Peace in Your Closet
|by Jill Yesko, December 2012|
When I teach classes in the community on how to simplify the holiday season, I often find myself wondering if the audience will actually try to use the tips I am giving them, on various handouts and from my slideshow, instead of falling into the trap they set for themselves every year of inviting, giving, cooking, cleaning, buying, wrapping, and driving (a lot). I know for a fact that these women WANT to have a peaceful and easy holiday season, because there is usually “standing room only” at these classes. I wish I could give them that hypothetical magic wand they seek when they sit in those hard plastic chairs en masse. Maybe there IS a silver bullet mixed in with the gold décor that will make them feel less stressed, less anxious, and enable them to really and truly sit back and relax and enjoy this very special time of year. If there is one, I just don’t know where to find it.
Here’s what I know for sure that everyone wants: Peace.
Decluttering your schedule and leaving room for planning is everything when it comes to feeling peaceful about chores, errands, and tasks. Making a list is crucial. It is your living and breathing document of peace. You can add to it sure, but you can also delegate from it, take items off of it, and feel in control of your holiday challenges. You can use the same list year after year, especially if it is on your smart phone or a document stored in your computer. You can have checklists for everything from gift-buying, guest lists, meal-planning, and house cleaning. Using these lists in conjunction with your personal calendar will save you hours of wasted time running errands in different directions in the crucial days leading up to the holidays.
Decluttering your pantry, especially if you are planning on hosting, is key to having enough food for all who will be sitting at your table, nibbling late at night in the kitchen, or sipping hot chocolate in your living room. Starting with the top shelf, work left to right, top to bottom, and methodically pull out all of the contents of the pantry, setting each section’s items on a large horizontal space. Go through each shelf’s contents and decide if you have some expired food on your hands. If it isn’t expired, and you won’t use it, donate it to your local food pantry or homeless shelter (after all, it IS the season…). If it is something you will definitely consume within the coming days and months, group it by type and set it aside in its appropriate category. Once you have cleared the pantry, use labeled bins or baskets to put the items back in the pantry by their type or theme. Some families like to use ethnic food categories, while others simply place like items together on the same shelf. What matters most here is ACCESS – especially when you need it quickly. Go one step further here and not only take an inventory of the pantry items you usually use when preparing your holiday meals, but also group those items together in one or more bins with the name of the special meal or the upcoming holiday on it (i.e. “Christmas Dinner”). When you do your meal planning all you will have to do is quickly take stock of your on-hand items and make your list from there.
Decluttering the closets and guest spaces are particularly important to do, as your favorite visitors need a place to hang their clothes and place their laundry while they stay. Setting up a little guest “kit”, such as toiletries we often forget, as well as a snuggly robe on a hook will make them feel like they are at a welcoming Bed and Breakfast, and not like an afterthought. Supplying simple amenities like extra blankets and your wireless code will truly help them feel special, and will garner such comments as, “you are SO organized!” Start by working through your closet just like you did your pantry – working top to bottom, left to right, remove the items and sort them by type. Really be honest with yourself about that sweater you didn’t want to wear any longer (which is why is might be in there)
Finally, declutter your mind of the expectations of others, and set the scene of how your ideal holidays will look. How do you want to feel during the holiday itself? Who do you want to see during these precious days of sanctioned rest from work and obligations? What do you want to eat? You see, enjoying a peaceful holiday season is always up to the person involved – YOU. Some suggestions are to bake less, buy less at the malls and more online, calling relatives to see if you can spend quality time with them outside the normal visit (I like going to our local garden conservatory’s café and tour) and enjoy the actual holiday with your immediate family and closest friends.
Jill Yesko, PHR, CPO® is the Owner and Principal Professional Organizer at Discover Organizing Inc.® She has been operating her organizing firm since 2003, and specializes in residential and photo organizing. She is the single mother of two, and enjoys giving professional speaking presentations on organizing and motivational topics.