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Organize for Your Winter Vacation

 

 

organize for travel

With winter here, and more of it ahead of us than behind us, I’ll bet quite a few of you are lucky enough to get away to a sunny destination. Travelling can be stressful enough with the line ups, security checks, cramped airline seats and all that goes with it. Reduce that stress by being organized before you leave.

Make a list

I drive my husband crazy with my lists and I always make a list of what to bring when we travel. This serves two purposes. organize for travelIt ensures that I bring everything I need (and no more) and stops me from having to purchase items I don’t need when I get to my destination.

Use packing aids

There are so many items that can help you take advantage of the space inside of your suitcase. I own a couple of those small packing cubes where I put socks and smaller items. In a pinch plastic grocery bags will protect your shoes. And here’s a tip – place all your liquids like shampoo and sun screen in zip lock bags. The last thing you need is these liquids spilling out during your trip. I use an undergarment bag to keep everything in great shape during arrival and it makes it so much easier to unpack at my destination.

Unpack right away

I know you want to get your vacation underway as soon as possible but take the few minutes upon arrival to unpack and get everything put away. You will feel more at home and won’t look like a wrinkled mess when you go out for dinner.

Use your electronic devices for stress free travel

I love those apps that allow me to store my boarding passes on my phone. organize for travelI no longer have to juggle things while in line to retrieve my boarding pass. You can also use your phone or other electronic devices to access the airlines entertainment system on board. Store your books on your Kobo or similar device to reduce space and weight on your trip. There are many apps as well that will track your flight to let you know when there are delays or changes to your trip.

Travel tips

When I travel, I bring a few disinfectant wipes with me to wipe down the trays, arm chairs and buttons. I know the airlines don’t do a great job at this. Bring a few snacks with you so you aren’t purchasing expensive food items on board that you normally wouldn’t eat.

Travelling can be a very stressful time but being organized and ready can take a lot of stress out of it. If you are one of the lucky ones to get away this winter have a great time and follow some of these organizing tips to make your trip less stressful and more enjoyable.

How To Stay Organized Over The Holidays

Organize during the holidays

Well, here we are just over a month before the holiday season. I know! Where did the time go? With shopping, parties, entertaining, wrapping and everything else you need to do (besides your regular work and home life) this time of year makes it difficult even impossible at times, to stay organized through the holidays period. Here are a few tips to help keep you organized and hopefully a little calmer during the holidays.

Holiday Shopping

I know a lot of you put off the holiday shopping until the last minute but try to set some time aside to get it done earlier. With all the stress that the holidays already put on you why add to it with last minute shopping? Put it in your calendar and treat it like an appointment – no changes.

Arrange a babysitter if need be or if you’re able to book an afternoon off work, even better. The shopping malls get crazy with each passing day, as you know. Last minute shopping is the perfect recipe for stress. Leaving shopping to the last minute almost guarantees that you are buying something that may end up as clutter in somebody’s home.

Many malls are now offering valet parking service for a small fee. The money goes to charity and what better way to start a nerve racking adventure than being able to pull up to the front of the mall and have your car parking looked after.

Gift Wrapping

If you haven’t already, gather all of your wrapping supplies and keep them in one place. Organize during the holidaysMake a list of what you are short of and get out to buy what you need before the selection is minimal in the stores. I created a wrapping station several years ago with all of the wrapping essentials for all occasions stored there. Everyone knows where it is and it saves time running around looking for the paper, tape, bows and everything else.

Planning The Feast

Holidays to me are all about the meal with family and friends. Sure, the gifts can be nice but there is nothing like the laughs and conversations you have around the dinner table. Make a list now of everything that you will need for dinner. Order the turkey, the ham or whatever you cook now to celebrate to ensure you have the size you need.

If wine is on your list you can expect crowds at the stores so get out there early while your favorite is still in stock and avoid the long line-ups. Don’t forget the extras like the cranberry sauce and rolls. Oh, I’m getting hungry already!

Make Room For New Gifts

Now is the time to go through the toys and your clothes and pare down what is no longer usable, appropriate of just doesn’t fit any longer.

You know family is going to spoil the kids with a lot of gifts so make room now and reduce the stress of trying to make everything fit into the same space later. Have the kids involved. It will build their excitement leading up to the big day.

The Art Of Gift Giving

I’m sure you have already given plenty of thought to what you’re going to purchase for your loved ones. Many of us anguish and plead for hints or ideas trying to give that special gift.

My children are all a bit older now so one year we purchased charity items for people in need in third world countries on behalf of each child as part of their gifts that year. School supplies for a school in need, goats for a family that would produce milk, things of that nature. They were touched by it and it got them to thinking of what the holidays are all about.

Many gifts over the holidays are returned or even worse, not used at all and end up adding to the clutter that people already have. When thinking of charities there are a few websites that track how much of your dollars actually make it where the funds are really needed. When in doubt gift cards are always appreciated and with the new consumer laws most will not have an expiry date.

The holidays can be a very stressful time for most of us but with a little bit of planning and home organization we can reduce the stress and stay organized during this time.

To learn more about how us professional home organizers in Toronto can get you ready for the holiday season there is still time. Contact us here to see how we can help. We even offer home holiday decorating services!

Are You Organized Enough For Santa?

organized for Santa

The Holiday season is coming soon! Are you ready for the mountain of new toys about to arrive in your kid’s rooms?

Now is a great time to take stock of your child’s toys to make room for the new toys that will be coming into your home and make the holidays less stressful than they already are.

Whether they have been naughty or nice, kids receive a lot of toys during the holiday season. Many toys are abandoned right after the holidays and left at the bottom of a toy box or closet as your child quickly outgrow certain toys or is so overwhelmed with the volume that they simply get frustrated.

Or it could be that the item just didn’t hold their interest. All kids have their go-to toys and many have toys that are no longer required. Here is how to get your child’s rooms organized for the toy windfall.

Broken toys

These are the easiest to deal with. We all have them. organized for SantaToys that are broken but were never dealt with at the time and now reside at the bottom of the toy box (which, by the way, is the worst way to organize and store toys). Out they go! Even those toys with critical missing parts that you think just may turn up………it’s time to discard those as well to make room for the new stuff.

Out with the old

With toddlers and younger children it’s easy to go through the toys and make the decisions yourself. You may want to separate the toys into categories and then separate those into toys you will toss, toys you will donate and toys you will store for later (visiting children, more children, special treats for sick days, etc.). Now is a great time to donate to your favourite thrift store so there are toys available to those in need.

Get the kids involved

Older kids like to be involved and will want a say in what decisions are made with their “stuff”. It’s only fair and sets a good example of respect. Have them start with choosing the toys they no longer like or play with. It often helps to separate the toys into categories and then have them pick their top 5 from each category. Explain to them that some of their toys are no longer appropriate as they have grown, and space is needed to accommodate the new toys that are sure to come their way.organized for Santa

Your children can also help to take the donations to the donation center to see what happens to them and how they have helped others. Donation centers love to receive toys before the holidays to help out those that need the toys as holiday gifts.

Plush = dust

Those plush toys are nice and there is nothing wrong with having a few on hand, but they really are dust collectors and magnets for dust mites (YUCK!). Unless you are willing to clean them at least once every couple of months, try to keep the quantity to just 4 or 5 absolute favourites for space, allergy and health reasons.

Gain some insight

As you sift through the toys and work with your kids you’re going to find out what type of toy they now like and perhaps what exact toy they would love to have. This information will come in handy when Grandma and Grandpa ask what they want or need for gifts. It should also help to reduce the number of toys they receive that they just won’t use.

Take stock of your storage

This is also a great time to determine if your child requires any additional storage space for toys or if the storage system you use is still workable for you and them. Make sure you have enough clear plastic bins to store the small toys so they don’t end up in the bottom of a toy box and never used. In fact, I recommend you discard the toy box entirely. If you insist on keeping it, then only one category of item should live in the toy box. For example, many clients use a toy box for a dress-up chest, so all the costumes live in that box.

Now is the perfect time to start paring down the toys before the chaos known as the holiday season sets in. As professional home organizers in Toronto and the York Region area, ClutterBGone and our organizing elves are ready to travel across the GTA to help you get organized for the holidays. Contact us now to learn more about how ClutterBGone can take the stress out of the holiday season.

Stay Organized During the Holidays

christmas-ornament

With everything that’s happening around the holidays it’s difficult, impossible maybe (?), to stay organized through the holiday period. Like it or not, the holidays are almost here. Is it just me, or do they start with holiday commercials right after Halloween? Here are a few tips to help keep you organized and hopefully a little calmer during the holidays.

Holiday Shopping

I know a lot of you put off the holiday shopping until the last minute (guys, I’m talking to you) but try to set some time aside to get it done earlier. Put it in your calendar and treat it like an appointment – no changes.

Arrange a babysitter if need be or if you’re able to book an afternoon off work, even better. The shopping malls get crazy with each passing day, as you know. Last minute shopping is the perfect recipe for stress over the holidays. A lot of malls are now offering valet parking service for a small fee. The money goes to charity and what better way to start a nerve racking adventure.

Gift Wrapping

If you haven’t already, gather all of your wrapping supplies and keep them in one place. Make a list of what you are short of and get out to buy what you need before the selection is minimal in the stores. I created a wrapping station several years ago with all of the wrapping essentials for all occasions stored there. Everyone knows where it is and it saves time running around looking for the paper, tape, bows and everything else.

Planning The Feast

Holidays to me are all about the meal with family and friends. Sure, the gifts can be nice but there is nothing like the laughs and conversations you have around the dinner table. Make a list now of everything that you will need for dinner. Order the turkey, the ham or whatever you cook to celebrate now to ensure you have the size you need.

christmas-dinner

If wine is on your list you can expect crowds at the stores so get out there early while your favorite is still in stock and avoid the long line-ups. Don’t forget the extras like the cranberry sauce and rolls. Oh, I’m getting hungry already!

Make Room For New Gifts

Now is the time to go through the toys or clothes of you and your kids and pare down what is no longer usable, appropriate of just doesn’t fit any longer. You know family is going to spoil the kids with a lot of gifts so make room now and reduce the stress of trying to make everything fit into the same space later. Have the kids get involved. It will build their excitement leading up to the big day.

The Art Of Gift Giving

I’m sure you have already given plenty of thought to what you’re going to purchase for your loved ones. Many of us anguish and plead for hints or ideas trying to give that special gift. My children are all a bit older now so one year we purchased charity items for people in need in third world countries on behalf of each child as part of their gifts that year. School supplies for a school in need, goats for a family that would produce milk, things of that nature.

christmas-gifts

They were touched by it and it got them to thinking of what the holidays are all about. Many items over the holidays are returned or even worse, not used at all and end up adding to the clutter that people already have. When thinking of charities there are a few websites that track how much of your dollars actually make it where the funds are really needed. When in doubt gift cards are always appreciated and with the newer consumer laws most will not have an expiry date.

The holidays can be a very stressful time for most of us but with a little bit of planning we can reduce the stress and stay organized during this time. If you need assistance in getting ready for the holiday season there is still time. Contact us here to see how we can help.

How To Stay Calm and Stay Organized During the Holidays

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner. Each year they seem to come quicker and quicker. Right after Halloween we start to get bombarded with holiday commercials and you’ve probably noticed that the local paper is a few pounds heavier with the holiday flyers. Here are a few ideas to help stay calm and organized during the holidays.

Holiday Shopping

I know a lot of you put off the holiday shopping until the last minute (guys, I’m talking to you) but try to set some time aside to get it done earlier.

Holiday-Shopping-Tips-e1341181827937Put it in your calendar and treat it like an appointment – no changes. Arrange a babysitter if need be or if you’re able to book an afternoon off work, even better. The shopping malls get crazy with each passing day, as you know. Last minute shopping is the perfect recipe for stress over the holidays.

Gift Wrapping

If you haven’t already, gather all of your wrapping supplies and keep them in one place. Make a list of what you are short of and get out to buy what you need before the selection is minimal in the stores. A basket or even a box will do to hold the tape, ribbons, bows, etc. that you will need.

II use an old cookie tin for bows to keep them from being flattened. Gently tie all of your rolls of wrapping paper together. Prepare a ‘wrapping station’ somewhere in the house and bring all of the gifts to this area for wrapping. Everyone will know where the station is and you will not have to hunt down the supplies when other people wrap gifts.

Planning The Feast

Holidays to me are all about the meal with family and friends. Sure, the gifts can be nice but there is nothing like the laughs and conversations you have around the dinner table.

Holiday mealMake a list now of everything that you will need for dinner. Order the turkey, the ham or whatever you cook to celebrate now to ensure you have the size you need.

If wine is on your list you can expect crowds at the stores so get out there early while your favourite is still in stock and avoid the long line-ups. Don’t forget the extras like the cranberry sauce and rolls. Oh, I’m getting hungry already.

Make Room For New Gifts

Now is the time to go through the toys or clothes of your kids and pare down what is no longer usable, appropriate of just doesn’t fit any longer. You know family is going to spoil the kids with a lot of gifts so make room now and reduce the stress of trying to make everything fit into the same space later. Have the kids get involved. It will build their excitement leading up to the big day.

The Art Of Gift Giving

I’m sure you have already given plenty of thought to what you’re going to purchase for your loved ones.

gift-givingMany of us anguish and plead for hints or ideas trying to give that special gift. My children are all a bit older now so one year we purchased charity items for people in need in third world countries on behalf of each child as part of their gifts that year. School supplies for a school in need, goats for a family that would produce milk, things of that nature.

They were touched by it and it got them to thinking of what the holidays are all about. Many items over the holidays are returned or even worse, not used at all and end up adding to the clutter that people already have. When in doubt gift cards are always appreciated and with the newer consumer laws most will not have an expiry date.

The holidays can be a very stressful time for most of us but with a little bit of planning we can reduce the stress and stay organized during this time. If you need assistance in getting ready for the holiday season there is still time. Contact us here to see how we can help.

Ideas for Clutter-free Gifts

Christmas presents piled underneath a christmas tree.

Getting close to the holiday gift giving season I thought this was a great time to remind everyone that you can express your love and appreciation for friends and family without giving “stuff”.

I remember many years ago we would see these huge piles of gifts at our family gatherings, sometimes spanning several feet out from the tree.

Generosity is great, but it was ridiculous to see the amount of gifts that people were receiving. I was just as guilty as everyone else in falling prey to the commercialism of the season. Plus, I’m sure many of you have received gifts that you don’t really like but felt obligated to keep and store, hidden away in some closet. So why not provide a clutter free gift this season?

One type of clutter free gift is a donation to charity in that person’s name which helps those less fortunate. There are a number of great causes out there but recently I’ve come across plangifts.ca. With this charity you can purchase, in the name of your giftee, anything from 3 baby chicks (for only $15.00!), a goat or a bunch of mango trees which will provide food and sustenance to a struggling family in a third world country, to clean drinking water or mosquito netting to prevent malaria.

What’s great about this is that in many cases the donation dollars are matched and or hugely exceeded so your dollars actually are multiplied extensively. And, your giftee will receive a personalized card telling them about the purchase made in their name. I urge you all this holiday season to consider a gift from your heart and help those less fortunate.

There are many other charitable options as well, all in different price points.

A gift of an experience is another option and can be one of the greatest gifts of all.  The giftee gets to keep the memory of the experience forever in their hearts. The possibilities are endless and can include event tickets, pre-paid lessons, travel experiences, restaurant gift cards and so much more.

It will make you and the recipient all feel wonderful!

Christmas presents piled underneath a christmas tree.

Christmas presents piled underneath a christmas tree.

Enjoy the holidays and create memories for life.

Organizing & Storing Holiday Decorations

Now that the holidays are over and we leave the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season behind us it’s time to turn our minds to storing and organizing those holiday decorations. In order to make it easier for you next year it makes sense to get all the ornaments and holiday accessories stored in an orderly fashion and all in one place.  There’s nothing worse than rummaging through bins and boxes trying to remember where you stored your lights, ornaments and decorations for the season.

With that in mind, here are some easy tips you can use for storing your holiday ornaments and decorations.

I find it very helpful to use bins that are colour coded to help distinguish the box for Christmas from the box for Halloween or Easter decorations.  Stores typically carry a variety of colours now so it’s pretty easy to get colour coded bins.  Green and red bins for Christmas, orange for Halloween and maybe yellow for Easter.

It’s always important to label all sides of the bin as well as the top so that it’s easy to read what is inside. Also make sure the writing on the label is large enough for you to read if you keep your bins up high.

One of my clients told me that she hates it when bins are stacked on top of each other because that means she has to physically move one or more to get to the one on the bottom.  This makes perfect sense.  That’s why I recommend storing bins on a shelving unit to keep them separate and easy to retrieve as well as return.

One very important tip is to ensure that your container is waterproof, especially if it’s kept in the garage or basement where moisture can be a problem.  Pests can also get into some bins so make sure the lid is tight and preferably one that has a lock over mechanism.

Before you store everything away take a review of all the items you have.  There may be decorations you no longer like, don’t use or are broken.  There is no sense in storing these things taking up valuable space when they are either not needed or really wanted.  Throw them away or donate.

You may find you have feelings of sentimentality towards certain items.  Perhaps you are keeping them for your children or they are heirlooms from past holidays handed down through the generations.  Be sure to clearly mark and store these with bubble wrap so they stay safe and intact. If these are ones that you typically do not display at all, make sure you keep them in an out of the way location from the rest of the holiday decorations.

Many stores carry organizing containers specifically for ornaments, wreaths, lights and even artificial trees. For trees specifically you can purchase either a tree bag made of sturdy fabric with handles with or without wheels, or you can purchase a tree bin which typically holds up to 8 foot trees.  Many can be found and ordered on-line as well so performing a Google search will give you lots of options to choose from.

We all know the holidays can be a very hectic time of year.  Take care and effort now in storing your holiday decorations so it’s more effortless and enjoyable next year.

Regift And Recycle

Here’s a word that, for many people, makes them cringe:  “re gifting”.  In my opinion re gifting is great!  Not only for the planet but also for your own home organization.  Lets face it.  Sometimes, with the gift giver’s best of intentions, we receive something that just does not fit with our home or personal  style. Or, maybe we just don’t really need another one of something.  That’s ok.  Think of the gift as the actual thought that the person has in giving something to you, rather than the item itself. And certainly the person giving you a gift would not wish for you to be burdened by that gift, feeling guilty about shelving it and only bringing it out for display when the gift giver is around.

I personally have worked with many clients who do just this. What I suggest is to create a “Re gifting Centre” in your home.  So scout around and find a place in your home to create this space.  It can be a special closet or shelf, a large bin or a drawer in your bedroom or office. Don’t forget to label the item so that you do not mistakenly re gift it to the original gift giver!  Trust me.  I’ve done this.  Well, actually it was my husband, but that’s not important.  It’s definitely a faux pas . You may also come across new items in your home that you have never used and will never use.  These can also go into the regifting centre or dropped off at your local donation centre.    So give yourself permission to re gift.  Not only does this serve you well, but also serves others and the planet  too. Tell me what your regifting ideas are and how you manage this process.

Holiday Gift Wrapping

How many of you out there will be furiously wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve? The time it takes to wrap holidays gifts is often under estimated and can cause a great deal of stress. Especially if your supplies are scattered throughout your home and you already feel frazzled. frazzled Now’s the time to set up a gift wrapping station. A space you dedicate for preparing packages and wrapping gifts in ease and in privacy. Perhaps it will be on the workbench in your basement or utility room, or the desk in your home office? Or maybe on the floor in your bedroom or at your kitchen table? But before you can start you need all supplies at hand. Then it’s super easy to wrap and enjoy this task. One way to keep all supplies at hand is to have a clear plastic/resin, four or five drawer rolling cart with deep drawers. Canadian Tire is one place to find these fairly inexpensively. Keep tape, scissors, stamps, and other wrapping tools in the top drawer, ribbons and bows in the next, flat pieces of wrapping paper & remnant paper in third drawer, gifts boxes and gift bags in the fourth and fifth drawers. Wrapping paper can be corralled in an old crock pot or an umbrella stand.
Also, before you go out and purchase gift wrapping supplies, check out your own home first. Often times we forget that we bought supplies at last years’ post holiday sales. So enjoy wrapping your gifts this year and take some of the stress out of this holiday season.

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!