Originally this project was going to be “Buy your stuff”, but I know that all of us probably have enough gift wrap, tags and ribbon to supply Santa’s workshop. Problem is, most of us find it December 26th.
So dig through your basement, garage, spare closet or under the bed and gather together:
- wrapping paper
- tissue paper
- tags, etc.
- Scotch tape
Assignment: Elf Supplies
Once everything is rounded up in one place, put it into a container to keep it together. If you can keep it out for a week or two do so, this will allow you to wrap a few gifts at a time. If this is not possible, wrap them up as soon as possible and get them under the tree. This will keep the clutter at bay. This would be the time to also purchase anything that you are short on (I end up buying tape every single year.) Organize your supplies with these fun labels.
Another fun idea is to have a wrapping party with your friends so you can wrap, chat and me merry (see what I did there).
The idea is to think outside of the box and give something new a try. You never know if something else works better if you don’t ever try something different!
For more details: Get Your Christmas Organized – Page 69
Share Your Thoughts:
What is the most stressful part for you about wrapping gifts? Do you feel stressed for time? Is it the space it takes up? How about the idea of wrapping with friends or family? Could you host a wrapping party and make it more enjoyable?
Host a wrapping party with Kathi’s special Evite designs created with you and your friends in mind. Happy wrapping!
For most of America, the day after Thanksgiving will be spent trying to get the most for the least amount of money. The winner will be the person who can grab the most toys, clothes, gadgets and doo-dads for the people on their list. Whether they need them or not.
Now, hear me well: there is nothing wrong with being a wise shopper and looking for the best deal on something that you know you want or something that someone you love wants, and you want to give it to them.
But what if you want to start building different values into your family taking back Black Friday is a great way – and day – to start.
As someone who has been in the position of being an unemployed single mom, I remember all too well having to rely on other people to make the holidays happen for my kids. I remember desperately wanting to get my kids certain toys, or a shirt that I knew my daughter would love, and not being able to because of my lack of funds.
The highlight of my Christmas that year (besides seeing how other people stepped in to love on my kids, and myself) was the absolute thrill of finding some gently used items for my kiddos at Goodwill. I was able to get a little creative with a couple of finds at the local thrift store; there was the like-new art kit for my daughter, and an un-opened pack of Yu-gi-oh cards for my son (at the time, that was the score of all scores.) I found a couple of books from the series they were reading, and even a really cute top that I was able to wear to some Christmas parties.
As much as I want to make Jesus the center of everything I do during the holidays, I long in my mommy heart to bless my kids in a way that will demonstrate that I care about the unique, wonderful people they are. And sometimes, that means Legos or a tube of lip gloss.
Sadly, a lot of the time, donation centers are used instead of a recycling can – they receive so much unusable clothing (which, I do understand, that some centers can sell by the pound to recover some of the money for processing those items. Check with your donation center to see if they welcome this type of donation before making it.) Some of us wait until an item is unusable, undesirable, unfashionable and just plain unworthy until we are willing to get rid of it.
But what about donating those new red kitten heels that you wore once and never wore again because they pinched your feet. Instead of holding onto them for years, (because they cost so much money!) how about donating them and letting a mom with a limited budget feel pretty in those shoes.
Or how about the Barbie that your daughter had-to-have, but then lost interest in about twelve days after her birthday. If she no longer loves it, ask her to donate it so that some other little girl will have the chance to love it.
Or that second (or third) garlic press? Give another woman the chance to create Christmas dinner she wants by making her mom’s homemade marinara sauce (complete with freshly crushed garlic.)
What if we spent the day clearing out our homes in preparation of the abundance that’s about to hit in the next month instead of fighting crowds to get the best barging to fill up our home.
What if we taught our kids that there is even more joy in passing on things that others will love than owning everything and enjoying nothing?
What if winning was giving everything away until everything in your home was something you use, love, or would buy again.
What if the highlight of your Black Friday was donating clothes, tools, toys and books that others could love (and even wrap up for their own kids and families to put under the tree?)
What if Black Friday was marked, not by how much we buy, but how much we give?
Black Friday is November 27th this year. Would you consider joining me in figuring out how you can bless other families that will struggle to get something under the tree this year?
I can’t tell you how much this idea excites me: the thought of some of you, leading your families in the charge not only to declutter, but to give instead of focusing on all you can get? It just gives me shivers.
Here’s what you can do:
- Grab some extra boxes (or for clothes and toys, garbage bags). If you don’t have extra boxes piled up, just waiting for disposal, find a friend who shops with Amazon Pantry. I promise, they will have all the boxes you need.
- With the others you live with, come up with a goal. Let me be so bold as to challenge you: could you come up with 100 items to donate? 100 is doable, but will still challenge you and your loved ones to stretch. Set your goal and then work towards it together.
- Come up with a plan of action. When decluttering, it’s always great to pair a kid with an adult. When the adult is decluttering their area, the child can be the runner – putting things away, putting items into the donation box, etc. When decluttering the child’s area, the parent can be there to encourage the child to get rid of things they no longer love and use, but also can help with some wise decisions when a child is becoming a little too good at decluttering (like wanting to give away Aunt Edna’s antique quilt…)
Some things to consider giving away. No longer loved:
- Camping equipment
- Christmas decorations
So, are you in? Tell me what you think about the challenge and invite others to join in. Remember to let let me know what you did and how it blessed you and your family at firstname.lastname@example.org or at my Facebook page.
Refer back to your gift giving list to identify anyone who will require their gift to be shipped. Now think of the least stressful ways to make this happen. A gift card to their favorite store or restaurant is a great gift and extremely easy to ship. You can also ship gifts directly to people from whichever website you are ordering from. You know I am a fan of Amazon and if you aren’t a prime member, order all of your gifts at one time so you have an order of $35 for free shipping.
Assignment: Plan Your Out–of-Town Friends and Family Gifts.
Think about what you are going to get for whom and by what day you need to have it in the mail. Put the dates on your calendar and plan purchases accordingly.
Consider e-gifts or something that is easy to mail.
Be sure to check out the mailable gift ideas in the book and over on Evite.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 65
Supplies: 1) Your gift list 2) Calendar and 3) ideas.
Share Your Thoughts:
Share ideas for gifts for out of town family and friends? Any tips on mailing gifts? How many gifts do you usually mail?
Time to catch up on anything you haven’t been able to finish thus far. Check your binder. Take a breath. You’ve got this!
If you are not sure of the last time you took a breath it has been too long! Your next step is to slow down and breathe deeply. Did you know that you think much more clearly when you get a good amount of oxygen to your brain? Did you know that by filling your brain with more oxygen you are opening receptors to help you react faster, think more clearly and get more done? This is scientific fact, so if you are feeling busy or stressed it’s time for a nice walk. 20 minutes at a good pace should do all of us some good.
For extra credit, do something to bless your spouse and get him in the holiday spirit. This can be another form of getting oxygen to the brain! Go ahead – have fun with this.
Share your thoughts:
Chat with us and tell us what YOU did on your Catch up Day.
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Do you know how much you actually spend on Christmas? It can be a real eye-opener. A few dollars here for eggnog, a couple dollars there for the boss’s gift, $5 for the new set of lights because the old ones don’t work or you can’t find them, $20 for the ingredients for the cookies and before you know it you have spent over $100 you hadn’t planned on spending.
It isn’t just money, sometimes it is activities. You say yes to too many Christmas parties, too many shopping trips, or too many volunteer requests. For some reason at Christmas our houses have to be cleaner than normal, we cook and bake more than usual, we have presents to wrap, gifts to make, extra church services to attend and the list goes on. Sometimes we need to put our activities on a budget so we can enjoy the season.
Take some time today to identify anything you can cross off your list whether it is something causing you stress or unnecessary spending.
If you’re looking to save money this year, throw a budgeting party with friends or family. Exchange gift giving ideas and your favorite coupons or ways to save. You could also bake goodies to gift, work on crafts to give, or order items together to save on shipping or buying in bulk. You’ll get some of your gift giving taken care of, save money, and have fun while doing it!
Assignment: Plan Your Budget for the Holidays (Expenditures of both money and time!)
Use the budget sheet to outline where you anticipate spending money. It is a big holiday and often a huge part of our fall and winter expenses. Planning now will save on surprise expenses and impulse spending more later.
Also, use your calendar and carve out a few evenings or a Saturday when you don’t have outside activities. Keep that time free for you to do the things that matter to you.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 56
Supplies: 1) a budgeting sheet 2) Calendar
Share Your Thoughts:
How does it feel to have a budget in advance? Will this project change how you spend money during the holiday season? How about putting free time on your calendar, did that give you a sense of relief? Did you eliminate an activity?
Invite your friends over for a “let’s get this done” party. Check out some ideas here of what you can get accomplished with friends by your side!
When was the last time you were searching for the perfect gift for your cousin that was coming over for the annual gift exchange – the one that was happening tomorrow? It’s happened to all of us at least once, or four times. This is one way to ENSURE your holidays will be stressful. We want to avoid stress this year so here is the plan.
- Make a list of everyone you will be making or buying gifts for (jot down a date of when you need to exchange or mail them).
- Keep notes next to each name of things you think they might like, need or really appreciate. Think about whether they would most appreciate a gift that you bought for them, or maybe they would love to donate toward a cause and you could do it in their honor? Whatever the case, take a few minutes and decide your plan of attack.
- Another thing I do ahead of time is window shop. I write down or take pictures of things so I can later add them to my list with their price. That way I don’t go nuts spending way too much. Then I go home and make up my real list including what I am buying and how much it costs.
The Get Your Christmas Organized Gift List
I actually take this one step further and create this list on a spread sheet because I have a budget in mind for each person. All of this is then stored in one place and when I am at the store I know that I can get what I intended and make sure I don’t spend too much doing so! This has helped not only keep me organized, but also keeps me from spending way more than I should have out of guilt, loss of time or impulse purchases.
The idea here is for you to be giving gifts from a place of joy, not last minute stress. Be smart, shop in stages so the hit on the budget isn’t so severe!
For more details: Get Your Christmas Organized page 48
Need more ideas for gifts? Check out what Evite says about how to ‘Find the Perfect Gift’.
Share Your Thoughts: How do you tend to get your gift list going? Do you plan it out or just shop and then worry about it later? Do you buy for everyone or just a select few? Share with us what gift giving traditions you have developed or adapted over the years.
If you don’t plan your time, someone else will. During the holidays it is especially important to plan in advance so you have the time to do the things that are truly important to you.
I schedule downtime. Life can get very stressful over the holidays and I schedule time just to relax and wrap gifts with music playing or to kick back and read a book. The time leading up to Christmas shouldn’t be so rushed and stressful that you are totally exhausted and can’t enjoy the holiday. I schedule mini-breaks or downtime throughout the season. This is especially important if you have small children and their schedules are being disrupted.
The downtime is every bit as important as the parties and other social activities during the holiday season. I review calendars and make sure we find time to attend church, candlelight services, and other events that matter to us, I schedule downtime, and then everything else is worked into the time that is left or we choose not to do it. Go back to your Christmas mission statement and make sure everything you schedule fits into your mission. If it doesn’t, you can skip it this year. There’s always next year!
Do what gives you joy and don’t feel guilty for saying NO to everything else.
Assignment: Schedule Your Time for the Holidays
Gather all your calendars and spend fifteen minutes scheduling your commitments (personal, family, church, school, etc.). Now it is time to schedule in some fun! You may want to ask your family what they would like to do this year. Consider dropping things that no longer bring you or your family joy. You may also want to set aside some special time for just you and your spouse.
Once you have completed your calendar, be sure to hang it where everyone has access to it.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 44
1) a blank calendar for November and December (or download printable blank calendars for November and December here.)
2) School, church, work and personal calendars.
Share Your Thoughts:
How does it feel to have things scheduled out in advance? Did you eliminate some activities? What activities will you keep no matter what? When you think about the holiday season do you feel overwhelmed, relaxed, confident or frustrated?
Do you love having a ton of different cookies for Christmas but don’t have time to shop and prepare for a more than one type of cookie? Have a cookie exchange party and invite your favorite people (and the best bakers)! Invite them with a Kathi Lipp inspired Evite. Check it and other fun Clutter Free Christmas party ideas here.
When was the last time you got to December 10th and took a deep sigh of relief that your cards were completely done and mailed?? Umm, I have to answer that one honestly and say never. But I can also honestly say that when they are done early, my stress level goes way down. I do the whole thing in stages.
- Go through the list of things necessary to prep your Christmas cards. Maybe you need to buy paper for your annual letter or get pictures taken. Jot down all of the steps
- Start working through the list and possibly enlist the help of others. Maybe your spouse can order the stamps and print addresses for you. Maybe your second grader can put the stamps on.
- Make an assembly line while watching a movie to make it more fun. If it is too overwhelming to get done all at once, take time today to decide on one thing to accomplish each day this week. Mark each day on your calendar. By the end of the week, you will be ready to mail off your cards!
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 39-42
Do you need help with card ideas? Evite can help! Check them out for some great ideas.
Share Your Thoughts:
Have you broken down all of the steps before of getting cards ready? Even though it is many steps, much of it can be tackled over time and with help! Do you elicit the help of others?? What do you job out to save time, stress or a possibly a papercut on your lip? Come share with us what YOU do.
If you’re not sending a Christmas card this year, or you’re sending a card sans family photo, you get to sit this project out. For the rest of us, it’s time to sit down and choose a photo or choose a date to take pictures. Enjoy this project by inviting your family to help select the photo this year.
Maybe enjoy some Christmas cookies and cocoa as you look back on the memories you made together this year. If you still need to take family pictures, make a day of it! Plan on taking your photos together then going to the movies, out to eat, or grabbing your favorite hot beverage and shopping to fill your Operation Christmas Child boxes.
Assignment: Pick your Christmas picture or set a date to take a family picture.
The earlier you get the picture taken, the better. It’s November so photographers are offering holiday specials and booking sessions quickly. Get your favorite photographer on the phone and get this scheduled.
Make your appointment at a time when your family is at its best. If you are all night owls, don’t plan an early morning appointment. Also make sure no one is hungry when you go for the picture.
Outfits don’t have to match perfectly, but they should coordinate and not clash! Clothes should be comfortable.
On a budget? Digital cards save you time and money and allow you to send a card to any number of friends and family. In addition you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a professional photographer because your pictures don’t have to be as high quality to really look great. Check out the options on Evite and see if a digital Christmas card is right for your family.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 32
Supplies: Cards, Picture, Printer paper if you do a letter, stamps, envelopes, address, and return address labels.
Share Your Thoughts: Will you be sending cards this year? Will your cards include a family picture? Is it a Christmas picture or one taken throughout the year? What made you pick that picture? Do you send paper cards or digital cards? Any tips for others who plan to get a family picture taken or use pictures in cards?
Assignment: Create a Christmas Binder with Tabs
This binder is going to be your friend for the next few weeks. You know- the kind of friend that you count on to help you keep your sanity. This friend should reflect you but more importantly the vision you have for your family Christmas! Yesterday you made a list of what is important to you for the holidays, what it would look like for you if you started fresh this year. Use your mission statement and go from there. But don’t forget this is supposed to be quick and easy!
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized for Christmas – Page 28
Supplies: a 3 ring binder, tabs, (optional) colored pens, plain paper to decorate a cover sleeve to slide in the clear pocket.
Maybe you have an old binder lying around that contains your child’s old science fair project. Maybe you were on a committee for church a few years back and you can recycle one for a new purpose! Maybe you will take out a blank sheet of paper and decorate it and then slide it into the clear sleeve of the front cover of the binder. Maybe you make a fun label for the outside. Whatever you end up creating, make it SIMPLE.
Next get some dividers for the different categories. Get one for Cards, Recipes, Budget and Receipts, etc. Then place them in the order that makes sense to you. Keep a copy of the mission statement in the front however, to remind yourself of the core values and what matters most to your family.
Go to evite.com for some great planning ideas. Did you know that there are tabs on there that give you tons of tips, ideas and ways to get your planning started? (it looks like Pinterest) Click this link to take a look.
Then set a reminder on your phone or an appointment on your calendar to do a binder check weekly. This check will ensure you are USING it after you took the time to create it! It is so important for you to not get overwhelmed. Use this time to store away any needed items to keep yourself organized. Put that receipt in the receipt section now because when you are in a hurry later, it won’t happen. Doing a simple task now will keep you from feeling crazed later!
Share Your Thoughts:
Where did you get your binder? Is it newly repurposed? What tabs did you put inside? Did you list out your Mission Statement and enclose it?