Thursday, November 1, 2007

Simplify the holidays: Tips to make holiday cards and gift giving easier.

It’s November and do you know where your Holiday Card list is? It should be in your to-do file. Now is the time to get this task completed. Every year I hear people complain endlessly about how overwhelmed they are by the holidays. Every year I scratch my head as I hear about what they waited to do until the last minute and are now stressing out over. Does this sound vaguely familiar?? If so, read on….

Holiday Cards: Holiday cards are something that can be done long before the holiday season even approaches. Sit down in October and pick (or take) a cute photo for the card. Address the envelopes and start signing the cards. Does it matter what month you write “Seasons Greetings, Love the Turner Family” in your cards? Knock this task out long before you are inundated with holiday parties and gift exchanges.

And as long as we are discussing holiday cards, here are some tips for making this job easier.
Invest the time to input the list into your computer and create mailing labels. Since your list probably doesn’t change much during the year, this will serve you for years to come.
Go to Costco, Target or any other store and get those holiday photo cards made. You can email them the photo and pick the design online. Usually in an hour, you can pick them up and voila, your cards are done!
If you are crafty and like to make your cards, start in January. Make 10 a month and by November, you will have 110 ready to go. Unless you are famous, I think you will have plenty.
Put the kids to work. Have your kids attach the stamps and wet the envelopes. Not only are you spending quality time with your child by doing this, but you are working on their fine motor skills.

Gift Giving: This is another area that continually baffles me. The holidays always happen in December. Knowing this, you can venture out in January and February when all the sales are going on, and start your shopping early. I remember being in Target the day after Christmas and seeing a woman at the check out with three carts full of stuff. She announced that her Christmas shopping for the next year was officially done. All power to you sister! Even if you aren’t that organized (or don’t have the space to store the gifts), you can still shop in the early fall before the masses come to storm the mall and making parking a living nightmare.

Want to make the gift giving portion of your holidays something less than ulcer-creating?

Start shopping early. You know the holidays are coming, so keep a list with you year round and check people off as you find the perfect gift for them.
And speaking of the perfect gift, how about gift certificates or cold hard cash? Honestly, unless you are very close to someone or they have dropped some major hints about what they want, it is pretty hard to find the right gift. Almost any place sells gift cards – even Clear the Clutter!!! Instead of adding to their pile of stuff, why not give the gift of clearing it up and alleviating their stress (shameless plug, I know, but call it author’s privilege).
Reduce your list. Why oh why do people insist on giving gifts to everyone they know? I am always amazed at how many people some insist they *must* buy for. Try talking to your friends, family and/or co-workers. Agree to only buy for kids or not exchange gifts at all. Or how about donating to a favorite charity in lieu of gifts?? Not only will you save time, but money as well.

Hopefully these tips will make your holidays brighter and full of cheer! Get everything done early so December can be about enjoying family, friends and egg nog!

Meagan Farrell, professional organizer, is the owner of Clear the Clutter organizing services. She can be reached at (360) 631-7268 or at