- HARRIET SCHECHTER
Orderly approach can reduce seasonal stress
holidays are a time of gift giving, parties, family gatherings — and
stress. Finding the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, sending out
dozens of cards, attending eight parties in four weeks, all while trying
to get your home ready for relatives, can leave you in less-than-cheery
Fortunately, it’s now easier than
ever to sidestep the most common chaos culprits and keep your household
running smoothly during the busiest times.
Here are five ways to reduce chaos,
control clutter and help you enjoy hassle-free holidays.
1. Streamline season’s greetings
Tired of spending too many hours
writing, addressing, stamping and sealing cards? Consider using e-mail
for holiday greetings — it saves time, money and trees, and also
eliminates card clutter. Web sites such as BlueMountain.com
offer a nice selection of e-cards, and many are free.
• Tip: If e-mailing doesn’t suit
you, try using holiday postcards instead of greeting cards. It will cut
your card-sending time, effort and expenses in half.
2. Control catalog clutter
Holiday season means catalog season —
and catalog clutter. Limit the number of catalogs you feel comfortable
stockpiling (10? 20? 100?) and choose a convenient place to keep them
•Tip: Catalogs stored in upright
magazine holders (available at office supply stores) look neat and are
easier to access. Keep highlighters and Post-it Flags handy for marking
items of interest. (Note: There’s even a new product, the Post-it
Highlighter Pen, which combines a highlighter with Post-it Flags.)
3. Escape the wrap trap
Bogged down by odds ’n’ ends of
reused wrapping paper and rumpled ribbons? Don’t waste time trying to
iron out wrinkled paper and repair squished bows. Throw out
tired-looking gift wrap —fresh supplies save time and effort and make
gifts look more festive. And why not use gift bags instead of
time-consuming gift wrapping? They come in an almost infinite number of
sizes, colors and patterns, and are available at many discount stores.
• Tip: Keep rolls of gift wrap in
good condition by storing them upright in a cylindrical plastic
wastebasket or in a gift-wrap organizer (sold in stores that carry
4. Present tense no more
Wracking your brain for gift ideas
often takes more time and effort than wrapping the gifts. Save your mind
and energy by keeping a “Gifts & Wishes” file with notes,
catalog pages and “wish lists” for yourself and others year-round.
• Tip: Consider giving gift
certificates for services as well as products. They’re available for
virtually every type of service from housecleaning to massage.
5. Simplify your decorations
Holiday decorations can be lovely but
time-consuming and clutter-producing, so limit your decorations to
whatever brings you the most joy. If decorating has lost its appeal and
become “work,” consider adopting a simpler tradition.
• Tip: Organize holiday
decorations in stackable, moisture-proof plastic containers with
dividers for easy categorizing (available at many discount department
stores). Use transparent containers so you can see the contents easily;
otherwise, be sure to label them clearly.
SCHECHTER is founder of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and
author of three books, including “Let Go of Clutter.” Her online
advice column is at www.MiracleOrganizing.com.