The Blog

The Value In Organizing Prior To Holiday Spending

In light of the sad economic climate that we can’t seem to climb out of, it is increasingly challenging to finance our holiday activities, and satisfy our needs and wants.  We yearn to feel cheerful while partaking in the holiday spirit, and yet many of us find it difficult and struggle with restricted budgets.  But regardles of  income, the one thing that should remain as a standard imperative is organizing your holiday goals.

Whether it be party planning or gift shopping, making lists and committing to them is still one of the best ways to focus during a harried holiday season.   This is a joyful time, so do your best to make it so.  Shopping any retail store at this time of year can be overwheming with all the sensory overload. It kind of sucks you in; the twinkling lights, ringing bells, and piped in Xmas songs resounding everywhere are intoxicating.  Truth be told, the first time you hear the holiday music it does exude a certain welcomed measure of glee, but after continuous weeks of shopping  it can become incessant and unnerving (forgive me for my scrooge tude, just being honest here).

More importantly, if you have don’t have a specific person in mind, you will find yourself roaming aimlessly for hours and most probably exit, confused, distraught, and empty-handed.  Go home, make a list. Jot down the friends, family, etc. for whom you need to buy gifts for, estimate how much you’re going to spend for each, and carry it with you so you can refer to it while shopping.  Have an agenda in mind (and on paper) before you go shopping.

It may sound unnecessarily elementary, but without it, you can get distracted and side- tracked and perhaps in danger of buying something you don’t need. If you stay on task, you won’t be shocked when the credit card bills arrive because YOU planned for it.  Being prepared and organized will guide you and prevent you from getting in over your head. Be merry, not stressed.

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Having a Holiday Party? Be The Hostess with the Most-ess!

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and we are entering the holiday season’s big party months, it’s a good time to share some helpful organizing tips for home-entertaining. Whether it’s a cocktail party or a sit- down plated dinner, planning  is essential.  With readiness in mind, you should plan the menu ahead of time, make a detailed grocery list, and be sure to check that the liquor cabinet is current, and stocked with the basic alcoholic favorites (hey, it’s party time).  It would be more organized and less stressful if you could make the time to set the dining table or prepare the buffet table with the appropriate tablecloth and utensils, at least the day or night before. This way, if you don’t have what you need, you have time to run a quick errand.   Gather the proper serving utensils for each serving dish. Not such a big deal, really.  But what I find is that it seems to be the last 15 minutes before the guests arrive that we are in a small frenzy.   We are scurrying through the cabinets to find the perfect serving tray for the varied assortment of appetizers, preparing the ice bucket (but not too early), and we must micromanage the hot appetizers in the oven so they stay hot (but not too dried out). And what happens next?  The doorbell is ringing, the guests seem to be stampeding in all at the same time, and you are secretly questioning yourself whether you are ready.  And if that is not hectic enough, the guests are kind enough to bring you more delectable treats and so you are back in the cabinets searching for another platter, cake plate, or nut bowl.  Everyone is asking to help and before long, you have more people in the kitchen than in your entertainment room.

One of the best ways to stay ahead of the chaos, is once the menu is planned, organize the platters for the main entrees and side dishes, and place labeled post-it notes on the appropriate serving platter, with the proper serving piece.  In this way, any eager guest that wants to lend a hand, can easily follow your plan . When everything comes out of the kitchen,  you can plate all the food in an organized way. The only thing to worry about is that the food tastes good.

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Why Early Holiday Madness In Your Face Can Be A Good Thing

Honestly, I find it extremely irritating to walk into the local supermarket in mid- October and see Xmas decorations.  Seriously, we just bid adieu to New York’s glorious September Indian summer.  There is now just a mere sprinkling of autumn leaves first showing off their amber foliage, and Halloween hasn’t even happened yet!  What happened to the old post Thanksgiving marketing push? It seems that each and every year they start the holiday blitz another week earlier.  Retailers are in such a hurry to lure us into rushing the year with early promotional teasers.  Hey, I’m all for holiday cheer but for a lot of us, I think the holidays create a sizable amount of stress.  So why do we need to think about it, if we are not ready?

The only benefit for the consumer that I can see is that by forcing us to think about it early, it gives us an opportunity to perhaps organize better.  The cogs on the wheel can begin to turn, encouraging us to consider things like; the gift list from the previous year, parties to plan, guest lists to manage, new recipes to collect, vacations to book (or cancel) holiday spending to budget, and maybe a chance to re-think and make corrective changes on those things we didn’t like last year.

For those of us who choose to delay all this holiday frenzy, it presents a greater challenge to ignore or deny, since the marketing media is everywhere.  Some retail stores are now adorned with decorations, the thicker newspaper circulars are daily reminders to shop,  the endless parade of catalogs are slowly cluttering our mailboxes, and some TV commercials are beginning to dominate prime time.  You can run but you can’t hide.  It’s in your face.  Embrace the joy or be a scrooge, your choice.  And for those who do get sucked in, at least use it for its greatest potential.  Get organized because being more organized, both prior and during the holiday madness, might in fact reduce some stress.  Jump in (even it feels ridiculously early), fire up the engines, and maybe, just maybe, the advertising mongols might have done you a favor.

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