WHAT TO SAVE

Money, of course. The more, the better, in most cases. But other paper? That comes in the mail, that comes in the door with your purchases, that comes to your front porch as newspapers and flyers?  In most cases, less is better.

Here are some quick thoughts:

PAPER: Get rid of as much as you can, as fast as you can. Go through the mail as soon as possible, discarding everything  you don’t need to keep, and filing away the rest, or handle it however it needs to be handled (write a check, make a phone call, etc.) If a newspaper is more than a week old, you might glance at the headlines, then recycle it. Magazines? Give them a month, two at the most. Have a small folder for receipts so you can always find the one you’re looking for to make a return or a complaint about a purchase. I like the folders that have monthly date separators. Save them by month, and if you need one, you may remember the month you bought the article and can just go through those to find it.

CLOTHING: Figure out how many of each type you need: Tops, bottoms, dresses, suits, underwear, shoes, hose/socks, hats, handbags. Get rid of everything you no longer wear or use, or haven’t worn in one year, unless it’s a special occasion item you may wear again, but limit yourself to only a very few of those. Now shop—fill in the blanks. You’ve decided you want twenty tops and bottoms and kept twenty tops but have only fourteen skirts or slacks to go with them? Even it up to your ideal count. Once at your ideal count for all items, if you buy something new, throw out or give away the equivalent item that is either the oldest, least used, or shabby. Your closet will thank you. Your sleepy self will thank you in the mornings when you’re getting dressed, especially if you arrange your closet by item.

KNICKKNACKS: Tired of washing, dusting, or otherwise cleaning them? No, you don’t have to throw away anything you truly love. What you do is put some things out, sparsely—no more than three items on a table, for example, and if it’s a small table, one item will do. Put the rest away in a special storage box or cabinet. Every so often, exchange the items for something in your storage area.

PANTRY ITEMS: First arrange them all by type (canned goods, baking supplies, etc.). Line them up so you can see what you have. As with the clothing, determine how much of each item you always want to have on hand. Stick with that number. It’s easiest to just pick a number for every canned item—for example, four of one kind of soup, four tomato sauce, four tomato paste, four canned mixed fruit, four canned tuna. You get the idea. At a glance, you can tell what’s getting low when you make out your shopping list. Do the same type of organization in your refrigerator. If you have room, even store those things that need to be there after opened. This way, again, you can see at a glance that you have an extra and don’t need to get more instead of checking the pantry. The exception is, of course, great sales items. You might put them in a special area, using up what you already have first, then checking that area and restocking your regular shelves before buying more. But if you do this, you have to remember what you have stashed away somewhere else. Or you can keep a list of those items right in the pantry or on the inside of the door.

I think you get the idea. Look at each area of your home and decide how you can arrange it so it’s more organized and it will stay that way with little effort.

GETTING READY FOR DECEMBER HOLIDAYS

If any time of the year needs planning ahead, this is it. Here are some basic suggestions to keep you from driving yourself (and everyone else) crazy. I hope you’ll find at least one or two tips that will help you during this hectic season.

HOLIDAY GREETINGS:

There are greeting cards to send out. You have that all organized, right? Every year you have a printout of people’s names and addresses of cards sent. Maybe if you send out a newsletter, you even have a code on the list to indicate which people received it. And you mark who sent you cards last year before putting them away or discarding them. If you were wise you bought cards on sale after Christmas to send this year, and you know where they are. If you don’t enjoy doing the cards, just plan to do a few a day until they’re finished. Take a break from something else and address and sign some, then go back to whatever it was. And if you don’t enjoy standing in line at the post office, you can buy stamps on-line, as well as order packaging materials. There’s even a calendar to show you when to order. You can print out a shipping label and order a pick-up of your parcels. Once you set up an account, the following years should be a snap to do any of this:

https://www.usps.com/

DECORATING

Most of us have lots of stuff to put up or out or on a tree, something for the front door, yard, roofline and so forth. I hope you have everything organized in boxes from years past. If not, make a vow to do that when you put everything away this year. My only real advice here is not to over-decorate.

FOOD

See tips for Thanksgiving prep:

http://www.janchristensen.com/lets-talk-turkey/

This is the time of year I love to try out new recipes. Only on the family though. Anything I take for a potluck or other meal, I’ve tried at least twice in the privacy of my own home. You know why.

ENTERTAINING      

Ask for help. Have everyone bring something to eat or drink because you’ve been frantically cleaning house, decorating, shopping for supplies, and making a few dishes yourself. Right?

GIVING GIFTS

Lots of people recommend buying them as the year goes by. Great advice. Be sure you have a designated spot to put them, and make sure you label them somehow (sticky notes are good). Also be sure you keep a list in your purse or on your smart phone of what you’ve bought and for whom. If you haven’t done all this, and you love to shop, have fun. If you haven’t done this because you don’t like to shop, I recommend you do it on-line. You can even have the items gift-wrapped and sent to out-of-town people. You can also buy stuff you need for entertaining on-line. Clothes to wear. The possibilities are endless!

What great tips do you have for getting through the holidays? Let’s have them in the comments. Remember to take care of yourself, get plenty of rest. Now is not the time to start a new project or take on anything extra. Treat yourself as well as you’d treat a beloved friend. You deserve it.