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Your Problem: Sanity Clause

Getting organized for the Holidays

It’s possible to be organized, generous, and sane this holiday season. Here’s how.

This may be the season of peace and goodwill, but you don’t feel very cool, calm and joyous at the moment. The house is a mess and it’s impossible to find the tree ornaments. Your Christmas card list still isn’t updated. Of course, you haven’t bought a single gift.

Don’t despair. Meet Linda Rothschild, President of Cross It Off Your List, a New York City-based professional organizing service. “Spare yourself a lot of time and grief by getting organized,” advises Linda, who also serves as President of the New York chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “It’s surprising how much happier you’ll feel when you get control over things,” she promises.

Linda believes in following one guideline throughout the entire holiday season: Keep it simple.” Simple gifts, simple decorations, simple gift wrapping, simple parties. Just because it’s not elaborate doesn’t mean it’s not good enough. The holidays should be fun, not complicated,” she says.

Sanity Clause
Linda Rothschild’s holiday guideline: “Keep it simple”

Dealing with the holidays shouldn’t be one overwhelming job. “Break everything down into small tasks,” Linda advises. Lists and calendars are the keys to your new organized life. Start a list for every holiday category: gifts, decorating, entertaining, Christmas cards. Then get out your calendar and give yourself a realistic deadline for achieving each task. Schedule the time for everything you need to do. Keep your calendar and lists readily accessible.

“Try to have it all completed a few days before the big day so you can relax and enjoy yourself,” Linda emphasizes.

If getting organized sounds time-consuming in itself, keep in mind that the few hours you spend beforehand will save you many hours of aggravation later.

‘The Best of Things” wants to help by offering not only gift suggestions for everyone on your list, but tips on how to wrap the mountain of presents, decorate for the season and stay warm during the holiday. So start reading now.

Rothschild’s regime:

  1. Start your list as early as possible, maybe even on December 26. Categorize it according to family members, friends, business acquaintances and service people. “Most people wait until after Thanksgiving to start thinking about gift-giving. But you can keep a Christmas file all year long,” Linda says.
  2. Make a budget. Decide on a total amount to spend on each group, and then divide it by the number in the group. That will determine roughly how much to spend on each person.
  3. Make notes on what you bought people in the past and their reactions. Build on your past successes. “Keep a list of favorite colors, hobbies and clothing sizes,” Linda says. “This saves a lot of time and money on returns and phone calls. “
  4. Don’t be reluctant to ask people what they want before you start shopping. “That way, people actually get what they want. They’re happy. You’re happy. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?” she says. Besides, what’s the point of a surprise if the recipient hates what you bought?
  5. Shop early. “The longer you put off gift-buying, the more stress you’ll get. You’re also more likely to do a panic buy and go over your budget,” Linda warns.
  6. Shop at off-peak hours (early in the day or late in the evening), when stores are less busy. Service will be better, too, at those times.
  7. Send the same thing to all business associates. This gives you perfect budgetary control and allows you to cross off an entire category with one single purchase.