Christmas in July—how is this being organized?

organizing for ChristmasMany of us complain about how Christmas comes too soon and we’re not organized in time. Why not plan to begin getting organized in July? Many communities celebrate Christmas in July as a summer event, possibly to diminish the experience of summer heat and humidity (in the Northern Hemisphere).

I can think of many reasons to begin planning in the summer.
• There’s plenty of time to think clearly about if or how you want to celebrate.
• You can take advantage of sales to purchase gifts at reduced prices.
• If you plan to travel, you can watch for seat sales on the airlines and book early to ensure you can be on the flight you prefer.
• If you need to book hotels, you can do this well in advance so you can secure the rooms you need for the dates you need them.
• You can casually bring up the subject of gifts with those you don’t see often to get a sense of what gift they’d like to receive without being obvious about it.
• If your family chooses names and buys just one gift for one person, this activity can be handled over summer vacation or planned for Thanksgiving or another date when the family is together.
• You can select the recipes you’d like to make for any special meals and begin purchasing the non-perishable ingredients so the cost is amortized over a period of weeks/months.
• If you have a dedicated bank account to cover the holiday costs, you can still add to it even if you use some of it for suggestions made above.
• You can watch for special events that are scheduled such as concerts, Santa Claus Parade etc. and add them to your calendar.
• You can take advantage of craft sales for unique gifts and specialty foods.

You may like to add to this list and personalize it for your family and your preferences.

Here are a couple of resources to help you. My Christmas Workbook: plan and create a more meaningful Christmas  and my colleague, Maria Rodgers O’Rourke’s Prepare Your Heart for a Great Christmas.

My book helps you work out what Christmas means to you and how to prepare for it, if you’ve come to the conclusion that you want to continue to celebrate and how that celebration will unfold. Maria’s book is a devotional for the Christmas season and will help prepare those who wish to include a spiritual aspect to their celebrations.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate Christmas, or not, there will likely be some organizing involved, so begin your planning early so you’re not caught at the last minute with tasks outstanding.

Do you celebrate Christmas? What do you include in your celebrations? What works for you and what doesn’t? I’d love to have you join the conversation in the comments box below…
© 2014 Moreen Torpy
We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the links intact.
moreen torpyMoreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book and to learn about her organizing services and other books.

What is organization and being organized?

Chaos And OrderWhen we think about clutter and disorganization, the first thing that usually comes to mind is what our living space or office look like. What’s out of place, if it even had a place. But being organized is about more than that.

I believe that clutter collects not only in our physical surroundings, but it occupies our minds, calendar, emotions and more. I also believe that unless we deal with the clutter we have, whatever kind it may be, we’re doomed to live with it until we do deal with it. And if we don’t deal with it, it only gets worse, causing us to spiral down to a place we really don’t want to go.

Physical and emotional clutter not only co-exist, they feed on each other. It doesn’t matter which came first. When we begin to clear clutter in one area of our lives, we might be surprised to see it’s decreasing in another area. For example, when we de-clutter and organize our clothes closet, we feel better about selecting the right outfit in the morning when we’re in a rush then have more time to sit with our coffee instead of going to a drive through. Or when we forgive someone for something we believe they did to hurt us, we’re actually releasing ourselves from carrying that any longer. Someone very wise said that by carrying a grudge, we allow the person to live rent-free in our brains. Who needs that?

Or when we sort out our emotions about something that’s been eating away at us, we’re more likely to want our physical surroundings to be more attractive and work towards clearing the clutter around us. Some of us may know emotional clutter as that invisible baggage we carry around that steals our personal power.

And another kind of clutter that affects us is activity clutter. When we take a good critical look at our datebook or calendar to evaluate where our time goes, we might be surprised. It may be time to prioritize our activities and change our commitments so we have time for the more important things, maybe family and friends. Or maybe just getting the laundry done in a timely fashion so our clothes and our family’s are ready to wear. By saying “no” to activities that don’t serve us, we’re actually saying “yes” to the more important ones.

This is all very personal, and what it means to one person will mean something else to another person. Just as long as you find where you fit on the continuum and make an effort to move to a place where you feel better about yourself.

Disorganization in any area of life can result in an inability to manage our paper and our time. By learning to deal with these, we’re closer to managing other clutter and being organized to file our income tax returns and pay our bills on time or not miss an important event such as a birthday.

The bottom line is that if you can find what you want/need when you want or need it, you’re organized. As I mentioned above, it’s all very personal and much of this depends on learning styles and preferences. We’ll talk more about those in another blog post, so stay tuned!

Do you believe you‘re organized? What works for you? What doesn’t? Please join the conversation in the comments box below—I’d love to hear from you.

© 2014 Moreen Torpy
We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the links intact.
moreen torpyMoreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book including where to purchase it, and to learn about her organizing services and other books.

The importance of a home inventory: be organized

home inventoryWelcome to today’s guest blogger is Penny Catterall, Owner and Founder of Order Your Life, LLC, of Washington DC. She addresses a very important topic, one that I believe we all need to take care of as soon as we can.

I never realized how important it was to have a good home inventory system until earlier this month, when two days of torrential rains in the DC area overcame our sump pump and French drains and we ended up with four inches of water covering our entire basement. Everything on the floor was soaked, and we had to move the entire contents of our basement to the back yard while we frantically tried to drain the water out. Not fun! We were lucky in that nothing really valuable was destroyed (except for a few sentimentally valuable things like some art that our sons made when they were kids), but we still had a lot of accounting to do in order to get reimbursed by our insurance company for the cost of replacing the numerous items that were ruined.

That’s when I wished I had kept better records of all the purchases, both large and small, that we had made over the years. Up to that point, I had been meticulous about keeping receipts for our big-ticket purchases such as electronics, large furniture (sofas, armchairs, etc.) and artwork, but not so much with smaller things like area rugs, less expensive furniture, and other accessories. If numerous smaller items are destroyed in a fire, flood, hurricane or other home disaster, the dollars can really add up when insurance reimbursement comes into play.

Nearly 1,000 homes burn down every day (mostly due to kitchen fires), and other disasters strike on a regular basis. Most people (including myself) would not remember what they had in their homes – especially under the duress of a catastrophic event.
The simplest way to do a home inventory is to start by walking around with a smart phone and videotaping or photographing the contents of each room. If you have purchase receipts for any of these items, go ahead and scan them into your computer. Then save them in an application like Dropbox or Evernote, along with the photos you took and any other notes (such as serial numbers).

There are also some great free apps out there to help you catalog your possessions. One example is Know Your Stuff, provided by the Insurance Information Institute, which is available for both iPhone and Android. Several insurance companies have their own apps, including Allstate Digital Locker, State Farm HomeIndex and Liberty Mutual Home Gallery. Each of these apps can be used even if you’re not one of the insurance company’s customers. There are numerous other home inventory apps – many of them free – including ones designed specifically for cataloguing books, clothing, wine and more. Whatever system you end up using, it is vital to have your inventory stored in the cloud: in the terrible event that your entire home is destroyed, you will need to have access to that information from somewhere other than your home computer.

While the task of creating a home inventory may seem daunting, just take it one room at a time and try to get it done over the course of a few weeks. You will thank yourself if the need ever arises – which I hope it won’t!

Penny Catterall is the Owner and Founder of Order Your Life, LLC, offering professional organizing services for clients in the Washington DC Metro area and virtually, around the world. She specializes in home office and small business organization, with an emphasis on helping women-owned businesses achieve greater efficiency and profitability by developing and implementing organizing systems that are tailored to their needs.