At what point in December do you write-off your Christmas as being a chaotic frenzy of last minute shopping and wrapping while promising yourself that next year you'll be more organised? Many of us reach this moment around a fortnight before the big day. At this point, with so many presents to buy, so little time to shop and wrap, the festivities loose their fun and we resign ourselves to another Christmas Eve spent wrapping inappropriate gifts until the early hours.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could exchange personal, meaningful pressies, carefully wrapped and labelled well in advance, stored safely out of sight until the big day? Wouldn't it be magical to sit back and soak up the atmosphere on Christmas Eve instead of desperately searching under the spare bed for the gifts we hurriedly hid there months ago?
With some really simple forward planning and organisation at home the dreamy day that we all aspire to could be within our grasp. It's not rocket science, but it does need to start now...
Here are a few pointers:
1) Allocate one space to store gifts. Stashing them in random spots around the house only ends in a game of present hide and seek that you really don't have time for. If you don't have a cupboard or drawer available then use a large storage box that could even be kept in the garage / shed for maximum security from prying eyes.
2) Have a 'go to' list of who you are buying for (for nephews, nieces, God children etc include their age) . Keep this list for the next few years as a record of what you've previously bought - a photo frame is a lovely gift for auntie Maggie, but when you've bought her one for the last five years she'll detect that you are not putting much thought into her gift. Keep this list in your present cupboard, drawer or box -preferably stuck to the inside of the door/lid.
In addition to this why not store your list on a cloud system (such as icloud iphone notes) so you can access it and amend whether you are out and about shopping or at your computer ordering online?!
3) Keep wrapping paper, labels, tape and ribbon together. Clients are often asking if they should set up a 'wrapping station' - the answer's a definite 'no'. Few of us have the space at home for a set area to wrap presents, far better to have everything you need in a box or handy holder that you can take into the lounge for wrapping while you watch TV etc. If a store offers to gift wrap a gift you are buying say yes ! We might like the idea of lovingly wrapping our own gifts, but like defrosting the turkey, it always takes longer than we think, so outsource when possible !
4) Have a ' present audit ' this should be happening about now! Go to your gift drawer, be ruthless. Those five packs of festive socks you bought in the sales may have been a bargain but realistically who wants them? Any gifts that you could not proudly give need to go ... Either to a charity shop or to the local school, playgroup which will be crying out for tombola / raffle prizes for their Christmas bazaar.
5) Put real thought into your giving. If you honestly can't think of a suitable gift then don't buy something for the sake of it, a huge amount of clutter in our homes comes from unwanted gifts that we feel obliged to hang on to. Think instead of giving the gift of an experience - a voucher for a beauty treatment, meal out, cinema tickets or perhaps a token offering your own services as a babysitter so your frazzled mum friend can escape her little darlings for the evening. As we know, happiness usually comes from experiences not from material possessions. There are also some great charity options.
Give something meaningful. Ask yourself - Will they use this or treasure this? If the answer is neither, don't bother. Whatever you do, do not give the gift of clutter!