Holiday 2016 Gift List

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Whether you have or not, give yourself some peace of mind by having your gift giving organized and in one place. Download this Holiday Gift List and track who you’re giving the gift to, what it is, how much it cost, and its wrapping status!

holiday-2016-gift-list

Holiday 2016 Gift List – Classic

Holiday 2016 Gift List – Compact

Holiday 2016 Gift List – Monarch

Holiday 2016 Gift List – Pocket

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5 Ways to Use Your Planner For Holiday Shopping

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The season of giving is a wonderful time to share with family and friends. It’s a great opportunity to remind others how much they mean to you. Extravagance is not necessary—a thoughtful note, a meaningful card, or a small gift can mean a lot. The trick is finding the right gifts for the right people all while staying within your budget. Your planner is a powerful tool that can take the stress out of your holiday shopping. Here’s how.

Determine your holiday budget.

Look at your finances now and decide what is a reasonable amount to spend on holiday shopping. Create budget segments in your planner for décor, party expenses, meal planning, and gifts, and determine how much you can afford to devote to each. Our Financial Plans Supplement is a complete solution to help you manage your funds, and a great tool for determining a reasonable holiday budget.

Devote a notes page in your planner for shopping lists.

If you’re worried about prying eyes, find an empty notes page in an inconspicuous location—June, for instance. List the items you’re considering for each family member below their name. Research the items and place dollar values next to each item to help determine which gifts you will be able to give. (Make a note on your Monthly Index page to remind you where to find this hidden list.)

Determine where you’ll find each gift.

After you’ve decided what to purchase, decide where you’ll find the best deal on each item. Make lists in your planner by location: Target, FranklinPlanner.com, Amazon, Adorama, etc. List the items you plan to purchase from each location. Take note of free shipping thresholds and other offers that can extend your shopping dollars.

Mark your monthly calendar for important events.

Track sales events in your monthly calendar to ensure you’re getting a good deal for the items you purchase and to ensure you don’t miss a big opportunity to save. For example, our most recent catalog has some great offers that will help your dollar go further—and keep an eye out for our Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales coming soon.

Set holiday shopping goals.

Your planner is a proven way to ensure you set and reach your goals. Make shopping goals to ensure you are finished with your shopping in plenty of time to enjoy the season stress-free. Mark dates in your planner for ordering online items, plan shopping trips to beat the rush, and schedule your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping now—so you can relax knowing your gifts are in hand.

There is much more to the season than gifts. Plan your thoughtful giving now, so you can peacefully enjoy this special time.

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Simplifying December

toronto-in-winter-1144905-1279x1705December is a month to spend with family. Sometimes though, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important, reacting to holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and cultural expectations instead of planning a meaningful holiday season. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim some quality time with your family.

1. Organize Your Holiday Gift List

Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a list in your planner. List the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy it, the cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you’re going through the holiday ads and find a great deal, you can write it next to the item on your list, saving you the trouble of bringing pages’ worth of mailers with you on your shopping trip.

2. Track Your Family Events

As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on the calendar in your planner, and on your family calendar. Putting events up ahead of time can help you resolve scheduling conflicts with a minimum of hurt feelings.

3. Prepare for House Guests

If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. Identify the tasks that need to be done, and then mark those tasks on the days leading up to your event, so you’re not rushing to clean at the last minute.

4. Make Room For Traditions

With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie (“Stink! Stank! Stunk!”), don’t let the holiday rush crowd them out.

5. Schedule Down Time

Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more enjoyable.

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10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving This Holiday Season

By Patty Gardner

Thriving-During-Holiday-Season-515x386The holidays can be tricky for people who are already on a tight budget with their time, money and stress level.  I know I already have more to do than I can possibly do and the holidays just about push me over the edge.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are things we can do to survive and even thrive during this holiday season.

1.       There are SO many things you could do during the holidays, and most likely, your schedule will not allow you to do all of them.  So before you get started, CHOOSE what activities are most important to you and schedule them in.  Decide which activities are the LEAST important and mark them off the list.  You can’t do everything so decide ahead of time what you will do.

2.       Skip what you can.  Just because you’re invited to something doesn’t mean you have to go.  Since there are more than enough activities to choose from, skip what you can so you can focus on the things you really want to do.

3.       If you like shopping for Christmas presents at the stores, then schedule shopping time.  If you don’t, do as much shopping as possible on-line.  But do it soon so you’ll be sure to get your gifts on time.

4.       If you’re attending or hosting parties, don’t be ashamed to buy food pre-made.  Yes, homemade is usually better but you can only do what you can do.  So if you’re short on time and energy, buy it at the store!  There’s no shame in that.

5.       Do the minimum on the house.  Yes, I actually said skip the housecleaning – but not all of it!  Straighten, vacuum, keep the bathroom(s) clean and clean the kitchen as you go.  If you spill something, clean it immediately.  If you get something out, put it away.  But if time is short, don’t worry about a lot of cleaning.  Just do the minimum.  You can catch up when the holidays are over.

6.       Cook easy meals.  Use your crock pot whenever you can.

7.       Don’t pack your activities in too tight.  If you already have an event for one evening, don’t try to plan something else that day, too.  It’s tempting to schedule events back to back, but don’t do it.  That will definitely stress you out.

8.       Allow down time.  You want to get through the holidays with your sanity so schedule some time to just relax.  It might be hard to fit it in, but it’s important.  It can be time for just you or time with the family.  But don’t go, go, go – unless that’s what you like.

9.       Don’t start something new!  If you’re thinking about making big changes to one of your systems (planner, cleaning schedule, etc.)DON’T.  Wait until January when things are slower.  Even if your life is busy all the time, January will still be slower than December.

10.     Don’t skip the things that are important in an effort to save time.  I’m talking about basics like your spiritual life, your sleep, good food, time with family, exercise.  You think you’ll save time by skipping these but in the end they cost you much more than you gained.

So which of these do you need to put into practice in order to thrive this holiday season?

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5 Tips for the Holiday Host

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The holidays are all about togetherness. When you host gatherings at your home, though, you become responsible for the holiday experience of your guests. The two keys to successful holiday hosting are clear communication and impeccable organization, and your FranklinPlanner can help you with both. Here are six tips for successful holiday hosting.

1. Plan Early

A successful get-together is all about the details. You’ll need to coordinate the date, time, location, and activities with your guests. If you’re planning on serving food, you’ll need a menu and a shopping list. Before you reach out to finalize your invitations, sit down with your planner and brainstorm as many details as you can. Then when you call your guests, you’ll be prepared to confirm or adapt your plans as needed.

2. Delegation Invitation

As you call your guests, feel free to discuss ways that they can help with your plans. Whether it’s bringing a dish to a dinner or spending a fun evening with the kids so you can have a holiday date, with the possibilities laid out in your planner, you can give them a straight answer when they ask, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

3. Plan B

Even the best plans can still be sidetracked. Winter weather, seasonal illness, and other factors can delay your guests, or keep them from coming altogether. If you’ve delegated important tasks to your guests, be sure to keep a backup plan on hand. Then if your plans need to change, neither you nor your guests will feel guilty.

4. Freshen Up

If you’re planning on hosting guests for an extended stay, then you’ll want spruce up the guest bedroom. Make a note in your planner two or three days before they arrive to remind you to vacuum the floor, change the bed sheets, and relocate anything you’re storing in the guest room to give your guests space for their luggage. And whether you’re hosting for an extended period or having guests over for the evening, it’s always a good idea to make sure the guest bathroom has fresh towels and a clean tub, toilet, sink, and counter.

5. Plan Time Together

With all of your plans, make sure to include time together. If you spend all your time making perfecting touches on your meals or decorations, you’ll miss the chance to connect with your guests. Your careful plans should be geared toward creating memorable experiences with your guests, with your plans now giving you more time to enjoy together. If you have music, the smell of delicious food, holiday lights, and conversation with your family and friends, you’ll have enough for a great holiday.

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Reasons To Be Thankful For Your Planner

Scott And Kim 2013

With Thanksgiving just days away you’re likely taking mental notes of the things that are important to you—things that you can’t imagine living without—your spouse, your children, dear friends, your faith, a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave…your planner. You would include your planner on that list, wouldn’t you? After all, there are all sorts of reasons to be thankful for your planner.

Your planner helps you to be more accountable for the way you spend your time. It’s your appointment keeper, your daily reminder, and your goal tracker. In a way, it’s your secretary for life. It helps you stay on top of your schedule, manage your time, and spend more time doing what you want to be doing. It makes you dependable and reliable.

As you check off your tasks and track your daily progress, your planner becomes a great source of motivation. After all, who doesn’t like to cross things off their lists as they complete them?

Speaking of lists, isn’t it nice to write a list and know exactly where it is? Before your planner, how many times did you write a grocery list and lose it before you actually went shopping? Not any more. Now your planner can be your grocery list shelter, your password protector, and your library book due-date reminder. It can help you keep track of the movies you’d like to see, the books you’d like to read, and the recipes you want to sample for dinner. All of those lists are safely protected in your planner.

Your planner keeps you grounded. It helps you view your life from the ultimate zoom lens—allowing for a broad perspective of the big picture and an up-close view of the slightest details necessary to make it all happen. It’s the ideal place to track your long-term goals, aspirations, and dreams, as well as the daily action items to ensure you reach them—from planting seeds to drinking enough water to even budgeting your lunch expenses.

In that same vein, your planner can help you keep tabs on each of your life roles: spouse, child, sibling, parent, employee, friend, and more. You can quickly assess where you are spending most of your time and effort and where you need to improve. But it doesn’t stop there. Once you have that information, your planner is the perfect tool to walk you through that process step by step—so you can find more balance in your life and feel greater peace.

Your planner is your personal assistant, helping you make the most of your time and energy. It’s ready to be your idea organizer, your project coordinator, and your budget monitor. It makes the perfect networking list, on-the-go directory, and coupon organizer. Imagine the time you’d lose if you had to keep all that information in separate places!

Your planner is your secret keeper— an ideal location for birthday and anniversary reminders, holiday shopping lists, and the phone number for your favorite floral shop. There is nothing quite so rewarding as seeing a surprise come neatly together. That’s the power of a planner.

Your planner can keep you a half step ahead of the chaos of life as you manage doctor and dentist appointments, parent-teacher conferences, and your children’s vaccinations. It’s where you’ll plan vacations and schedule time for soccer games and music recitals. Planning keeps you where you want to be and ensures you spend time with the people who matter most, no matter how crazy your world becomes.

It’s your idea vault—the perfect place to store favorite quotes, doodles, and interesting tidbits you hear throughout the day. That way it becomes a great source of creativity for your next project or presentation.

It’s a great way to avoid debt. Your planner is the perfect place to monitor your budget and track your finances so you can enjoy more financial freedom.

All that said, a planner is a great way to tell your life story. Imagine your grandchildren thumbing through your planner one day. What would they learn about you? They may marvel at the cost of gasoline, or the things that occupied your time, but most likely they’ll realize the sort of person you were striving to be, and the good you were working to accomplish. In that way, your planner is the ideal embellishment for your life story, and should you choose, you can even add some planner embellishments of your own to keep it all interesting.

This holiday season as we focus on the gifts we enjoy each day, let’s take a minute to consider how lucky we are to have and use a planner—because our time is precious and our planners help us make the most of it.

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Have a Happy Thanksgiving

With only four days until the big day, it’s time to make some shopping lists. Whether you’re hosting the whole family or making your favorite dish to share, you’ll want to make an organized grocery list. Sort the items on your list into sections: produce, meat, dairy, etc., to help you complete your shopping trip in a single lap. And with Black Friday only days away, now is a great time to note any special deals you have your eye on and map out your shopping plan. Most importantly, though, be sure to make enjoying time with your family more important than any other item on your list.

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5 Weeks to Christmas Countdown

There are less than six weeks left until Christmas. For the kids in your life, that seems like forever. For you, though, it doesn’t leave much time to get ready. Here are some suggestions to help you beat the holiday rush, starting now:

Five Weeks Out: Affix Postage Here

Greeting cards are a fun tradition for many families, and a chance for a more personal and tangible connection than a birthday reminder on Facebook. If you send out cards, now is the time to get everything ready. If you don’t already have a list of contacts, use some Address/Phone Tabs and create one that you can use year after year. Print out your photos, buy envelopes and postage, draft your yearly letter if that’s your thing, and set aside a night to get everything ready to mail. This will give your friends the chance to enjoy your season’s greeting during the season itself.

Four Weeks Out: Lock In Your Menu

From special dinners with family and friends to seasonal treats to ubiquitous chocolates, food takes center stage in many holiday traditions. Whether you’re planning on hosting a social gathering worthy of Martha Stewart or just attending a few smaller get-togethers, take the time to plan out your food contributions. Make a list of all the important meals you plan on serving this holiday season, and then list the ingredients you’ll need on a Menu Planner-Shopping List. As you’re out shopping for Thanksgiving, check for non-perishable or storable ingredients for your December meals, like cans of pumpkin, piecrusts, biscuit dough, or sale-priced turkeys for your deep freeze. You’ll still need to make shopping trips in December, but preparing now will help cut the time you spend on each trip.

Three Weeks Out: Get Things Wrapped

When you were a kid, you never knew that Santa was such a hard worker. It takes time and the right supplies to create a well-wrapped holiday gift, and choosing to take that time on Christmas Eve after your family festivities will likely see you wrapping into the wee hours of Christmas morning. Start the wrapping process this week with the gifts you’ve already purchased, and Santa can get some well-deserved shuteye on December 24.

Two Weeks Out: Remember Your Neighbors

Sharing a thoughtful gift with your neighbor is a great way to get in the spirit of the season. Some fun and thoughtful gifts include a box of tissues with a fun poem, or the traditional Hawaiian gift of a pineapple. As you plan out gifts for your neighbors, use the contact pages in your planner to set the scope of your gift list, and then write down a task on the day or days you plan on delivering. Then try to get these gifts out before the craziness of the last week of the holidays. You can also keep a couple of extras for the neighbors who aren’t on the list that stop by with a gift for you.

One Week Out: Enjoy

By December 20, you’ll have holiday cards displayed on your mantle, cookies smelling great in the oven, and everything wrapped and ready for Santa to come. Start with a plan, and you’ll have the mental space to enjoy the season with those you love.

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Holiday 2015 Gift List

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Whether you have or not, give yourself some peace of mind by having your gift giving organized and in one place. Download this Holiday Gift List and track who you’re giving the gift to, what it is, how much it cost, and its wrapping status!

Holiday Gift List

 

Holiday 2015 Gift List – Classic

Holiday 2015 Gift List – Compact

Holiday 2015 Gift List – Monarch

Holiday 2015 Gift List – Pocket

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Using Your Planner to Focus on What Matters Most

binder spines

Time is precious—once spent we can never earn it back. With all that we have going on in our lives, it’s easy to spend days spinning our wheels but going nowhere, and that’s so frustrating.

To one degree or another, all of us could improve our focus, and a planner is a powerful tool to make that happen. Used properly, your planner can be more than just a place to manage your lists of appointments and things to do; it can completely change your life. Here are some things your planner can help you do better than anything else:

Determine the Roles that Matter Most to You

A planner is an ideal place to write down each role that you play during your day—Mother/Father, employee, neighbor, athlete, etc. Keeping track of the various roles you play helps you remember who is relying on you to act in those roles. Your planner gives you an opportunity to focus on each role and set goals associated with each aspect of your life.

Set and Keep Goals

One of the greatest strengths of your planner is its power to help you remember and motivate you toward your goals. Once written, they’re always in front of you reminding you of the desire that drove you to set the goals in the first place. Memory is powerful, and simply looking at the list on a regular basis can give you the encouragement you need to finish.

As you break your goals down to bite-sized bits and schedule them into your daily and weekly activities, you’ll soon find yourself farther along than you could ever be if you were relying on your memory and internal motivation alone.

Prioritize Your Daily Tasks

Many of our planners include a Prioritized Daily Task List. This powerful tool makes it easy to determine what you need to accomplish first each day. It’s the secret to keeping your most important matters at the center of your life.

Each day, simply write every task that you’d like to accomplish on your list, then read through your list and sort your tasks by priority or role with A, B, or C. Then sort all of your A tasks by priority—1, 2, 3 etc. Do the same with your lists of B and C tasks. This will help ensure you’re working on the tasks most closely related to your values and goals. It’s a great way to keep things in proper perspective. It may be one of the most powerful activities you do each day.

Even if your planner doesn’t have a Prioritized Daily Task List, you can create your own list of tasks and incorporate the same idea into your planning with any of our planners.

Keep a Daily Record

Your planner gives you a place to record your successes and failures. If your chosen planner format includes a Daily Tracker, you can note your efforts toward certain goals each day. Knowing you will need to report on your efforts, if only on paper, is a great motivator to encourage you to do your best work. Even without a Daily Tracker, you can always designate a place in your planner to report your efforts toward your goals. Track the number of glasses of water you drank, the distance you ran, or the time you spent improving a talent.

Report Often

If you still struggle to manage your time, even with all of your tasks and appointments at your fingertips, you aren’t alone. These amazing lists of tasks and goals do little for us if we forget to look at them. Set reminders on your phone to check your planner often throughout the day. Set your smartphone to vibrate or alarm every half-hour and then jot down whatever you were doing when the alarm rang on your notes page. This is an incredibly powerful way to develop stronger habits and improve your focus.

With a plan and a little daily effort, you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a short time. Now take courage and your planner and start making the most of your time.

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3 Ways to Use Your Planner for Holiday Budgeting

bella holiday spread

The holidays are coming, and you’re probably starting to look forward to celebrating with family and friends. You’re probably not looking forward to paying for these celebrations, however. It’s hard enough to make it through Halloween in the (orange and) black, and then the biggest gift-giving season ramps up. Here are three ways your FranklinPlanner can help keep your budget healthy:

Individualized Gift Budget Tracker

Take a moment today and write out a list of everyone you plan on giving gifts to this holiday season. You can include your family members, extended family members, neighbors, coworkers, teachers, caregivers, and others who serve you, such as your letter carrier and hairstylist. When you’ve listed everyone, write the dollar amount that you want to spend on each person. Tally up these figures to find your total holiday budget.

As you shop holiday sales and buy gifts at a discount, deduct the retail price of your gifts from your gift budget rather than the sale price. Your loved ones will still get all the value you planned on giving, and you won’t be as tempted to buy extra gifts to meet your original limit. You can also use some of the extra budget to buy small gifts, like tins of cocoa or boxes of chocolate. Then when someone unexpected gives you a surprise gift, you’ll have a gift on hand to reciprocate.

Sale Date Tracker

From now until the end of the year, most of the gifts on your list will be on sale at one point or another. The challenge comes in weaving limited-time sale opportunities into a busy holiday schedule. Use your planner to make the process more transparent. As you browse through the mailing lists from your favorite retailers, mark down the promotional dates and amounts in your planner. When everything’s down on the page, you can see the big picture, letting you hit the best sales while taking fewer last-minute trips.

Shipping Deadline Reminder

Ben Franklin said it best: “Haste makes waste.” Many sites list holiday shipping deadlines, their recommended ordering date for delivery by December 24. Take a look at these deadlines and mark these dates in your planner. Then you won’t be left hovering over the mailbox, or doubling the price of your gift for overnight shipping.

This is also a good practice if you participate in free shipping programs, such as ShopRunner. Give your orders a head start, and they won’t get caught in the crowd of the procrastinators’ orders.

The biggest key to any budget is mindfulness. With daily and weekly planning sessions, your FranklinPlanner can ensure that you make it through the holiday season with peace of mind as you celebrate what matters most.

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5 Ways to Use Your Planner for Holiday Shopping

The season of giving is a wonderful time to share with family and friends. It’s a great opportunity to remind others how much they mean to you. Extravagance is not necessary—a thoughtful note, a meaningful card, or a small gift can mean a lot. The trick is finding the right gifts for the right people all while staying within your budget. That’s what makes your planner so powerful.

1. Establish your holiday budget.

Look at your finances now and decide what is a reasonable amount to spend on holiday shopping. Create budget segments in your planner for décor, party expenses, meal planning, and gifts, and determine how much you can afford to devote to each. Our Financial Plans Supplement can help you determine a reasonable amount for your holiday budget (and so much more).

2. Devote a notes page in your planner for shopping lists.

If you’re worried about prying eyes, find an empty notes page in an inconspicuous location—June, for instance. List the items you’re considering for each family member below their name. Research the items and place dollar values next to each item to help determine which gifts you will be able to give.

3. Determine where you’ll find each item.

Make lists by location: Target, FranklinPlanner.com, Adorama, etc. List the items you plan to purchase from each location. Take note of free shipping thresholds and other offers that can extend your shopping dollars.

4. Mark your monthly calendar for important events.

Track sales events in your monthly calendar to ensure you’re getting a good deal for the items you purchase and to ensure you don’t miss a big opportunity to save. Speaking of savings opportunities, our most recent catalog has some great offers that will help your dollar go further, and keep an eye out for our Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales coming soon.

5. Set holiday shopping goals.

Your planner is a proven way to ensure you set and reach your goals. Make shopping goals to ensure you are finished with your shopping in plenty of time to enjoy the season stress-free. Mark dates in your planner for ordering online items, plan shopping trips to beat the rush, and schedule your Black Friday shopping party now, so you can relax knowing your gifts are in hand.

So open your planners now and start your stress-free holiday giving. After all, there is a lot more to the season than worrying about gifts.

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Thanksgiving is Coming! Is your Planner Ready?!

By Patty Gardner

Thanksgiving is coming, and it’s going to be at my house again (like it has been for the last 20 years or more).  I’ve hosted so many times that I can almost plan the menu and prepare the food with my eyes closed.  But I don’t.  And even though I know what I’m doing, I still use my trusty planner to figure out what to do and when to do it.

The first thing I do is pull out last year’s planner and read about how last year’s Thanksgiving went.  Then I get out my calendar and highlight Thanksgiving on my monthly calendar so I can see at a glance how much time I have before the big day arrives. Since I have ADHD, I don’t always have a realistic view of how much time has passed or how much time is still remaining.  That’s why it’s important for me to have a visual reminder of exactly when the holiday is – more than just a box on the calendar – a HIGHLIGHTED box.

FC - Thanksgiving 3Then I go to the Thanksgiving page in my planner and insert a blank piece of paper.  On that paper, I write down who I think will be coming so I can get a count.  I also decide what time we’ll eat and write down a tentative menu.  We like to have most of the same foods year after year but we tried to include a few new things each holiday.  Anyway, on that blank piece of paper I jot down any thoughts I have about the menu, the guest list or anything else about the holiday.  I start doing this in October at the latest.

As November gets closer, I start finalizing the recipes and assigning foods to other family members (I let them tell me what they want to bring and then make it fit the menu).  I write on the Thanksgiving planning page who’s bringing what.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I start writing down all the extra things we’ll need like plates, silverware, napkins, salt & pepper, butter, coffee (I always forget coffee), ice, etc.  It sounds silly to write all that stuff down but I want to make things as easy and mindless as possible on Thanksgiving.  I don’t want to forget anything and I don’t want to be stressed.

At the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving I write out a plan.  My plan includes what I’m cooking and when.  I get pretty detailed about what needs to be done when.  And I post that plan so it’s visible to everyone.  Then if they want to help, they have a better idea of what to do and I know what to tell them.

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And then . . . when it’s all over, I write details on my notes page about how it went and what I might want to do different or the same next year.  And before the lights go out on Thanksgiving, I move on to Christmas . . . no wait, I already started planning for Christmas.  But that’s an article for another day!!!

 

 

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8 Activities to Make the Most of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is intended as a way to remember our brave neighbors, friends, and family who gave everything they had to ensure our freedoms and to help maintain freedom for others. Because it’s a Federal holiday, many of us have the day off work so we can devote time to celebrating and remembering.

How we celebrate varies. It’s personal. Some people aren’t comfortable with cemeteries, so they spend time outdoors with their families. That’s a great opportunity to remind your children that the freedom to go where you want and enjoy time together came at a high price.

If you are looking for simple ways to celebrate the holiday and to help instill a stronger sense of patriotism in your family, here are a few ideas that might help.

1. Put a flag in your yard. That simple act serves as a great reminder of the sacrifices that have been paid for our freedom.

2. If your community holds a parade or fireworks, go and enjoy the sights. IMG_0973a

3. Hold an outdoor barbeque and invite your neighbors. Make homemade ice cream.

4. If you have relatives who are veterans, call them on the phone and say thanks or send them a thank you card.

5. Visit the graves of veterans and other family members with your children.

6. Go on a picnic with your family.

7. Read about a military conflict, study the historical events that lead up to it, and discuss with your family what happened as a result of the war.

8. Find a story about one of your ancestors, veteran or not, and share it with your children. Even if your ancestors didn’t serve in the military, they still sacrificed to provide for their families. Sharing their stories helps us celebrate their challenges and successes with our loved ones.

However you choose to celebrate and enjoy the time away from work, be safe and have fun. With a little planning, the time you spend with your family and friends will be memorable and enjoyable.

Happy Memorial Day!

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6 Questions to Consider When Organizing a Space

by Patty Gardner

I don’t mind cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, making a grocery list or running errands, but please don’t ask me to organize a space in my house.

I’m NOT good at organizing and I don’t enjoy doing it.  It actually stresses me out to look at an empty closet or cabinet and know I have to figure out how to arrange it.  It’s a little easier if I’m just moving things around, but I still don’t enjoy it.

That being said, we remodeled our kitchen several months ago and the pantry needed organized.  I put it off as long as I could but finally had to face the music.  It was stressful and unpleasant and stressful but I got it done.

Now my idea of organized may not even be close to your idea of organized but it works for me.  For my purposes the pantry is organized.

pantry

If you’re space organizing challenged like I am but you need to organize a space in your house, here a few things to keep in mind.

1.       What are your goals for the space?  Obviously my goal for my pantry was to store food and to do it in such a way that we could find what we needed fairly easily.

2.       Is it easy to use?  Do you have to reach up too high for things you use frequently?  Do you have to squat down to get things you need?  Do you have to move one thing to get to another?  Those types of complications make it HARD to use and that’s no good.

3.       Can you maintain the system?  I tried grouping similar items when I organized my pantry but I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it.  When I get home from the store, I don’t want to take the time to carefully arrange the food.  I just want to get it put away as fast as I can.  So I started out grouping but I knew I wouldn’t keep doing it.

4.       Does it take too much time and effort to maintain?  Maybe you are able to maintain the system, but how much time and effort does it take? Is that how you want to spend your time?  If you do, that’s great.  If not, maybe it’s a better idea to simplify or come up with something different.

5.       Does it actually accomplish anything other than looking pretty?  A pretty space is awesome as long as it’s functional.  So if your organizing results in pretty AND functional, you hit the jackpot.

6.       Does it make sense to others using the area?  If you’re the only person using the space, you can do whatever you want.  But if others are using it, too, the system needs to make sense to them and they need to be able to help maintain it.

Since I’m space organizationally challenged, I keep my systems as simple as possible.  If they’re too complicated or time consuming, I won’t do them.

Do your organized spaces look like the ones in the magazines or are they more like mine?

1311037-fp-guru-bio-pattygardner

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5 Ways to Make Room for Incoming Christmas Gifts

By Jenny Layton

Christmas is just over a week away, and while our children may be dreaming of the pile of presents under the tree, we are left wondering where to put it all. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, here are five SIMPLE ways you can stay ahead of the problem.

Joy photo

Chip away at it for just 15 minutes a day. The strategy here is to eat the elephant a bite at a time. By setting the timer for just 15 minutes a day, and filling up a bag or a bin with items you are no longer using, you will quickly clear some major space for those gifts sitting under the Christmas tree. Start at one end of the house and work your way through each room, going through closets, cabinets and drawers. After three weeks, you’ll have spent over five hours purging the clutter!

Get the kids involved. It’s sad but true that items begin to lose their value over time. The novelty wears off, new interests develop, and toys, clothes, and old electronics just don’t feel as fun anymore. Because “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” Christmas is the perfect time to teach your kids how to bless the lives of others by donating some of their personal belongings to charity. In the process, they will also learn how to make space for new things they really want. Stephen Paul has said, “The space for what you want is already filled up by what you’ve settled for instead.” Enlisting the kids in the clutter-clearing process is a victory on two fronts; it provides an opportunity to establish habits of abundance and generosity at an early age, and it certainly helps make room for those incoming Christmas gifts. Start by recommending that they donate as many items as they hope to receive for Christmas.

Establish a home for the gifts before they are purchased or unwrapped. It can start as early as the checkout line. Consider the available space you have, and ensure that you have the room for what you are purchasing. This is particularly relevant for large items that might look exciting online or in the toy store, but cause a lot of inconvenience once they are unwrapped. For smaller items, clear a shelf or have hangers waiting. You can even have containers ready. This will make putting away the Christmas gifts something you actually look forward to!

Consider a Christmas morning bin. We’ve all gone through the case of the missing gift card or earrings. On Christmas morning, small items have a tendency to get lost in all of the opened gifts and wrapping debris. Providing a bin for each person to place opened gifts into will give those treasures a temporary home, ensuring that everything is safe and sound until they are a safe distance away from the Christmas morning mayhem.

Trust in having less. The simplest solution to having too much is to bring less into your home in the first place. Can you even remember what you received last year? Can your kids? Trust in quality, not quantity, and don’t give in to the cultural pressure to flood the tree with more gifts than you truly have room for.

Outsmart the storage dilemma by implementing one or more of these tips, and you’ll enjoy a holiday season that is a little less focused on stress, and a little more centered in the joy of giving.

 

JennyLaytonJenny Layton

Creator of The Happy Gal, Jenny is an author, speaker, professional organizer and coach dedicated to helping women live happier, healthier, more organized lives. www.thehappygal.com

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Finding the Perfect Holiday Gift

Holiday shopping is tough. The challenge lies in finding the right thing. That’s especially difficult when so many of us don’t need any more things. Things simply add to the clutter that we’re already wading through. So we visit specialty shops, boutiques, malls, and online stores in hopes of finding something both useful and unique—and magically within our budgets.

Perhaps we can save you some effort. We have loads of fun, creative, and useful gifts for any budget. We’ve highlighted a few here, but there are several more to discover in our Gift Guide.

64508_lrgcaseYou’ll find similar things everywhere you look, but some things have greater staying power than others. Take the pen, for example: The Prism Tornado Fountain Pen by Retro 51 is a great gift choice. It’s loaded with character and personality that is sure to rub off in your writing. The barrel and lid sport a confetti-like pattern of beautiful colors accented in shiny chrome.

Writing with a fountain pen is a unique pleasure, and this durable piece will ensure you can enjoy that experience for a long time to come. You would expect to spend much more for a quality fountain pen, but this beauty is only $55.00.

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Sometimes it’s fun to give a bigger gift—something that makes a statement. The durable Franklin Laptop Bag boasts a genuine pebbled leather exterior, and durable, padded nylon interior—giving your laptop years of protection and style. Large zippers with black metal pulls and accents add just the right touch of style and strength, and the intelligent design inside will ensure you and your favorite things are never separated. Measures: 16.25” W x 13” H x 4.75” D                       $75.98
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If a laptop bag isn’t her thing, check out the Malone Tote by Matt and Nat. This retro, doctor-style handbag is made of 100% eco-friendly materials. It can be carried as a shoulder bag or worn crossbody with its removable shoulder strap. The Malone features a zippered frame closure, a slit pocket in the back for your phone, and clever styling. Measures: 14″ W x 9.5″ H x 3.25″ D              $137.95

64815_lrgcaseProtect your plans with the beauty of soft, genuine leather. The Macaroon Binder is loaded with interior organization for your pen, cards, and ID, but it’s the quilted leather exterior that makes it stand out. You’ll appreciate the padded feel in your hands and the pop of instant style it adds to any wardrobe.

64345_lrgcaseThe Pippa Wire-bound Cover has won our unofficial Photographer’s Choice award for its striking contrasts, solid design, and attention to the finest details. Its rich, genuine leather inside and out add a comfortable touch and provide the ideal place for your plans, notepad, pen and important cards. A snap closure keeps it all intact.
Measures: 7.125” W x 9.75” H x 0.75” D                  $84.95

65190_lrgcaseMore time is better than more things. Help them find the open hours in their day with our time-test planning system. In honor of our 30th anniversary, we’ve re-created our top-selling Original planner in six distinct colors. Let them coordinate their planner with their favorite binder style for a look that’s all their own. This beautiful planner, with our patented ABC, 123 Prioritized Daily Task List, will help them focus on their most important tasks each day so they can reach their long-term goals.

If you’re still struggling to find the ideal gift for your family, consider using your planner to create a holiday they’ll remember. Forego the big gifts and surprise them with travel gear, an itinerary, and tickets under the tree. It will require some planning, but it will be incredibly rewarding. Start planning today for an early spring visit to The Grand Canyon, Disneyland, or Hawaii (budget permitting, of course). You’ll find great luggage options and travel gear at FranklinPlanner.com. Some gifts are short-lived. Why not give them memories to cherish that will last a lifetime?

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December 2014 To-Do Checklist

1310022 ToDoList_Classic5December is here! Time to bring out the decorations and trim the tree! Send your holiday cards out early before things get too crazy. Remember to enjoy time with family and make happy memories! Here are a few more things you don’t want to leave off your list:

December Checklist Classic Size

December Checklist Compact Size

December Checklist Pocket Size

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Holiday Travel Survival Guide

There’s no place like home for the holidays, right? The only problem is that everyone else seems to have the same idea at this time of year. If you’re looking for some ideas to minimize the stress of traveling around the holidays, keep these helpful tips in mind.

travel by plane

  1. Give gift cards or ship presents to family and friends before the holidays start, to minimize packing stress and eliminate overstuffed luggage. If you order online, you can often ship directly to the recipient without paying additional postage.
  2. Carry a snack. Since a few lines are inevitable, and connecting flights are often a long ways away, make sure you have a snack handy. You’ll be more on top of things and less irritable if you aren’t skipping meals.
  3. Bring earplugs. It’s a beautiful thing to get a little peace and quiet mid-flight. You can tune out that annoying conversation to your right, a whining child, or a snoring fellow passenger.
  4. Exercise before your flight. Don’t overdo it with a workout that makes you sore, but light exercise can help prevent leg cramps. If you have a layover, take advantage of the long corridors and stretch your legs a bit.
  5. Bring some interesting entertainment. Whether it’s a book you’ve wanted to read, a magazine, or some earphones and music, you need something to zone out to while traveling. It’ll help in long lines and during the flight.

Tips for holiday travel by car

  1. Get a maintenance checkup for your car before heading out during the holidays. Have any necessary work performed before your trip.
  2. If you’re traveling through big cities, plan travel times carefully so you don’t hit rush hour traffic.
  3. Instead of packing gifts in your car (and hoping the wrapping doesn’t get crumpled), give gift cards or ship presents to family and friends.
  4. Pack a winter safety kit. Snowstorms could pop up at any time, or your car could break down and leave you temporarily stranded while you wait for assistance. Your winter safety kit should include things like snacks, water, flashlight, extra clothing and blankets, booster cables, a first aid kit, a roadside flare, a roadside distress flag, extra gloves, a shovel, a rope or a tow chain, an ice scraper, a radio with battery backup, any regular medications you or your passengers take, and either sand, road salt, or cat litter (for traction in ice storms).
  5. If you have children, you can make the journey enjoyable for them (and more tolerable for yourself!) by planning a few short stops along the way. The destination doesn’t have to be amazing—often playing at a park is exactly what kids need after spending hours in the car.
  6. Remember to make safety your top priority when driving in winter weather conditions. Allow extra time between vehicles, don’t drink and drive, pull over if you get sleepy, and slow down in rain or snow.

Happy traveling!

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6 Tips to Help You Find the Motivation to Get Organized

By Monica Friel

Is it hard to find the time to get to that looming organizing project? People often say they don’t have the time, but it may have more to do with having the energy than the time. You can always find time for what’s important, but sometimes it’s hard to find the energy and motivation to tackle something that’s not on a deadline like keeping your desk organized or getting started on a big organizing project. Here are some tips to help you boost your energy and motivate you to get organized:

Work when you have the energy

Determine when your energy levels rise and fall and plan your projects accordingly. If you’re a morning person, carve out morning time to tackle tough tasks. Plan low energy, mundane tasks for after lunch and later in the day. Work within your own rhythms and you’ll feel more energized.

Take care of yourself

Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and regularly exercise to maintain optimal energy levels. If you’re not feeling well, you can’t expect to get much done. Sleep deprivation and illness can zap all of your energy. When you feel great, it will be easier to get motivated.

Get moving

If your job requires you to sit at a desk, make sure you regularly get up and move around. Studies show that we are actually more productive when we can move around. Think of tasks you can do while walking: make calls, listen to audio, collaborate with a colleague, or simply use the time to gather thoughts.

Play music

Music has the power to trigger energy. An upbeat song can quickly motivate. However, don’t keep the music on all the time–it works best to boost energy when it’s played periodically.

Schedule It

If you really want to get something done, get it on your calendar and stick to it. Carving out the time and putting it on your calendar will help ensure that it happens. Schedule time to get organized, whether it’s with a professional organizer or simply planning time on your own to get through it.

Break it down

Write down all of the projects (and parts of projects) that you need to get done. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed just by thinking (and re-thinking) of all we have to do. Create a list and break big projects down into smaller, do-able parts.

Getting organized can seem like a daunting task if you’ve let things slip, but it’s worth the effort to chip away at it. You’ll enjoy the feeling of knowing where things are and feeling more productive. That in itself will boost your energy!

monica

 

 

Monica Friel

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4 Ways to Use Your Planner This Holiday Season

Your Franklin Planner is the gift that keeps on giving. Here are four ideas to help you save time, energy, and sanity this holiday season:

CLrh_HolidayGiftList_Final1. Track Your Gifts: start by making a list of all the people you need gifts for this season, from family members and friends to your child’s school teacher.  Keep this list in your planner as you shop for gifts, and mark down the gifts you purchase. You never know when inspiration might strike – you might decide the traditional Hawaiian gift of a pineapple is perfect for your neighbor while walking through the produce section, for example.

Download a Holiday Gift List for your planner:

Holiday Gift List – Pocket: JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Compact: JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Classic:  JPG PDF

Holiday Gift List – Monarch: JPG PDF

2. Plan Your Parties: from guest lists to ingredient lists to decorations to daily reminders, your planner can handle the rigors of planning a party. Mark off RSVPs, plan out your errands, and watch everything fall into place for a stress-free get-together.

3. Prepare for Guests: if you’re having family or friends from out of town staying with you this holiday season, help their trip be memorable in a good way. Jot down reminders to prepare your guest rooms before they arrive. Research fun local activities happening on the dates that your guests will be with you. Then you’ll have options for entertaining, giving your guests a choice between a night on the town and a cozy evening at home with your family.

4. Holiday Card List: Yes, it’s that time again. As you prepare to send out holiday cards this year, brainstorm a list of recipients in your planner. Then you can print out address labels and take your cards to a more comfortable spot than your computer desk. Mark names off as you hand write each card, and your season’s greetings will be that much more personal and meaningful.

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Quinn Collection

Of all the holiday colors, gold stands out: golden candlelight, golden tinsel, golden memories of time with your family. To celebrate the beauty of the season, we’ve put golden hardware and accents on our new Quinn collection.

Crafted from finely pebbled full-grain leather, both the Quinn Binder and the Quinn Tote come in beautiful magenta or tastefully muted gray. The snap closure binder has all the features you’ve come to expect from a FranklinCovey Exclusive binder: two pen loops, card slots, and a slot for your padfolio.

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The Quinn Tote features three separate interior compartments, giving you enough space to store your binder while protecting your tablet in a padded sleeve. Two zipper pockets showcase the golden metal hardware, and your choice of tote handles or a detachable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry.

If you love the look of gold, then it’s time to update your binder and tote.

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5 Tips to Financially Prepare for the Holidays

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For many people, one of the most dreaded things about the holiday season is not the fear of being a Scrooge. It’s just the reverse—the temptation to overspend. It’s easy to think, just one more toy for the little ones, or an extra pair of gloves, or the perfect earrings…and somehow during the holiday whirl we load up a bucket of debt. When the credit card bills start arriving in January, the last of the holiday happiness is officially doused, and it may feel like Scrooge got off easy by just having a few otherworldly visitations.

Holiday debt is much easier to get into than out of and can affect your finances through the first quarter of the year, or even longer. The average American household spends over $800 each holiday season on presents alone, and when you add in decorations, entertaining costs, travel, shipping, extra food and drink, and all of the other extras associated with this season, it’s easy to see how debt can creep in. The good news is that you have the power to plan for a perfectly budgeted holiday season.

Here are five tips to prepare financially for the holidays:

1. Find a few places to cut back on spending and add your savings to your holiday fund. Everyone has someplace they can trim a bit—maybe it’s dining out less, cutting back on entertainment, or serving coffee and dessert at some of your holiday parties instead of providing a full dinner.

2. Commit to a cash-only Christmas. Don’t use credit cards for holiday spending. If you’re tempted to overspend, limit shopping times to just a few days during the season.

3. Plan a holiday checklist of tasks to accomplish and purchases to make, and keep your lists in your planner so they’re easy to access. On your gift list, make a note of gifts you purchase so you can avoid doubling up on gifts or forgetting some until the last minute.

4. Establish reasonable expectations in your children. Instead of asking for a long wish list, ask children to focus on just one or two things they’d like most.

5. Find a few fun activities you can do with family and friends this holiday season that don’t involve spending money. Attend a holiday concert, drive around to see lights, make homemade ornaments, or find a way to serve in your community. Having a few free (or low cost) activities scheduled into your calendar is one great way to stretch the budget this month.

As you begin the holiday season, remind yourself that spending money is not the only way to show love, friendship, or appreciation. Preparing a solid holiday budget and sticking with it will see you through the season and into a cheerful January free of credit card regret. And that’s something even Dickens would approve of.

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10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving This Holiday Season

By Patty Gardner

The holidays can be tricky for people who are already on a tight budget with their time, money and stress level.  I know I already have more to do than I can possibly do during the rest of the year and the holidays just about push me over the edge.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are things we can do to survive and even thrive during this holiday season.  So without further ado, let’s get started:

1.       There are SO many things you could do during the holidays, and most likely, your schedule won’t allow you to do all of them.  So before you get started, CHOOSE what activities are most important to you and schedule them in.  Decide which activities are the LEAST important and mark them off the list.  You can’t do everything so decide ahead of time what you will do.

2.       Skip what you can.  Just because you’re invited to something doesn’t mean you have to go.  Since there are more than enough activities to choose from, skip what you can so you can focus on the things you really want to do.

3.       If you like shopping for Christmas presents at the stores, then schedule shopping time.  If you don’t, do as much shopping as possible on-line.  But do it soon so you’ll be sure to get your gifts on time.

4.       If you’re attending or hosting parties, don’t be ashamed to buy food pre-made.  Yes, homemade is usually better but you can only do what you can do.  If you’re short on time and energy, buy it at the store!  There’s no shame in that.

5.       Do the minimum on the house.  Yes, I actually said skip the housecleaning – but not all of it!  Straighten, vacuum, keep the bathroom(s) clean and clean the kitchen as you go.  If you spill something, clean it immediately.  If you get something out, put it away.  But if time is short, don’t worry about a lot of cleaning.  Just do the minimum.  You can catch up when the holidays are over.

6.       Cook easy meals.  Use your crock pot whenever you can.  Here are some ideas:

  • Spaghetti & meat sauce w/frozen garlic bread
  • Tacos
  • Deli sandwiches with chips
  • Pancakes, Fried Eggs & Bacon
  • Chili

7.       Don’t pack your activities in too tight.  If you already have an event for one evening, don’t try to plan something else that day, too.  It’s tempting to schedule events back to back, but don’t do it.  That will definitely stress you out.

8.       Allow down time.  You want to get through the holidays with your sanity so schedule time just to relax.  It might be hard to fit it in, but it’s important.  It can be time for just you or time with the family.  But don’t go, go, go – unless that’s what you like.

9.       Don’t start something new!  If you’re thinking about making big changes to one of your systems (planner, cleaning schedule, etc.), DON’T.  Wait until January when things are slower.  Even if your life is busy all the time, January will still be slower than December.

10.     Don’t skip the things that are important in an effort to save time.  I’m talking about basics like your spiritual life, your sleep, good food, time with family, exercise.  You think you’ll save time by skipping these but in the end they cost you much more than you gained.

So which one of these do you need to put into practice in order to thrive this holiday season?

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Is it too early to start making holiday travel plans?

Autumn is in full swing, and that means it will soon start smelling like the holidays. Spicy gingerbread, roasted turkey, pumpkin lattes, fresh baked pie, and mulled wine—the cool weather seems to bring out the best in cooks all over the country. It’s enough temptation to face holiday crowds and head home for the holidays.

So, where will you like to spend this holiday season? Now is the time to work out your holiday travel plans. Somehow, the nostalgic appeal of your hometown and the camaraderie of family and friends often pulls people back to their roots. It’s also a fun time to take a trip with friends and start new traditions. Whatever your travel plans are, it’s always a good idea to book flights and hotel rooms well in advance, since you can often get the best rates by booking early and there is usually limited availability.

Here’s the beginnings of your holiday travel checklist:airplane

  • Let family members and friends know your travel plans early
  • Mark down dates to book flights, hotel rooms, and make other arrangements
  • Schedule time off work
  • Begin making lists of items you need or packing you need to do

Another tip for holiday travel is to select gifts that pack well. Think unbreakable and low profile. Books, calendars, small handbags, gift cards, and scarves will fit in suitcases and arrive in great condition. If you pre-wrap gifts, bear in mind that if you’re flying, wrapped gifts in your carry-on may need to be unwrapped at security. You can simplify your holiday travel by ordering gifts for friends and family online and have their gifts delivered to them, saving you packing space and the hassle of keeping track of gifts while traveling.

As you plan your holiday travel, remember to take some time to enjoy the fall colors and the sights and smells of the upcoming holidays. Happy autumn!

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10 Tips for Stress-Free Entertaining

By Patty Gardner

Having guests for dinner?  Sometimes having guests is more stressful than fun but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are 10 ways you can entertain and have fun at the same time.

1. Choose a simple menu.  When you’re having guests is NOT the time to try new recipes and new techniques.  It only increases your stress level.  Simple menus don’t have to be boring or unimpressive.  There are plenty of simple dishes that will wow your guests.

2. When you’re planning your menu, try to have a variety of foods to choose from in case your guests don’t like something you serve.

3. Don’t clean your house before guests come.  Really.  Don’t do it.  Most people go on a cleaning marathon before they have company and then they’re too exhausted to enjoy their guests.  Tidy the house, sweep the floors, do the dishes, and clean the bathroom.  Let the rest go.

4. Don’t destroy your budget trying to provide a fancy, expensive meal.  I had a friend who always went all out for guests and then she and her husband had to skimp the rest of the week.  Don’t do that.  It’s not necessary.

5. If you’re not experienced at cooking for others, try to plan your dinner party for a time when you have plenty of time to prepare.

6. Do as much ahead as you possibly can.  One of my favorite meals to serve to guests is tacos.  Tacos provide so many options.  A person can eat healthy or not healthy.  If they don’t like something, there are plenty of other choices.  And tacos are really easy to do ahead of time.

7. If your guests ask if they can bring something, and it fits with your menu, let them!  It helps your budget, saves you time and effort and lets them contribute to the meal.

8. And if they want to help you clean up after dinner, let them!
dishes

9. When you invite your guests, you might want to ask them if there’s anything they don’t like or are allergic to.  People are usually more than willing to let you know.

10. And finally, remember that it’s not about the food but the fellowship.  You’re having people over to spend time with them not to dazzle them with your cooking skills.  So don’t stress if everything doesn’t turn out perfect.  Just have fun!

 

What do you do to keep yourself from getting stressed out when company’s coming?

1311037-fp-guru-bio-pattygardner

 

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Autumn Is Now Here

With apples ripening on the trees and children returning to school, it means it’s time to start planning for the coming winter. Autumn is a great time to do projects around the home or yard. It’s also the best time to schedule out holiday events and set your final goals for the year.

Autumn Yard Projects

Cooler weather means it’s more pleasant to work in the yard or clean out the garage. A tidy garden area looks better whether it’s heaped in Fallsnow or mildly frostbitten. But the best benefit of a tidy garden area is that you won’t have as many pests next year. Dead plants are a preferred spot for hibernating insects. Getting rid of leaves and plant debris now means you’ll have fewer pests to worry about next spring. So, get out the rakes and make a day of it! Put a hearty stew on to simmer in the slow cooker and go outside to clean up the garden and enjoy the outdoors in the golden days of autumn.

Home Organization

Now is the time to sort through your belongings and weed out unwanted items. Garages, closets, potting sheds, and other storage areas can become cluttered during the summer months. But with winter coming, you’ll want to have easy access to holiday decorations, winter boots, and other items you have stored away. Sort out unwanted items and donate these items to charity. Organize closets and other storage areas so that you can easily reach holiday items you’ll need in the next few months.

Plan for the Holidays

Autumn is a great time to get your holiday checklist in order and start planning for a beautiful holiday season. Which parties will you host? Will you be traveling? Which cultural events do you want to attend? Who do you want to get together with most this season? It’s a good idea to start scheduling holiday travel well in advance. This is also a good time to get holiday shopping completed, since there is better selection and less crowding. Stores often offer wonderful sales at this time of year.

Determine Your Holiday Priorities

As you arrange travel plans, plan parties, pencil in events, and select performances you’d like to attend, don’t forget to schedule in some time to relax. Go ahead and write it in your planner: November 18th, 8-10 pm: stargazing on the patio with James. All too quickly, your planner can fill up with holiday events and other obligations. Right now is a good time to think about priorities and what matters most to you and your family.

Set End of Year Goals

The time to set end of year goals isn’t mid-December: it’s right now. That way, once the holiday events start piling up, you won’t feel overwhelmed. You’ll have it all in order. A bit of careful planning now makes for a memorable holiday season and a more leisurely and enjoyable winter.

 

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Gifting Organizational Twofers

By Naomi Cook

Never heard of a Twofer?

It is defined by Merriam-Webster as “something that satisfies two criteria or needs simultaneously.”  Um…what’s better than that!  This holiday season consider gifting a twofer with organization in mind.  Bath salts and soap gift baskets are nice, but how many have you received that have gone unused and sit in the back of your linen closet, just taking up space?  Here are some practical and reusable gift ideas for some of the people in your life that they are sure to love:

For the Bookworm:

  • Give a stair basket filled with things to keep warm in the winter – like cozy winter socks and a bestselling book.  Afterwards it can be used to help bring items from upstairs to downstairs and back up again!

For the Fashionista:

  • Find a nice jewelry display or holder for necklaces, bracelets or earrings and surprise them with a piece already on it or tucked inside!

For the Foodie:

  • Make homemade presents like filling a jar with cookie ingredients.  The jar can be used afterwards to hold the extra buttons that come with your clothing, or in the laundry room for items pulled out of pockets before washing!  Remember that whoever does the laundry gets to keep the money!
  • Head to a pottery painting store and work your magic on a serving bowl, adding some nice seasonal fruits onto it.

For the Gaming Enthusiast:

  • Find an inexpensive storage ottoman and fill it with a couple of the hottest new games.  They can keep all their gear and games inside and then have an extra seat!

For the Hobbyist:

  • Give a gift certificate to a store where they can buy items to pursue a passion.  Put that and a few small supplies in a multi-drawer plastic bin for the crafter on your list.  Or for the fix it guy or gal, put a gift card and a few tools in a tool box.

If all else fails and you are not sure what to get someone, give a gift card to a restaurant.  The twofer here can be the leftovers in a box, which you can reuse for leftovers at home!

Happy Holidays!

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Holiday Travel Survival Guide

Going over the river and through the woods in a horse-drawn sleigh sounds like all sorts of fun, and I’m sure was. But you can be sure those holiday trips involved plenty of planning and preparation. Today’s holiday travel is much faster and more comfortable, but it still requires all sorts tree of forethought and preparation. Here are a few tips that may help your next trip go a little more smoothly.

Traveling by Car

Consider alternate routes. Remember that you’ll be on the road with a whole lot of other people with the same destination—home for the holidays. Plan ahead and decide on alternate routes if your preferred route feels a little too crowded. You’ll be surprised at the beauty you’ll find on the back roads.

Find fun places to stop. You’re sure to find rest areas and gas stations along the way to grandma’s house, but with a little planning, you may find a park, historical monument, or scenic byway that will add a little more interest for both you and the kids.

Pack snacks and games. It’s hard for kids to sit in a car for more than a few minutes. Sometimes they’ll start saying, “Are we there yet?” even before you get out of town. Give them music, games, and snacks to keep them entertained along the way. You can also play a few games while you travel—like seeing who can find all the letters in the alphabet by looking at road signs and license plates. (It’s a good way to pass about 20 miles.)

Travel at night. If you load the kids into the car late in the evening with a pillow and their favorite snuggly friend, there’s a great chance they’ll fall asleep long before you get to your destination. It’s the best shortcut you’ll find. Once they’re asleep you can drive straight through without as many potty breaks.

Prepare the car. Before you go, be sure your tires are properly inflated and get your battery checked so you can reduce your chances of being stranded along the way. Also make sure you have a good spare tire, lug wrench, and a jack so you can change a flat and keep moving ahead. Be sure to pack a winter emergency kit as well. Keep it stocked with plenty of blankets, food, and road flares or flashing lights just in case you find that you need to wait things out for a while.

Traveling by Plane

Avoid surprises and overage fees. Be sure to check the airline’s restrictions on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags ahead of time.

Pack light. Avoid checking bags altogether if you can. Keeping it all in your carry-on means you won’t have to check luggage, wait for bags at the conveyor belt, or worry about lost luggage. If you do have to check a bag, be sure you have all your medications, important documents, and at least one change of clothes in your carry-on unless your luggage gets lost.

 Pack earplugs. Many people don’t think of this one, but it’s a great way to reduce the noise in an airplane so you can tune out.

Chew gum. Chewing gum often helps when your plane is ascending or descending. It helps you keep the pressure in your ears from causing pain. It’s also a good idea to give the baby a little bottle during these critical times to keep them from getting fussy.

If you can, book your flight at the wrong time. Most people travel on the day before the holiday. In fact, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. But if you wait a few hours and catch an early morning flight on Thanksgiving Day, you can avoid a lot of that mess. It may feel counterintuitive, but it may prove to be even more relaxing to wait, and you’ll still arrive at your destination in time for food. After all, planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance than planes scheduled later in the day.

Ship your gifts ahead of time. Mailing your packages early will save you all sorts of room in your luggage, hassles at the TSA checkpoints, and overage fees. It may require some planning and a little more money for shipping, but you won’t have to worry about them being unwrapped by security in the airport.

Smile. Remember that the joys and challenges of your holiday travel will make for some good conversation around the dinner table. After all, the journey over the river and through the woods is as much of a holiday tradition as pumpkin pie and classic holiday movies.

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Thanksgiving Shopping

With just four days left until the Thanksgiving feast, it’s time to prepare with a well-organized shopping list. Organize your list in your planner, and42687_lrgcase don’t forget these categories:

  • Produce
  • Dairy
  • Meats
  • Desserts
  • Toppings
  • Any extra dishes needed to cook the big meal
  • Decorations
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Countdown to Christmas

When I was in 4th grade we held a Christmas program for our school. One of the songs in our program was The Christmas Candy Calendar Song, by Robert Maxwell. “It’s six pink peppermints ‘til Christmas,” we sang, “and there’s lots and lots of things for us to do.” With Christmas only six weeks 8502.away, I can’t help but think of that song—there is still a lot to do.

I remember one year when my wife and I felt rushed right up until Christmas Day. The tree stood stately glowing in the family room, but we rarely took the time to relax around it as a family. We had failed to prioritize our activities. Both of us commented that the holiday had come upon us too quickly and we hadn’t taken time to soak in the season—too many “things” on our to-do lists.

Some of you have the holidays figured out. You may already be finished with your shopping, have your gifts wrapped and placed under the tree, and your greeting cards and packages in the mail. That’s great. But what is it that makes the holidays memorable? Is it the gifts we give and receive, the big events we attend, or the cards in the mailbox? For most of us, it’s the little things we do as a family that we remember most—sledding in the park, building snowmen, sharing stories, and making hot cocoa. Here are a handful of things that can help you make the most of your holiday.

Plan ahead. If you aren’t already finished shopping and you love to shop the sales during the season, make a list of each person to whom you plan to give a gift. Decide how much you can reasonably afford to spend on gifts and stick to your budget.

Give thoughtful gifts. Try not to buy something just because it’s on sale. Consider the desires and needs of the people on your list and try to match your gift to each person. Great-priced sale items are good for your just-in-case gifts—for those times when guests arrive unexpectedly with gifts and you want to return the favor. Keep a few quality gifts on hand with universal appeal just in case. A quality pen, journal, calendar, or some fine Swiss chocolate can easily fit the bill.

Organize your holiday decorations. You probably already have your holiday décor organized, but if you’re like us, you’re bound to discover more things to tidy up as you go. While you’re trimming your tree, make a list of things you’d like to arrange differently. Perhaps your heirloom ornaments need a sturdier container, or you’d like a better way to roll up your lights. This is the time take note of the details so you can be prepared when it’s time to take them back down.

Plan your season’s greetings. Give the mail carriers plenty of time to deliver your warm wishes. Remember that the closer it gets to Christmas, the more harried the delivery services are going to be. Plan to have your greeting cards in the mail early this year. If you are mailing internationally, it may take several weeks for your packages to arrive at their destination. Be sure to plan accordingly. You’d rather have your gifts arrive too early than too late.

Plan your activities realistically. It’s fun to take the family out to holiday events. Perhaps you want to catch a play, listen to the symphony, or visit a community performance of Handel’s Messiah. These are all great things to do, but remember that you will also have family parties, neighborhood gatherings, unexpected guests, and your children’s school-related activities to squeeze into the next few weeks as well. It doesn’t take long to be buried in events. Along with your financial budget, decide how much time you want to spend away from home, so you can relax and enjoy your own holiday traditions.

Even if planning isn’t your strongest suit, making an effort to plan the next six weeks will be the best thing you do all season. With all you have to do, you’d hate to forget to sing Christmas carols around the tree, bake a pumpkin pie, or pick a purple tie for uncle Lou.

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December To-Do Checklist

Stay organized through the busy holiday season with planning ahead. This month’s checklist can help you remember small things like what to save and what to toss, where to clean for gift hiding spots, and how to stay rested so you don’t get too stressed. Though the seasons can become chaotic, remembering what comes afterwards can help ease the stress of the New Year….tax season is just around the corner.

December Checklist Classic Size

December Checklist Compact Size

December Checklist Pocket Size

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4 Ways to Use Your Planner During the Holidays

During the holidays, the demands on your time come from everywhere – preparing your home, keeping up with your family’s schedule, handling end-of-year work projects, and coordinating all the gift giving. Using your planner effectively can help pull all of these demands into a single place, making them easier to manage. Here are a few ideas:

Create a Master Shopping List

Make a list of each member of your family and any friends or neighbors, and create checklists for all the gifts you’re planning on giving them. Slip this list into your pagefinder. As you shop, you can then check off the gifts as you purchase them, whether you shop in person or online. When everything for everyone has been checked off, you’ll know you won’t need to run any last minute errands.23642_lrgcase

Holiday Card Mailing List

Sending your season’s greetings can be a daunting task – if you remember to do it in the first place. If you’re determined not to miss anyone this  year, make a large list of your holiday contacts. Then you can visit SendOutCards.com (https://www.sendoutcards.com/franklinplanner/) to customize, order, and send your cards with a click of a button. It sure beats an evening of licking envelopes.

Holiday Party Planning

There are a lot of little things that go into a party – selecting the decorations, preparing the menu, arranging the space in your home to accommodate guests. Make a master plan with dates for each specific tasks, and keep it with your holiday plan in your pagefinder. Then when you reach an assignment due date in your planner, you can transfer the tasks to the to do list for that day, and when the day of the event arrives, you can finalize the menu and the details on the notes page.

The Present Code

It’s a battle that has gone on for time immemorial: parents hide the gifts, and kids try to figure out what they are before the big day. From shaking presents under the tree to spying through the house for the hidden gift cache, there’s nothing a kid won’t try in their excitement.

This year, as you wrap the presents and put them under the tree, label each with a random number, letter, or word (or mix up all three). Keep the master code list in you planner or in a Password Book  (http://franklinplanner.fcorgp.com/store/buy/Search-5/Password-Book-by-Wellspring—Flip-Flops/prod720104/?skuId=40791&_requestid=71208), without telling anyone, and it will be much easier to surprise your kids.

 

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Stressed Spelled Backwards is Desserts!

By Naomi Cook

Ok, so we haven’t reached the holidays yet, but have you looked at the calendar lately!  We are only about 2 weeks from Thanksgiving and then the madness starts!  Let’s take a crack at some of these things now, so that you have time to enjoy your holidays – imagine that!  Here are some ways to relieve some of the stress before it starts!

For now prepare for…

Feeding Time!

If you are hosting…

* Find your favorite supermarket’s circular (either paper or online), and do your holiday homework!  Online circulars are great in that you can create a printable shopping list of the sale items that are offered!

* See if they offer a free turkey (or alternative) when you spend a certain amount there before Thanksgiving.

* Look on your last store receipt to see how far away you are from that amount.

* If you still have a ways to go, then get all of the ingredients for the fixings now, because you don’t want to have to run out at the last minute and risk finding the shelves bare!

* You’ll find that a lot of those ingredients are on sale anyway and with store coupons and manufacturer coupons your savings can add up!

 

If you are a guest…

* Remind your host about any dietary restrictions you have.  Offer to bring something for yourself, like I do with my Tofurky!  Ok, don’t say ewww…it is actually quite delicious!

* Offer to bring a side dish or dessert and it can become a potluck affair!

 

Shopping Time!

* If you don’t normally buy the local Sunday paper, buy it for the next few months.

You’ll find ads for your favorite local stores with items on sale and can also

get thoughts on presents for friends and family.

* The Sunday paper is also where you will also get your manufacturer’s coupons for

your holiday ingredients!

* Flip through the magazines you subscribe too, sometimes they have valuable store

coupons on perforated cards.

* Check the covers of catalogs that come in the mail for Free Shipping deals.  Also

check around the order form to find out when you can expect delivery.

* Check your e-mail inbox for deals from your favorite catalogs and stores (that

you are subscribed to) as well.

* On a notepad jot those offers and dates down (of the catalogs you are interested

in) so they will be in one place.

* If you must, go shopping on Black Friday (although that can cause even more stress!)

or better yet partake in Cyber Monday.

* When you have found everything for everyone, consider opting out of receiving

paper catalogs (as well as other junk mail) and instead get their e-mail alerts.

Head to Catalog Choice (www.catalogchoice.org) for what to do!

* If you are concerned with receiving too many store e-mails, designate another

e-mail address just for them or just opt out.  Sometimes at that opt out point they

will ask you if you want less frequent e-mails.

 

Crisis Time!

* The inevitable may happen, and If your package has not arrived in time and you

are freaking out, get in touch with the company.

* If you get the voicemail run-around, log onto Get Human (www.gethuman.com) for how

to actually reach a human being!

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6 Tips for the Holiday Host

It’s that time of year again. Time to gather for food and fun. But what if the gathering place is your home? Here are six tips to help you host your holiday guests.Dinner Place Setting with Christmas Cracker and Glasses

1. Plan your holiday get together early. Now is the perfect time to prepare for your holiday gathering. Collect recipes, shop for ingredients, prepare a guest list, and plan your activities. Keep all of this information in your planner so you can refer to it as you progress toward the big event.

2. Extend an invitation only if you really mean it. If you invite guests that you believe will never come, they’ll notice your lack of preparation when they arrive. Nothing says, “I didn’t really expect you to come” like an unprepared host. It makes your guests feel very uncomfortable.

3. Freshen the guest bathroom. It doesn’t take much to touch up the guest bathroom, but a clean tub, toilet, sink and a clear counter will make your guests feel at home. Be sure they have clean face and bath towels as well, especially if they plan to stay the night. It’s also nice to provide travel-sized toiletries that they can use and keep. This time of year it’s easy to find holiday scented soap or even bars of soap in holiday shapes to spice things up.

4. Spruce up the guest bedroom. It’s amazing what a quick sweep of the vacuum and a fresh set of sheets does to the guest room. It gives them a place to sprawl and a place to keep their travel gear organized.  Create an empty corner so they can keep their luggage out of their way while they’re in your home. A beautiful basket loaded with holiday snacks is another fun way keep them smiling.

5. Light a candle and play some music. There’s something relaxing about music, candlelight, and the aroma of good food.

6. Delegate the cooking. Make a list and shop early for the ingredients you’ll need for your meals. Cook what you can ahead of time. Desserts can usually be baked the night before so your oven is free for your main dishes. Often your guests will offer to bring something to eat for the gathering. Don’t turn down that offer. Give them an assignment that will free up your kitchen as well as your time. After all, you’re part of the party too. You don’t want to spend the whole time in the kitchen and miss the conversation.

 

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How to Have a Happier Holiday

What to do in the next three months to have a happier holiday.

So much about the holidays revolves around good feelings – the warmth of giving a gift, the joy of spending time with family during Thanksgiving, the rekindled wonder of watching a small child’s excitement. At least, that’s how we’d like the holidays to be. If you start preparing for them now, you can minimize the irritations and spend more time enjoying the joys of the season.

  • Stock up on Supplies: the holidays are a time when we emerge from our digital world and send physical things to each other. Stock up on wrapping paper, tape, ribbon postage stamps, boxes, and tags before the big season, and you won’t spend the week before the holiday picking over ugly patterns in the bargain bin.
  • Make Your Gift List Now: Start asking yourself the big questions for your holiday gift-giving:
    • Who? List out all the people who need gifts.Party Favor on Dinner Table
    • What? Brainstorm fun ideas for each person, or at the very least, decide on a price range.
    • Where? Once you have a list of the presents you need, you can consolidate trips – a single trip to the toy store for all the toys on your list, a single visit to the FranklinPlanner.com family of sites for the planning, family, decorating, and tech accessories.
    • Lock in Your Travel: A lot goes into a holiday trip. Download the Holiday Travel Planning Checklist, and plan out your itinerary, transportation, budget, and more before heading out.
    • Shop on the Right Days: the quietest shopping days during December are Tuesdays and Wednesdays – you won’t run into weekend crowds or Sunday ad shoppers. Or you can skip the crowds altogether and shop online.
    • Tip Generously: Make the holidays special for those who serve you – tip your trash collectors, doorman, hairdresser, and letter carriers for a job well done all year long.

Getting these holiday items on your radar now will help you plan, and face these challenges with confidence.

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Holiday Stowaways (don’t worry… they will soon go away!!)

By Naomi Cook

It’s that time of year, and Santa is not the only one who will be slipping into your house. Yes, I am talking about friends and family descending into your home…hopefully not via the chimney!

Get a head start on organizing your home now, so that you can enjoy your home, and allow both you and your guests the ability to move about the house with relative ease.

Here are some suggestions that may help relieve your stress and allow you to hang onto your sanity!

  1. Move out-of-season coats out of the entry coat closet. For now, each coat can go to the top of its corresponding family member’s closet. Then the bedrooms you assign as rooms for your guests won’t become the dumping ground for coats. If kids are staying over, and assumingly go to bed early, they will need a clear bed to sleep on!
  2. Empty a drawer or two from the dresser in each of the guest rooms and temporarily keep those items in shopping bags, on a shelf or floor in the closet. Now your guest(s) can unpack, and suitcases can roll away under the bed or in a corner.
  3. Buy some over-the-door hooks for every guest’s bedroom and/or closet door. These are inexpensive, take up virtually no room at all, and can accommodate guest towels, robes, and suits or dresses. Remember to make room for those guests that are banished to the sofa bed too!
  4. Clean the linens and make the beds in each room, including the sofa bed. Leave a mint on the pillow!
  5. Create bins with items just for them. Buy some of those fabric handled bins, one for each guest. Use a hanging gift tag to personalize each one. Inside, roll up a set of towels, travel size toothpaste and toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner, soap, etc. Your guests can carry their bin to the bathroom with them much like a college student does with a shower caddy. Toss in some candy for munchies and a water bottle for when they need to quench their thirst in the middle of the night.
  6. Fill a small area in the pantry with snacks and the fridge with drinks for your guests, and let them know to help themselves.
  7. Use additional fabric bins to house small gifts, and if you have folding chairs set up in the living room, they can be slipped under. Again, add a hanging gift tag to personalize each.
  8. Place thin blankets on the seats or backs of the folding chairs to act as cushions, and your guests will always have something to keep them nice and toasty.
  9. Unpack the holiday decorations, and using the same (now empty) boxes and containers, store items that are not necessary to leave out, like tchotchkes, books, magazines, and piles of your kid’s artwork! When it is time to put the holiday decorations back away, just do a swap!

Using these 9 tips will make your guests feel at home and keep your peace of mind.  Happy Holidays!

Thanks for the clever pre-holiday-hosting organizing advice Naomi! If anyone else has some organized hosting tips or tricks, feel free to share in a comment.

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