Sunday, December 21, 2008

A few pre-Christmas organization ideas

Before your home is infiltrated with all of the new stuff that your loved ones will give you this week, I have a suggestion. Start making room BEFORE Christmas day. (I you need one more thing to do before December 25, but just hang with me for a minute.)

Take a big box or some Rubber Maid plastic bins and pack up some of the old "boring" toys that have not been played with in a while. Pull them out in February or March when the Christmas toys lose their luster. If your kids are old enough (say pre-school and above) involve them in the process. You might even want to use this as a learning opportunity to explain how you want your family to stay organized and how too many things (or "clutter") makes it hard to function well. Remember: if you don't teach these principles to your kids, no one will!

Another idea is to put away some of the NEW toys that you get for Christmas. That may seem odd, but let your kids pick a few of their favorites for now, then rotate in some of the other toy gifts in a few weeks when you need a few minutes to do some chores around the house. Or if you go on a long car trip. Or you just want to shower...or read a magazine...or make a phone call. (obviously I'm talking to the moms of little ones here!) Just don't forget to rotate the toys back in - if you're an "out of sight, out of mind" person, jot it down on your calendar as a reminder.

A few final ideas for a calmer Christmas morning:

- While opening gifts, keep the following things nearby:
* a large trash bag for wrapping paper and boxes (clean up as you go instead of spending an hour later in the day)
* scissors (what is it with the packaging on toys these days???)
* several sizes of batteries
* both kinds of screwdrivers
* a coin (because some of the toy makers try to make it "easier" to open the battery pack with a coin)

- Take your time unwrapping presents with the littler kids. What's the harm in letting them play with a few of the toys as they are opened? They won't be as appreciative of items that are taken away from them as soon as they're opened while other packages are shoved into their hands. This can be an opportunity for them to learn gratitude and how to thank each person as the gift is opened and played with. Then, if the giver is there with you, they can know that their gift choice was a good one. (This is a picture of Mike's mom reading a story to Kaylin immediately after she opened it last night - in years past, we would have taken the book away and promised to read it later. WHY?! What is the point of rushing through this experience???)

- If your kids get too riled up, slow things down a bit. Last year, Ryan seemed to be inundated with the excitement of Christmas morning. He wasn't enjoying the gift-opening process, he was acting out and there was just too much going on. I wanted to calm him down, so I asked him to sit on my lap (which I never expected him to agree to) and he suddenly was completely at ease. He opened one gift at a time and actually saw what was inside instead of tearing, throwing, ripping and crushing the packages he was given. It was a huge lesson for me that the adults aren't the only ones who get overstimulated when things get chaotic.

- If the piles upon piles of opened gifts get too hectic and you can't see the floor, instead of being overwhelmed by all of the new "things" that suddenly need to find homes in your already full closets, cabinets, nooks and crannies, put the opened gifts back under the tree. I discovered this trick the first year we had Ryan and it has been a lifesaver. This doesn't only apply to toys...your spouses and your gifts can be tossed back under there, too. It helps keep your mind un-cluttered and you can take your time over the next few days putting things were they will belong long-term instead of finding temporary homes and potentially losing gifts that you loved. And if you're doing Christmas morning someplace else and come home with bags of stuff, I suggest the same thing. Instead of leaving everything in the bags and dropping them where ever they land, stick them all under the tree until you have time to put everything in it's proper place.

- Once all of the gifts are opened, interview your family and ask each person what their favorite gifts were. If you keep lists like this every year, it's interesting to look back on later. (and, if you're like me, you might forget what gifts were received within a few days of Christmas if you don't write it down!)

- My last tip is to BREATHE and remember to relax this holiday. If you're hosting your holiday celebration, don't be afraid to accept help for cooking, cleaning up, etc. And don't put so much pressure on yourself for everything to be perfect that you stress everyone around you yourself out. People are coming to your home to enjoy YOU, not to critique how well your place cards match your centerpiece. This is your Christmas, too, and you deserve to enjoy all of these experiences with your friends and family. Be MERRY this Christmas!!!


DutchMac said...

Can I just say that I loved your comment about throwing our spouses back under the tree? Seriously, 'your spouses and your gifts can be tossed back under there too' ... GENIUS! I love it!

Oh wait, maybe you meant that the GIFTS BELONGING TO both us and our spouses can go back under the tree, NOT our spouses themselves. Ahhhh, now's time for MY light bulb moment. ;-)

But that's not nearly so fun. Can I please go back to believing you intended for me to throw my Darling Husband back under the tree when he gets in my way? That seems much more applicable to our lives.


MamaHenClucks said...

Hee hee! I laughed at that, too, even though I knew what you meant :) Great tips! We clean out the toy room in October and donate whatever hasn't been played with. I'm always a bit surprised when that must have gift from last year ends up in the donation pile.

Katie @ 3 Blondes and a Redhead said...

What is everyone laughing about? That is EXACTLY what I meant!!! If your spouse starts being naughty (oh, get your mind out of the gutter...) after Santa arrives Christmas morning, shove him under the tree!!!


Okay, okay, I can't own up to being that cleaver...I bow to DutchMac's eye for detail...

Carrie said...

I'd like to know when do you sleep? I don't think you do. Ha!

Raquel, The Glamorous Life said...

loved all the ideas, i usually put the presents under the tree to so that i dont have to have piles all over my house! i always deep clean all the rooms and closets before the holidays so we pare way down. and i really tried cuttign back this year when it came to shopping

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