Thursday, November 25, 2010

To Tree or Not to Tree- That is the Question

A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I saw my first live tree on top of a car on its way to some one's home. It made me consider when or if I was going to put up my tree.
My friends and family always seem to have a discussion about this time of year about putting up a tree.
I hear comments like:
"It's just one more thing to trip over."
"I'm not going to be home for Christmas anyway."
"I don't mind putting it up but I hate the job of taking it down."
"I love my tree and I only want a real one."
"My tree is up all year in the basement. I just unwrap it and bring it up."
In spite of all the discussion, most of us do what we have always done. If we have had a tree in the past, we'll have it now.
I thought about not having a tree this year (for about 30 seconds) because I would not be here for Christmas and it is a hassle to put up alone. Then I thought, "Well, what are friends for?" and asked a girl friend to help me put up my tree. In return, I will take her out that evening for a tour of homes in Decatur.
I will be simplifying and downsizing my decorating this year. I have made my schedule for all that I plan to do for the holidays and there is only so much time. But, even though I will be gone on Christmas, I will still enjoy my tree. I love getting up in the morning and turning on the lights and having my coffee just looking at my tree. My ornaments all hold meaning for me and I love to look at them.
Do you put up a tree or trees? What makes you want or not want the tree? I would love your feedback on this debate.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Surviving the Holidaze

Thanksgiving is next week. The Holidaze season is upon us. This is the time that the calendar must become your good friend.
Make a list of all the things you are planning to do between now and New Years Eve. Your list might include items like mailing holiday cards, decorating, preparing special meals or baking, giving and/or going to a party, travel, going to plays or concerts, shopping and wrapping gifts....
Get out your calendar or planner. Use the one that has all of your regular family events on it like PTA, choir practice, sports events, doctor appointments, etc. Now block out the times for all of the things on your list. Some items like shopping, preparing and mailing holiday cards, decorating, or baking may take multiple entries. If you are planning on ordering gifts, especially some that may have to be mailed, leave plenty of time for delivery on your calendar.
Do not book that calendar solid. Allow some time to enjoy your home and your decorations. Allow some reflective and quiet time during this busy season.
If your calendar looks overwhelming, stop and think about your vision for your holidays. Are you doing some things simply because they have always been done? Are there some items on your list that can be dropped?
I would love to hear how you manage your activities over the holiday season.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Thanksgiving has in the past usually been thought of as the extended family getting together at the matriarch's house. A huge meal was prepared and devoured. Men usually then retired to the living room to watch sports on TV. The women cleaned up. Many people still do this.
However, now it seems that there are diverse ways to celebrate the day. Often families are spread across the country or even in other countries. Many families still deal with "inlaws" and "outlaws" but also we now have combined families, fragmented families, friends getting together and singles alone.
When groups do get together for Thanksgiving, the meal may not be the traditional one presented in the Norman Rockwell painting. Lasagna might be served or the meal may be vegetarian. The group may go out to a restaurant.
This year my son and I are going out to eat and to see the new Harry Potter movie.
I would be interested in how you are spending the day and what traditions you uphold.
Do you:
  • work way ahead of the date and prepare a big meal- doing most of it yourself
  • have a big meal at your house but other people bring food
  • put together a meal the day before or the morning of Thanksgiving
  • prepare a dish and take it to the place you are celebrating
  • go to a restaurant
  • ignore the food aspect of Thanksgiving
  • other
However you celebrate, it is a day to remember to give thanks for all that we are grateful for.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Storage Zone

If you are using the zone plan for organizing, November is a good time to tackle the storage zone. Since this zone might be in your attic, basement, or garage, it often is not heated or air conditioned. The weather in November is not usually really hot or really cold and so this is the best time for this job.
When you are organizing your storage space, make a list of the type of items you plan to store here. Divide your storage area into zones ( archival paper, holiday decorations, decorative items, etc.). As you place items into each zone, take time to purge. Do I have some papers stored that can now be trashed or shredded? Am I really going to use that lamp again? Are my holiday decorations still fresh and reflective of my style? Have a plan for each area and make it accessible. This is not to be just a dumping area.
When storing holiday items, it is helpful to store the items in plastic tubs or containers. Color coordination is helpful. A yellow or orange tub could hold the Halloween decorations. A brown or orange tub could be Thanksgiving. Red or green for Christmas or blue for Hanukkah. Each box should be labeled. Boxes can be labeled by what is in them- ex. tree lights, creche, advent wreath- or by room-dining room, entry way, kitchen.
If your boxes are well labeled you will only need to bring out the ones you want and not have to dig through everything to find the advent wreath the first week of advent.
If your boxes are labeled by rooms, you can bring the boxes down and put them directly into the appropriate room for unpacking.
Some homes and condos have no real storage space. In that case, the best way to store the holiday items is to find an area in each room where the items are used. Christmas towels and candles can go in a back shelf of the linen closet. Entryway decorations can go in a marked box in the hall closet. Bedroom decorations might be stored in a box under the bed. Having your decorations spread throughout your home is less convenience than having them in one place, but may be necessary with limited storage space. It might be a good idea to put together a master list of what you have and where it is stored and drop it into a file labeled "holiday decorations."

Please share the storage hints that have worked well for you.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer