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Holiday Hints - Part 2

Dear Jo the Clutterbuster:?

The Giving Day was a great idea and now I am ready to start decorating. I never was very good at Arts and Crafts at camp, so everyone knows the packages I wrap (or more aptly described as surrounded with paper). Does Martha Stewart hire out?


Wrapping Challenged

Dear WC:

During the holidays, we are haunted by our imperfections. Finding the “perfect gift” may redeem us for the times we forgot a birthday. Sending holiday greetings make up for years of unsent cards. Innovative decorating can eradicate years of living in clutter as we try to make up for the years of midnight madness. Like the ghosts of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, we are haunted by the “Goblins of Perfection:”

  • Perfect Gifts
  • Perfect Home
  • Perfect Day

Perfect Gifts

It is NOT the object that contains your feelings, memories or caring for the recipient, it is your heart.

If you did not have the “No gifts” discussion with your family and friends during the summer, you still have an opportunity to provide them with some options to singing fish and argyle socks. If you are really nervous about raising the topic, send an email and refer them to this blog for backup support.

For ideas of non-gift gifts, read Holiday Hints – Part 1 in last month’s Insights.

Perfect Home

Instead of dancing sugarplum fairies, our brains are filled with images of perfectly appointed homes. Cloying commercials, magazine covers, television specials, even soap operas tell us how simple it is to create a perfectly decorated home for the holidays – whether it’s Chanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanza. Someone told me that the doyen of decor (you know who she is) has a staff of 200 who serve as her elves.

Decorating your home can create more chaos than comfort. If you are committed to de-cluttering your home, use holiday preparation and decorating as an opportunity to reduce, reuse, recycle.

Before you start to decorate or drag boxes from the attic or basement, envision your home decorated in a way that brings you pleasure – not perfection.

  • Imagine the overall effect you want to achieve – traditional, natural, special theme.
  • Decide how much time you want to devote to decorating.
  • Identify those who want to participate in the process or what kind of assistance you might need.
  • Select the day(s) when you will decorate.
  • Decide which room (rooms) you would like to decorate.
  • Determine which decorations are most important to you and your family.
  • Select the date(s) when you will de-decorate.

Step 1: Preparing

With these images and decisions in mind, retrieve everything you might need to complete the decorating task: boxes, ladder, stepstool, extension cords.

Step 2: Decorating

Decorate one area of your home or one room at a time. As you decorate, ask yourself:

Does this ornament, light, decoration, tree, menorah, tchotchke, or card, fill my heart?

If not, consider creating a donate box for holiday-related items that no longer have meaning to you. You can fill boxes for others in your family who may enjoy the decoration when they have a home of their own. Keep to your original time limits and days to decorate. Stop before you (and everyone else) are exhausted.

Perfect Day

EVERYONE wishes they could create a house beautiful – especially at holiday times. If you have put the need for perfection aside, you can take time to count your blessings and appreciate your home – as it is – today. The goal is not creating a perfect day, but living the day we have.

Post Holiday

By the end of the holidays, the last thing we want to do is organize the holiday decorations. However, this is the time to cull old and broken items and lights that didn’t work. While you are boxing up the decorations, determine which ones were used and enjoyed.

Donate your infrequently used ornaments to retirement communities, hospitals, nursing homes or take them to a shop that benefits non-profits.

Identify a specific place in the attic, basement, closet or garage for Holiday decorations. Label each box with the contents. Replace any boxes that are not in good shape. For boxes that are too heavy to lift, divide the contents into smaller boxes.

Once everything is taken down, reviewed, repacked and returned to its proper place, find a comfy chair in which to relax. Re-read your holiday cards and letters one more time, transfer any new addresses to your address list, enjoy them one more time and then put them in the recycle bin.

Throughout this past year, you have worked step-by-step to de-clutter your home. You have excavated, sorted, donated, discarded, and recycled pieces of your life. You took time to “make space for what’s important” to you. Sit down. Admire. And congratulate yourself. You deserve it.