valet.  Keep receipts in the drawer and you are all set!

 

label maker Everyone loves a label maker!

 

 

10 organizing gifts

 

BONUS     Top 10 non clutter gifts

  1. Once a month cleaning lady at home
  2. Lawn maintenance or semi annual landscaping clean up
  3. Tickets to an event, such as a baseball game, play, or concert
  4. Season passes to amusement park, zoo or museum
  5. Baby sitting for your adult kids to have a date night
  6. Subscription to streaming online tv shows and movies
  7. Donation to a charity of choice
  8. Gift certificates for clothes, music, sporting goods or other items
  9. Spend the day together just being spontaneous.
  10. Professional organizer or productivity consultant

 

Do you have a favorite non – clutter or organizing gift you love? Share it here!

 

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Simple Holiday Traditions

10 holiday traditions

 

Family traditions are part of what makes every family special. Your kids will reflect back to you what are existing traditions you may not realize your family has already.  It’s in creating tradition that we connect with our family.  It’s the simple holiday traditions that are memorable. Here are my top 10 holiday traditions.

1.Purchase a personalized ornament with the year on it for each child

Each year I add a new ornament to our kids’ collections. It’s a special reminder of the year gone by.  I love that our kids will take these on to use on their family trees in the future.

2. An evening holiday walk to see Christmas decorations and sip hot cocoa

There’s nothing more fun that a walk to see the holiday lights in  your neighborhood.  Bring hot cocoa to keep warm.

3. Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with 12 donations to local charities

Your holiday will be especially meaningful with donations to those who have little.  Choose little ways you can contribute with either goods or funds.

4. Add Christmas songs to your Pandora channels

The music of the season brings a smile to our faces. Your music is always with you too!

5. Organize your Christmas cards by binding them together in a book

I love this small way to cherish the holiday cards we receive.

6. Purchase ready-made gingerbread houses to decorate and host a hot chocolate buffet

Assemble your gingerbread houses the day before so they are sturdy.  Decorate and display for a week.  Be sure to decorate your own too.

7. Host a holiday movie night and invite a family to join you

Whether it’s Charlie Brown Christmas or Christmas Vacation, all families have their favorite movie to watch every year.

8. Host a hot chocolate buffet and crazy Christmas sweater get together

Get crazy with hot chocolate mix ins like marshmellows, candy canes, cinnamon red hots and whipped cream for a hot chocolate buffet.  Add in the crazy Christmas sweater phenomenon.  It’s an evening full of laughter.

9. Gather up gently used family coats and bring the donations as a family

We all have coats, scarves and gloves we have not used in a while. Bring these as a family to donate to share the joy of giving.

 

10. Drop off treats for fire department, police station or other emergency responders in your community

We are supported by many in our community who keep us safe.  Remember them this holiday season with homemade or store bought treats.  It will bring joy to you and those you meet.

 

holiday organizing holiday traditions

 

 

What are your holiday traditions?  It takes just a few minutes of planning, a spot on your calendar and communication with your family to share the joy of holiday traditions.

 

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Wishing you an Abundance of Blessings!

happy thanksgiving

Wishing you an abundance of blessings this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dinner Organized

organizing thanksgiving dinner

 

Thanksgiving is a one of my favorite holidays! It brings together all that I love! It’s our family sitting together, lingering, chatting and enjoying each other at our dinner table.  It’s a food festival with special seasonal treats like noodles, bread dressing and gravy.  It’s a day of thankfulness, blessings and mindfulness.  Here are a few tips for Thanksgiving Day Organized.

 

It’s also a day to be especially organized!

 

Invite guests

Make your plans and invite your guests two weeks ahead.  Knowing who is coming is a blessing to you and your guests.

 

Decide on your meal plan

It’s fun to share the day and share the cooking. Who will bring the turkey? Who will bring what side dishes? Who is bringing the pie? Share the responsibility and also get some help from Mrs. Kroger.

 

Grocery shop and prep early

There’s a lot of food to buy and veggies to prep. Start early with both of these to be sure you have enough time and energy.  Turkeys need time to thaw and cook properly.  A great timeline helps you stay organized.

 

Enjoy your day

Enjoy the day with family friends.  A game of charades, snooze on the couch, afternoon walk, or color pages can make for a little extra fun.  It’s the little touches that add to a special event and make family memories.

 

What makes your Thanksgiving Dinner organized? What tricks do you use?

 

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