3 Simple Gift Giving Tips

Giving meaningfully is part of the holiday season.  Follow your inner guide to give meaningfully.

A Guide to Giving Gift From Erin Carlyle

Homemade gifts from texascottage.blogspot.com

Gifts of Random Kindness from littlelucylu.com

 For more ideas for simple gift giving, visit my pinterest page www.pinterest.com/EllenDelap  Happy Holidays board!

Wishing you a season of meaningful sharing and gifting!

Organize to Revitalize: Enlist the Elves!

I love sharing my thoughts on Organize to Revitalize too!

Holiday Organizing: Enlist the Elves is posted there at http://dallisonlee.com/blog/2012/12/03/holiday-organizing-enlist-the-elves/.

Who are your elves?

5 Tips to Organizing and Decorating for the Holidays

Getting your decorating done for the holidays can be overwhelming! Over the years you have accumulated so many darling decorations, there is so much to sort through, there are so many places in your home to decorate, and there is only so much time.  These 5 tips can help you get started and get finished with getting your decorating done. 

1.  Walk through your home and visualize the decorations in place. What special decorations always sit in one area?  What areas are focal points in your home for your family and your holiday guests? What decorations are important to your kids?  Start with a visual reminder of what is most important to you.  Write down notes or draw pictures to help you as you work.

2.  Review your calendar and see what time you have and when you want to be complete.  If you have 2 weeks until a major event at your home, this accountability will help you.   If not, set a date for completion for yourself.

3. Enlist the elves! Ask your family for help of even the smallest kind. Can your kids or husband set up the tree? Can they take down boxes and take our ornaments carefully? Can you pay your cleaning lady to come an extra day to assist?  Put on the holiday music and get moving. 

4. Choose a strategy to get the job done. It can be decorate room by room, decorate your door frames and table tops, or whatever strategy appeals to you.  It will prevent you from roaming from space to space and help you get areas complete.

5. Know the emotion of “enough”.  This season of abundance often means you never feel that you are done decorating.  Perfectionism may creep in and decorating goes on, and on, and on.  Knwoing what “enough” feels like makes a difference in moving forward to the next step of your holiday preparations.

What are your tips for decorating this holiday season?

Deck the (Decluttered) Halls


Holiday time is almost here! November begins our holiday celebrations with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Eve.  Our holidays bring amazing joy and lots to do at our homes.  Doing just a little decluttering makes it easier to decorate your home and helps you feel prepared.  Spend on hour on one of these four areas to help you get prepared for your most memorable holiday. 

Declutter last year’s holiday cards. It is a powerful way to prepare for this year’s cards by collecting addresses and eliminating extra paper clutter. You will be prepared knowing the number of cards to order too!   Just a little less paper means a lot less stress. 

 Declutter the toys in your home.  There is no better way to prepare than by sharing your blessings with other’s less fortunate!  Your kids can be a part of the process in choosing what is donated.  They can choose 3 toys to donate and bless others.  If you have unopened toys or crafts from previous years, it is a great experience for you and your children to bring these to local philanthropies for gift giving. 

 • Declutter your decor as you decorate.  While you are decorating for the holidays, create an awareness of what has lost meaning or value to you in your home.  Whether it is a knick-knack or books, you can declutter while you decorate to create space for the holiday decorations and create a space for new decor after the holidays.  Thrift stores and consignment shops appreciate these items for upcoming holiday shoppers.

Declutter your holiday decorations.  Keepsake decorations can be stored and marked to honor wonderful memories and preserve these items to share with your family.  Decorations that are in good condition are an excellent donation to local philanthropies and a special way to share the joy of the holiday. 

 Decluttering before decorating makes our holiday less stressful and more joyful.  Put on holiday music and get started on one of these small projects.  If you struggle with getting started or following through with your decluttering, give me a call to assist.

Holiday Organizing Tips and Holiday Time Line

holiday organizing time line


During the holidays, we add on to our already full plate with an oversized portion of mashed potatoes and holiday responsibilities! We are adding more tasks and time commitments with the holiday season. To ease the stress, let’s take the time for planning and preparation. A time line helps us add in holiday activities while not overwhelming us. Follow these holiday organizing tips in a week by week time line to help you get organized for your best holiday yet.



Week 1

  • Assess your family budget for the holidays. Include actual costs from the previous year for cards, entertainment and gifts. Establish a budget that will work for your family.

Week 2

  • Take pictures for holiday cards. Compile holiday card list and purchase cards. Write holiday letter and purchase stamps from usps.com

Week 3

  • Compile your gift list. Set up family gift swaps and share names with those who are swapping. Make a list of what you have already purchased throughout the year and match that with gift recipients for the holiday.

Week 4

  • Celebrate Halloween and enjoy some pumpkin treats!


Week 1

  • Host a family meeting to talk about each person’s priorities for the holiday season. Write a list including one favorite activity of each family member for the holiday season. Be sure to include a volunteer activity to help others during the season.  Ask how everyone can work together decorating, writing cards, wrapping gifts or cooking throughout the holiday season. Post your helpers names and jobs on a chart in the kitchen to remind everyone.
  • Post a holiday calendar with dates of family activities and commitments during the holidays. Add to the calendar as new dates come in.
  • Create your holiday music play list on Pandora with help from your family.
  • Now’s the time to purchase air travel and make hotel reservations for holidays away from home.

Week 2

  • Write holiday card addresses, stuff and stamp envelopes so they are ready to mail on December 1.
  • Holiday shopping trip #1. Be sure to shop for items that need to be mailed.  Purchase gift wrap, paper goods, batteries and other supplies for the season.
  • Enjoy holiday marketplaces. Purchase stocking stuffers and hostess gifts.
  • Finalize Thanksgiving menu and share cooking with family members and friends.

Week 3

  • Thanksgiving preparations and Thanksgiving dinner. Your family can help prepare dinner together and enjoy that time too!  (Our family decorates the tree that day too!)

Week 4

  • Pull out your holiday decorations and begin decorating your home and office. Set a time for your family to decorate together with holiday music and festive simple snacks.
  • Bake and freeze breads and bar cookies for later to share at parties.
  • Set up your gift wrap station to wrap as you go.


Week 1

  • Holiday shopping trip #2. Online shopping can save time and money too. Be sure to stay true to your list and your budget.
  • Complete decorating your home and office. Purchase your live tree or visit a Christmas tree farm to cut down your tree.
  • Host a family meeting to keep on track with family fun and responsibilities.

Week 2

  • Holiday shopping trip #3. Make this final trip just in case your list was not complete.
  • Mail gift items by December 10. This way your gifts arrive early.
  • Happy Chanukah! Celebrate with friends sharing all faiths with some easy store bought desserts.

Week 3

  • Holiday gatherings are in full swing! Enjoy the festivities with friends and colleagues.
  • Finish your holiday baking.
  • Charge batteries for recorders and more.
  • Decide where you will be attending services Christmas Eve.
  • Finalize holiday plans. Set your menu and share responsibilities for family gatherings.


Wishing everyone a delightful and festive holiday season!

Join me on Pinterest and view my Happy Holidays board!  www.pinterest.com/EllenDelap

Clutter Free Holiday Gifts


clutter free holiday gifts


Celebrate the season with new  meaning!  There is something powerful about the holiday season and gift giving.  View this site the advent conspiracy and see if you agree!  Clutter free holiday gifts are a great way to share experiences, not stuff.



At this time of year we can teach our children about sharing by how we give gifts. We can unburden others by sharing in a new way.  Clutter free gifts can include savings bonds,  gift cards for gas or groceries, spa and pampering gifts, museum membership, entertainment tickets to local symphony or Broadway show, movie and a dinner, cooking, fishing or painting lessons, itunes or Starbucks gift cards, or any item that is consumable.


Non-profit gift giving is an alternative too!   Give the gift your friend is passionate about by supporting a worthy cause. Consider a cash donation to a charity in honor of the recipient such as cancer research, green living, or supporting underprivileged families.  You can find these by reviewing www.charitynavigator.org.


A gift always means more when you give the gift of yourself.  Join a friend at an art class, yoga session, book club, or a scrapbooking class.  Babysit for friends, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.  Take a child to lunch, on a day trip, to the museum/zoo, or to a sports event.  You can also make coupon book for those special and every day treats with things you know your partner would enjoy from the practical to the whimsical, such as a back rub, doing the dishes for a week, making a candlelight dinner, grocery shopping or packing a picnic.


Other ideas for sharing the fun include a pirate swap or  “Secret Santa”.   The pirate swap is passing out numbers from 1 to whatever for the number of people at the event.  Number 1 picks a wrapped gift, number 2 can pick a gift or steal the unwrapped one from Number 1.  With the Secret Santa you pick a name from a hat with all the adults in your family establishing a limit for the gift’s expense.   Gifts can be goofy, practical, or holiday themed.  One client hosts her swap just like Oprah’s Favorite Things show.   Guests bring their “favorite” beauty item including lip gloss, face cream or other product and have a swap.


Virtual gifts are easy to make too! Create a family cookbook and give it on a flash drive to family members.  Our family created a family cookbook last year to share within our family and with family friends.  We use it constantly during the year to find frequently made foods.   There are also many online scrapbooks to create with family photos as well.  Check out  http://www.smilebox.com/scrapbooks.html.  Family photos can be shared and cherished in a new way this way.


Keep the meaning in your holiday this year.  It is not about the perfect gift, it is about connecting with those  who are dear.   Where are you on the clutter free continuum?  Start something new this holiday with clutter free gifts.


Join the holiday fun on my Facebook page.

Thanksgiving Preparations: Food for Thought for the Early Bird and Procrastinator

Thanksgiving prep for the early bird and procrastinator


It’s all about the food at this time of year! And getting your Thanksgiving dinner together takes planning and organizing.  Some of us start our plans in early November and some of us start…well…not too early!

Early bird preparations

  • Getting the menu together early is a good first step!  Our family continues the tradition of turkey, bread dressing, mashed potatoes and pie. However, your family may be more adventurous!  Recipes can be found online at www.allrecipes.com, in magazines like Southern Living, or just on the can of French fried onion rings!   Deciding on your menu early means you can take advantage of sales throughout the month using your list of ingredients.
  • Early invitations for guests really make them feel special.  An early invitation also means you can ask your guests to bring a dish to share at your meal.  New cuisine and added camaraderie make the meal more fun too!
  • Keep it simple with simple meal prep. That includes preparing ahead as much as possible, using the best tools for the job and creating structure to your plan with lists.
  • Getting ready for Thanksgiving also includes getting your home ready for company.  Starting early is a good way to take baby steps in decluttering and decorating for the holiday.  You can work room by room, decluttering and cleaning for several weeks.  Your family will enjoy the holiday atmosphere and you will feel less pressured by time.

Procrastinator preparations

  • Instead of turkey (which takes days to thaw), choose cornish game hens or ham.  Both are easy to prepare.  Ham can be purchased that day and heated.
  • Choose to shop at a one-stop location. It is easier to purchase it all at one retailer, rather than running between stores.   Choose your store by the sales items on your grocery list.
  • It’s not about perfect or made from scratch!  Check out ways to use convenience foods in preparing your meal.  Sandra Lee of FoodTV fame www.foodnetwork.com  uses ready-prepared items to make your meal special.
  •  Ask your family what treats and sweets are most important to them. You can purchase ready-made desserts at a reduced cost at holiday time.
  • Check out the options for pre-made Thanksgiving dinners. In Houston, we have choices like Luby’s and Randalls.  It all comes nicely prepared and ready to eat.
  • Dine out!  Just google Thanksgiving Houston and you will find loads of choices!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving hints for your family dinner?

No matter your style, I wish you a moist turkey and a sweet pumpkin pie for your holiday event!