Archive for December 2009

Do a brain dump!

December 17, 2009

Okay, I have received several phone calls today from friends, clients, and family asking me how they could possibly get it all done before Christmas.  The crunch is on, and everyone is feeling it; even me!  I spoke with some of the people who called, sent some an e-mail, and left messages for others.  I told them all the same thing: do a brain dump!  Interested?  Read below:

  • Grab a pen and piece of paper
  • Start listing EVERYTHING you feel you have to do between now and December 25th; however many items that may be
  • Look it over and really read through your list
  • Prioritize your list.  Put a #1 next to the items that you need to accomplish tomorrow, then put a #2 by the things that must be completed the following day, and so on. 

This works for two reasons: it allows you to clear your head of all the things you are struggling to remember, plus it allows you to focus one day at a time, which results in much less stress.  Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you have to share~

Cross it off the list!

December 14, 2009

I crossed off some stuff from my weekend list!  It is a good feeling to start a new week with some things finished.  If Christmas came tomorrow, I would be in pretty good shape.  I have the Christmas ham, and some desserts baked and in the freezer.  My linens are at the dry cleaners being pressed, (I launder my own, and then drop them at the cleaners; really inexpensive and a time saver), and the decorations are up both inside and out. 

This week, I will buy the last few gifts while the boys are still in school.  My goal is to have finished up ALL shopping by December 18th!  I do NOT want to do any shopping the following week when they are home on break.  I still have to wrap the presents, stuff the envelopes with our holiday card, and bake cookies for neighbors and for the San Antonio Fire Department.  The rest will either work out, or not get done.  It is all okay with me.  This season is short; why spend it stressing?

I have learned so much about myself, and my expectations over the years.  I like to think that the cliché, “with age comes wisdom” is actually ringing true for me.  I used to stress out over every single detail for the entire month, and then I would be exhausted by the December 24th.  I wanted to crawl into bed just as people were arriving for the holiday festivities.  How much fun was I?  None! 

Think about it…

Well, there is always tomorrow…

December 7, 2009

That is what I told my eldest son tonight, who stayed home from school today, recuperating from a stomach bug.  He was trying to get a good start to his book report that is due next week, (at my urging).  When he sat down to start on it, he remembered he had not quite finished the book yet…

So, off he went to read in his bedroom, where he did finish it up.  Once dinner and the other nightly routines were completed, it was time for bed.  He was upset that he did not get more done, so I told him “there is always tomorrow”.  I assured him that there would be time after school, and how it would go a bit more quickly, now that he had all the information he needed.  

As I sit here typing this, I am thinking that I did not get everything done today either, partly because I was taking care of him, and having fun playing Battleship.  Much more important anyway.  A few years ago, an uncompleted list of “to do’s” would have really bothered me, almost to the point where I could not sleep.  With age comes wisdom, right?  Now, I will just finish it up tomorrow; no big deal.

Are you makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice?

December 5, 2009

I have always loved making lists, as far back as high school actually.  Now I know that not every one loves to make lists; in fact there may be some of you reading this who don’t even make grocery lists out.  Well, if the holiday season makes you feel like you are forgetful and that you and your family are just too busy with the parties, the shopping, and the spending, then here is my challenge for you; think about making a list for the holiday season.  You may feel surprised at the sense of accomplishment that you can both see and feel.  To get you started, I will share my holiday “to do” lists here for the entire month of December.

Weekend of December 5th

  • Finish decorating the christmas tree with family
  • Update my address list to prepare for mailing out cards
  • Decide upon picture for our holiday card
  • Get copies made of card
  • Make grocery list of cookie in gredients for baking

How my holidays have become less stressful

December 3, 2009

I think back to the years of 1999-2006 and the wine party my husband and I hosted each December.  It really became the catalyst in thinking that I must “do all”, and do it all perfectly the entire month of December during those years.  Each year, our party would grow more elaborate.  We started our invitations around Halloween, since each was handmade and had to be hand delivered most years, due to the size, shape & complexity of them.  That right there gives you a big clue as to how we rolled with this event.  Nuts!  What makes it even crazier, is that for some reason, we decided that this annual event would begin when our first son was only 16 months old; what were we thinking?

Well, the event grew to over 100 guests, with some form of live entertainment, and a spread of food that I had prepared on my own for days.  We would go all out, and the guests all voted on the favorite red wine, favorite white wine, and prizes were awarded.  I was always ready to crawl into bed around 9pm that evening, and the party had just begun.  When I woke up the next day, I never knew how I would muster up the energy to put on the Christmas holiday a few weeks later, since I had not even really begun planning that yet.  Enough was enough!

The past few years, I have reminded myself to gain control of the things that matter by paring it all down.  See my list of reminders below:

  • To put up only the decorations that we really love and that hold special meaning to our family
  • I edit the everyday items as the special things are unboxed.  I store the every day glasses and lunch sized plates in exchange for our reindeer juice glasses, and holiday plates.
  • Send cards only to those that we do not see over the course of a year
  • Not to get wrapped up in the shopping and gift giving; it is all about being with loved ones and making memories together.  Things are just that; things!
  • Continue only with the traditions that my family truly enjoys 
  • Take the time to enjoy the little moments
  • Stick with our holiday budget 

Make a list of what matters to you, and I bet you will immediately see what you can cut out.  Let me know what you do to keep you holidays under control and true memory makers~

5 clutter free holiday gift ideas

December 1, 2009

In keeping with my mantra of “paring it down”, I am listing my top 5 clutter free gift ideas!  Working with my clients, and just talking with friends and family, I know that we all have too much!  Author Lanna Nakone, www.lannanakone.com, states that the average three bedroom home has 350,000 things in it; yikes~

 1.  A gift certificate is always a welcome gift, no matter the age of the recipient.  Just be sure to check out any hidden fees that may be incurred.

2.  Give your time and talent to someone, such as a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle or neighbor.  Help to cross off household projects they are unable to complete on their own.  Video them speaking about their own childhood stories.  What a treasured gift for years to come!  

3.  What about giving tickets to an experience, like the symphony, a musical, a sporting event, or even a family membership to a local museum?
 

4.  Donate to the recipient’s favorite cause.  Perhaps the local children’s shelter, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, or even the ASPCA.  This year, my family has elected to give to www.heifer.org 
 
5.  A consumable is a clutter-free gift idea too!  A lovely bottle of wine, a decadent box of chocolates, or a batch of homemade holiday cookies to be shared during the holidays are always welcome.