Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guard the Castle Gates....even through the holidays.

The holidays are a wonderful time to give and receive, but don’t let your guard down. Remember to guard the castle gates, even during this wonderful time of year. Guard the gates against what and whose castle are you talking about, you ask? Your home is your castle and you must remember to guard it against unwanted clutter. Unfortunately the holidays are a time when things tend to find their way in.

Yes, gifts should be appreciated no matter what they are as we all know they come from the heart. But if it is something you really can’t use, already have or flat out don’t like, this does not mean you need to keep it. After the gifts are open, don’t hesitate to make a pile of that which you can’t use or don’t need. If you can return it or exchange it, put it right in the car so you can take care of that next time you are close to the store in question. If you can’t do that, add it to your donation pile. Doing this immediately keeps these items from finding a comfortable place in your home where you forget about it until it is part of a larger clutter problem.

Feeling bad about doing this? Consider that you are paying the gift forward. By donating the item or giving it to someone who can really use it, you are sharing the love. In these difficult economic times, donations can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Unclutter your life while adding light to someone else’s.

Getting rid of a gift does not mean that you appreciate it any less. In fact, do not forget to write a nice thank you note even if you don’t plan to keep the gift. But don’t keep something just because your Aunt gave it to you and the guilt is overwhelming. I am sure said Aunt did not intend to add to your guilt and pile of stuff. Givers want to add joy to the recipient’s life. Clutter and stress do not equal joy. So guard your door and keep the clutter out.

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

Friday, December 2, 2011

Last minute holiday shopping tips

Are you starting to stress out about holiday shopping? Wondering how you will get it all done? Here are some tips to help you manage the process.

• Make a list of those you need to shop for. Jot down any ideas you may have for them as well.
• If your list is really long, try to pare it down. Is there anyone you can mutually agree NOT to exchange gifts with? Maybe your family can do a name draw for the adults. Or maybe you can agree to go out for a fun dinner with a friend rather than exchanging gifts.
• Map out your shopping. Start with what you can buy online. The more you can do online the better and right now, most retailers are offering free shipping!! For the stores you need to hit, make a plan of attack. Maybe you need to hit Wal Mart and there is one right by your office. Make a plan to get an early start and go there before work next week. Determine which stores you can stop by during your regular routine and then set aside time to do the rest. Plan your driving route so you aren’t running all over and wasting precious time.
• Consider gift cards. Shipping is really expensive and it requires trips to the post office. Think about who you can buy gift cards for and look for those cards at your grocery store next time you are there. All you have to deal is put them in a card and send them off. Easy! Also consider where you can email gift certificates to loved one.
• Plan better for next year. Keep your holiday shopping list with you all year. It is much easier to find the perfect gift when you aren’t desperately searching for it. Give yourself all year to find it.
Happy Holidays!