How To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

We are just a few weeks into the new year. This is usually the time people begin to drop off on their New Year’s resolutions. It can be challenging to make life-long changes overnight. People often set goals at the new year: to lose weight, to eat healthy, to get organized, to name a few. Often, people use the new year as an incentive to muster up enough willpower to make the changes they want to make. But somewhere mid January or early February, the willpower isn’t enough and slowly the goals that had been set begin to go by the wayside.

To make lasting changes, I propose that instead of setting goals or making resolutions, you should focus on your habits. When we practice small, repetitive actions day in and day out, this can more effectively lead us to our goals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against goal setting or making resolutions. That process is fun and exciting because we get to imagine and dream what life could be like. Resolutions are future oriented – making it easier for us to come up with lofty goals, because it is our future self that will have to have the follow through! One of my favorite sayings from the tv show, How I Met Your Mother, that I like to use when I’m procrastinating is “I’ll let future Joy worry about that.” And that’s exactly what we are doing – creating perhaps unattainable goals, and hoping our future selves will have follow through. This is often why year after year nothing actually changes.

I would like to share with you 6 things you can do in order to actually attain your goals.

{ONE} Put it on your to-do list. Habits happen by making something a part of your routine. Whatever you want to achieve, put it on your to-do list and then don’t make excuses and just do it! You want to exercise three times a week? Schedule it in. You want to spend more time with friends? Plan a standing weekly or monthly get together and have it on your calendar. You want to drink more water? Put timers on your phone to remind you to fill up. Want to get organized? Put it on your calendar each week to spend time purging and organizing a space in your home. Over time, these practices just become part of who you are.

{TWO} Choose the “basic solution” over the “quick fix.” Often times, along with resolutions, people buy in to “quick fix” solutions. Whether it’s a special herbal tea, a protein shake, or vitamins and supplements, these things can’t replace what will truly make a lasting change. Making it worse, marketers play into this desire we have to find a quick fix. These quick fix solutions nor our will power can replace making changes in our habits. If we focus on basic solutions and make those a part of our habits, we are more likely to succeed. A basic solution to the goal to “get healthy” might be to get 7-8 hours of sleep at night, to drink 8 glasses of water a day, to exercise a certain number of times per week, instead of taking pills or drinking teas or shakes.. We all know, there are really no shortcuts. People want some magical or secret solution, but the truth is that change happens through small, repetitive actions everyday. 

{THREE} Let your habit connect to a priority in your life. If we want change, we must make these stepping stones to our goal a priority. If you value exercise, friendships, health, organization, then your habits must follow. The good thing about a priority leading your habit and not a goal leading it, is that you can change the habit if it’s not working for you. With a goal, if you “fail” once you feel like you have to start all over and this can be daunting. Say you make it a goal to exercise three times per week. Well, in February you get sick, and it derails this goal. At this point it could be easy to just give up. Habits are easier to “start over.” If exercise is a habit, then when you miss a week of it because of illness, you start over next week! You don’t have this feeling of guilt when you “failed.” Goals are great platforms to make changes in your life, but priorities ultimately dictate our behavior.

{FOUR} Reward yourself. It’s important to have small rewards along the way. This reinforces the behavior. Whether it’s external rewards – like having a soda or beer on Friday night after drinking your 8 glasses of water each day that week, or internal rewards – acknowledging how good you feel after a workout to remind yourself that it’s worth it!

{FIVE} Create an environment or systems to help you succeed. Often times we fail because we don’t have the needed systems in place to foster success. In the example of wanting to drink more water – buy a new water bottle, or have a water bottle out and ready to fill up in the morning, or set timers throughout the day to remind you. Visual cues will remind you to do what you set out to do.

{SIX} Don’t expect perfection. As I mentioned previously, it can be hard to keep chugging along after failure. If you miss a day of exercise, or eat a cheeseburger instead of a salad one day, THAT’S OKAY… start over the next day. It’s difficult to perfectly stick to good habits. Illness, travel, and special celebrations can get in the way of keeping our routines. It’s important to just keep moving forward with your habit.

I hope this encourages you that you CAN succeed in your resolutions this year. Focus on habits instead of goals. Habits are DAILY DECISIONS that can help you achieve your goals!

My No Spend Year 2019

Wow. I can’t believe it’s the beginning of 2020, and I completed my no spend year! It was definitely an insightful year, and I have plans for different shopping habits moving forward. I have learned so much, and I want to implement changes based on what I’ve learned.

One of the most insightful things, and something that kept coming up in each month’s reflections, was how much more time I had. I didn’t realize how much time I spent shopping. At first it was difficult to figure out what to do with that extra time, and I basically replaced shopping with other indulgent things –  watching more Netflix and YouTube, and eating more treats than usual for me. Once I figured that out, I was able to shift that time/energy into more productive things. I worked on some house projects, and later in the year focused on marketing my organizing business through transitioning my website to WordPress, and consistently writing blog posts. In addition to this, I started more consistently posting on my business social media accounts. In the beginning of November I even started a YouTube channel in conjunction with my business, sharing organizing tips and tricks. These avenues of expressing my creativity has been so fulfilling!

This year did not come without bumps and failures. I noticed I struggled when I would bend the rules a bit that I had set in place. If anyone is interested in doing some sort of spending fast, I would suggest being very explicit and detailed with your rules. One rule I had was that I could purchase things for special occasions, unless I had something that would work. While I did have some “wins” choosing to use what I had instead of purchasing something new, I learned that when I did choose to buy things for special occasions it was a slippery slope. The thing I struggled with the most was using the Poshmark app. I was able to sell many pieces of clothing that I wanted purge from my closet, however while in the app managing my items, I would see things that I liked. If you’re not familiar with PM, it’s similar to social media where you can “like” items. When you like an item, often times the seller will send you a discounted deal to entice you to buy their items. This is a technique that I myself use to sell items. I did mostly use the money from my own sales to buy the items that were a deal too good to pass up, however, again it was a slippery slope and I started justifying that I was only off by a little and would “make up for it” with future sales.

An outfit I purchased with my Poshamark credits.

In the beginning of the year, I struggled with that feeling of being drawn to things or really wanting them, but that feeling began to taper off with time. When I would fall into one of those time periods of the slippery slope, that feeling would come back again. One thing I noticed right away is how influenced I was by “influencers.” I would want something I saw someone else had, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t purchase those items because it would have been an impulse purchase and not something that I was being intentional and thoughtful about. I want to stay aware that this is why they are called “influencers” and to not be pulled into that sort of marketing. In general, I want to notice when I want to impulse buy things. I also became a little disenchanted with YouTube hauls. I’m not opposed to influencer marketing, but I want my purchases to be well thought through and not an impulse buy. If I see something an influencer is sharing, I will make a thoughtful, educated decision about if I need the product.

There were a few other things I learned through this journey. Stepping away from the consumerist mindset that I had been entrenched in, I could see more clearly. It’s hard to explain, but when I would be out shopping and saw someone dumping things in their cart, I was almost saddened – like I wanted to “enlighten” them. I’ve also learned about the effects consumerism has on our environment, particularly the fast fashion industry. In addition to this, not bringing new pieces of clothing in my wardrobe over the past year – other than select pieces which I purchased for our trip to Hawaii and the pieces I purchased using my Poshmark credits – it was easier for me to pinpoint my style. I’m beginning to look at my closet completely differently and I foresee another purge coming! Lastly, I was confronted by this idea of decision fatigue. One day while shopping for something specific at Target, I realized how easy the decision seemed. I found it odd, because in the past a decision like this would have been difficult for me. I always felt like I was making the wrong decision. I realized that what I used to do prior to the no spend year, was browse through all my favorite sections in Target. I would find things I liked and wanted and had to make decisions about – on the spot! – if I was going to purchase those items. But this time, I didn’t have to make any of those decisions. That’s when it clicked! I suffered from decision fatigue in Target! By the time I actually got to the items on my list, I was already tired of making decisions.

I had some deeper thoughts about spending, shopping, and my habits in particular. I realized that shopping was a way for me to fill my time – one way to find purpose and meaning in my life. I still love to make our home cozy and beautiful, but I see now that I can do that in a more intentional way rather than just throwing items into a cart at Target. There is also certainly nothing wrong with putting together creative outfits, but moving forward I want to be more thoughtful about what pieces I bring into my wardrobe. As the year progressed, I realized that my attention and energy on making our home beautiful and putting together beautiful outfits was just covering up moving forward in other areas of life – my business and my blog in particular. I was focusing on an area where I felt confident, and wouldn’t fail. I was unaware of how much fear had changed the path in my life. I feared failure and I feared rejection. Now I feel confident that even if I fail, or get rejected THAT’S OKAY. Failure is not bad. Failure teaches us. We learn, and make different choices moving forward. I also came to terms with the idea that I’m not going to please everyone, and not everyone will like me. AND THAT’S OKAY

I did want to address December, and how I fared. I noticed halfway through the month I had some credit in my Poshmark app and decided to use the rest of it since it was the end of the year. Again, I spent a little more than I had available {{darn that slippery slope!}} however just this week I sold two more items! I’m clearly STILL struggling with wanting new clothes AND it’s the end of my no spend year! That is why moving forward I have a plan in place.

Items I purchased with my Poshmark credits in December.

So, what are my plans moving forward?? To sum it up, next year will be my Intentional Spending Year. I’m glad I spent this year retraining my spending habits. Here are the specifics:

No more impulse spending. I will not immediately click links from influencers or purchase items I see in a store which is not on my list until I’ve given it at least 24 hours to think about it.

I will first go to thrift stores or small businesses to purchase clothing and home decor. For clothing, I am going to be using the Poshmark app so I can find intentional pieces to add to my wardrobe. I want my decor to be more intentional and curated as well. I would like to purchase vintage as much as possible.

I will no longer buy clothing items or home decor from places like Target, Wal-mart, or Home Goods unless there is something specific that I can’t find thrifted or through small businesses.

➤When going to Target, I will not browse through clothes or home decor. I will stick to my list.

➤I will ACTUALLY stick to the “one in, one out” rule. I have tried doing this in the past, but have not succeeded. I will only purchase new clothes if I have a hanger or space for those items in my dresser or closet.

Thank you to anyone who followed me on this journey! I hope to inspire you to try a spending fast – maybe you feel intimidated doing a whole year… you could start with just one or two months first. I want to inspire you to evaluate your spending habits, and think about where you could make some changes.

Here is Part 1 of the YouTube video I made with this information!
Here is Part 2 of the YouTube video I made with this information!

Non Material Gift Ideas

The holiday season can be overwhelming for so many reasons, but one of them might be because we are trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. We also may be anticipating receiving gifts that will have to find a home for once Christmas is over. I wanted to share some non material gift ideas that you could give this holiday season.

First is AN EXPERIENCE. There are all sorts of experiences you can gift to someone. It can be an experience that you plan for them that you could do together, or it could be something that they can do on their own or with others. 

➤A vacation or plane tickets 

➤Movie tickets

➤Theme park tickets

➤A  tour – wine or factory tour or helicopter or small plane tour

➤Concert tickets

➤A spa day package

➤Nail salon gift card

➤Coffee shop gift card

➤A cooking, painting, or some other sort of class

➤Museum pass

➤Silent Disco tickets

I recently attended a silent disco, and it was SO fun!

Season passes or a gift card to a local venue they like to frequent:

➤The zoo

➤Children’s museum

➤Arcade

➤Indoor trampoline park/bounce house park

➤Roller skating rink

The next idea is to offer YOUR SERVICES. We all have gifts and talents to share with others. The gift of your time is a really great idea if you are on a tight budget. 

➤Maybe you like to cook or bake – you could offer to provide meals or baked goods. 

➤If you enjoy spending time with children, you could offer babysitting services. 

➤You could offer to clean, organize, do laundry – any number of household responsibilities. 

➤Maybe you have a craft – like woodworking or some other hobby where you could offer to make something for someone that they have been wanting.

Another idea is SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES/MEMBERSHIPS. There are so many online, streaming subscription services that many of us appreciate. 

➤Netflix

➤Hulu

➤HBO Go

➤Disney +

➤Spotify

➤Audible 

➤Gym membership

➤Yoga/spin studio membership

GIVE TO A CHARITY in their honor. There are many charities that appreciate end of the year giving. Think about what charity might be meaningful to the person you are purchasing this gift for. One year for Christmas, my husband purchased several livestock animals for “me” through an organization we trust, to help support an impoverished community in another part of the world. It was SO meaningful to me. I loved that I wasn’t bringing more stuff into my house, and we were able to bless someone else at the same time.

Lastly, is not exactly non material, but to give CONSUMABLES. Many people enjoy receiving special treats that they would not purchase for themselves. Eventually these items will be used up, so won’t need a permanent home.

Bath products

➤Bath bombs 

➤Bubble bath

➤Lotion 

I love getting these items at Lush, they have high quality items.

Food/Snacks

➤Candy

➤Salty snacks

➤Soda

➤Wine/beer (age appropriately of course!)

➤Funny treats (like an extra large gummy bear) VAT19 has great ideas for this!

You could come up with a creative way to display these items. One year for my son’s birthday I used a variety of candy to write out a fun message using the words from the candy to form the message. Or you could make a candy arrangement, like a candy bar bouquet or candy/snacks arranged in a tiered way to make it look like a cake.

I hope these ideas gave you some inspiration to find some non material gifts to give this holiday season!

Here is a video I made on my YouTube channel with this information!

12 Days to an Organized Christmas

The holiday season is a busy time. We often have extra responsibilities during this season, which can cause stress and feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to share 12 things you can do, one each day, to prepare for the holidays and make your holiday season run a little more smoothly. As of today (December 13th), we are 12 days away from Christmas!

{{DAY 1}}

Create a holiday to-do list. Writing out everything that needs to be done – whether with a pen and paper, or in a list app on your phone – begins the process of getting everything organized. From decorating, baking, and purchasing gifts; to wrapping gifts, sending holiday cards, and planning for parties, it can all be very overwhelming. Start by listing all the tasks that need to get done.

{{DAY 2}}

Allocate tasks to each day leading up to the holiday. It can be daunting to look at that list you just made. But, as you begin to plug in tasks to different time slots on your calendar, you begin to feel less stressed as you make a concise plan to get tasks done.

{{DAY 3}}

Clean up and organize your family drop zone. Everyone has a “drop zone” in their home – you know, that place where your family members seem to organically DROP all of their things when they return home? It could be a kitchen desk, mudroom, or entryway. Get this area into shape so that it functions well. Add labeled baskets, a file sorter for kids school work, or a bin for mail. This area of our home can cause a lot of stress if it is chaotic, and our stress level is already high during the holidays.

{{DAY 4}}

Keep a list of inventory. It’s important to keep track of everything you have purchased and need to purchase. You can write this down on a notepad, or use an app on your phone. Keep track of the gifts you have and need to purchase and how much you have spent to stay on budget. Also keep track of what you need to purchase for baking, special meals, or items for parties. Be sure to assess what you already have – check what holiday paper and ribbon you have leftover from last year to determine what you need to purchase. See what you already have in your pantry or refrigerator/freezer to determine what items you need to get for baking and holiday parties.

TIME TO DECLUTTER!

{{DAY 5}}

Holiday decor. After you have decorated your house for the holiday season is a great time to assess what you did not use this year. The chances of you using something next year that you did not use this year is very slim. This is an easy declutter process as it happened naturally just from you decorating! Purge what is leftover!

{{DAY 6}}

Pantry and refrigerator/freezer. Right before the holidays is a great time to declutter unused or expired food from your pantry and refrigerator/freezer. At this time, you can assess what needs to be replenished. We always need special items which we don’t tend to buy throughout the year for the holiday season – especially baking items.

{{DAY 7}}

Kids toys! This is a great time to assess what toys are broken and can be thrown away and what toys your children aren’t playing with. Include your children in this process. Remind them of the boundaries in your home with regard to toys and that you need to make room for the new toys that will arrive on Christmas morning. Encourage them to be generous, as it is a season of giving, and have them choose toys that you all could take to a women’s shelter or children’s home to bless those less fortunate. Not only are you teaching them about boundaries and decluttering, you are also teaching them about how this season is about giving.

{{DAY 8}}

Coats and blankets. This is a great time of year (at least for those of us living in the northern hemisphere!) to gather coats and blankets that you are not using. Again, get your family involved to declutter their items as well and take your extra coats and blankets to a homeless shelter.

{{DAY 9}}

Last on the decluttering list is mugs. Mugs seem to be an item that many people accumulate. Many of us are regularly using mugs during this season to enjoy hot drinks. Choose your favorites, and donate the rest!

{{DAY 10}}

Prioritize what is important to your family this holiday season. There are a lot of opportunities to spend time together with family and friends. There are parties, extended family gatherings, traditions, and more. It’s okay to say “no” to things in this season. Do what works best for your family, and the life phase your family is in. Maybe there is a tradition that worked well and was fun when your kids were really young, but now as they are getting older it’s just annoying to them. Find something else that will be meaningful and memorable to do together!

{{DAY 11}} 

Prepare for guests arrival. This won’t pertain to everyone, but many of us have guests in town for the holidays. Inflate the blow up mattress, wash the guest room sheets and towels, prepare a basket full of necessities – like an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. for in case your guests forgot something. You could also include extra things like water bottles and snacks to make your guests comfortable. Another idea is to display a picture frame with the wifi network and password. Or go all out and provide slippers and/or a robe for your guests!

{{DAY 12}}

Leave margin for rest! As I mentioned before, the holiday season can be a very stressful time of year. Plan into your schedule time for rest – to get a manicure or massage, or maybe it’s just leaving room for the things that you do all year long to recharge – reading a book, journaling, or exercising. If you organize your schedule and have a plan, then it’s much easier to include time to relax!

I hope you are inspired to start making a plan for this holiday season! The 12 day countdown to Christmas is on!!

No Spend Year, November Reflections

Wow. It’s December and I only have one more month to go in my no spend year! It’s been such an interesting and informative challenge for me. I know moving forward into 2020 I will need a plan to be intentional with my spending habits. I wanted to share how things went in the month of November. I have mostly continued to glide along this month, as I did in October. I just have a couple things to share.

First, all year long I have noticed that my creativity has skyrocketed! I’m not totally sure if this is due to the no spend year and the extra time that afforded me or due to taking some scary steps, like working on my website and starting a YouTube channel. I have been learning so many new skills over the past several months. However, my creativity in regards to styling my home has caused me to purchase a couple of larger items (small decor like tchotchkes and wall art were included in this no spend year, but larger pieces like furniture were not). I ended up sprucing up one of our rooms – purchasing a coffee table (cheap + second hand at Salvation Army) and an area rug. Have you ever read that children’s book “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”? The idea is that one thing seems to lead to another. I found that amazing vintage coffee table, but it looked off with our wood floors, hence the rug! In any case, I’m wondering if my spending habits have just shifted away from clothing and home decor to other things.

The next story I wanted to share is about a visit to one of those large last chance Goodwill stores. As a poor college student, my daughter loves shopping at this place. If you’re not familiar with it, you pay by the pound. Everything is stored in huge plastic rolling bins. It can be a sport to wade through all of it, but many times you can find gems. Whenever my daughter is home, we like to go together for fun. I mostly find it an interesting place to people watch, but I have found some unique and cool clothing pieces there in the past. On this occasion, we purchased 9 items, and the total came to $8.88! I wasn’t going to get anything, but I did find an Ann Taylor blouse and a pair of Levis shorts, both in great condition. I plan to sell the blouse in my Poshmark closet. I haven’t decided about the shorts because I do like them! AND they fit me! AND they were only $1! UGH… the justifying! So, if I keep the shorts, once again this month I technically failed. However, I still feel like I’ve learned so much this year and have grown from this experience.

Here are some of the things I am thinking about doing moving into the new year.

Buying things used – thrifting for clothing and home decor. Purchasing vintage home decor when I can.

➤I would like to support small businesses, rarely if ever purchasing clothes and home decor from places like Target. I want my clothing and items in my home to be more curated.

➤Speaking of Target, I would like to stop shopping for entertainment. I will go into Target with a list.

➤I want to be more intentional with my wardrobe. I hope to have some time within the next two weeks to assess my clothes again, and see if there is anything else I can get rid of.

I have actually enjoyed the freedom of not making decisions. I go shopping for other needed items for our family, and I don’t even have to think about making a decision on items I see and like. I’m learning to appreciate the item in the store without having to purchase it and take it home. I’m excited to read back through all my blog posts this year to compile all I’ve taken away from this year in my next No Spend Year Reflections post in January! 

My Definition of Minimalism

Minimalism has become a fairly popular trend over the last several years. The word typically evokes an image of white walls, sparse furniture, and house plants. Many people have written blog posts and articles regarding this topic of minimalism. Their response is based on their experience and preconceived ideas about what minimalism is, or the definition of a minimalist.  It saddens me that “minimalism” has become more of a recent movement that has changed the meaning of true minimalism. It’s not a one size fits all, as a lot of those who claim to be minimalist make it appear.

A friend recently posted on Facebook an interesting article about minimalism. The main idea was that people who are creative and artistic tend to be disorganized and messy, but that was a positive thing because it’s the messy environment which boosts their creativity. I recognize that everyone is different, but for me external “clutter,” “stuff,” “chaos,” whatever you want to call it stresses me out and distracts me. I know I’m not a minimalist by most standards, but I do strive to only live with what I truly need, use, and love. On the other hand, I would not classify myself as messy, but I do think I am a creative – and flourishing in my creative skills! 

The problem that I see, as a professional organizer, is that people don’t have logical, efficient systems in place to keep their things.

Another point that was made in this article was that messiness was an effective organizing tool. While this might be true for a very small amount of people, typically piles are not an efficient way to organize things. Searching through piles, and finding the correct pile where the item you are looking for is located can be time-consuming. The problem that I see, as a professional organizer, is that people don’t have logical, efficient systems in place to keep their things. I think if disorganized, messy people are honest, they would agree that a chaotic organizational system is not effective.

She also made the point that minimalism isn’t sustainable. I would argue the opposite – disorganization and mess isn’t sustainable – it has a toll on your mental health {{{I have another blog post here, detailing this information.}}} Once you are able to declutter enough to only have items you need, use, or love, it is VERY easy to maintain. You become intentional with what comes into your home. The other things that organically come into your home become easier to deal with since as a minimalist you have the space and mental bandwidth to assess all those things – kids artwork, free gifts with purchase, junk mail, and more! It’s also much easier to take care of your things – keeping them clean and organized.

The last point this article made was that messiness is “authentic.” I don’t totally disagree with this point. I have gone over to a good friend’s house on a moment’s notice and find it comforting to see the pile of laundry on her sofa or dirty dishes in the sink. But, guess what?? THIS CAN HAPPEN TO A MINIMALIST TOO! Most minimalists own clothes and dishes, both which need to be washed from time to time {{{GASP!}}} The difference might be that with less stuff, we have less to take care of, therefore there is less likely to be piles in our home. Having friends over at a moment’s notice is easy and not stressful for a minimalist.

So, what is “minimalism” to me? Minimalism to me is about living with only those things you use, need, or you find beautiful/inspirational. Some people find inspiration in books – therefore they may own more than someone who doesn’t. Other people may find inspiration from beautiful home decor, while someone else wants little or no decor. We are all different, living in different phases of life which requires different things, and that is why minimalism isn’t a one size fits all.  It’s also about living intentionally – deciding where you want to spend your time, money, and energy. It’s about being intentional with what you bring into your home. Everything we own has a cost – up front cost as well as time and energy to maintain, which takes away from being able to do other things. Excess stuff can distract us from fully enjoying (and perhaps being inspired by) the stuff that matters!

An Organized Holiday, 5 Tips to Prep for Thanksgiving

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year, where we get to celebrate and enjoy slower, intentional  time with family and/or friends. But, this time of year can also be very stressful and overwhelming. I wanted to share five tips to help you prepare for the holidays. Having an organized schedule and being prepared will help your holiday season go smoothly so you can enjoy the beautiful parts of this season. 

{{ONE}} Make a list of all that needs to get done, then allocate tasks leading up to the holiday. There is always so much extra to do around the holidays. Extra cleaning that needs to get done, extra cooking, and extra shopping. Plan ahead and allocate different extra tasks to different days. Maybe you want to get some deep cleaning done prior to guests coming into town. You could plan to do that a week or even two weeks out. Then, you will just need to do last minute cleaning before their arrival. If there is any shopping – food or gifts – that needs to get done, do it in advance. Having a plan to get things done ahead of time will prevent that feeling of “scrambling” to get things done.

{{TWO}} Prepare food in advance. In conjunction with allocating tasks ahead of time, plan to prepare some of the holiday food ahead of time. Are there any dishes you could make a week or two out and freeze? Is there any prep work you can do in advance to make preparing the dish easier closer to the holiday?

{{THREE}} Plan to make easy meals right before and after the holiday. You could make some meals ahead of time and freeze them to have leading up to the holidays. Alternatively, maybe this is a good time to check out meal plan services. Many of these companies that send you meal kits to your front door offer very simple meal options that might be worth investing in just for the holidays. Crockpot or Instant Pot meals are another great easy option as there are many all-in-one meals you can throw together very easily. 

{{FOUR}} Enlist help.I have ordered the pre-made Thanksgiving meals from our local organic grocery store for the last several years – taking the task of most of the food prep off my to-do list. Perhaps plan a potluck meal for Thanksgiving or other holiday get-togethers, taking some of the food prep off of your to-do list. Have your kids help with the cooking and cleaning. It might not be perfect, but the work gets done and it teaches your kids some of the elements of hospitality. If you don’t have kids, maybe some friends can come over on a Saturday morning to help you get your house clean or food prepped. More hands = work getting done faster, and I have always found it way more fun to cook and clean with friends! 

{{FIVE}} Lower your expectations. I am giving this advice as a “recovering perfectionist.” I know we all like things to be perfect at the holidays, but likely your guests won’t even notice the cobwebs in the corners of your house, or dusty baseboards. And if so, WHO CARES! The holidays are about gathering family. Most family members are much less critical of our housekeeping and cooking skills than we think. I know I would not want family members to be stressed out trying to make things perfect for my arrival!

I hope this gave you some ideas of how you can get your schedule organized prior to the holidays. Doing a little extra work in advance each day will take some of the stress off leading up to the holidays. Remember, even if everything doesn’t get done, the important part of the holidays is celebrating and spending time with family! Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you’d like to check it out!