Tag Archives: Christmas

Stay Organized to Reduce Christmas Stress

It’s holiday crunch time! The final push to get everything done by December

Don't let holiday stress prevent you from staying organized!

Don’t let holiday stress prevent you from staying organized!

25. It’s quite common to focus on finishing shopping and Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and baking at the expense of maintaining order in your home. You may think the mail can wait, cleaning up after wrapping presents can be done after the holiday, and putting clothes away is definitely NOT a priority.

You just have to be ready for Christmas. At what cost?

Regular maintenance tasks like cleaning up, putting clothes away, and processing mail are activities that will ground you, help you feel in control at a time when many things can feel out of control. You don’t know how people will get along during your holiday social events. You don’t know if people will be happy and appreciative of the gifts you worked hard to find and wrap. You don’t know if dishes you make for your family will turn out or be liked. You don’t know if someone will drink too much and pick a fight.

Christmas is a time of heightened emotions and high expectations. It can be very stressful. The best thing you can do when facing unpredictable, stressful situations is to ground yourself by keeping up with tasks that help you stay organized and feeling in control.

Even if your bills are not in your awareness as you plough through your “to do” list, the fact that you don’t know where they are or how much you have spent can stress you on an unconscious level. Clothes chaos in your bedroom affects the quality of your sleep and starts you off on the wrong foot in the morning. A messy kitchen or gift wrapping area holds negative energies that are irritating and sap your energy.

Besides, do you really want to wake up December 26 to a nightmare you created by choosing not to make time to keep up with essential maintenance tasks?

Essential Maintenance Tasks to Lay the Groundwork for a Great Holiday

  1. Process mail daily — recycle junk mail and move important papers to an area to be further dealt with after Christmas.
  2. Clean up every day — wash dishes, unpack shopping and work bags, restore order when finished with projects and/or wrapping gifts.
  3. Put coats and clothes away every day.
  4. Take out trash and recycling often.

Pleasure at Christmas Is My Priority

Years ago while working with an energy healer I learned that I have great

What brings you pleasure at this special time of year?

What brings you pleasure at this special time of year?

difficulty allowing pleasure. I was raised by two people who worked first, played later if they played at all. Hard work was revered in our house. Plus, when my parents’ marriage began to go downhill, working hard distracted me from my fear and sadness. I worked hard at school, at home, at work, in my private life, and at anything that mattered to me. It was always difficult for me to lighten up and have fun.

When I became aware of my challenge allowing pleasure I decided to do something about it. I started by intentionally lightening up and taking pleasure in the festivities of favorite time of year — the Christmas holiday season. It was a good place to start because it was a time of year that included many things I already loved: Christmas music, spending time with family and friends, baking sweets to give away, showing people I love them, and Christmas colors and decorations.

I deliberately simplified what I did to prepare for the holidays each year to lower my stress and make it possible to be more present to those aspects of the season that touch my heart — lights, music, warm connections with loved ones, familiar decorations. I became more mindful and discriminating about social events I would attend. I enjoyed activities I loved and eliminated those that seemed like work.

Now, when I think of the December and the holiday season my heart smiles. It’s a time of year when I give my hard-working, driven self a break. I see fewer clients. I ease up on my expectations of myself to be consistently productive, and I follow the lead of my heart.

Choosing to allow pleasure at the holidays has made it possible for me to be gentler with myself all year long. I am a first child, which comes with challenges like perfectionism, drivenness, high standards, and a harsh inner critic. I still have a long way to go toward balancing work and fun all year long. But, thanks to my annual pleasure fest in December, I am making progress.

Does pleasure (other than alcohol induced pleasure) even show up on your radar during the holiday season? If not, set your intention to experience some type of holiday pleasure each day of December no matter how busy you are. Make pleasure your focus this holiday season and reap the benefits all year long!

Dispel Christmas Pressure! Simplify!

“Are you ready for Christmas yet?” That is the subject of many conversations angel-564351_640among women at this time of year. I was thinking about that question today, and the perspective it anchors. It keeps the focus on the tasks that must be done before the deadline of December 25, like a race to the finish line. Just thinking about that quest creates feelings of pressure and even dread inside me. No wonder some people hate the holidays! It’s just associated with more work to do, not pleasure.

I have always loved the Christmas season. The season, not just the day — the music, the bright lights, the special foods, getting together with friends and family, showing my love and care with gifts and cards I send to those I love. However, I once was like so many people, running as fast as I could to that magic deadline, only to feel let down once I got there. Instead of enjoying the season, I was focused on completing tasks, worrying about whether I’d get everything done on time, and not having much pleasure or fun.

One day I woke up to the fact that the way I was doing Christmas made it impossible to be present to the possible joys of the season. I had a choice to make. 1) Keep doing what I was doing and continue to feel stressed, irritable and burdened. Or, 2) modify what I do each Christmas so I can have time and energy to be fully present for all the joys of the holiday season.

I chose option number 2. My focus is no longer on the deadline of December 25. It is on enjoying the traditions, the feelings, and the opportunities for meaningful connection all through December. This is what did I did to get off the autopilot of stressful Christmas preparations.

  • I stopped putting up a big tree (it took me a day to set up just the tree), and I now have three smaller trees that I keep decorated. All I have to do to put them up is to remove the plastic bag that covers them during storage.
  • I downsized the number and kinds of decorations I put out. I kept only those decorations for which I had a strong heart connection, and I eliminated annoying, difficult to put up decorations like candles in the windows. 
  • I reduced baking from several different types of cookies and sweets to
    img_2656

    Cracker Candy

    one very simple recipe that everyone loves.

  • For many family members I only give token gifts or gift cards instead of numerous gifts.
  • I pair boring tasks like addressing and writing notes in Christmas cards and wrapping presents with tasks I enjoy like watching a Christmas movie or a special TV program.
  • I stopped attending holiday parties I didn’t enjoy.

I still have a Christmas to-do list, but it’s not my main focus. It is no longer driving my mood. I keep my eye on and devote my energies to enjoying the pleasures of the season. I go to Christmas concerts, schedule time to connect with special friends, listen to Christmas music as I drive and work around my house, sit quietly in my decorated space. And, guess what? The tasks that I want to get done (gift giving, card writing, baking, decorating, etc.) get done with less stress, less rush and more pleasure.

What can you do to shift your focus from the pressured rush to the December 25 deadline to enjoying the special opportunities for connection and pleasure that are available during the whole holiday season? You do have a choice!

3 Tips Reduce Christmas Holiday Overwhelm

Let’s face it. Adding holiday tasks to your overly full schedule creates521629_519879618030834_1602480263_n pressure, stress and often overwhelm. It’s enough to shut you down and cause you to avoid doing anything.

Over the years as I too have struggled to get everything done I’ve unconsciously developed some strategies to manage my seasonal overwhelm. Following are three that work very well for me.

Combine holiday tasks with regular daily tasks.

      • You need to get groceries. Why not buy the ingredients for your baking and holiday meals while doing your regular grocery shopping? Or, you could buy edible Christmas gifts or gift cards. 
      • TV helps you unwind after a busy day. You can address, stamp and perhaps even write Christmas cards while enjoying your favorite shows. Or, you could wrap a few packages each night to avoid having to wrap them all at once.

Break big tasks down to bite size pieces.

      • Looking at the task of writing Christmas cards can be daunting because there are so many boring steps. That task can be broken down into the following steps: get your address list together, address cards, stamp cards, write cards, mail cards. Make one step your goal instead of the whole task and you are more likely to do something rather than avoid the task altogether.
      • Rather than tackle your whole gift list at once, plan to buy one gift per day (online or in stores) as you move through your regular daily activities rather than feeling you must devote large blocks of time to shopping.

Give the same type of gift to many people on your list.

      • This year I have made small, economical photo books for almost all of my family members.
      • Every year I give Cracker Candy to family and friends. It’s the only thing I bake and is loved by everyone.
      • Gift cards to restaurants and stores that family and friends frequent allow them to have experiences and purchases things that matter to them.

Melding holiday chores into your daily life, doing a little at a time rather than thinking you should eat the whole elephant at once, and simplifying what you do will make it possible for you to get holiday preparations done with less stress and more pleasure.

Post-Christmas Clutter Clearing for a Great New Year!

The days following the hoopla of Christmas can be a let down. Or, they can be a greatsmiley-798856_1280 opportunity to clear clutter to prepare for a great new year. No doubt you are sitting there with an array of gifts, some that you love and will use, and others that don’t love and wish you didn’t have to deal with.

What will you do with unwanted gifts, gifts that are the wrong size, that you dislike, that you don’t need, that you will never use? You now have the opportunity to practice living with what you love. Feng shui teaches that you will have the best life if you live exclusively with what you love or use. When you love and/or use things, they have positive energy. That positive energy attracts more positive into your life.

But, you may be thinking that you must keep gifts given to you by people that you love. You couldn’t possibly give them away or, God forbid, throw them away. When you hold onto things you don’t love or use or never will use, you are cluttering your home with items that have negative energy. Negative energy attracts more negative into your life.

What are your options?

  1. Keep unwanted items and clutter your house. You will feel burdened by the sense of obligation you feel to keep the items. You will then attract more negative into your life going into a new year.
  2. Re-gift items to people who would really enjoy having them, thereby clearing clutter and preventing the accumulation of negative energy.
  3. Donate items to a charity. That will clear clutter, help people in your community, and prevent the accumulation of negative energy.
  4. Throw items away which will clear clutter, but will also be wasteful, thereby attracting more negative energy.

Any gifts that are re-gifted or donated will lighten your load as you move into the new year. The act of clearing out things that don’t fit with who you are today sets the stage for attracting more of what does fit in the new year.

You have choices to make about what do do with unwanted gifts. Remember, whatever you choose will set the tone for your life in the new year. Will you passively allow unwanted things into your life or will you choose a lighter, more positive path?

Christmas Prep Procrastination

What’s blocking you from putting up your Christmas decorations and buying Christmas

Christmas decorationgifts? Here are some common blocks:

  • an overcommitted schedule
    • feelings of overwhelm at all that must be done
    • dislike of the process of decorating
    • dislike of the process of gift purchasing, wrapping and mailing
    • feelings of sadness over losses — the death of a loved one, the death of a marriage, the end of a way of being due to life changing events like death or divorce
    • a reluctance to ask for help when you are not physically able to do the above tasks
    • a belief that the season is too commercial
    • a belief that there is more to do than can be done
    • finding no value in the holiday season
    • a family crisis
    • resistance to the expectations of others
    • too much clutter that blocks motivation and action

There are probably many more reasons that  people procrastinate preparing for the holidays. Blocks are as personal as physical appearance.

What’s blocking you from taking action to make your holidays happy days? Awareness is the first step to removing a block. For example, once you realize that your overcommitted schedule is making it difficult to get your house decorated or gifts purchased, you can eliminate optional meetings and tasks. Or, if you dislike or get overwhelmed by any part of the process, you can ask for help from family members and friends. After all, ’tis the season to be giving.”

Remember, what you do at Christmas is a choice. Choose to take actions you enjoy instead of staying stuck in procrastination. That is a recipe for peace and joy!

Holiday Food Prep: Love It or Lose It

Over the years I’ve listened to many women complain about all they have to do at the holiday

Cracker Candy

Cracker Candy

season. And, it’s very true that the lion-share of the work to make holidays happy days is left up to women. What I’ve had a hard time reconciling is many a woman’s belief that they are being held hostage by the expectations of others, that they have no control over how much they have to do.

In the baking/food prep arena, for example, some women think they have to keep making all the special dishes that every family member loves even though their family members do little to help lighten their mom’s load at this busy time of year. These women sacrifice their own sanity and enjoyment of seasonal activities to please often ungrateful family members–because it’s what she’s always done. And, some women continue to make baked goods and food items because they think that’s what’s expected or that it wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

I recommend a new approach in the area of food prep. Make those special dishes and baked goods that you enjoy making, that you have time to make without stress, and offer to teach family members to make those dishes or baked goods that they want that you don’t like making. Or, purchase comparable ready-made items to substitute for those that are a hassle to make or too time consuming to make.

I once spent many an hour baking a variety of cookies because I thought I “should.” By Christmas I was exhausted, and I’m not certain anyone really cared about all my creations. In a desperate attempt to simplify my schedule and enjoy Christmas more, I began limiting my baking to just one item, the one everyone loves the best, Cracker Candy. It just has 4 ingredients. One batch takes 20 minutes to make. I give it to friends, family and to say thanks to people who have helped me during the year. I love the process of throwing a batch together. I love the simplicity of ingredients and creating a luscious batch.

Can you simplify food prep during the holiday season? Give Cracker Candy a try!

Cracker Candy

Ingredients

2 sticks margarine (Fleishman’s original — other’s don’t work)

1 cup sugar

1 12oz. pkg semi-sweet morsels

1 pkg saltine crackers (1 of 4 that comes in a big box)

Do This:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Use a cookie sheet with sides. Line it with tin foil.
  3. Line up crackers on cookie sheet. They should almost fill the sheet. Don’t worry about it if they don’t.
  4. Melt margarine and add sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Mixture should be frothy.
  5. Pour mixture over crackers to cover all cracker surfaces.
  6. Bake 8-11 minutes. Time needed will depend on how hot your oven is. Butter mixture should be a golden brown all over with small areas on the side beginning to get dark brown (burning!). If you don’t cook it long enough, it will be chewy.  If you cook it too long, it will burn. I know. I have done both!
  7. Remove from oven and immediately use wooden spoon to push all crackers back together (they drift apart while cooking).
  8. Pour semi-sweet morsels over crackers and spread with a spoon. The heat of the crackers will melt the chocolate so it will spread like icing.
  9. Refrigerate until cool.
  10. Break into pieces and enjoy! Beware! It’s addictive!

Get Your Christmas Cards Done & Have Fun!

Christmas theme for design. holiday greetingsDo you still send Christmas cards? Many people have stopped doing it for a variety of reasons: postage has gotten so expensive; not enough time; too boring a task; too complicated a task to bring to completion. 

I have found stacks of partially addressed Christmas cards in many clients’ homes. On one occasional I found unfinished cards in  July and I inquired about the possibility of pitching them. After all, it seemed too late to send them for the previous year. When it became apparent that my client really wanted to complete them, but just couldn’t seem to get the task done, I offered to help her do it. Because working together was so successful and sending cards was something my client wanted to keep doing, I also suggested that we schedule a couple of sessions that fall to make sure she got her cards out before Christmas that year.

I’d been doing my own cards for decades, but it wasn’t until I did it with my client that became very clear that part of the problem with card completion is that it’s a task with many steps, many of which are boring, and it’s easy to get stuck on any one of them. To get the task done, we divided up the parts of the process between the two of us. She did the tasks that could only be done by her. I did all the other tasks.

The steps she had did were: get a good photo of her children, order reprints of the photo, write her Christmas letter, copy the letter, print the address labels, buy stamps and sign all the cards. I picked up all the other tasks that anyone could do, like folding the Christmas letter, stamping the envelopes, attaching address labels and return address labels, and putting one Christmas letter in each Christmas card so all my client had to do was add a short note and sign each card.

I enjoy sipping tea and listening to Christmas music while I work, and my client appreciates having a deadline for getting her letter done and copied, her labels done, her photo done and copied, her cards purchased, and making sure she has sufficient stamps and return address labels. Setting an appointment with me gives her the incentive to start working on her cards. It’s more difficult to procrastinate doing her cards when she knows I’m coming over to work with her, and she’s paying for my help.

Because our division of labor worked so well the first time, that client regularly schedules time with me every year. She now routinely gets her cards out before Christmas. Because sending cards to family and friends is really important to her, getting them done early in the holiday season is a real weight off her shoulders.

If sending and receiving holiday greetings is important to you, identify someone who would be willing to help you complete that multi-step process. Make doing your cards a social event that is part of your holiday traditions instead of a dreaded chore. It’s a great investment in maintaining important relationships!

Have a Good Feng Shui Christmas!

My favorite definition of feng shui is, “arranging your space to enhance your life.” So, you’re

xmas giftprobably wondering how feng shui could pertain to Christmas. Good feng shui is achieved by eliminating things with negative energy and enhancing by adding things with positive energy.  You can take that process and apply it to any aspect of your life, even Christmas.

Feng shui teaches that everything is alive with energy. Everything. So, the common aspects of Christmas, decorating, meal preparation, gift giving, sending Christmas cards, spending time with family, and attending holiday parties and events, have energies associated with them. 

For example, let’s take decorating. Perhaps just saying the word makes your gut clench and you immediately feel overwhelmed by the thought of all the work and time involved in decorating your home.  Decorating holds negative energy and is not good feng shui for you. 

Should you eliminate it because it’s bad feng shui? That is an option. But, another more realistic option could be simplifying what you do. What if decorating just involved removing the cover off of a previously decorated artificial tree and setting out some special treasures, like a family creche or a collection of small Santas? If you found a way to reduce the process both in the quantity of decorations you use and in the time it takes to decorate, wouldn’t the process feel less daunting and more positive to you?

Another way to shift the energy of decorating from negative to positive would be to evaluate the energies of all your decorations and eliminate any that never get used, are broken, hold a negative association, or are annoying to deal with. That would reduce the volume of decorations you handle and your decorations would hold only positive energy. Wouldn’t that make opening those boxes each year a pleasure instead of a chore?

The same process I’ve described above can be applied to every aspect of your holiday experience. If spending time with some family members always stirs up negative energy, you can choose to abstain from seeing them or plan to spend only a short time in their presence. You may exposed to some negative energy if you spend time with difficult family members for even a short time, but you’ll experience positive energy when you go into the situation with an exit strategy. 

If you hate certain types of holiday parties, you can choose not to attend them and instead plan time with people you really want to spend time with. If preparing six dishes for your holiday dinner is very stressful to pull off, you can reduce the number and prepare only those you love the most or that are the easiest to prepare. 

If you hate shopping and wrapping presents, you can give gift cards or order items online complete with gift wrapping. If you hate the addressing Christmas cards and often don’t get the job done, but still feel guilty about not sending them, you can switch to sending e-cards online or you can just decide not to send them because the whole process generates too much negative energy.

Having a happy holiday season is a choice. What can you do this year to improve the feng shui of your holiday activities and traditions?

A Happy Holiday Season — A Matter of Perspective

I get a kick out of counting down the months to the holidays. . . “11 months until Christmas, 6 Christmas decorationmonths until Christmas. . . ” Invariably when I do that women groan, particularly mothers. Clearly they dread the holidays. I LOVE the holiday season. When I pondered why my response to this end of year tradition is so much different than many women, and considered why I love it so much, I realized that my view of the holidays is very different than the “normal” view of many harried women.

“Too much to do. Too commercial! Not enough time!” The focus is on all that “has to” be done in create the perfect holiday for everyone and all the added tasks added to an already overflowing plate of responsibility. No wonder they feel overwhelmed! Too many obligations and expectations (many residing in their own heads). Where’s the pleasure in that! The holidays are seen as a time of high stress, too much to do, and not much fun. No wonder they groan when they think of the holidays!

I view the holidays as a season of caring, as an opportunity to demonstrate caring and connection with friends and loved ones. I enjoy having a reason to deliberately reach out and touch people I care about, with cards, small gifts, and special foods. I have fun doing that. The spirit of the season as I see it (not the commercial spirit, rather the caring and connection spirit) gives me  permission to indulge my natural inclination to connect and give and express caring.

It’s so easy not to connect, to put off letting people know they matter, to put off spending time with them. When I let the special people in my life know they matter and spend time with them during the holidays, I invest in maintaining and perhaps strengthening those relationships. The process takes time and energy, yes, but those bonds make my life richer and give my life meaning.  Add to that the added sensory pleasures of special music, lights, delicious foods, enticing smells. Plus, during December I also give myself permission to lighten up, lighten my load and step out of the daily grind so I can fully partake in the pleasures of the season. It’s my favorite time of year!

Above are two different perspectives of the holidays:

  •  a time of high stress, little real rest and the burden of extra responsibilities, and
  •  a time to demonstrate caring, enjoy special pleasures, enjoy time with loved ones, and lighten up.

What’s your perspective about the holiday season? Do you groan or smile? Do you focus on the  possible pleasures or only see an endless to do list? Your perspective is a choice. What will you choose this year?

Making Christmas Card Completion a Shared Event

Christmas CardsDo you still send Christmas cards? Many people have stopped doing it for a variety of reasons: postage has gotten so expensive; not enough time; too boring a task; too complicated a task to bring to completion.

I have found stacks of partially addressed Christmas cards in many clients’ homes. On one occasion it was July when I found cards from the previous year, and I inquired about the possibility of pitching the cards–since it seemed too late to send them. When it became apparent that my client really wanted to complete them, but just couldn’t seem to get the task done, I offered to help her do it. We did just that! When we finished I suggested that we schedule a couple of sessions that coming fall to make sure she got her cards out before Christmas that year. 

I’d been doing my own cards for decades, but it wasn’t until I did it with my client that became very clear that part of the problem with Christmas card completion is that it’s a task with many steps, and it’s easy to get stuck on any one of them. To get the task done, we divided up the parts of the process between the two of us. She did the tasks that could only be done by her. I did all the other tasks, particularly those that were more boring and repetitious.

The steps she had to take were: get a good photo of her children, order reprints of the photo, write her Christmas letter, copy the letter, print the labels and sign all the cards. I picked up all the other tasks that my client didn’t have to do, like folding the Christmas letter, stamping the envelopes, attaching address labels and return address labels, and putting one Christmas letter in each Christmas card so all my client had to do was add a short note and sign each card.

Because our division of labor worked so well the first time, that client regularly schedules time with me to do her cards every year. I enjoy listening to Christmas music while I work, and my client appreciates having a deadline for getting her letter done and copied, her labels done, her photo done and copied, her cards purchased and for making sure she has sufficient stamps and return address labels. It’s more difficult to procrastinate doing her cards when she knows I’m coming over to help her get them done and she’s paying for my help.

Every year since we first started doing her cards together she’s gotten her cards out before Christmas. And, because sending cards to family and friends is really important to her, getting them out of the way early in the holiday season is a real weight off her shoulders. Once they are done she is able to move on to other tasks and more fully enjoy the holiday season without the weight of incomplete Christmas cards looming over her. 

If sending and receiving holiday greetings is important to you, identify someone who would be willing to help you complete that multi-step process. Make doing your cards a social event that is part of your holiday traditions instead of a dreaded chore. It’s a great investment in maintaining important relationships!

Christmas Cards: The Magic of Setting a Deadline

When I arrived at my client’s house and asked if we were going to do Christmas cards she said, “Yes! As of 5 p.m. yesterday I had nothing ready to do cards, and amazingly I’m now ready!” This is a client who has a history of having great difficulty getting her cards done by Christmas. One July several years earlier we came across her Christmas cards that she had never finished from the Christmas before. When I asked her if we could pitch them, she said, “No, I still want to send them.” So, together we finished them. And, ever since she has scheduled one or two sessions prior to Christmas to have me help her get them done. Our current session was the second attempt this year to get the cards done.

My client knew that if she didn’t pull together the stamps and return address labels, print her labels, and get her photo card printed, she was at risk of not getting her cards done this year. She was blocked because she didn’t have a good photo of her children. She could have chosen to cancel our appointment or use our time together for another project. But, she decided to use the pressure of the deadline of our appointment to motivate her to seek help from an employee to create the photo card. Once that block was removed, she was able to move forward.

While I put the stamps, address labels, and return address labels on the envelopes and stuffed the photo cards in them, my client wrote her annual Christmas letter. By the time we ended our session, the letter was written, printed and folded to go in the cards. All that was left to do was sign the cards and add some personal notes!

What was most remarkable about this whole experience was the change in my client’s energy when it became clear that we were going to get the cards to a point where she could easily finish them on her own. This client is a fairly reserved person, not prone to outward expressions of excitement, but that night she was absolutely glowing and thrilled with what she had been able to pull off in such a short period of time. It seemed like a miracle to her.

Would she have been at the same point if she had not set a deadline by hiring me to help her? No way! Deadlines can be really powerful motivators if you honor them!

Decorating for Christmas: A Catalyst for Change

When I decorate for Christmas I’m always looking for items I no longer love. This year I put one roll of ribbon, two seasonal wreaths and one ornament in the donate bag. This practice over the last five years has resulted in me reducing the number of boxes that come out of my attic from about 10 to just 3. Decorating is a much less overwhelming task these days! What surprised me this year is that once I started decorating my urge to purge went beyond my Christmas decorations.

As I looked around my living room I found myself feeling bothered by a plant that had grown so big that it felt like a green invader rather than a green asset. I was also ready to be done with two other plants that had needed repotting years ago, whose growth was out of control and ungainly. I tossed them in the trash and added their pots to the donation pile. I relocated the green invader to another room and tossed the corn plant that had been in the green invader’s new home. As I worked to make the plant adjustments I realized I was really craving more simplicity in my living room, less stuff, nothing that felt out of control. When I finished clearing plants and decorating I felt such peace, such relief.

Earlier this fall I set an intention to have more space in my life next year, for rest, reflection and writing. It seems my Christmas decorating was just the catalyst I needed to make my space mirror my intention. Because what I have in my space affects what happens in my life, I’m expecting to have the space I am seeking. I’ve laid the physical foundation. I’m ready for the change I am seeking!

Thanks, Mom, For Setting the Stage for Happy Holidays

Mom’s Holiday Meal Assistant

When I was a little girl my mom began including me in holiday meal preparations as soon as I was capable of polishing silver and setting the table. I hated polishing silver, but loved being able to help her. It made me feel important and helped me feel really connected to Mom and the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

From silver polishing and table setting I graduated to making my grandmother’s special sweet potato casserole, getting out all the necessary serving dishes and serving spoons, and helping Mom serve all the tasty foods. Then I washed the dishes. That too was not my favorite chore, but it seemed a good way to thank Mom for all her hard work.

I was the only daughter, so it was just Mom and me in the kitchen on a Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. We worked as a team and loved being together making a special meal for the rest of my family.

Had Mom not enlisted me as her assistant in the kitchen during the preparation of holiday meals at an early age, I have a hunch I wouldn’t have the fond feelings for the holidays that I do. Being included empowered me, provided powerful connections between Mom and me, and precious memories and a love of the holidays. Thanks, Mom!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Start Organizing for a Great Christmas Now!

It’s never too soon to start planning for the holidays. Those who wait until the last moment to shop, wrap, do cards, bake, etc. usually find themselves up late Christmas eve and worn out by the time the big day arrives. Did you know that with a little planning you can have a very different sort of holiday season?

Here are a few suggestions to get you rolling:

  1. Decide whether or not you’ll send cards this year. If you want to be sure you get them out before February, buy your cards and stamps, write your Christmas letter and print your photo cards NOW. Then, schedule a weekend day in the next few weeks to do your cards. Put on some Christmas music. Make a festive beverage, and make doing your cards a pleasurable opportunity to connect with friends and family members. Set a goal to put the cards in the mail the day after Thanksgiving. Once your cards are out, you’ll have one weight off your shoulders.
  2. Clear out Christmas decorations that either never get used or that are a hassle to to use. It’s the start of simplifying your decorating process so that it takes less time and can be more pleasurable to do. Decoration clearing can be done right now–before you get caught up in all the activities of the season.
  3. Make decorating a fun event. Schedule a date to put up Christmas decorations now. Pick a weekend day to do it. That will give you a deadline to get any necessary supplies. Make decorating a fun, memorable event instead of just one more “have to” on your list of too much to do. Put on the Christmas music. Make cookies to munch, and have hot cider or hot chocolate while decorating. Include children in the process if they are interested or invite friends for a tree decorating party and a shared meal.
  4. Simplify gift giving by reducing the number of gifts you give and by giving lots of gift cards. You can reduce the time spent wrapping if you give gift cards because they can be slipped into a pretty card or a Christmas bag. Gift cards allow people to enjoy holiday cheer after the holidays when they use their cards to get things they really want and need. Wrap gifts as you purchase them or schedule parts of weekend days before the last week before Christmas as decorating times. Again, listen to music you love. Fix yourself a warm beverage and reflect on Christmases gone by as you wrap. If you leave gift buying and gift giving to the last moment, you’re setting yourself up for a stressful, exhausting and exhausted holiday. Do it different this year!
  5. Limit socializing to a few events with people who matter the most. Saying no to invitations for events that don’t interest you is one way to ensure that what you do will be pleasurable and will free up time to do holiday activities that feed you instead of drain you.

Make this holiday season the kind of celebration that you really want. You get to decide how much or how little you do. Start now by thinking about what it would take to have a season of joy and fun instead of a season of too much to do.

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Transform Christmas Clutter Clearing Into Community Service

In response to my recent post about Christmas clutter clearing, one reader shared two great ideas for clutter clearing that can help nursing home residents have a happier holiday. She gave me permission to share her ideas with you.

  1. Instead of recycling or tossing extra unused Christmas cards, offer them to the residents of a local nursing home to save them the expense and the hassle of buying cards. You might even consider including stamps with the cards to make it easy to write a note and mail the card. Nursing home residents have limited space, so saving unused cards from year to year is probably not possible. They are likely to welcome your offering of cards.
  2. If you decide to discard ornaments because you no longer use them, purchase a Rosemary Tree or Norfolk Island Pine, often available at your grocery store during the holiday season, to decorate with those ornaments and ribbon remnants. Then, offer the tree to a nursing facility. Those live trees and your ornaments can then bring smiles to the faces of the residents.

What wonderful ideas for transforming clutter clearing into meaningful community service! Clutter clearing doesn’t have to be an onerous task if it results in helping you reduce stress and in lifting the spirits of some often forgotten members of your community.

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

10 Tips to Make Christmas a Clutter Free Event

 

 

‘Tis the season to be giving, receiving, and decorating. That means that you will be giving and getting “stuff.” You will also be pulling decorations from their storage places. When “stuff” is moving you have an excellent opportunity to commit to 1) not creating clutter in your home and the homes of those who receive your gifts and to 2) clearing clutter every step of the way.

Following are 10 tips to help you make your Christmas a completely clutter free experience:

  1. Pull out ALL your decorations and evaluate each one. Toss every item that you no longer display EVERY year.
  2. When doing your Christmas cards, either send all the left over cards from previous years to eliminate your supply, or just pitch or donate the extra cards.
  3. Throw away small bits of wrapping paper you have been saving to use for just the right tiny package, but never seem to use, especially the pieces that have gotten scrunched.
  4. Clear out cruddy Christmas bags: those that have taken a beating; those that don’t reflect your taste, and those that are just plain ugly.
  5. Clear crushed bows and snarled ribbons. And, clear out ribbons altogether if you’re like me and, despite your best intentions, you never make or take the time to add ribbons to your packages.
  6. Make your gifts to others items that can be consumed and/or that are perishable, like candles, candies, fruit and baked goods. Consumption or time will assure that those gifts don’t linger long enough to become clutter.
  7. Give gift cards freely. People love to do their own shopping or enjoy a free coffee or meal out. Besides, gift card clutter is smaller and less annoying than ugly sweater or useless knick knack clutter.
  8. Evaluate each gift you get with the Love It, Use It or Lose It method. If you don’t love it or use it, lose it! Express appropriate thanks to the giver and then either regift it, donate it or pitch it. It’s the thought that counts and unwanted gifts only hold negative energy in place.
  9. When it’s time to put new gifts away, take the time to clear clutter in the area where the new gift will be stored. Release the old to make room for the new.
  10. When you put decorations away, take a good look at each item and consider the time it takes and the process involved in putting it out and taking it down. Pitch anything whose significance or beauty do not outweigh annoyance factor.

If you do any of the above actions, you will be doing your part to make the holidays a joyous, peaceful time instead of an overwhelming event to survive. Make clutter clearing a new focus of your holiday activities. It’s the best way I know to feel in control at this busy time of year.

 

Recycling Christmas Cards

Recycling Greeting Cards

I get such great ideas from people who hear me speak or read my news tips and blog! Terry Jones shared her method of recycling greeting cards with me. She gave me permission to pass it on to you.

“What I do now to recycle my greeting cards is save all of this year’s cards together and pull them out when writing next year’s Christmas cards to make sure I do not forget to touch base with someone who is probably going to send me a card again next year. After I have sent out this year’s cards, I take the old ones I received last year, cut off the fronts and use them as gift tags for my wrapped presents. It gets the paper clutter out of the house and allows me to enjoy several minutes of reflection, enjoying last year’s cards and the handwritten notes included in them.”

Terry D. Jones

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.

Christmas Joy is Choice!

Some people really hate the Christmas holiday season. I love it! Why? It is such a nice break in routine from my day to day life. I’ll admit, Bob and I have our own little rut–go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, repeat the next day with small variations and many things to do crammed in here and there. Weekends are spent recovering from the week with occasional fun times with friends.

During the holiday season I enjoy special music I’ve heard for over five decades. I eat foods that are prepared only during the holiday season. I visit friends just because it’s the holidays! And, the decorations! I love the lights on trees, decorating front porches and seen through the windows of houses. Christmas tickles the little kid in me!

It seems to be the “in” thing to grouse about how commercial Christmas has become. If I focused on that I’d miss the all the special sensations, sounds, sights and experiences of the season. Who cares! So what if it’s commercial! People have to make a living and the Christmas season can been a boon for retail. So what! I choose to focus on the blessings of this season, and turn down the volume on any commercial annoyances.

Many years ago I separated from my first husband. It was a sad disturbing experience. When the holidays came around I was still grieving, but I decided that there was no way I was going to let that ruin my Christmas. It was an important decision. It was the first time I consciously realized that I have a choice about how I feel. Christmas was so important to me, had always been a high point in my year. I was not going to forsake that joy, even in the midst of grieving a major loss. I decided that I could enjoy Christmas on my own. I decorated my own little apartment. I listened to Christmas music. I reveled in all the holiday celebrations at work. Sure, I had sad moments, but I didn’t give up on enjoying the pleasure of the season.

And, here we are again at the edge of another joyous Christmas season. Yes, the economy is in rough shape. Many of us have lost big bucks from our nest eggs because of the ups and downs of the stock market. We can focus on that or we can turn our heads toward the lights, smells, sights and sounds, the red, green, gold and glitter of the season and give thanks for those blessings and all those special people who give our lives meaning. We have a choice. I hope you choose joy!

© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie

“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.