There's no avoiding it - it's time to look Christmas in the eye ! December is knocking on the door and with it a whole host of seasonal chaos, so let's get sorted now to make sure we that we don't just 'survive', but actually enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
The ruthless clear out - take no prisoners, you need to take a good hard look at every room. Have a couple of boxes with you on your tour of the house - one for the recycling centre / tip and the other for charity. This does not have to be done all at once, few of us have time to allocate a whole day to de clutter. Allocating 30 mins a day to sorting through belongings can make a massive difference over a couple of weeks, so start now ! Never has William Morris's famous maxim been more relevant.
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." Apply this to everything you come across in each room. Those wonderful family photos capture beautiful memories so of course they stay put, but the ornament given to you by an aunt who clearly doesn't know your taste - that must go! Whilst no-one wants to offend people, we also have to ensure for our own well being that our homes are not cluttered with gifts other people have given us that we neither want nor need. Pass these unwanted items to charity and feel the space in your home open up around you.
The children's rooms / playroom - these need to be tackled when the little ones aren't around (unless you have older children ) any toys you know they haven't played with for several months can go to charity. Clear out storage drawers / baskets etc in preparation for an onslaught of more toys. In the lead up to Christmas the reminder to children that 'Santa is watching and if he can't see you looking after your toys and books he's not likely to bring you more ' is a useful weapon in keeping rooms under control.
Your own gifts - if you have relatives who are likely to ask you for gift ideas be armed with a list of things you really need or want, or be prepared for more clutter to come your way! It's harsh but true. Some people have the knack of picking perfect gifts and take a great deal of pleasure from choosing, others are the first to confess they have no idea what you might like and are quite likely to make randomn choices. Take a look through your sock drawer, smellies, books and assess what you might need: if there is really nothing, don't feel the need to suggest something meaningless. The giver will be wasting their time and money. How about suggesting that you and the giver do something together, perhaps grab a cheeky Christmas cocktail / bite to eat after work as your gift to one another. Likewise, how much more would it mean to granny if you gave her the promise of an afternoon tea out together (just create a little diy voucher ) rather than yet another toiletries set ? Experience often wins hands down over a physical gift and, in the long term, means less clutter and more memories.
My last blog focussed on the need for organisation with present storage and wrapping so I won't go into that but, here are a few other pointers for a stress free Christmas.
1If you are hosting, cook as much as you can in advance - admittedly the turkey needs to be done on the day, but most side dishes can be made in advance and frozen. Google recipes for freezer friendly red cabbage, cauliflower cheese, stuffings etc.
2¬)Clear all of your old jars of sauce, pickle etc out the fridge - you'll need as much space as possible and the last thing you'll be wanting to do on the big day is reorganise the contents of your fridge to accommodate drinks/desserts brought by guests.
3) Set the table the night before - making the table look festive and special can be enjoyed if done in advance. Plan a quick and easy breakfast that can be enjoyed without using the dining table on Christmas morning. How about a tray of pastries/croissants and a fruit platter - a special finger- food brekkie that can be made the day before and eaten without creating more mess / washing up.
4) Have bags/containers ready for separating and recycling waste - wrapping paper, cardboard and plastic packaging etc and mark on your calendar the festive refuse collections which are often hard to keep up with.
5) Don't over commit yourself - it can be tempting to try and fit in every Christmas lunch, drinks party, carol service etc that's going, but be selective. Rushing from one gathering to another detracts from the qualities of each experience, pace yourself and above all, breathe deeply!