And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Prepping for the Holidays

How do you prep your family for the holidays? In particular I feel like Christmas needs extra pre-prep. There are decorations to put up, gifts to wrap, and you have to make space for all those new items coming into the house.

As I shared in my Cleaning Up series, I believe organization is the key. Don't put off the organizing until later. It's easy to say "I will organize those decorations when we put them away for the season" or "I will go through the kids clothes and toys after we see what they get for Christmas." I find that those times never come. I get wrapped up in the next semester of school or new activities for the year and forget all about all those organizing promises I made to myself.

Instead start now a little at a time to get the organization ball rolling.

1. Make sure you have enough big plastic bins or containers to store all those Christmas decorations and designate one area in your attic, garage, or closet to keep all of those bins. I label bins with a marker and re-use the same one for the items each year. For example: Christmas lights, Living Room decor, Tree decorations, Kitchen decor, etc. That way when you pull them out next year you can take them right to the space where you need them.

2. Inside those big bins group together smaller items. Put extra tree hangers in a plastic bag. Keep the wreath hanger with the wreath or other door decorations. Put all the name tags, bows, tape, etc in one bin. When you hit the after Christmas sales go ahead and put those new items in with like items. If you know you will need to buy more of something next year make a list and place it in or on one of those Christmas bins.

3. Go through the kid's clothes (again because hopefully you did this as you pulled out the fall/ winter wardrobes) and pull out any items that are too worn, too small, too big (put away for next season/ year), or that your child just won't wear. Donate them or put them in a place with items that need to be sold. It is getting harder to find places that will accept used clothing and toys but you may be able to find a local charity that will take them. A good place to sale used items is in a spring yard sale or an online sale group. These can often be found on social media.

4. Go through your child's room. Now is the time to throw away trash (Apple seems to hoard trash, anyone else have a kid that does this?), weed out unused, neglected items, and get rid of toys that are no longer age appropriate or are broken. With Speedy we have to do this in stages. He isn't big on getting rid of toys. Usually we go through his toy box and then a few weeks later we do it again. Otherwise he will hold on to everything. Apple never has much trouble parting with her items (only her trash). Remind your child that Christmas is coming and they need room for new sketchpads, books, toys, etc.

5. Now is also a great time to take a look at the outside toys. Do they still ride that scooter, play on that swingset, use those balls? If not or if some items are going to be replaced go ahead and throw away, donate, or add to your sale pile. Make a special place to store all those outdoor toys too. It can be as simple as a corner of the garage or in our case a spot under the patio to keep them. Use a plastic container or bin for smaller items like balls, frisbees, etc.

6. Now make sure to go through your own items as well. Take a look at your clothes and discard any that you don't use. Now is a great time to evaluate your shoes and handbags too. We all have some that we don't use. Throw out all those old socks with holes in them or repurpose them for dust rags.

7. Make sure your bathroom is stocked for company. Keep a few unused, unopened toothbrushes on hand and keep extra soap, shampoo, toilet paper, and paper towels on hand. Now is the time to check your cleaning supplies so you aren't searching for all purpose cleaner on Christmas Eve.

8. The hardest area for me to let things go are kitchen items. I use them all! However I usually get at least a new item or two for the kitchen for Christmas so it is a good time to declutter a few items. It's also a great time to check your cabinets and fridge for outdated food items that can go in the trash. Also I usually make room for my Christmas dishes by packing away a few of my regular items in the bin that I take the Christmas dishes from. Then when I put them away for the year I can pull back out the regular items.

Now obviously you don't have to do all of these in one day (unless you have a day or two extra off of work). Most of these can be accomplished in an hour or less. Set aside a few evenings to work through these this month and you will be much happier come the end of the year. You will also reap the rewards of this work next December!

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