We all know how hectic the festive season can get; what with gifts to buy and wrap, decorations to put up; food to cook. Purchasing half of your local supermarket in order to cater for everyone’s gluten and dairy free diet, or Aunt Hilda who won’t eat orange foods; and enough butter, cheese and milk to sink the Titanic! And it’s only one, maybe two, three-ish days!
Then, there’s all the additional ‘things’ that make their way into your home. A new set of musk smelling candles and body creams to match; the noisiest, musical, colourful and repetitive toy for the toddler; or a new set of BBQ accessories. And whilst they’re all well-meaning thoughtful gifts, it does mean the possibility that you may need to find new homes amongst your existing belongings.
So, what do you do to make the best of any potential clutter that may step over the threshold? We spoke to Leena Terry of Bliss Organisation, who’s superpower is decluttering and making spaces go from chaos to order, to compile a list of 7 things to make your life that little bit easier in the run up to Christmas.
1. Budget and plan
For the whole festive period. Not just Christmas Day, but Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, perhaps New Year’s Eve and New Years’ Day as well (although the last one may only involve a send-out for some fast food and fizzy drink, depending on how the previous eve went!)
Leena says, “This is the worst time of year for the average Australian to get themselves into debt. Sitting down to create a budget and plan for the holiday season is critical to help keep your money in check.”
Having a well-thought out meal plan and budget of how much you want to spend on food each day will mean that you are also well-fed. Consider whether as the host you need to provide all the food or just offer a dish if eating elsewhere.
Budget for your gifts as well; but see our point below for more on that!
Then, once you have your festivities planned and a budget set, you can go about writing relevant shopping lists.
2. Create a gift list
I heard of someone who only shopped for Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. He went around the shops under pressure from Christmas Eve trading hours, picked out a few random bits and pieces he thought his friends and family would like. Hey presto, his shopping was done, and he even got the gift-wrapping service at the shop. Sound good? Well it may have been a good idea to ‘knock it all on the head’ but in reality, he overspent because of his panic buying attitude.
“Creating lists gives you time to really think about what to give someone, rather than getting home and having buyer’s remorse when you start to wrap it up,” Leena says. “The last thing you want is to be giving someone something they do not need, or worse will end up in landfill.”
Okay, we may have addressed this earlier, but I think it’s worth repeating. Make a list. Oh, and don’t just make the list, stick to it. If you’ve budgeted $15 towards socks, don’t deviate and spend $20 on a set of undies. You think you will spend $25 on chocolate; don’t then spend $50. Your lists will be thoughtful based on what you want to buy and will be reasonable. Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean you should have to spend more than you normally would for the same products.
Leena told us that the average Australian buys around 27kg of textiles each year and then discards a shocking 23kg of that into landfill. “List shopping is something I have adopted myself, and I know first-hand just how much this simple thing can change your household for the better! I call it mindfulness shopping – it saves you money and saves the environment!”
4. Online shopping
This can be an absolute gift in itself! Why put yourself through the crowds, queues and anger management issues, when you can just do it online! A lot of stores may not have closed their online delivery dates yet, and some may offer click and collect. But, if you can, do you grocery shopping online. It will save you time, will help you stick to your budgets and can even be left at the front door if you’re not home.
Leena adds, “Online shopping is a great way to shop. It allows you to add items to your cart and have a good think about that item before you buy it. I find it helps people stick to their lists and budget more easily. Another perk is if you leave your items in the cart for over 24 hours, some shops will offer a discount to make you purchase.”
5. Check your decorations
It’s so easy to get into the habit of putting up the same decorations year on year; and that may well be a great tradition to have. However, are you holding on to damaged or broken lights or memorabilia?
“Before your rush out and buy a heap of new decorations, have a look at what you have already. Most times, a simple spray of new paint or some extra glitter can make your decorations look like new and in this season’s style,” says Leena.
Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. Make some time, to declutter your house so that any new items that enter your home have their own space. If you can do it a few days before Christmas or even before you put your decorations up, then you’re ahead of the game.
Decluttering can get a bit overwhelming, so if you do need some help, it’s always good to get a professional in. They can be a bit more impartial and less emotionally attached to items. They’re also really good at categorising and sorting all your cupboards to get the best out of them. Clutter in itself can be a real trigger for anxiety, so working with someone who knows what they are doing is great!
For Leena, decluttering before Christmas is a must, especially in her home. Christmas should a time to slow down and enjoy family and friends and not to be overrun with our belongings. She adds, “Have a clear vision of how you want areas in your home to look and start one room at a time. Another great plus for doing it now means finding a home for all your new items, which won’t cause anxiety and you can start the new year in a positive frame of mind.”
7. Get the children to help
This is especially important when it comes to decluttering. Kids are bound to get more toys and games than they can handle on one day, so you’re going to need to make room for them. A great way to do this is through donating some toys to the op shop or to a charity drive.
Encourage them to part with three toys, books or games they think someone else might enjoy. You could tell them they are donating them to children who aren’t as fortunate as them to have newer toys. It’s a good opportunity to chat to them about the notion of charity and the importance of giving.
“I love that my children are always ready to help others in need. It gives them a sense that they can help,” concludes Leena.
Once the hype has died down and everyone returns to work; the school holidays continue and the littlies are back at day care, there’s a sense of normality, albeit with a few extra belongings. Take the time to go through what you have; if the kids got a lot of presents, then save some for another time. Not everything has to be played with immediately.
And if you’re finding it too overwhelming or you just don’t have the time, you’re not alone. Bliss Organisation can take the hard work out of reorganising, decluttering and putting your cupboards back together. Contact Leena today to get the best out of your home.
Message her via Facebook @blissorganisation or call her on 0450 492 990.