Thanks everyone for thinking about how to help each other this holiday season with your tips! Here are the wonderful ideas you came up with. Merry Christmas!!
Cookie Swap: To maximize production of holiday baking, my girlfriends and I hold a cookie swap. If there are 10 people coming to the party, each person makes 10 dozen of one type of cookie and brings them in 1-dozen packages. Baking is more efficient with the same ingredients for each batch of cookies, plus you could do an assembly line with your family for decorating/packaging. The girls get together but don’t eat the cookies! After the cookie swap, each person brings home one dozen of 10 different types of cookies. I take this one step further once I get home. I lay out paper plates in holiday designs and go ahead and assemble goodies to pass out to neighbors, teachers, and hostesses.
Large family gift ideas: when drawing names with a large family group, give everyone an index card with their name on it. Have them write gift suggestions within the agreed-upon price range. Then fold, put in a hat, and draw. We all have ideas for cousins we don’t see very often and everyone receives something personal rather than just swapping gift cards.
Addresses: As I receive Christmas cards, I check the return address against the address I have in my address book. I update as I go, or cut the return address label out and tape directly into my address book. I also pencil in the date of the update, so I’ll know when I hear of folks moving if the address is current or not. And, of course, all of the addresses in my book are written in pencil so I can just erase and make current rather than mark out and have a mess!
–- Leigh Anne
A tip for keeping laundry quick and easy is to get a large zippered laundry bag for each child and write their name on it. Except for a little monitoring so you don’t get pink socks or ruin a favorite sweater, it’s quite easy. Put the whole zipped bag in the wash, then the dryer, and return it to the proper child to be folded. The clothes stay sorted and get back to the right person.
I used to feel like the laundry would never end. There were piles and piles of clothes, some clean, some dirty and some to be ironed. I put it off as long as I could, and then had a wash-a-thon day, washing as many loads as I could. This wasn’t a successful plan because I had more clean clothes than I could iron, fold and put away. By the time I finished those loads (days later), there were many more dirty piles and I was right back where I started. For one week, I kept up with how many loads I washed and was shocked to find that it was much less than I had guessed. Now I treat laundry as daily maintenance, and I only wash the amount that I can also dry, fold and put away in the same day. Now I don’t have piles of clean laundry and the amount of dirty clothes doesn’t get out of hand. Even if I miss a day of washing, it’s not hard to catch up.
While packing to go on vacation, I don’t waste a lot of time searching for things or deciding what to wear. I only pack the necessities and only take clothes that I like to wear. I try to imagine how much more efficient I’d be and how much more time I would have if I could let go of all the extras at home. This motivates me to clean out things I no longer use as I come across them rather than waiting to see if I might need them again.
When deciding whether to save paper items, magazines, catalogs, etc., I used to ask myself if this was something that I “want” or “need” to read. I was still left with paper stacks on the kitchen counter because I don’t have time for everything that I want and/or need to do. Now I ask myself if it is important enough that I will actually make time to do it.
ALWAYS put your keys in the same place (I have a small basket on my counter in my kitchen). I always know where they are! I used to keep them in my purse but it became a “bottomless” pit and I had to make a new plan.
I also have my sons clothes laid out the night before school and we set his alarm to get up a little early so he can dress himself (this has worked SOOOOOOOOOO much better than me standing there saying hurry up, hurry up!). I have his lunch ready the night before. These aren’t rocket science but I’m so unorganized they have helped keep peace!