Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life November 2011 – Vol. 10 No. 10
Recognize success with thanksgiving and build more success on that.
~ Emmet Fox

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Getting into the holiday organizing spirit The holidays are coming and before you know it, they’ll be just a blur – unless you get organized.

If you spent last year rushing around at the eleventh hour, give yourself a head start this year to avoid the stress and anxiety of last- minute preparations.

Here are 7 proven strategies:

Tidy guest quarters. Clean the guest room and put fresh sheets on the bed. Clean the guest bathroom and stock with toilet paper, soap, and toiletries.

Plan meals. Gather your favorite recipes. Decide on your menu(s). Write your grocery list. As the holidays get closer, clean out your refrigerator and freezer to make room for special foods and leftovers. Donate items you don’t need to a food bank. Shop ahead for non-perishables such as snacks and beverages.

Prepare food in advance. Double up on a few recipes over the next month and freeze the extra portions for easy meals over the holidays. You can also make and freeze cookie dough, then thaw and bake in batches. Or do all your baking in advance and freeze the finished product. You can do this with breads, rolls, and pie shells.

Ready for dinner guests. Wash holiday glassware and china. Polish silver items. Iron napkins and tablecloths. If you don’t use your dining room table every day, set the table up to a week in advance.

Send holiday cards the easy way. Write and address 5-10 holiday cards each night right after dinner. Consider assigning the stuffing, sealing and stamping to your kids. Or use an online program like SendOutCards* that lets you create and send real paper cards from your computer.
They print, stuff, seal, stamp and mail for you for about a $1 each Either way, aim to get your cards in the mail no later than December 15 for on-time arrival.

Shop online. I’ll do anything to avoid long checkout lines and traffic jams at the mall, which is why I love online shopping. And if you don’t know what to get someone, there are always gift certificates. I like GiftCertificates.com because they are valid at not just one, but dozens of stores. And did you know? You can also buy gift cards at a discount from sites like www.GiftCardGranny.com.

Buddy up with the post office. Buy stamps online at www.usps.gov. There’s a small convenience fee, but it’s worth it. If you are mailing packages, pick up some priority mail boxes in the lobby of your local post office. Use the online “Click and Ship” service to print postage and then just drop your packages off at the post office without having to wait in line.

Favorite organizing products and resources As a professional organizer for the last 10 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products, services and resources.
Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

This month, I’d like to share something that’s a great gift idea for a teacher, friend, co- worker or yourself. It’s The Couponizer and it’s THE best organizing system for organizing and shopping with coupons. I know because I use it myself.

I just got an email from my friend Amy Bergin who created this nifty system and she gave me two coupon codes to share with you. . .

* Use coupon code SHIP30 and you’ll receive 30% off USPS Priority Mail Shipping. (Note: This coupon code expires 12/31/11.)

* Buy 2 Couponizers and get a Mini Tote FREE ($12.95 value). Just add the mini tote to your order, then use coupon code FREETOTE at checkout and $12.95 will be deducted from your order making the mini tote FREE!(Note: This coupon code expires 11-30-11.)

Plus, through the end of the year, she’s offering specials on her most popular products. Help others (and yourself) be overjoyed, not overbudget this year by using The Couponizer.*

For a look at more of my organizing favorites, visit www.unclutter.com/favorites

And the winner is. . .Susan K. from Kent, WA

Last month, I introduced you to The Tote Buddy – the easy to store your reusable shopping bags and keep them handy for shopping trips.

I also offered the chance to win one by sending your favorite organizing tip.

I received 27 entries and the winner is. . .
Susan K. from Kent, Washington

Here’s her tip:

I have two shopping lists on my refrigerator. One is for items from the grocery store that gets renewed each week when I go grocery shopping.
The other is for ” special items” that frequently come from a different store – such as the special light bulb for the night light that just burned out, my sister’s birthday gift, the baking parchment I use for special recipes or first aid supplies that need to restocked.

When I go to the store, I buy what I really need and I don’t linger and get tempted by what I don’t need. It also allows me to scan the ads weekly and know just where to go, making my trip more efficient.

Thanks for sharing Susan! And thanks to all of you who emailed your favorite organizing tips.

Shameless promotion: How to turn clutter into cash

Awhile back, I hosted a teleseminar on how to turn clutter into cash that was very well received. I’m also writing an ebook on the subject which will be available on Kindle by the end of the month. Stay tuned for details in the next issue of this newsletter.

That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.