• Nancy

Pre-Holiday Organizing

It's that time of year again, November. Time for most of us to turn our minds to preparing for the holidays. We celebrate Christmas in our family and I thought I would share some of what I've been doing to get ready for the season.

I like a real tree that's a bit on the smaller side, with mostly homemade decorations. Here's our tree from two years ago.

1. Shop less and shop early.

I LOVE Christmas, and I love kids toys. It is really hard for me to keep it to a minimum when it comes to buying for my kids, who are 5 and 3 and just love toys too (I'm not sure where they get it from)! I have made a real effort this year to be conscious of what I bought for them and how much. My mom loves to shop for the kids too and she usually buys them their main present. They wanted power wheels this year for Christmas, which are (I think) pretty expensive. I convinced my mom to let me buy them used. I sourced the ones they had on their wish list from Facebook Marketplace in October. They were a quarter of the price and they will work great for the short time that they use them. A small Christmas win! I already told the kids that sometime Santa recycles toys to keep them from the landfill. He takes toys that kids have used and fixes them up and puts them back in his sack to be responsible for the environment. I hope this helps them to expect some used toys this year (we will see how it goes!).

A couple of years ago, I made a decision to have the vast majority of my shopping done early, which is for me, by November 1st. I start to pick up a few things for the kids when I see sales in September and finish in October. I don't find that the Black Friday sales are that great anymore and I don't feel that I'm missing out on much by shopping early, other than crowded malls. I love using December for decorating and visiting with friends, rather than running around or ordering online.

2. Think about storage for new purchases before you buy.

If you bought your kids new toys, where are you going to put them? It's a good idea to have somewhere to store the items you buy for your children and for anyone else. I had to clear out a huge closet in the basement to store the power wheels until Christmas, which took some rearranging. I also bought some containers for the new building blocks, so those items will have a place to go on Boxing Day.

If you are buying for people outside your own home, consider if they will have somewhere to put the stuff. We are all overburdened with TOO MUCH STUFF! Before you buy, consider if the person Needs it, will Use it or will Love it (NUL). If not, maybe a practical gift certificate is the way to go? Or even a handmade card? We don't need more crap to put in the landfill or to clutter or homes right?

3. Get creative with your digital photos.

Because many of us are fortunate to have too much, personalized gifts are often more appreciated. This is especially true for the seniors in our lives, but even for kids. Shopping early allows you to have time to create personalized gifts. There are so many opportunities now to turn your digital photos into inexpensive personalized gifts.

A couple of fun ideas for your digital photos that make great gifts:

- Walmart's Photocentre has inexpensive (and more importantly easy) photo books for under $5. I used this option to create a quick book of my daughter's art work. I tuck one in her stocking and give a copy to my mom and to me for a keep sake. I also ordered some coasters for gift giving featuring my daughter's art work.

- Photobook Canada is another place I have used to order photobooks as gifts. This option takes a lot more time however, but the end result is worth it. Groupon always feature deep discounts for this site.

4. Do a pre-Christmas purge.

Unless you are a true minimalist, most of us will leave the holiday season with more stuff than we entered into it, unless you do a pre-Christmas purge. November is a great time to clean out. That includes cleaning out food storage areas (fridge, freezer, and your pantry/cupboards) to make room for extra goodies that will come your way.

Now I have to make room in the garage for two power wheels! Let us know what you are doing to prepare for the holiday madness. Merry Christmas everyone and happy organizing.