A Little Strategy Goes a Long Way When Storing Holiday Decorations

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Don’t toss the holiday decorations in boxes and crates and shove them to the back of the closet. By planning ahead when you put them away, you’ll save hours of time and even money next year when you’re not checking for the bulb that has burned out or running to the store to replace something that got crushed.

Before you get started putting things in boxes for next year, make sure you want to keep everything. Now is the time to get rid of decorations you don’t like, have no sentimental value or are broken. Even with the best intentions, are you really going to look for the burned out bulb in the strand of lights next year? Perhaps you can find a new strand on sale this year. (Click here for tips on de-cluttering after the holidays.)

Storing the Christmas Tree: Storing an artificial tree in the box it came in is not a good idea. The box deteriorates, making the tree prone to bugs crawling in during the year. You can buy a tree bag or a tree box inexpensively. Other ideas:

Wrap the tree in old belts to cinch it up and make it easier to store and more manageable to handle.

If the artificial tree is getting older, before you put the tree away, label the layers by number so you can see what piece goes where.

Storing Christmas Ornaments: Take the opposite approach to storing your tree for your ornaments and keep them in the boxes they came in. These boxes are designed to protect your ornaments.

Other storage ideas:

Ornaments can be stored in egg cartons and apple containers and you can put a layer of tissue paper for extra protection. Non-fragile ornaments can be stored in sandwich bags. Of course, be sure to wrap anything fragile in tissue paper and line the boxes with paper if you’re not storing in the original packaging.

You can also store your ornaments in plastic cups in a box or container. If you do this, glue the cups to the bottom of the box to keep them from moving around and to protect the ornaments.

Storing the lights: Wrap strands of lights around old coffee cans to keep them from tangling. Put a hole in the top or bottom of the can and put the ends of the lights strand through the holes. If you don’t use coffee cans, use something bold to wrap your lights around, or you can be guaranteed they will come out of storage tangled.

Labeling Your Boxes: You can make unpacking and setting up even easier by labeling your boxes. Number them by how many you have, e.g., 1 of 12, 2 of 12, etc. And label the first box you need as number 1. If the tree goes up first, then label the box(es) with tree stand, decorations and lights for the tree with the earliest numbers. The last thing you want is the tree stand in box number 7.

Storing Wreaths: You can purchase special boxes that your wreaths fit in to protect them or you can store them in plastic dry cleaning bags. Hang your wreath on a coat hanger and then slip it into the bag. If you’re careful when you put it in, it’ll come out ready to hang next year.

It may take a little extra time when you put the decorations away, but you’ll be ready to go next year, with time and money savings in mind.

Clear Out the Clutter Before You Put Away Your Holiday Decorations

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The best way to stay organized in the new year is to head into the year ready to go! Cleaning up holiday clutter (and clutter from the rest of the year) can be easy and fun. Here are some tips to cut clutter and get organized.

For every one new item you bring in, get rid of two. If you get a new holiday ornament, pick two that have no sentimental value that you really don’t love to get rid of. If you get a new DVD as a gift, find two that you never watch and get rid or them. Did kids get new clothes? It’s a sure bet that they have clothing they don’t wear or have outgrown. The same is true for toys. In with the new, out with the old. Many of these items will be welcome at Goodwill or another recycling store, and you can get a tax write off to boot.

Fill boxes that packages came in with items to discard. Instead of recycling or throwing away shipping boxes, pack them with items you can recycle or discard. It’s a fun game and a challenge for the family. How many toys, outgrown clothes, old decorations or things you just don’t love, can you fit into a box? You’re not using these items anymore but they still have a lot of life left in them. You have the boxes, now it’s time to fill them.

Celebrate a Japanese tradition. Who knew that when you de-clutter, you could also be teaching about a different culture? In Japan, clearing clutter and cleaning at the end of the year is a big part of the Japanese New Year tradition. Because each year is separate and distinct, the Japanese observe Ousouji by cleaning the home from top to bottom to ring the new year in with a clean state of mind and to invite prosperity.

Do you really want the white elephant gift? By definition, the white elephant gift is one that you have no use for and would never pick for yourself. The gift exchanges are worth a laugh, but decide now if you are going to be glad you kept that moose paper towel holder or the dribble coffee mug in May.

Take an extra step when storing holiday decorations. Don’t just toss holiday decorations in crates and shove them in the closet with the intention of going through them next year. Now is the time to get rid of the lights that don’t work and the snowman whose corncob pipe and button nose fell off years ago. Keep the decorations that mean a lot to you and that still work when you plug them in. Get rid of the items that are broken, missing parts, or just squished. Get more holiday storage tips by clicking here.

There are lots of fun, creative and easy ways to de-clutter at the end of the year to start off the new year in style.

Countdown to Christmas!

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Are your kids anxious for Christmas to get here? Are you looking for some fun ways to count down to the big day? Here are some fun activities for kids and grownup kids alike to make the time until Santa arrives go a little faster.

Red and green meal – Make a healthy pre-holiday Christmas dinner out of green and red foods. Some ideas: A tossed salad with cherry tomatoes and snow peas; another helping of cranberries; pizza with peppers, tomatoes and broccoli, spinach lasagna in marinara sauce; spinach enchiladas. Let the adults pick a healthy red and green entree and then let the kids be creative with the side dishes.

Christmas lights drive – You can do this more than one time, for sure! Load everyone in the car and check out the holiday lights. You can go to new neighborhoods or see what’s new in your own. Make a game out of it by seeing how many Rudolphs you can find on house roofs, count blowup Santa Clauses or listen for houses that are piping music outside. This driving game makes for limitless fun!

Gingerbread houses – Make your own gingerbread house. You can actually build your own out of gingerbread or buy a starter kit. Decorate with gum drops, cinnamon candies, frosting, marshmallows, or really, anything you can dream of and imagine. Gingerbread houses aren’t just fun for one night; they are great decorations for the entire holiday season.

Christmas movie night – This activity is an oldie but a goodie. Pick out your favorite holiday movie and plug it in. Are you a fan of White Christmas? Or is Christmas Vacation more your style? No matter what your taste, a movie night with popcorn and family is sure to put you into the holiday spirit.

Balloon volleyball – Want an activity that is only as holiday-themed as you make it? Blow off some of the Christmas energy by playing balloon volleyball. Put out some ribbon on the floor for a makeshift volleyball net and blow up a few balloons. Indoor balloon volleyball is a great way to burn some holiday calories and get out a burst of family energy.

Bake cookies (and then deliver them to others) – You may be baking cookies already, so fire up the oven for a few more and deliver them to fire houses, police stations, hospitals, assisted living facilities. If you can think of people who serve others or may be lonely during the holidays, then bring them a batch of cookies to show you care and to say thank you.

Make holiday decorations – Break out the scissors because there are few things more fun than making holiday decorations. What do you have in your house already? Construction paper? Ribbon? Glitter? Sequins and Beads? Glue? Styrofoam balls? If you have these things, you have the makings for a fun craft table. If you are a really festive elf, you can leave the craft table up all season and you can make ornaments whenever the spirit moves you.

Start planning now so you can make the lead up to the holidays part of the holidays!

5 Tips to Jump Start the New Year

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In the hullabaloo of the holiday season, be sure to carve out some time to reflect on this past year, and set goals for the year ahead. These tips will help you re-energize and refocus for a successful start to 2019.

Get started by following these 5 tips:

Celebrate success.
Reflect back on all that you have accomplished and celebrate it. Take 10 to 15 minutes and make a list, or a mental inventory of your achievements, big and small. When you look back, you’ll be amazed at how much you got done.

Build off a baseline.
Use your accomplishments as a springboard for goal setting. For example, if you finally organized your database this year, then schedule automated marketing to your network next year.

Ask for advice.
In business, getting feedback is a valuable tool for identifying professional growth areas. Reach out to clients, peers and local leadership who know you and your work. Ask for advice on ways you could improve.

Find a peer benchmark.
Know a colleague who performs a task exceptionally well? Learn more about what strategies and tools he or she uses, and see if you can apply the same to your work processes.

Broadcast your goals.
When you establish goals, share them with your colleagues. Then, invite them to check in with you periodically and hold you accountable for taking steps to achieve those goals.
Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

Source: ASCD Inservice

A Holiday Gift for Seniors: Help Them Stay Safely in Their Homes Longer

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As seniors age, the risks of living at home grow.  If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for a senior family member, friend or neighbor, helping them stay safe at home may be the perfect gift. Here are some ways you can adapt their homes for their holiday gift! 

Lighten and Brighten the Home. Ensure areas around entryways, hallways and stairs are well lit, and add brighter or extra lights if needed. You can also install glow-in-the-dark light switches or motion-sensor lighting throughout your home so seniors don’t struggle to find the light switch in the dark.

Make Doors Easy for Seniors with Arthritis to Open. Turning door knobs may be difficult, especially if a senior has arthritis. Lever-style door handle may be easier for them to use than a round one.

Make it Easy for Seniors to Move Around Safely. It’s important to make it easy for your senior loved one to move around the home. Remove tripping hazards like rugs, children’s toys, pet toys, etc. Make sure cords aren’t dragged across the floor. And watch for furniture that may be placed near hallways or doors. Seniors may be at risk of bumping into these.

Provide Safe Places to Sit. A chair or bench at the front door or whatever door they enter regularly is helpful. Seniors can sit down while taking off shoes or putting on shoes or boots. They can also place bags or other packages there when they come in from outside.

A tall counter stool is also a great addition to the kitchen. It can allow seniors to remain independent and cook while sitting down, which is great for seniors who can’t stand for long stretches of time.

Do a Double Check on the Bathroom. A walk-in shower is much easier for seniors so they don’t have to step into a tub. Adding hand rails and grab bars will help them with balance.

You can also purchase a stool that is made for showers or tubs so they can sit in the shower. And special shower heads can be installed with hoses so they don’t have to stand up and reach above them.

If room allows, consider putting stool or small chair in front of the mirror so they can sit when shaving or participating in on other grooming routines.

Make It Easy to Call for Help. Consider using a call-assist service or personal emergency response system that the senior can wear on their neck or wrist and push a button if they need help. If this isn’t an option make it easy for seniors to have their cell phone with them or near them at all times.

Seniors may need a little extra help and a little extra love as they age. But many can stay in their homes safely with a few changes around the house.