5 Simple Holiday Gifts

We live in a consumer society where the word “gift” is such a loaded question. Gift giving should not be a stressful experience. It should be something that comes from the heart and says “I’m thinking of you” and not a test of how much someone cares or loves you. This holiday season don’t worry about your gift being too modest or falling short of someone’s expectations. Why fall prey to the commercial manipulations of the holiday season? Here’s 5 simple gifts for the holidays which you can be proud of giving:

1. Gifts of your time & friendship
2. Warm cookies on a cold winter day
3. Board games to bring families together
4. A favorite book, re-wrapped to share and be treasured by others
5. A “voucher” for a home-made dinner you serve up to a friend

Push back against the blatant calls of the gift industry and don’t have your gift to someone special be found languishing at next years’ garage sale. Strive to keep it simple, pure, from one heart to another.

How will you keep this year’s holiday gift giving pure and from your heart? Let’s hear your ideas!

Knapsack & Bag Organizing

A question I’ve heard from client’s lately is how to get their handbag, satchel or knapsack organized.
The answer is to compartmentalize your stuff which not only helps you to find things easily without digging deep into your bag, but also makes it easier to change bags and move things from one to another. I recently attended the 2011 POC (Professional Organizers in Canada) Conference where I ran across an innovative organizing product called “GRID-IT!” by Cocoon Innovations. It’s an extremely versatile solution for organizing everything from digital devices, personal and household items. It consists of a woven, rubberized retention pad with endless ways to utilize it. Just place your items on the “GRID IT!pad” and drop the pad in your bag.
Grid It! organizer pad
Comes in tons of sizes and variations. Then you just pull out the pad when you need one of your items. Easy. Simple. Functional. I love it!

Pantry Organizing

We recently finished re-organizing our client’s kitchen and pantry. Many of my clients find it difficult to know where to start when re-organizing and decluttering this area of their home. For the pantry we removed every single item and placed them in categories, such as pastas, canned goods, cereals, snacks, spices, etc. We discarded those items that had expired or were no longer used. Once we saw what was left to house in the pantry, we recommended a few minor purchases that would maximize the storage space and make return and retrieval of items efficient: a graduated shelf riser as well as a couple of under shelf storage baskets were all that were needed in this instance.
Here’s a photo of the pantry before we started:
Pantry Before Organizing
And here’s how it looked when we were done:
Pantry After Organizing
Our client and their children loved the under-shelf popcorn basket!
Working on my client’s pantry has inspired me to do my own! What inspires you to get organized?

Unique Holiday Gift Ideas

With the holidays just around the corner it’s time to turn our minds to holiday gifts. Consider clutter-less gifts such as tickets to film events, certificates to restaurants, movies, weekends away, sporting events or children`s parks or recreation. How about buying your niece or nephew a 12 week gymnastics package? Or start an education fund? What are some clutter-less gifts that you will think of giving this year?

Organizing Your Photos

Everyone has family photos. Especially if you have children, you probably have tons of photos but not much time to get them organized the way you like. Life gets in the way. Here’s a few things to think about before you start. Sort backlogs of photos by collecting show boxes or plastic containers and write a year on each one. Sort photos into their correct year. This can be done in brief sessions – even twenty minutes a night will make a big difference by the end of the week. Along the way eliminate any ugly photos, blurry images and duplicates. Once the pictures are sorted by year, decide how you want to sort them further. By event? By theme? Chronologically? Then you can choose how you want to show and/or display them. You will have a better idea of what size box, album or frames you’ll need. Good luck and let me know how it’s going!

Organizing For A Conference

I’m at the POC (Professional Organizers in Canada) conference in downtown Toronto today and have to share this great tip from Laurene of Organize Me 101 for staying organized when at a conference. Firstly, gather all your conference materials in a small binder that has a plastic outer front and back insert cover that allows you to place paper inside the insert on the exterior of the binder. Then take your agenda for your conference and insert it on the exterior front binder cover so it’s easily visible and you don’t need to hunt around to find out where you’re going next. On the exterior back insert place a map of the hotel or conference centre so you’ll be able to find your way around to all the different rooms. What a great organizing idea for conference attendees! Thanks Laurene!

Organizing Your Bathroom

Often times my clients are short on bathroom space, especially cupboards and drawers to hold grooming and cosmetic supplies. A great fix for that is to purchase an over-the-door shoe organizer that has deep pockets for storage of products. The organizer can hold not only curling irons, hairdryers, brushes, etc. but also can hold shampoo bottles, hairsprays and other bathroom grooming products so you can easily see exactly what you have and be able to retrieve the items without having to bend over and knock other items over in the process of retrieval or return. If you’re on the shorter side, simply cut off the bottom half of the organizer and mount the top half on hooks at waist level so you can reach inside. Try it and let me know what you think!

Getting Organized…

Getting organized is really about forming new habits that will, undoubtedly, reduce stress & frustration and save you time and money for the things in your life that are most important to you. Change is hard. I feel this myself, especially when it comes to new technology. My husband would say I’m a “techno-phobe”, although I think I’ve grown substantially over the last two years in that regard. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I have surpassed him in terms of communication technology. Entertainment technology, not so much. I am the proud owner of a Blackberry, which I use tirelessly. Without this I would not be able to work efficiently, staying on top of everything from my emails, my contacts and research necessary to operate a successful business. I also recently acquired a new laptop for our office. With a new laptop, comes new, updated software, the switch to which can be frustrating. However, it’s well worth it when you realize the additional benefits of a faster operating system and new elements that make your “to-do” list a lot easier to manage. Why not challenge yourself, move outside your comfort zone and try something new in technology? The benefits will surprise you, organization will be your favourite word and you’ll feel great conquering something new!

Organizing Your Closets

After meeting with a few new clients today for consultations it struck me that, when it comes to closet organizing, I receive the same questions and hear the same dilemmas. Often times clients will tell me they have tried to organize their closets on many occasions only to have their attempts fail over and over again. Here’s a quick tip to start your organizing project: organize your closet when it’s at its fullest. You need to make sure that all your clothes for the season are clean, all items back from the dry-cleaners and all other items, namely, belts, bags, scarves, etc. are in your room so everything is in one place and you can see all that you have. There should be nothing in transit. This way when you begin to organize your space you will be working with all the clothes that you own. When you are make sure you have a place to put the laundry and dry cleaning.

Downsizing for Seniors

Downsizing is a tough process in and of itself. For seniors, taking the plunge is even harder. One thing to make it easier it to remove the guilt factor. Although you may feel you’re the one who has to be the keeper of all heirlooms in the family, there are other options. Perhaps there are other family members who would like some of the heirlooms you are closeting in your home, especially if you are in fact storing them as opposed to using them. In sharing with other family members you can feel secure in knowing that they really want them and will be the one to inherit them. I recently did this myself with some items that my father had given to me before he moved back to Amsterdam. I no longer had a physical place to store them, and knowing that they always have a place in my heart made it easier for me to share the items with others in the family who would be in a position to enjoy them more. And remember, the item is not the memory. The memory lives within you, not in the item itself.