Every year, clients ask me how to avoid last minute chaos when they host a holiday. Here is a comprehensive list of to-dos for Thanksgiving STARTING NOW:
3 weeks before Thanksgiving
• Deep clean your house and purge excess clutter.
• Polish silver.
• Invite your guests. Consider using Paperless Post if you’re having a large group.
• Give specific assignments to guests who ask what they can bring.
• Prepare a dinner menu including wine, liquor, and soda.
• Prepare a grocery list based on the dinner menu.
• Think about table décor (e.g., flower arrangement(s), votives, small bud vases).
• Order the turkey.
• If you don’t have proper roasting tools (pan, rack, thermometer, basting tools, carving knife), buy them now.
• Order any favorite dessert items from your bakery (non-refrigerated items are best).
• Take an inventory of your serving pieces, dishes, silverware and glasses. If additional items are needed, purchase them now or contact a rental company to reserve. Don’t forget to include rental tables, chairs or linens, if needed. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Countdown” »
Last month, I posted a blog entry on college move in tips based on advice from friends and my own expectations about the process. Now, after doing two college move ins in two states for two children in three days, I’m ready to pass along my expertise to you. And, if it’s too late for you this year, I’ll repost it next year in July!
Four to Six Weeks Before Move In
• Select and order bedding. For my children, I ordered wrinkle free sheets from Lands End Home. I had the sheets monogrammed for an extra special touch.
• Unless your child attends Washington University (like my daughter) where dorms boast tempurpedic mattresses, you’ll want to invest in a mattress topper. I got this one for my son.
• Both my children also ordered headboards. While definitely not a necessity, they did make both rooms look much more put together.
• Visit your local Bed Bath and Beyond where you can take advantage of their Pack and Hold service. This means you can shop for the items you need in your local store, and you pick them up at a store near your college campus. We ordered the following: very deep under bed stackable drawers, shower caddy, drawer dividers, stackable shoe shelves, drawer inserts, towels, bath mats, mattress topper (noted above), garbage cans, hangers, Brita pitcher, desk lamps (one for the desk and one for next to the bed), extension cords, surge protectors, and stick on lights (for inside the closet).
• Select wall art and have it shipped to the dorm. My daughter was an intern at Art Sugar, and they sent her beautiful framed pictures. My son ordered artwork from Icanvas and Ikonik.
Eighteen and a half years ago, we became an instant family when my twins wore born. Now, the reverse is inevitable as the empty nest looms ahead. In August, my twins will start college. We’ll fly as a family of four to St. Louis where we’ll move my daughter into her dorm at Washington University. Then, three of us will fly to Atlanta to move my son into his room at Emory University. Five days later, only two of us will return home. While this time is bittersweet for us, it’s also a time where strategic planning and preparation can remove some of the stress, and help us enjoy a special milestone. Although I’m a first timer, here are some tips that I’ve gathered from friends and family that have made this journey before me.
1. Book flights and hotels for move in and family weekends when you’re notified of the dates. The closer the hotel is to campus, the sooner it gets sold out.
Chocolates, stuffed bears, and roses are all nice Valentine’s Day gifts, but as Marilyn Monroe sang, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” If you’re lucky enough to receive a beautiful bauble this Valentine’s Day, it deserves a proper place to be stored. So, in honor of the holiday, take a look at some of our favorite jewelry storage options that will make you just as excited to put away your jewelry as you are to put it on!
1. Best Multi-Purpose Jewelry Box: Grand Lacquer Jewelry Box from West Elm: $219.00
This jewelry box contains three levels of jewelry storage with top sections that flip out for easy access to what’s below. It’s roomy enough to fit all of your jewelry needs, with a specialized cushion area for rings and earrings. When closed, its simple exterior and shape will match almost any décor and surface. An added bonus is that it can be monogrammed.
2. Best Modular Jewelry Storage: Stackers Premium Stackable Jewelry Boxes from The Container Store: $29.99-39.99
These stackable trays are available in three colors, three sizes and many different interior configurations. You can choose which tray style you want based on the type and amount of jewelry you have, and you can add trays as your jewelry collection grows. One of the variations is a lidded tray that can be placed on top of your stacks, so when the top is closed, It gives the appearance of one coherent jewelry box.
In the 22 years that I’ve been married, my husband has given me many gifts. While I certainly love getting the occasional extravagant gift, the one I appreciated most was definitely the least expensive and possibly the most boring. It was a stationery embosser with beautiful paper. Romantic? No. Practical? Yes. Do I still have it 15 years later? Yes.
Selecting the perfect gift can be highly stressful; there’s the discomfort over what to buy, how much to spend, and whether the gift will be appreciated. Recent research out of Indiana University Kelley School of Business and the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business suggests that while “givers are drawn toward surprising or entertaining gifts that are fun in the moment of exchange…they underestimate how much people typically appreciate practical gifts.” If you want to be sure that your gift is one that “keeps on giving,” try these helpful hints.
When my twins were born 17 years ago, we received not one, but two decorative, monogrammed seesaws…from one store. It’s difficult to imagine that the store wouldn’t have told the second person ordering this “gift” with the same names and delivery address to select something else, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that I was stuck with two seesaws that were, in my practical mind, a waste of space and a silly gift. So, I did what any self-respecting professional organizer would do and put them both out on the curb the next morning.
Although this can be difficult for some people, never feel compelled to keep a gift you don’t like. It will end up taking up space in your home and your psyche for what is often literally years. To avoid this, consider these tips
The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve can be the most festive, but also the most stressful time of the year. Between holiday parties, work events, shopping for gifts, eating too much and spending too much, sometimes we wish we could skip the entire season. But since that’s not an option, here are some guidelines to help you feel more in control this holiday season.
Say no. You don’t need to attend every party to which you’re invited. If you don’t go, you don’t need to find a babysitter, pay a babysitter, find something to wear, or purchase a hostess gift. Think of all the time you save.
Buy multiples of the same gift for as many people on your list as possible.
Have hostess gifts on hand. Whether it’s a bottle of wine, a candle, or chocolate, prepare in advance.
Purge your playroom. You have more leverage now than at any other time during the year. Tell your children you can’t buy them any new toys if there’s no space on those playroom shelves. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to donate what your children truly don’t use.
Get gift cards in a variety of dollar amounts. These take up almost no space, and are great for when you forgot about a last minute gift you might need.
Plan a go to outfit that you can wear to multiple parties. A simple black dress and a pair of black slacks and heels can take you through a variety of parties from business casual to more formal.
Breathe deeply and engage in some form of mindfulness each day.
Over the past several months, I’ve organized several kitchens with my colleague, Lara Metz. One of the issues we’ve been seeing repeatedly is the duplication of items in the refrigerator and pantry. Here’s our advice on how to avoid this in your kitchen.
Start by purging all of the foods that have expired in both your refrigerator and pantry. This should be done on a weekly basis prior to going to the grocery store. Then, in an accessible area, store a pad or a white board to keep a running list of what needs to be replaced. Let your family know that this is everyone’s responsibility, not just yours, so even children are in the habit of adding to the list when they take the last bag of pretzels.
In order to maintain organization, group all similar items together. In both the kitchen and pantry, there should be zones for different food categories. In the refrigerator, take advantage of built in compartments. For example, put all fruit in the fruit drawer and produce in the produce drawer. Then, store your products in straight lines with like items one behind the other.
Get Hooked! Hooks are incredibly useful when it comes to storing jewelry. They are the optimal way to store long necklaces to ensure they don’t get knotted. Invest in beautiful decorative hooks to match your jewelry!
Clear it Up For very small items, a clear plastic storage unit is a neat way to store and survey all of your jewelry. Try one like this. And you may want to fill one compartment with extra earring backs…just in case you lose one.
Don’t’ forget: visibility is key! If you don’t see what you have, you won’t wear it!
Hang On There are many attractive jewelry-specific “trees,” stands, and “hands,” that are neat jewelry storage solutions, and often quite beautiful.
Dress It Up Drawers are a visually pleasing way to view all the jewelry you have, and also keep it out of sight when not needed. Try a small dresser with many shallow drawers.
Don’t Get Board Straw and cork boards provide a way to survey your jewelry all at once and prevent knotting.
Serve It Up A pretty way to organize jewelry on a dresser or armoire is in small teacups or dishes. This is especially helpful for the go-to earrings, bracelets, or watch that you wear daily.
For The Closet Try a hanging jewelry organizer like this one.
Do-It Yourself For a different approach, bulky bangles can be stored on simple paper towel holders, or even empty glass bottles!
Outside The Box There are alternative ways to artfully hang your jewelry, while also repurposing household supplies in a more artistic way. Try using picture frames, utensil organizers, or even doorknobs for creative approach.