Holidays

Giving the Gift of Organization

Is there someone special in your life who you feel would benefit from a gift of professional organizing services? It is definitely a thoughtful present that would help someone you care about. It’s one less “thing” they don’t need to store in their home or work space. If it’s something they may not be able to afford or would just not spend that money on themselves, then it would be a boon to their life. It’s a gift of love, really. With that being said, there are a few things to consider before giving this generous gift.

Would They Welcome This Gift?

If your brother and sister-in-law seem up to their eyeballs in clutter since the arrival of baby #2, but they are blissfully exhausted and seem fine with their messy home, gifting them a professional organizing service may actually burst their bubble and embarrass them. You don’t want your intended gift of help to create bad feelings for either of you. Think of it as giving a Weight Watchers membership to an overweight friend who has never said anything about trying to lose weight—ouch. But if they often mention how they wish they could finally finish getting the nursery set up, or get the kitchen organized so they can actually cook, or declutter the living room so it’s a more relaxing family space—then time with a pro organizer may be a great help to them.

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What to Declutter After the Holidays

Hello, January! The holiday stuff has been put away (or has it?), the amount of baking and cooking has returned to normal, and everyone is back to work and school. There are plenty of decluttering opportunities post-holiday, so pick a weekend, do a little work to clear out your home, and start the year off with an energetic bang! We’ve got some terrific ideas on what to declutter and refresh.

Holiday Items

If you actually haven’t put these away yet, here is your chance to declutter these used-once-a-year goods. The bonus is you can declutter while you are putting them away. I do this every year, and it always makes the holiday storage boxes a bit roomier even if I’ve bought a few more decorative items. Start with the lights: get rid of any strings that don’t light up or have worn, brittle, or frayed cords. Next, give each decorative piece 30-seconds of your time. Does it have worn or broken parts, or faded or chipped spots? Do you still love it? Does it still have meaning for you? Does it seem outdated or out of place? Your answers to these questions will let you decide if you are keeping or donating the item. I usually donate my still-usable items to someone in my neighborhood or city Facebook Group—there are a lot of people out there who are happy to use your holiday items. Finally, take down all those sweet holiday cards and recycle them, or send them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children for their recycled card program.

Winter Wear

We still have almost three months left of winter weather, and now is an appropriate time to declutter your outerwear and accessories. Bring out all the winter wear for everyone in your household. Go through each item for each person—hats, scarves, coats, gloves, long underwear, socks, boots, etc. Check items for tears or untreatable stains, for fit and comfort, and for style and desirability. If you have two items that are almost identical in style, material, and purpose, consider keeping only one. Donate coats in good condition to One Warm Coat, which has several locations around Puget Sound.

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Meaningful, Mindful Gift Ideas for This Holiday Season

It’s been a challenging year for most of us, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that 2021 can’t come soon enough! We’ve dealt with lockdowns and quarantine, working and schooling remotely, sourdough starters and jigsaw puzzles. There’s also video conferencing fatigue, canceled travel plans, and too much takeout. How do we close out the year in a relevant way that helps us stay connected with and supportive of loved ones? With the December holidays just around the corner, we’ve been thinking about gifts for friends and family that will help do just that. Here are some ideas for meaningful, mindful gifts for this holiday season.

Self Care – Think about the recipient’s idea of self care, and put together a package as unique as they are. Is it interior decor magazines and chai tea? Yoga and facials? Red wine and chocolate? Long walks and audio books? Self care—any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health—is different for each person, so tailor your gifts accordingly.

Gift Cards to Local Businesses – Gift cards to local “mom & pop” shops and restaurants are a terrific way to give a gift while supporting a small business that needs the customers. No matter where your special person lives, there are surely fabulous places they love to patronize.

A Fun and Unique Subscription – How about a monthly succulent, date night, or Japanese snacks box? CrateJoy and My Subscription Addiction have amazing lists of fun, imaginative, and unique subscriptions for everyone on your list. A year of surprises would be fantastic for anyone!

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Ideas for This Year’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this year is decidedly different. If you are not taking part in a traditional gathering, there are still so many wonderful ways to celebrate. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, unlike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, it has not been fully commercialized. The day is all about being grateful. There is always, always something to be grateful for! So brew up some pumpkin spice chai and read on for some ideas on what to do this Thanksgiving Day.

Get Movin’

Take a simple walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the Autumn air and colors. Find a great hike—the trails won’t be crowded today! Walk or bike one of the Seattle’s areas 15 best city trails—how lucky are we to live in such a gorgeous part of the world! If you really want to break a sweat, do a Thanksgiving race. There are several races that have implemented COVID-safety precautions. Seattle has a Turkey Trot with waved starts, Woodinville has a Virtual Turkey Trot, and Issaquah is offering neighborhood-focused Turkey Trots.

Reconnect

Use this day to get in touch with family or friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Give them a call; who doesn’t love to see their phone light up with a familiar name instead of “Scam Likely”? Write or type out letters/emails if that suits your communication style better—put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (virtual this year) on the telly to get you into the spirit.

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New Holiday Traditions To Try

Looking to start a new holiday tradition? Here are a few ideas:

Get Hygge With It. Practice the Scandinavian hygge (pronounced hue-gah) tradition and cozify yourself at home with candles, a fire and warm blanket, a good book, and hot cocoa.

Adopt a Family. Seattle’s Child magazine lists several local organizations that serve families in need during the holidays.

Go Global. Pick a different country each year and try one or more of their Christmas or Hanukkah cultural traditions, foods, and music.

Honor Loved Ones. Remember a special person no longer with you by making their favorite recipe or dining at their favorite restaurant.

Create a Video Holiday Card. Didn’t get around to ordering cards? Create a fun, short video card and send this to family and friends! Bonus if singing is involved.

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Top 5 Gifts That Don’t Take Up Space

Does anyone really need more “things” these days? Use our list as a starting point to finding interesting, unique, and fun gifts that won’t add clutter.

  • Self-care: Get that over-scheduled person in your life some “me” time they can’t resist. A certificate for a spa treatment, a wine-tasting session, a hot air balloon ride—just a few ideas for things they need to be fully present, and put their phone away, for. Or, hire a cleaning company to take a load off their plate.
  • Culture Club: Tickets to a unique event would be so fun and memorable, whether it be Teatro Zinzanni or Broadway at the Paramount, or even something edgy like Café Nordo.
  • Go Local: Get them passes for a ghost tour, orca whale watching, go kart racing, or cooking classes. A family would get much use from an annual membership to the zoo or aquarium, or from a Discover Pass.
  • Staycation: A fun day and evening out, followed by a night at a hotel. If there are kids in the picture, arranging for a babysitter would be extra awesome! Sky’s the limit on what to do: dinner, bowling, movies, karaoke, pub crawl, salsa dancing lessons…
  • Subscriber: For gifts that keep on giving (for awhile, anyway), a subscription to something they love, such as a music streaming service, an audiobook membership, a TV streaming service, or even Amazon Prime (yay, Free Shipping!).
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How to Host A Guest When You Don’t Have a Guest Room

In my college days and early 20’s, “hosting a guest” basically meant having someone crash on my couch. Now that we are all “adulting” (that word still cracks me up), hosting a friend or relative means a whole lot more. We want to make guests feel welcome and comfortable, keep them entertained, respect their privacy, and hope they’ll visit again. This is definitely easier to do when you’ve got a guest room. But if your home or apartment doesn’t have the luxury of dedicated extra space for a visitor, it doesn’t mean you can’t host one. You just need to get a little more creative. We’ve got some helpful tips and tricks on hosting a guest when you don’t have a guest room.

A Clean Welcome

Now is a great time to give your place a good deep-clean, and while you’re at it, add in some decluttering and organizing. If you haven’t seen your visitors in a few years, nothing says “Welcome” like beckoning them into your clean, calm place that they can feel at home in, whether it’s for two nights or a week. Clear out your entryway, get everything off your dining table, fold and put away the laundry on the sofa, and scrub down the bathroom. It will give your guests a great impression as well as make you feel house-proud! If you need extra help, a professional organizer can support your efforts to getting your home guest-ready.

Create A Space

Your guests will appreciate a little bit of privacy, and without a guest room you’ll need to find an area of your home that you can temporarily set up as their personal space. It may be a corner of the living room, part of the playroom, or half of your home office. Consider getting a temporary room divider; they aren’t too expensive and can be easily put away for future use. You could even use it as a decorative element during the rest of the year. Move some furniture around to create this space; you may need to move some items into another room or the hall to do so.

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Not Entertaining for Thanksgiving? Do This Instead!

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and this year that day on your calendar is…totally blank. Whoa! If by some happenstance you are not entertaining for Thanksgiving—and you’re not going to someone else’s house for it—there are so many wonderful ways to fill your day. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, unlike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, it has not been fully commercialized. The day is all about being grateful. Whether you’re going it solo or you’ve got a big family, here are some ideas for what to do on Thanksgiving Day.

Get Movin’

Take a simple walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the Autumn air and colors. Find a great hike—the trails won’t be crowded today! If you really want to break a sweat, do a Thanksgiving race. Bellevue’s got a Beat the Bird, while Issaquah and Seattle have Turkey Trots. Not to be outdone, Snohomish is hosting a Wattle Waddle marathon/half.

Reconnect

Use this day to get in touch with family or friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Give them a call; who doesn’t love to see their phone light up with a familiar name instead of “Scam Likely”? Write or type out letters/emails if that suits your communication style better—put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on the telly to get you into the spirit.

You Still Gotta Eat, Right?

Just because you’re not hosting or being hosted, doesn’t mean you need to make do with leftover pizza or a microwaved meal. Enjoy the freedom of a delicious Thanksgiving feast that a great restaurant can provide. Eater has a super list of restaurants in the greater Seattle area that are open for Thanksgiving. No need to run the dishwasher three times today!

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Your Step-by-Step Thanksgiving Guide

When November rolls in, it means the Thanksgiving countdown is on. You’ve got three weeks or so to plan and execute a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. If the mere thought of your Thanksgiving task list makes you cringe, we can help! Thanksgiving is about spending time with your special people and enjoying a traditional meal together. With our step-by-step guide, we can help you focus on that instead of stressing out about all the tasks at hand. Don’t aim to be a Martha Stewart-level hostess; remember, she has dozens of minions doing most of the work behind the scenes!

Early November

  • Finalize your Thanksgiving guest list. Take care of the calls, emails, and texts to nail down who is coming to your house for the big turkey meal. Let your family know who will be joining you for Thanksgiving and let them know you will need everyone’s help in getting your home ready.
  • Haven’t seen your dining room table in awhile? It’s time to clear away the clutter it’s buried under. Enlist your family’s help. As a part of playtime, children can return toys and arts and crafts to their bedrooms. You and your partner can put away items which don’t belong in the dining room. Resist hiding the clutter in a bedroom or closet to be dealt with later. If your dining room (kitchen, pantry, entryway) is buried, and clearing it out seems like an impossible task, don’t hesitate to contact Simplify Experts for help.
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Ho Ho Oh No! Holiday Time Management and ADHD

“I’m so confused!” was my first thought as I walked into Home Depot and saw frightening Halloween decorations for sale positioned right next to dazzling Hanukkah and Christmas delights. My initial reaction was followed by, “Wait, isn’t it a bit early for Christmas decoration sales?”. Then my heart skipped a beat and the panic set in: “Yikes! I need to get started on all that holiday stuff or I’ll never get everything done!” The onset of the holiday season can be both exhilarating and terrifying. This is one time of the year during which time management is crucial. For those struggling with ADHD and/or have loved ones challenged by ADHD, time management during the Fall holidays can be particularly daunting.

Time management encompasses the ability to both “see” and “feel” time. Visual cues are used to observe the passage of time, such as the movement of hands on an analog clock or changing shadow patterns on a sidewalk throughout the day. We feel time as we perceive its passage before, during, and after our experiences. Furthermore, we gauge our behavior using the concept of a time horizon—how near in time something needs to be for someone to be motivated into action. According to psychologist Ari Tuckman, people challenged by ADHD experience a shorter time horizon. That motivation kicks in much closer in time to when the event will take place, greatly affecting time management. Tuckman asserts that those with ADHD recognize two times: now and not now. All this spells trouble when trying to navigate the holiday months amidst deadlines, events, and additional responsibilities. However, there are strategies to help deal with the impact that ADHD plays on time management during the holidays.

Strategy 1: Start Now

Calendars: This is the time of year when the calendar becomes your best friend. That snazzy calendar app on your smartphone is sure handy because it travels with you (assuming you’re like me and take it with you everywhere) and is so versatile. However, I can’t stress enough the importance of a more visual, paper calendar for this time of year. It is much easier to visualize that time horizon as well as your increased commitments if you use a paper calendar, especially one with large day blocks in which to record entries you can readily see. If you are in charge of scheduling for a family, a personal calendar as well as a family calendar is helpful for coordinating everyone’s activities while not losing sight of your own commitments.

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