By Amy Knapp
Do ahead what can be done ahead! A lot of staging and assembly can be done well ahead of the official decorating.
Try to take one or two projects per week to prepare. Start early with lists: gift to purchase, house projects, decorating, baking, and entertaining.
Keep the holiday list separate by merging them with your master weekly to do list.
Partner up with a friend! Decorating goes twice as fast and is twice as fun with help. Put the music on, and take a fresh look at your space – you may even want to swap a couple decorations with friends for a fresh look in your space.
When do the decorations go up?
The politically correct answer is whenever you want – I am not that politically correct. Some more seasonal, less holly jolly decorations can come up at Halloween, increasing through Thanksgiving!
Unless you have multiple trees (and then you and I are really just not going to agree on almost anything Christmas), do not put up your tree before Thanksgiving. Live in the moment, with honor, and enjoy the holiday you are experiencing.
Less is more in the eye of the decorator:
What goes up must come down! The problem is it is much more fun and festive to decorate, than to un-decorate. Only put up the stuff you love and has a special meaning to you or someone in your family. When you have visitors, they will admire what you have displayed.
Do NOT over schedule:
Over scheduling does not just include the party’s and family gatherings. Add in the extra grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry (I have a college student), snow shoveling (Pure Michigan), and added traffic EVERYWHERE.
Most things you do, even your regular chores and errands, are going to take 20% more time! Factor that in. If you feel you are already running a hectic pace, eliminate some commitments.
I know, I just told you to eliminate things and not over schedule, the exception to this rule is KINDNESS. The holidays are festive and fun—at times; stressful and frustrating at others; and for some just plain miserable.
Little things make a difference: open the door for a fellow shopper that has their hands full, smile at a stressed out store clerk, tip a little extra to a waitress for working hard, let a car through in backed up traffic – and do it with a smile! These are all little things that take literally seconds, but can have a huge impact on a stranger’s day.
Wrap presents as you purchase them and put them away. You won’t have to be as clever hiding them! Make sure you either label each gift or use the same wrapping paper uniquely for each person. With no names on the packages, snooping eyes won’t know which ones are theirs!
Make cookie dough ahead and freeze. It will make your baking day easier and less of a mess. If you keep some of the frozen dough, you will be able to bake some fresh cookies for unexpected guests!
The holidays are about people not things:
We can use food, decorations, and gifts to make people comfortable and appreciated. But truly, the only way to make someone feel loved is to give them your time and attention.
If you have children, do a toy sort ahead of time Get your kids involved using the “take back” rule. Put toys to donate into a box, helping your kids let go of what they do not use. As you are sorting, let your kids know that, in the end, they get to take back one toy out of the box – they will be so focused on that, they will be less reluctant to give the other toys away.
The Holiday Hangover:
The longer you put it off, the harder it is! Start the process of un-holidaying your house sooner rather than later. Call that friend you decorated with and team up to put the decorations away. Organize them by room in containers you can manage. Check with you local food pantry to see if they could use some of the leftover food and treats that you have just vowed to give up for the New Year.
The holidays are done and yo u really want to get back to your regular schedule. Your regular schedule will probably take you to some retailers that will be offering holiday related items; wrapping paper, cards, and decorations at steep discount. Allow yourself to take a peak – only buy what you love – no matter the deal! And only purchase what you can reasonably store without tipping the scales of clutter.
About the Author:
Born in Washington, Michigan, Amy relocated to Chelsea, Michigan when she was young. She attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She graduated from Western (’87) with a B. S. in Social Work.
In 1991, Amy joined forces with two other very talented women; together they formed Concept to Promotion, a specialty advertising company. Within 5 years, sales had exceeded a million dollars a year and Knapp was doing national and international promotions for large corporations headquartered in Michigan.
Six months after starting this business, Amy married her husband Dave. Now, they have two wonderful children. Complications with her daughter’s health led to her selling out of the business and staying home with the children.
Being a self-starter, Amy was disappointed with her lack of productivity and she couldn’t seem to get it going at home. Amy created what was soon to become Amy Knapp’s Family Organizer to keep track of appointments, errands, and schedules.
Amy is still a stay-at-home mom; also a soccer mom as her son begins his sports activities. For more information on Amy Knapp, make sure to check out her website at www.familyorganizer.com.