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Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Well now that the holiday season is official over, Lifestyles of the Organized will return to regular posting once again. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

What have I been up to? Well, my husband and I traveled 1,000 miles by car to celebrate 5 different Christmases with family and friends this year! It was hectic, but worth it. I’ve also been writing articles for eHow, I started selling homemade photo art greeting cards, my dormant Sophrolaeliocattleya orchid finally bloomed after 2 years, and I got a new cell phone. Did you get all that? Here’s one more: last night I bought 63 candy canes to satisfy my candy cane addiction. And that is what I would like to talk about today.

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Cashing in on post-holiday deal bonanzas

My husband and I hit up Walgreens last night with the very purpose in mind to score awesome post-holiday deals on Christmas merchandise. Everything was marked at least 75% off and I expect that number to go up even more in the coming days. In fact, a lucky shopper posted to a Slickdeals forum thread yesterday that they landed 97% off wrapping paper (5 cents a roll!) at their local Walgreens.

Here’s what we bought:

  • 4 packages of candy canes (63 total candy canes) – $.25 for each package ($1.00 total)
  • 2 sets of 100-count white Christmas lights – $.99 each ($1.98 total)
  • 1 tree topper lighted star – $1.49

We didn’t end up buying a HUGE amount of stuff (clutter control!), but we definitely cashed in on some excellent deals. The best deal was the tree topper—we’ve been keeping our eyes open for a good topper for 3 Christmases now and we finally have one, at a super price. And although we didn’t need a fake Christmas tree, we were impressed that 6-foot fully lighted trees were selling for $5.00!

So get out there and shop the Christmas merchandise aisles before stores get rid of it all and move on to the next holiday, Valentine’s Day. Keep an eye out for wrapping paper, tags, ribbons, bows, candy, candles, tree skirts, stockings, fake Christmas trees, wreaths, stationary, greeting cards, ornaments, and much more! You’ll have to wait 11 months to use what you buy, but you can’t beat the prices!!

Reader Reflection

Have you scored any amazing post-Christmas deals you’d like to share?

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Today’s post marks the conclusion of the fun series I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas.  For the final installment I’d like to explore creative gift ideas that tap into services we can offer to others.  Last week we talked about using our words effectively to tell someone how much we care about them. This week we’ll look at how we accomplish the same goal, but through serving instead of saying. Not only does serving others really get at the heart of Christmas, but offering our services is an excellent last-minute homemade gift option (remember, Christmas is only a week away!).

Brainstorming ideas about how you can offer your services

Everyone has a service they can offer someone.  What’s yours?  Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Offer to shovel your neighbor’s snow
  • Offer to cook meals for someone who is sick
  • Offer to cook meals for someone who just had a baby
  • Offer to take an elderly person grocery shopping
  • Offer to clean someone’s housewalk-dog
  • Offer to do someone’s laundry
  • Offer to do someone’s dishes
  • Offer to take a friend out to a restaurant
  • Offer to babysit someone’s children
  • Offer to take care of someone’s home while they are traveling
  • Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog
  • Offer to give a loved one a massage or other special service

Brainstorming ideas about how to present your services in gift form

  • Write a letter describing your proposed service(s)
  • Explain your service in a creative Christmas card
  • Create special redeemable coupons for each offered service

An example of a homemade gift using services

There are really endless ways you can serve another person. I encourage you to run through in your mind all the people in your life and see if you can think of a way you could meet one of their needs by offering them your services this Christmas. And as I said above, since Christmas is only a week away, consider making a homemade service gift instead of tearing your hair out trying to buy a last-minute gift at the crowded mall.

Two years ago my Grandmother was remarking to me that she could no longer clean very effectively in her house due to her ailments. She specifically mentioned that she would love to clean her nice dishes set, but she could not reach the shelves safely, nor did she have the energy to thoroughly clean all those dishes anyway. This gave me an idea. I decided I wanted to help and Christmas was coming, so I described my proposed service in a special Christmas card that year. She was happy to oblige and the next time my husband and I visited, we spent the afternoon cleaning all her dishes. She was very thankful and a burden had been lifted.  That homemade gift was a success!

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using your services? Feel free to share any ideas here.

A Look Back

Today’s installment of I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas marks the end of this series.  I hope you were able to benefit from it and think of creative ideas for homemade gifts this Christmas.   Feel free to take a look back at each week’s homemade gift idea topic: photos, arts & crafts, plants, food, words, and services (today).

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With only 22 days until Christmas, if you haven’t started decorating your house yet then I imagine you will soon. Whether you go all out and really deck the halls or just keep it simple and put up a small tree, there are several ways you can help reduce stress and better organize your time and space when it comes to decorating. Today I’d love to offer eight easy tips to help you survive and hopefully even enjoy this year’s Christmas decorating adventure.

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1. Chip away at it little by little

There’s no reason to put up every last decoration you have in one sitting. That could be really overwhelming! Take a few minutes here or a few hours there and before you know it, you’ll have it all done, but without taking up such giant and inconvenient blocks of your time.

2. Involve family

Not only will you enjoy the process better, but you’ll probably get it all done faster if you make decorating a family affair. Invite your spouse or the kids to help you decorate and cherish the quality time you’ll get to spend together.

chrstimas-cookies

3. Make it festive

Do you find decorating a bit boring? Help yourself have more fun by playing festive music, setting out fun Christmas treats, or playing games.

4. Consider clutter

There’s a difference between really tasteful decorating and just plain cluttered decorating. Ask yourself, your family, or your friends to be honest about it. Cut back on your decorations if they detract more than they add to your home.

5. Evaluate your attitude

If thinking about decorating your home for Christmas just makes you want to pull your hair out, then maybe you have too many decorations or you have set your goals too high. You don’t want decorating to cause you stress.

6. Don’t use every last decoration

Perhaps you are particularly short on time or space this year. Or maybe you like the idea of rotating your decorations on a cycle so you have different things out each season without having to buy anything new. No matter your reason, it’s okay to not put everything out.

7. Keep in mind that everything you put out now has to be taken down later

Most people like the decorating process much more than the undecorating process. Knowing what’s ahead, you should be sure to consider carefully how much you decorate.

8. Safety first

Last but not least, keep safety in the front of your mind at all times. Don’t risk your life hanging treacherous Christmas lights on the front of your house during a blizzard and be careful not to create any fire hazards with your indoor decorations. It’s all common sense, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook.

Reader Reflection

Have you decorated your home yet for Christmas? Do you have any tips or special traditions you’d like to share?

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With only 34 days until December 25, it’s probably good to start thinking about what you might want for Christmas. Yes, that’s right, I said YOU. I’m not trying to sound selfish or anything, because in my opinion Christmas should be more about giving than receiving. christmas-presents However, we’ve all been asked some time or another, “What do YOU want for Christmas?” and we’re no help if we don’t have a good answer.

With weddings or baby showers, there are convenient gift registries we can use to help our friends and families find a gift for us that we desire. After my husband and I used Amazon’s gift registry for our wedding, I wasn’t quite ready to leave it behind. I loved the concept! The first Christmas after we got married, his parents wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. Then my parents wanted to know. Then my brother needed ideas. You can see where this is going. But Amazon’s registry, although great for our wedding, wasn’t exactly the perfect fit for my Christmas wish list.

Registries through specific companies or stores are inherently restrictive because you can only register for their products and your friends and family are forced to buy that product only through that store. Enter Kaboodle, a catch-all sort of gift wish list in which you can “collect information from anywhere on the web [and] put it into a Kaboodle list that you can share with others.” No restrictions, anything goes. That’s why I’ve used Kaboodle for my Christmas wish list for the last 2 years. And I’d like to share with you today why I love it.

klogo

Here’s the deal

Like any gift registry, you simply create an account and start a new list. But the unique thing about Kaboodle is that you can add products from anywhere on the web! kaboodle-siteWhen you sign up for an account, you have the option to get some handy Kaboodle buttons to add to your browser so that whenever you encounter something you are interested in, you can easily add it to your list by pressing that button. Once the product is added, you can describe it or leave any comments or notes for your friends or family to read. Your list has a unique URL that you can share with others. When someone visits your list, they may decide to ‘reserve’ one of your items. You can choose a setting that prevents you from seeing whether a product has been reserved or not, leaving some element of surprise. After someone reserves an item, they have the freedom to buy the item from anywhere they want, online or offline, including the store you originally found it in. The only thing Kaboodle does after this point is remove that item from the list so that others will not buy it as well. Easy as pie!

Pros

  • Interface is easy to use
  • Service is free
  • Community feature: people you know can create lists too and add you as a ‘friend’
  • You can add products from anywhere on the web (highly flexible)
  • People can buy your desired gifts from anywhere they want (better chance to find the best price)
  • Option to keep reservation status a secret
  • In addition to adding actual products from real stores, you can add ‘generic’ items like, “I want a chain saw”
  • You can use Kaboodle for more than just wish lists, like collecting favorite restaurants or showing off your collection of designer purses

Cons

  • Every so often (pretty infrequently) adding a product doesn’t always work right the first time (title or picture is wrong, or it’s altogether the wrong item)

Help your loved ones save time and money when they buy you gifts this holiday season

The reason I love Kaboodle from an organizational perspective is because of how easy it is to make a comprehensive, flexible list that offers people the chance to shop for the best price they can find. Plus, you can keep your Kaboodle list all year long and add stuff whenever you see it! No more last-minute ideas for you to come up with and no more last-minute frustrated shopping for your loved ones. I give Kaboodle a thumbs up!!

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Christmas is in less than 3 months. Let me repeat that: less than 3 months. I’m not trying to give you a heart attack. I actually want to help you prevent a heart attack by providing a tip to promote a more relaxed holiday shopping season this year.

Who likes to shop on December 24?

I’ve been there, perhaps you’ve been there. Waiting until the very last minute might land you some amazing deals, but at the same time this common practice can also create immense amounts of stress and diminish your enjoyment of this fun holiday. A few years ago I decided to change my approach to Christmas shopping. You’re not quite ready to start thinking about Christmas, you say? Let’s just enjoy Autumn for a while? That does sound nice. But I ask you to consider these simple steps I’ve outlined below, because they might just help your Christmas be a little merrier this year.

  • Make a list. Around this time of the year (mid-autumn), I grab a piece of paper and make a list. It doesn’t have to be anything complex, and it doesn’t even have to contain any gift ideas right away. It just needs to include the name of every person you want to buy a gift for this Christmas.
  • Store the list in a visible place. Leave it on your desk, put it on your nightstand, or stick it you your refrigerator. Look at the list as you go about your day. This will serve to remind you of people on your list and keep their names fresh in your mind.
  • Add ideas to the list as they come to you. Whenever ANY sort of idea pops into your head, write it down on your list. Perhaps you saw a product on TV you thought your brother might like. Maybe you had a passing idea about a homemade gift you could create for your mom. Perhaps you saw your friend’s children playing with toys that you know your kids would love. Write everything down.
  • Whenever you shop, bring the list. Whether you shop at stores downtown or on the Internet, always bring the list with you, either in your mind or right in your pocket. You never know when you’ll see one of the ideas you already wrote down and have the opportunity to purchase it early (and maybe even on sale!). Furthermore, you might get additional ideas as you’re walking past endless gift possibilities down each aisle.

So what exactly is the ultimate goal?

If it isn’t clear by now, the goal of this practice is to be able to chip away at your list little by little, simply while you’re going about your normal daily activities. And when it comes time to officially go Christmas shopping, ideally you’ll only have a few things to buy and at least you will have ideas. The worst thing is to walk into a store with absolutely no clue what to buy a person. You’ll end up buying a gift just for the sake of buying a gift, and that is not really the point of gift giving. Allow yourself time to plan ahead and brainstorm creative ideas, and you’ll not only end up with a less stressful shopping experience, but you’ll buy better gifts!

The definition of an over-achiever

If you really want to be prepared for Christmas shopping, consider keeping a list all year round. Anytime an idea comes, put it on the list. And if space allows, buy Christmas gifts in July, even April—you’ll be so happy you did when December rolls around! I like to browse art fairs in summer or souvenir shops on vacation because there are always unique gift opportunities in those types of places. While this approach won’t work for everyone, it just might work for you and it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

Go Digital

Are you trying to eliminate clutter or perhaps you are afraid you’ll lose your list if you just leave it lying around? Make the list on your computer. You’ll be able to edit it more easily, keep it more secret, and it won’t take up any of your precious space.

Reader Reflection

Do you have any creative ways to better prepare for Christmas shopping? Please share!

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