Organizing Tips

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Simpler, Saner, Happier Holidays

In the past 24 hours, I've seen two separate articles online about tips for hosting the "perfect" Thanksgiving, and I've ignored them both. 

It's way too easy when the holidays come around to get sucked in by the amazing spreads we see in magazines, in catalogs, and online: gorgeously set tables holding beautiful feasts, blissfully happy gatherings of friends and family, and even photos depicting a Christmas morning on which no one has bedhead, is wearing their schlubbiest and comfiest pj's, and not-so-secretly looks like they hope to find another three hours of sleep under the tree.

This year, take a cue from the classic Frank Sinatra song and do the holidays your way. Focus on the parts of the holidays you love and look for ways of minimizing or moving away from the rest. Here are three tips on simplifying from my friends, my clients, and yours truly.

  • Reconsider gifts. A friend and his family say the best thing they ever did for the holidays was agree to stop exchanging gifts. Instead, they save the money they would've spent to splurge on experiences together at other times of the year. 
  • Crowdsource your celebrations. More and more, people are singing the praises of following the potluck model for everything from Thanksgiving dinner to New Year's Eve parties. Guests pitch in by bringing dishes to share, which means a wide array of dishes, less prep time for the host, and satisfaction for those who want to contribute in a way other than simply bringing a bottle of wine.
  • Choose some corners to cut.Because the pursuit of perfection tends to be what drives us nuts around the holidays, taking some shortcuts can go a long way toward calming things down. Could you do with one fewer dessert at Thanksgiving, or buy one from your local bakery instead of making everything from scratch? Could you go with super-simple Kraft paper instead of wrapping gifts in expensive gift wrap and adorning them with ribbons and bows? How about sending holiday postcards rather than cards with the full family update letter?

How do you make the holidays your own while keeping stress, clutter, and chaos at bay? Share your suggestions on The Organized Life Facebook page.