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Year Round Christmas Organizing

An article by professional organizer, Lea Schneider

Organizing Christmas: Getting Started
From January, when you can organize your decoration storage, to November, when you can bake ahead and freeze, there is always something that can be done to make the coming holiday a less-stressed, peaceful occasion.
Sometimes, getting started is the most difficult task. Your mind sprints through the many things for which you feel responsible. You ponder this, begin that and soon race about and have many things started and nothing completed.
As a professional organizer, I can tell you that feeling overwhelmed can be very common for any big organizing project, not just the holidays. When I tackle a big task, I always break it down into more manageable chunks. Not only do you see success by starting in smaller bits but you feel less anxious about the project.
Tackle organizing for Christmas in just the same way. Break down the tasks in more manageable portions. The special activities of Christmas can be divided into three main groups: Decorating, Food, and Giving. Here are some tips to help you get started in those three main groups.

Christmas Decorating
Ease in decorating begins with how youíve stowed away your decorations. Youíll make this process simpler by planning ahead for future years. Taking the time to stow away decorations properly, after the busy holiday season passes, will make it easier for you next year. Try these ideas:
  • Choose easy to use Christmas organizing containers.
  • Sort your decorations into indoor and outdoor decorations. This allows you to decorate one area at a time without sorting through piles and boxes.
  • If you do a lot of outdoor decorating, divide the storage containers by location, such as front porch, patio, windows and so forth.
  • Indoors, again divide your items by use. You may have a container for the kitchen, the living room, the dining room and other areas. This division will allow you to take the container(s) to that room and work without creating a mess in every room.
  • Keep your tree decorating items in a separate container. Again, you can put up the tree by simply using those boxes and not sorting through many items.
  • Label everything. Label the containers. Label light cords by use: mantle, tree, front door and so on.
  • Before taking down, carefully arranged light cords and garlands, mark them with a piece of masking tape to indicate left, right, and other areas where they may need to hook. This keeps you from finding the center and trying to match all the "swoops" over and over each year.
  • When preparing to decorate, divide and conquer. Donít try to do it all at once. Now that your decorations are properly divided, you can choose a time to decorate outside, a time to do inside rooms and a time to put up trees.
Christmas Food
Begin to organize special holiday foods with a pen and paper. During the holidays, youíll still have many days of your regular cooking and dining routine. Just concentrate on those days that require time or menus that are special. These special menus and shopping lists can be created days or even months ahead of time. As the day approaches, you only have to pull out your prepared menu and hit the store.
  • List each of the days that you might need to prepare special food or feed more friends and family than normal.(Consider: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, family visits, company Christmas party, neighborhood gathering, food gifts you wish to give and more)
  • Create a menu for each special day. Be sure to list every dish, including nuts or snacks to serve before the meal, beverages and desserts.
  • Pull out the recipes needed for those days and clip them to the menu. Or, if they are in a recipe book, either copy the page or note the page number on the menu. Add a sticky note to the cookbook, marking the page.
  • From that menu, create a shopping list. On one corner of the paper, list all the pantry staples required for those recipes, such as olive oil or all-purpose flour.
  • When preparing to grocery shop, youíll be able to check that pantry-list against the contents of your pantry so you wonít be caught without a necessary ingredient.
  • Start a Holiday notebook. In it, place your special holiday recipes. Add the menus you have created. As you use it through the years, you can add notes about what items went over well or which things you should make more of. Keeping all your holiday menus makes it so much easier next year. You can review what you made the year before, keeping family favorites and swapping others without starting from scratch.
Christmas Giving
Gift shopping might be the most stressful of the three holiday essentials. If you don't cook all the things you wish, you know that there are take-out items, catering options and potluck plans that can be made. If you don't get everything decorated, the festive day will still arrive on time. But, come Christmas morning, if you don't have a gift for the one you love, there isn't a substitute. Planning ahead will help reduce the stress of gift giving so that it stays fun.
  • Create a list. Consider family, close friends, neighbors and business acquaintances.
  • Have you shopped ahead? Look to see what you might have purchased ahead.
  • Consider your budget. Note the amount next to each name for reference. Having the number at hand will help you keep from costly impulse purchases.
  • Shopping online is a great time saver. Divide your list into online and local shopping.
  • Keeping the Internet list handy to your computer will allow you hunt as you have a free moment.
  • Consult your calendar. Find a few times to handle your local holiday shopping. Make appointments with yourself. Often, we put off the task until we must race and grab anything. Making and keeping some advance appointments will help you keep on track.
  • Add your gift list to your holiday notebook. Having this list handy for next year, creates a great way to get started on giving.
Need More Help
If you still need help getting started with your plans or getting organized for Christmas, a professional organizer might be just what you need. While professional organizers do handle everything from piles of papers to messy closets, they also help with time management and project planning. You can get one-on-one personal online help organizing your holiday plans with the professional organizers at You can also find one who will visit your home by visiting the National Association of Professional Organizers at

©Professional Organizer Lea Schneider
Her advice has been seen in Woman's Day, Natural Health and Better Homes and Gardens Kids' Rooms magazines. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and the Association of Food Journalist. She provides online organizing services and helpful advice at

Step-By-Step Tutorials:
More Great Ways to Organize Your Holidays: