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I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the time between Halloween and New Year’s seem to be getting closer together. By the time my kids have finished trick or treating, the stores have put up their Holiday decorations and the shelves are packed with wrapping paper and decorations, not to mention the latest “must have” items for the season.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, envisioning what you want your home to look like with some seasonal sprucing.  However, be mindful of a few pitfalls that are easy to fall into during the holiday season.

Being organized makes everything run smoother.  Below are some organizing tips to help simplify your holiday planning:

1.    Take inventory of what you have
o    You’d be surprised how many times people buy something that they already own. This is especially true for wrapping paper.
o    Before purchasing any new items, take stock of what you already have such as wrapping paper, bows, and general holiday decorations.

2.    Ask yourself the following questions before purchasing something new:
o    Will I really use this?
o    Do I really need this?
o    Where am I going to display this?
o    Where am I going to store it after the season is over?

3.    Purge outdated ornaments and decorations
o    Every season when you take out your holiday decorations, take a few moments to assess any items that you can purge.
o    Instead of keeping items that you no longer like, donate or recycle them.
o    Less is more. Your home doesn’t need to look like a department store window to be festive.  A few classy decorations are a lot nicer than a houseful of clutter.

4.    Dedicate separate storage for holiday wrapping paper
o    You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but I suggest investing in some inexpensive wrapping storage bins like the one below from Rubbermaid.  It allows you to store seasonal wrapping, gift bags, tags, bows, and ribbons in one place.  I also make sure to have scissors, tape and a couple of pens with them.

5.    Gift Tracker
o    Having a list makes holiday shopping and budget tracking much easier.  Create a simple spreadsheet with the following information:

o    If you use excel for your gift tracker you can easily total your costs which helps if you are trying to stay on a budget.

6.    Have a centralized location to store gifts
o    How many times have you walked into a closet in March only to stumble across a gift that you bought months ago and put away so no one would find it?  Only when it came time to give out gifts, even YOU forgot you had it!
o    Keep all gifts together, that way when you go to find them everything will be together.

7.    Color code
o    Assign every member of your family a particular color and get colored post-it tabs/labels to place on each gift.
o    Instead of putting the recipients’ name on the gift, put all gifts for dad in blue, mom in red, Johnny in yellow (you catch my drift).
o    It is a simply way to keep track of gifts without “giving away” the recipient.
o    This trick is especially helpful if you are an “early-wrapper so you don’t forget who is getting which present.
o    Make sure that you create a key to write down which color belongs to which person.

Planning for the holidays should be fun, but can also be stressful. Taking a few moments to plan and organize can save you hours of frustration.  Happy Holidays!!!