It’s about this time of year when I really start to get excited about the Christmas season. I get a bit of an urge to turn on the Christmas carols and swap out my fall decor for some winter decorations. Also, have you seen Pinterest lately? This is the time of year when amazing Christmas stuff gets pinned!
Alas, it’s so easy to get carried away dreaming about all the projects you want to do. Adding too many crafts, baking and activities can be overwhelming!
Every year I struggle with wanting to make all sorts of neat things to feature on Simply Frugal. But the reality is, I have limited time with two very busy little girls underfoot and other responsibilities to deal with. So any project I do accomplish has to be simple and quick. Preferably something I can do in about an hour, including picture taking!
All this to say, you don’t have to pack your schedule full of Christmas activities, baking, crafting and shopping in order to have a festive and memorable season.
This is why I’m breaking down the steps to an organized Christmas by one task a week. It’s good to have direction and a plan in place! I know without a plan, I become quite scatterbrained! 😛 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas is about creating a more relaxed Christmas season with just the right amount of extra projects and activities.
Here’s this week’s task:
Order Christmas Cards
Now, I realize that many of you are not likely to order custom Christmas cards but for those of you that do, now is a great time to do so! Custom Christmas cards can take a while to arrive in the mail and if you want them to be sent out to friends & family in a timely fashion, I’d get on it this week. 🙂
Here are a few designs I love, along with some deals!
Vistaprint Canada has a great selection and currently offering their Christmas cards for up to 50% off for a limited time.
Shutterfly usually has some great coupon codes going that should save you a bundle on high quality cards!
Pink dot Design has a wonderful selection of Christmas cards!
Etsy also has a ton of shop owners who create beautiful custom cards and templates!
If you aren’t the type to order custom cards you can of course buy a set of boxed cards and add a photo and a letter if you wish! That’s what I’ll be doing this year. I bought a box of cards last year on clearance so I’ll be sticking in our family photo and hand delivering to friends and mailing to out of town family.
This week along with ordering/buying Christmas cards, take care of these tasks as well:
- buy stamps, envelopes, if necessary
- write Christmas letter, if desired
- put family photos inside, if desired
Do you send out Christmas cards each year?
Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:
There are so many fun things to do throughout the Christmas season. Gingerbread house making, caroling, Christmas plays, cookie exchanges, dinner parties, Christmas light looking, craft making and even holiday movie watching. There is so much to do, there may not be enough time to do it all!
Why won’t you be able to do everything you want to do? Well, because there’s grocery shopping, laundry, dinner making and everyday life stuff that still has to happen!
This is where planning comes in really handy. After all, life is busy, and it’ll be hard to get the fun things on the schedule if you don’t plan ahead.
Here are the steps to take if you want to do a lot of fun holiday things this year:
Grab your Calendar
First of all, grab your calendar and mark down all the things you know will be happening regardless of the holidays. Doctor’s appointments, school activities, office parties…etc.
Talk as a Family
Next, you’ll want to gather the family to discuss all the activities each of you want to do. Sledding? Cookie decorating party? Christmas play watching? Brainstorm to your heart’s content. Make sure to write down all the Christmas movies you want to watch and even the crafts you want to do. (I have a cool Holiday Bucket List included in the Holiday Planner that’s available in the Simply Frugal store that should come in handy!)
Since there are likely more ideas than time, take a look over the calendar again and plan for the activities you can realistically accomplish. Even with the regular everyday life stuff added in.
Back to the Budget
Before you get carried away with grandiose plans, go back to your budget. What did you allot for fun? The case may be that you’ll have to save some activities for future years.
Fill in your Calendar
Now fill in your calendar with all the activities that you can set in stone. Buy those concert tickets and finalize plans with friends, then put them on the calendar. Make sure to allow for some quiet nights/days at home!
Holiday activities are supposed to be fun so don’t stress about doing everything. Just make a point of doing the things you want to do instead of wishing they would happen. Planning in advance will make the season more relaxing.
I’d love to know, what’s one thing you’ll be adding to your calendar this year?
Sign up for the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas newsletter to receive a FREE Christmas Dinner Checklist! This checklist is quite detailed and will help you remember all the details needed for a memory filled dinner with family and friends. You’ll also receive a weekly email with each week’s “task”.
Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:
Do you wish you had more hours in the day? Does your energy level not match the number of tasks you have to complete? If you are feeling like you need a break, you may just need to be working smarter, not harder. Take a look below at 7 simple tweaks for an easier day so you can start feeling less stressed and more effective. Here is how you can get started:
7 Simple Tweaks for an Easier Day
1. Make your to-do list the night before.
Before you go to sleep, make a to do list of all the items you need to do the next day in a dedicated notebook or planner. Not only will this help you feel more relaxed at bedtime, but it will give you a solid and focused foundation to work on as soon as you wake up. The end result is feeling more accomplished at the conclusion of the day.
2. Let the light in.
As soon as you wake, start bringing natural light in. Open your curtains or take a quick walk outside. It will help wake your body and let your brain know it is time to get to work. This is a simple step that can help get your day off to a strong start and help you be more productive.
3. Keep tasks in the car.
Keep a basket of quick tasks in the car that you can work on when waiting in the car pool line or for your child to get out of practice. Tasks can include a daily journal, items you need to read, paperwork that needs to be filled out, your daily calendar to update, etc. This can help you make the most of those spare minutes.
4. Carry a water bottle.
Not only can staying hydrated keep you more productive, but it can save you time from having to stop and look for drinks. If possible use a measured water bottle so you can keep track and make sure you consume enough water each day.
5. Set realistic goals.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Set realistic goals that you can achieve over the course of a day. This way you will feel success at the end of the day when your list is able to be checked off. Try making a list of 5-7 goals for the day and then gradually work your way up as you get into a groove.
6. Don’t leave loose ends.
Many times we move onto another task before finishing the one at hand. Get into the habit of not leaving loose ends. That can just lead to you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. Instead, finish one project or task before moving onto a second so you can feel a sense of completion and accomplishment.
7. Utilize helpful apps.
There are thousands of apps out there that can help make your day easier. You can find everything from time saving apps, to digital calendars, reminders, to even apps that send you daily inspiration. Try experimenting with some new apps and see if you can find any that are helpful to you.
What are your techniques for making your day run smoother?
Organizing your home looks so fun and easy on TV. There are so many helpful organization tools they use. They get you all excited about becoming organized and so you head out to grab those tools and get started.
Then, full stop, you see that purchasing all those “great organization tools” can be really expensive. So, you can either revamp your plans by buying one or two and do less than you had planned, or you can just blow the whole thing off and feel defeated.
But, the good news is that there are plenty of storage and home organization solutions you can find at your local dollar store for a fraction of the cost of those advertised in those shows. So, if you’re living in a disorganized space and want to get organized, this is for you.
Let’s get started with some Home Organization Tips From The Dollar Store:
It can get really frustrating when you’re cooking and you can’t find the exact spice that you need, right? One way to solve this problem is to use small jars from the dollar store.
You’re actually knocking out two birds with one stone: neatness and uniformity. You can achieve this by putting all your spices in the same type of container and label them. They will look very neat and orderly once you’ve done it.
Clear Storage Bins
The kitchen pantry can be quite tricky to organize but storage bins from the dollar store can go a long way in helping organize this space.
For example, you can put all your candles in one bin and label it. Same goes with your napkins, utensils, cups, and plates.
Investing in transparent bins can also be really helpful because you can instantly see what’s stored inside, but label it anyway.
Label Items In Your Fridge
Labels are actually one of the best organization tools. Because let’s face it, we’ve all found a science experiment growing in a container in the back of the fridge that could have been avoided with this tip.
All you have to do is write the date the food was put in the fridge. This is really helpful because when you’re searching through the fridge for anything you can see the dates and know when to throw things out.
An added plus is the kids don’t have to dig through the fridge for half an hour looking for something to eat, because it’s all labeled and they can see What they have to choose from.
To do this, simply use some masking tape or sticky labels that you have purchased from the dollar store.
You can find the most clutter in many homes in the garage. That’s why it’s important to have your garage organized. One way to do that is by using hooks in your garage.
Most all of the items in your garage can all be hung by a hook on the wall or ceiling. Just be sure to buy hooks of different sizes. Doing this will leave plenty of space for your car and you’ll never have to worry about running over anything. Yay!
Drawers can also be really messy because they usually serve as a graveyard for small items. This can make it a pain to find anything in your drawers when you’re in a hurry.
In order to fix that, all you need are those plastic drawer containers to organize all the items. They come in a great variety of sizes too.
Hanging Shoe Racks
Purchasing these hanging shoe racks at the dollar store is another great tool for organizing. They can hang on the inside of any door to save space and help organize your stuff.
Use them in the pantry to organize spices, foil, wax paper, baggies, and so much more.
Use them in the bathroom to add extras for when something runs out. You can add soaps, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. anything you might need to replace.
Use them in your closet to stash necklaces and bracelets, undergarments, socks, and of course, shoes. These hanging compartments can come in handy almost anywhere in your home.
Organizing your home doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be fun and you’ll feel less crowded and quite accomplished when you’re done. Plus, all of these can be purchased at the dollar store for next to nothing, saving you money – always a good thing!
Have you found other items from the dollar store that can be used to organize? Please tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear about it.
If your summer is anything like ours, (late nights, slow mornings, unscheduled days), then the thought of school starting again is probably exciting, but might stress you out a bit. Going from no schedule to a structured day can be tough at the beginning.
Because I find the adjustment tough myself, I have come up with a Back to School Action Plan that I hope you will find useful as well! The plan covers three areas: shopping, meals and organization. By tackling these three things I know our mornings are going to run smoother and we’re going to save quite a bit of money!
Let’s get started, shall we?
Back to School Shopping Tips:
Since the first year my oldest started going to school, we have implemented a tradition of going on a date together to get her school items. We both really look forward to spending some quality time together and I think the one on one dates we do is an investment into our future relationship. That being said, we don’t start our date day without a plan.
It can be so easy to walk into a store and buy whatever is on sale or super cute. But lets avoid that this year because quite frankly, it will be overwhelming to know how much money you actually spent on clothing that wasn’t actually needed and now has to be laundered. Ugh.
So, this is what we do here:
Inventory Clothes: This may sound overwhelming, but it literally took us less than 10 minutes. I simply pulled out every single item of clothing (including socks and underwear!) and asked her to say Yes or No to each item. If she said No, that item either got donated or put into the bin for her younger sister one day. With everything that was a Yes, I took a mental inventory of what she needed. I discovered that all she needs is a pair of indoor shoes and a sweater. That’s it! I also purchase one (on sale) outfit for her first day of school and a “special” accessory.
School Supplies: This is the first year that we have to purchase school supplies since previously everything was included in the school fees for kindergarten and grade 1. Cost is more of a concern for me so, my thoughts for this is to shop the dollar store, home and maybe even Staples when they have a good sale going.
If time is more of a concern for you, try doing all your school supply shopping online at Walmart, Staples or even Amazon. Pick it up in store when your order is ready or have it shipped to your door!
Back to School Meal Planning Tips:
Meals can be a big stress inducer for me so that why this year I have a plan for school day breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I even made some printables for you to use!
Breakfast: My kids never know what they want to eat each morning so this year I will decide for them by creating a menu. Every day of the week will be the same thing all year long. For example, Mondays I will serve muffins and fruit. Tuesdays will be pancakes or waffles. Wednesdays will be toast and fruit. And so on.
Lunch: This year, my oldest and I are going to sit down to brainstorm all the items that she would like eating in her school lunch. I’m going to divide it up into categories:
- Main dishes
Dinner: If I don’t have a dinner plan, dinner will either be take out or grilled cheese and tomato soup! 😛 And neither of those are healthy or good for the budget on a regular basis.
Back to School Organization
Morning Routines: Rushed, hectic mornings with short tempers are not my favourite. Admittedly, they happen way more often then I would like. Both of my kids (ages 3 and 7) still need help with their morning routines but my oldest is definitely more capable at being self directed. However, to help her along, I’ve made up a list of steps I need her to follow.
- Get Up
- Get Dressed
- Eat Breakfast
- Pack lunch (I like to do this while she is eating, but she can put it in her backpack)
- Brush teeth & hair
- Backpack & Shoes on
- Out the door
Set out outfits for the week: One thing I found super helpful last year was putting aside 7 outfits for each day of the week. This made getting dressed every morning so easy. My oldest tends to shut down when she has to decide so this has helped her tons.
Labels: With all the money that is spent on school items, it’s not a good feeling when something goes missing! Make it easier to find important and favourite items with labels. We love the labels from Mabel’s Labels so that where I ordered ours from.
I’d love to know your back to school tips and tricks. Leave them below in the comments!