Archive for the ‘
Holiday Season ’ Category
Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait for that holiday season Toys ‘R’ Us catalog to come in the mail? The excitement! The anticipation!
Well, that’s how I feel about The Container Store’s Stocking Stuffer Collection catalog. I know sometime after Halloween it’s going to find it’s way through my mail slot. Lucky for me, I live ten minutes away from The Container Store in Paramus, NJ but instead of driving over there ahead of time, I wait for the catalog. I like to flip through the pages and pick out the items I like before heading to the store to see and possibly buy them.
What I found most interesting about this year’s Stocking Stuffer collection is that there are very few ‘organizing’ products. Most fall into the fun/kitchy/useful item category. Some I looked at and didn’t really understand their purpose. That’s OK–I’m sure somebody does–and that’s who will buy them! Something for everyone…
Last time I did a Stocking Stuffer Roundup was in 2013. Some of my favorites included a Dressing2Go container and a vintage rubber ducky shower cap. It’s been way too long–it’s time for another roundup!
I’d be writing until next Friday if I featured all of The Container Store’s Stocking Stuffers so I picked a handful to share with you. They’re split into three categories: Useful, Cute & Fun, and Makes You Go Hmmm…. If you’re in need of some stocking stuffers or small gifts for the people in your lives, consider these and the others in the collection…
Maggrip Car Vent Phone Mount $ 9.99
This product secures a smartphone to a car’s air vent for clear, safe viewing. Has 5-star rating on the website.
ToyDriver Screwdriver $ 9.99
My kids are 6.5 and 10 but I remember when they were little and EVERY toy had a battery. And every toy had a battery compartment held together by the tiniest screws. Boy, could I have used this a few years ago! Comes with a flat head and Philips head bit. My cousin had a baby last month and I am considering sending this to her!
Pocket Monkey $ 11.99
It’s a bottle opener. It’s a multi-head screwdriver. It’s a phone stand, an envelope opener, and much more. TSA-Compliant and thin as a credit card. You never know when you’ll need one of it’s many features…
Flint Retractable Lint Roller $ 8.99
Ever go to a dog lover’s home and come home with half the dog on your pants? Keep this in your purse, glove compartment, or travel bag and be dog-hair free! Works for white lint napkins on black pants and anything else your clothes can be covered in. Comes in Slate Gray and Copper. Refills sold separately.
CUTE & FUN
Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner $ 9.99
I usually use lemons in hot water to steam-clean my microwave but wouldn’t this be a whole lot more fun?
Emoji Cooking Stamps $ 5.99
Emojis are all the rage now! Take a departure from baking gingerbread men and snowflakes this season to create some cool kid-friendly cookies.
Corkers Cork Decorating Kit $ 5.99
I’m allergic to wine so I don’t exactly have corks hanging around my kitchen. But, for those of you who do, here’s a cute ‘adult’ art project for you! Choose from airplane, deer, dog and pino figurine. A nice add-on if you’re bringing a bottle of wine to a party.
Beepegg Timer $ 19.99
A bit pricey, but if you like soft and hard-boiled eggs, this could be a good investment piece for your kitchen. Store in the fridge with your eggs for best results. You’ll always know where it is when you need it if you store it near your eggs!
MAKES YOU GO Hmmmm…
Oven Pull Monster $ 2.99
This seems useful but it’s not the most friendly-looking kitchen gadget out there. It looks a little freaked out–as if it knows it’s about to go head first into a hot oven. For the chef in your life with a good sense of humor…
Handbag Raincoat $ 19.99
I get it. It’s raining. You don’t want your handbag to get wet. But, a raincoat for a handbag? Where does it drip dry? It comes with a pouch but if you’ve ever tried to get an umbrella (wet or dry) back in it’s ‘pouch’ then I can’t imagine trying to do the same with a handbag raincoat. A bit pricey for what it is but if you carry an expensive bag and live in a rainy area, it could be worth it.
Wine Glass Shade $ 12.99
Like I said above, I’m allergic to wine. I own wine glasses for when company comes over but I never thought of ‘setting a mood’ with one of them. For the wine enthusiast in your life…
Poo Pourri 2 oz. – $ 9.99
OK, Container Store. You had to go THERE? Travel-sized for a purse, backpack, or diaper bag. What disturbs me most is that on this page (and all other pages) on The Container Store website, there’s a spot where you can upload a picture of the product in use with the hashtag #containyourself. I dare anyone to buy this product and upload a picture of themselves using it!
For more of The Container Store’s Stocking Stuffer Collection click here. There are stocking stuffers for kids/teens, pets, travelers, techies, chefs and many others in your life.
If you’re driving to The Container Store to peruse their stocking stuffers, consider donating an unwrapped book, toy, gift card, or toiletry to their Holiday Hugs program. They’re partnering with children’s hospitals around the country to deliver ‘Holiday Hugs’ to their patients. Program ends December 18th.
Three hundred and twenty-five days until next year’s Stocking Stuffer catalog!
I’d love to know–which stocking stuffer is YOUR favorite? Share in the comments below…
CLICK HERE to sign up for Organized Artistry’s motivating monthly newsletter!
I am one of those lucky Professional Organizers that lives less than 15 minutes from The Container Store. It’s great to be able to stop in, wander the aisles and check out new products whenever the mood strikes.
Despite it’s proximity to my home, I always look forward to receiving their catalogs. My favorite one arrives through my mail slot at the end of November–The Stocking Stuffers catalog. There’s something about this collection of cute, helpful, gadgety things that just makes me smile.
I flipped through the catalog last week and found a few items to share with you. Are you looking to fill holiday stockings or are you in need of the ‘next best thing’ to keep you organized? I think you’ll find a product here or on the stocking stuffers page of The Container Store’s website to suit your gift giving and organizing needs.
And now, some of my favorite Container Store Stocking Stuffers of 2013…
The Bondi is known as a ‘helping hand.’ Use it to secure an item and hang it over a doorknob, rearview mirror, stroller or anywhere you need to hang something small.
Cuppa and Dash Measuring Cups and Spoon
Designed by Umbra, these space-saving items are perfect for the cook who is short on space and appreciates good design.
Tab and Page Markers
If you’re like me, as you read you feel the need to mark off helpful or inspiring passages in books and magazines. I don’t usually read without a pack of these next to me. Great for color coding and they come in their own carrying case.
Ever take a salad to work or to an event but you don’t want to bring the whole bottle of dressing with you? Enter the Dressing-2-Go bottle. It’s BPA free, leakproof and holds 2 oz of dressing–perfect for those watching their calories.
This last one will probably not keep you organized, but it was so cute I wanted to share it…
For the ladies, this vintage-inspired shower cap is covered in rubber duckies–what could be more adorable? It also has a ruffled rim which keeps water out of your eyes. I don’t want to leave any one out, but this item may be a bit too girly for a guy with long hair…
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear some stocking stuffers calling my name. Good thing I live close to The Container Store…
|Courtesy of PJlibrary.org
If you haven’t been on Facebook lately or you’re not into pop-culture, you may not have heard the news. This year, for the first time since 1861 and the last time until the year 79,811, the holidays of Thanksgiving and Hannukah land on the same day. To commemorate this special day, the phrase, ‘Thanksgivukkah,’ was coined (and trademarked) by two women in Boston. A Facebook and Twitter account devoted to the day was created and the idea spread like wildfire across the United States.
For many of you, this day is business as usual. Turkey, cranberry sauce, football, and family traditions will be the norm. But for those who celebrate Hannukah as well, this day just became a little more challenging.
One holiday is religious. One is secular. The foods are different. Maybe you celebrate Turkey-day and Latke-day with different people. Celebrating two holidays at once? OY!
If you haven’t already started to plan, here are a few tips for getting organized for the won’t-see-this-again-in-our-lifetime holiday of Thanksgivukkah:
De-clutter Your Brain
You’re probably thinking, “Two holidays? What am I going to do? Where do I start?”
Start by dumping your brain onto a piece of paper or into a productivity app. Write down all the shopping, cooking, gift-giving, prepping and schlepping you’ll need to do for both holidays. Prioritize and then…
It’s tough enough preparing for one holiday, but two? You’re going to need to delegate tasks in order to cover the important rituals and traditions of both holidays. If you’re a self-declared perfectionist, this is the time to lose the title. Control freak? LET IT GO. Some tasks to delegate:
• preparation of a Thanksgivukkah side dish
• creating and facilitating games to keep the kiddies occupied
• shopping for gifts
• cleaning up the kitchen
• playing ‘bartender’ for the day
• supplying candles and matches for the menorah/menurkey
|A Menurkey–created by a ten year old boy with a Thanksgivukkah dream…
Prepare in Advance
Mise en Place is a French phrase meaning, ‘to have all of your cooking tools and ingredients prepared before you start cooking.’ The key to not stressing out while cooking for two different holidays at once is organization. Review every recipe and take note of what ingredients you’ll need. Also take note of what size measuring cups and spoons you’ll be working with. Do you have enough platters? What dishes need to cook in the oven and which on the stove top? Preparing in advance will prevent kitchen chaos and ‘Harried Hostess-itis.’
Keep it Simple
Two major holidays. One day. ‘Nuff said.
Ways to Keep it Simple:
• Usually, I advise people to make lists and store them in a file or electronically for the next year. You’re celebrating these two holidays together for the first and last time next week. Feel free to jot down notes but I don’t recommend creating a permanent file labeled ‘Thanksgivukkah’ unless you want to look back at it for some reason. I leave that up to you.
• Buy some pre-made food. My husband and I used to make potato latkes from scratch. Then we had two kids. No more latkes from scratch. My savior–Trader Joe’s Potato Pancakes. They are delicious and I don’t stay up half a night cleaning my kitchen.
• Eliminate a ton of side dishes by melding the two holidays in your recipes. Ideas: Sweet potato latkes, challah-chestnut stuffing, pumpkin pie a la mode with Manischewitz ice cream! (delegate the last item to someone with an ice cream maker and time on their hands…)
|Latkes? Stuffing? Or both!
It’s been a real hoot reading articles about this once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Here are some interesting and informative ideas about Thanksgivukkah that were cool to read and helped me write this post:
Much of the historical information for this post has been gleaned from articles on the web and this one from Wikipedia.
How to Celebrate Thanksgivukkah, The Best Holiday of All Time
Recipes, decorations and funny stuff
Pinterest does Thanksgivukkah
Food, gifts, decorating and great ideas
Ingeniuous 10-Year Old Creates ‘Menurkey’ for Thanksgivukkah
Never underestimate a child again…
Happy Organized Thanksgivukkah!
Hope I didn’t scare you too badly…
If you couldn’t tell by walking around the mall or your neighborhood, Halloween is just around the corner. I’ve bought my candy and scoured the Target One Spot for cool Halloween pencils. My eldest child’s costume is almost complete (baseball player) while my three year old just prefers to wear an orange shirt (his favorite color) and I’m 100% fine with that.
What do you do to celebrate Halloween? Decorate your house? Cook Halloween-themed treats? Put on a costume to hand out candy?
Some people love Halloween, some celebrate it because of their kids, and some would rather shut off all the lights in their house and hide in their basement on Halloween. If you fall into the first two categories, read on.
Holidays require preparation and Halloween is no different. Ordering/making costumes, buying candy, preparing themed food, setting out decorations all take time. Then there’s the purging of old costumes, candy-sorting, and the putting away of all decorations–lots to do for one day!
|Mummy Hot Dogs – photo courtesy of Yummly.com
In order to make your Halloween a less stressful and cluttered holiday, I’ve gathered a few articles for you to read on the topic of organizing for Halloween.
From the people at Jurasic Junk Removal: Get Organized for Halloween
From Examiner.com: Top 10 Tips: Organizing Tricks to Make Your Halloween a Treat
From my organizing colleague and frequent guest blogger, Cena Block of Sane Spaces: Get Organized for Halloween
I hope these articles provide you with some good ideas on how to keep your Halloween organized so you can enjoy a stress and clutter-free holiday.
Watch out for ghosts and goblins and have a fun Halloween!
CLICK HERE to sign up for Organized Artistry’s motivating monthly newsletter!
It’s been almost a month since Hurricane Sandy blew through the Northeast.
I am thankful that my family came out of the hurricane fairly unscathed. We had power and heat–our only loss was internet and cable for about a week. We know many who slept in chilled houses and went wherever they could to charge their phones and laptops for weeks on end. And that’s nothing compared to people who completely lost their homes…
But I was nervous…
You see, in the spring of 2010, a month before giving birth to baby #2, a storm dropped our neighbor’s huge tree onto our home. It came through a window of our three-season room and took up about 80% of our backyard.
Our neighbor still has another big tree in his backyard and as you can imagine, my husband and I were concerned about Hurricane Sandy causing similar or worse damage to our home.
We hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. And then got organized.
We made ice. And filled ziploc bags with water to make more ice. We bought all the ‘D’ batteries we could find and gathered all our flashlights, candles, and electronics in one place. I also gathered all information we might need in case of an emergency:
-our homeowners and car insurance polices/account numbers,
-our PSE&G account and contact information,
-the telephone number for News 12 New Jersey
to hear news reports if we had no other way to access the news.
I packed a few days worth of clothes for all of us and a weeks worth of diapers for my little guy. This is just the kids’ pile…
I also packed water, non-perishables and made a list of perishables to take with us in case we had to evacuate our home.
I was anxious about another tree falling on my house during the hurricane but I was equally as anxious about the possibility of having to feed my youngest child if we had no refrigeration or way to heat food up. He has multiple food allergies on top of the fact that he’s 2.5 and doesn’t have the most sophisticated palette.
I channeled my anxiety by making lists–a great way to get organized and prepare for an event such as a hurricane. I started on paper but then switched over to my favorite productivity app, Evernote. I use this app as a place to dump my brain and keep information for future use. I started an ‘Emergency Preparedness’ folder in Evernote and created the following lists of items we’d need:
-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-non-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-important contact information
-what we’d need to take with us in case we need to evacuate (clothing, cash, medicine, important papers, etc.)
You can access Evernote from any computer or your phone–the information is all in the cloud. I HIGHLY recommend this app. My desk would be overrun with papers and post-its without it!
Now that I had made my lists, I felt more prepared for the upcoming storm. What I wasn’t prepared for was my 2.5 year old getting his foot stuck between the slats of a dining room chair as the wind was howling and the trees were swaying. Days later, people asked us if we had any damage due to Hurricane Sandy. I laughed and said to them, “one chair–and it was INSIDE the house.”
It was repaired the next day and now our son’s booster seat sits on this chair. I think we’re going to be telling this story for years to come…
After the storm blew through, we touched base with family and friends discovered that we were one of the few homes around town that had power. We had no TV or internet access but I was grateful that we had heat and a fully working kitchen.
Our preparedness helped us as well as with others. We shared extra batteries, extra room in our fridge and freezer and gave out food, ice and a warm place to hang out to those who needed it.
School was closed for seven days. What kept my kids most occupied during the no-school days following the hurricane?
Is it possible to be thankful for a bag of balloons? Why not?
We also had nieces and nephews stop by to play and warm up. We had fun with stickers and crayons and other non-electronic toys. I will say–despite the fact we did not have cable, our DVR worked. So, we did have a bit of television to keep the kiddies occupied.
During this time, I also taught my kids how to use the Swiffer
. They loved pushing it around, especially my 2.5 year old. He and my 6 year old had a competition–who could pick up the most dirt and dust with it. I had very clean floors after the hurricane!
Slowly we heard about more and more people getting their power back. Schools were opening again. Gas lines were getting shorter. Everyone from celebrities to relief organizations were collecting for Hurricane Sandy relief.
My son’s school sent a note home that they were collecting items for the towns of Little Ferry and Moonachie, NJ. I used this event as a lesson in gratitude/being thankful. My six year old and I talked about how we were very lucky that nothing happened to our house during the hurricane and how others had not been so lucky. We collected items from the list, labeled the bags and he helped me take them to school.
Three cheers for Warren Point Elementary School of Fair Lawn, NJ!
Three more cheers go out to Girl Scout Troop 445 of Fair Lawn. They made up a list of food items they wished to collect for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and were nice enough to staple a plastic bag to the list. Very organized, ladies!
Once again, I took my son into our pantry. We had another talk about people affected by the hurricane that need food and how lucky we were to have what we need in our house. He read the items from the list and I put them in the bags–a lesson in literacy and gratitude. I recycled the plastic bag, and used paper instead…
Other companies/organizations involved in collecting for Hurricane Sandy–
Deposit A Gift, an online cash gift registry service, has partnered with The Foundling Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and is donating an extra 4% for every dollar given. Here’s how you can help. People have even created ‘registries’ for family/friends who have lost much to Huricane Sandy. Here’s an example of how one couple is raising funds for their Aunt Pat who lived in the devastated Breezy Point area of NY.
Whole Foods near me in Paramus, NJ is collecting coats through December 7th for New York Cares 24th Annual Coat Drive. According to the NY Cares website, “the storm created an unprecedented demand for warm coats.”
The Container Store is partnering with One Warm Coat to collect gently used coats, hats and mittens, sweaters and sweatshirts.
Please take a look in your closets and see if you have any outerwear that is in good enough shape to donate. This is the perfect time to de-clutter and help others.
Hurricane Sandy blew through town a few weeks before Thanksgiving–a time when most of us have more of an awareness of what we’re thankful for.
I’m thankful for much but in terms of the hurricane, I’m thankful…
-we had power, a working kitchen and didn’t need to leave our home.
-that we were able to help others after the storm.
-for my husband being home from work for a week and the time we got to spend as a family.
-for the break from the internet. As wonderful as it is, sometimes my eyes and brain need a rest…
-for the little time we got to organize. Not always easy with little kids around but we tackled a few -hot spots in my house.
-for Evernote which got me organized for this storm and prepared for a similar emergency in the future.
-that the only storm damage we had was a dining room chair!
A hurricane is a powerful reminder of our need to express gratitude and desire to be of help to others. Just because Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is upon us doesn’t mean we should forget about those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Please consider de-cluttering your closets, buying an extra holiday gift for a displaced child, or donating food to a local food pantry. Keep thankfulness and gratitude on your mind and in your heart this season and always.
Holiday season is almost upon us. Holidays or not, going to the mall can make you dizzy! Add in sparkly decorations, tons of people, blaring holiday music–all that can make a brain very tired. So when it’s time to go home and you exit hopefully through the same door you used to enter the mall, it may take you a moment to think about where you parked your car.
Not any more! Because my helpful organizing holiday tip is:
Use the camera on your phone to take a picture of where you parked your car. No more wandering around the parking lot in a panic. (Whew!)
I do this even when it’s NOT holiday time. Above is a picture of my car at the Paramus Park Mall. I only had to run in and out of one store but I snapped the photo just in case.
When you take the photo make sure to have a ‘landmark’ in the background such as a store or a parking lot sign. If you look at the picture look closely, you’ll notice that I’m in Section 26 parked near the Sears Auto Center.
Now you have one less thing to worry about this holiday season! Less stress for you and more time for the joy of the season. Who can’t appreciate that?
Fess up–how often have you felt ‘parking lot panic?’
I mentioned last week that I would be revealing October’s topic for my Facebook Tip-of-the-Week. Here it is: It’s all about the kitchen in the month of October!
Why the kitchen? Well, I thought it would be a good idea to offer kitchen organizing tips this month because the holidays are coming. And what do holidays revolve around? Food! And where do we prepare food? In the kitchen. And what room do many of our guests gravitate to when they come to visit? The kitchen.
My first Facebook Tip-of-the-Week for the month of October has to do with cabinets. Read about it and check back for a blog post on my own experiences with this week’s tip.
Have any kitchen organizing tips that have worked for you? I’d love to hear them!
I once had a client who kept her artificial Christmas tree in a ratty cardboard box. She said to me, “Every year I take it out of the box and hope it (the box) survives another year. I just don’t know how else to store it.”
I also had a client who stored her tree ornaments between towels in a laundry basket.
To both of them, I recommended holiday storage solutions.
Why use holiday storage?
• It protects your holiday decorations from dirt/bugs/small creatures
• It holds the shape of holiday items such as trees and wreaths
• It helps to organize decorative items
Now is the perfect time to purchase holiday storage–before the tree and all of its trimmings get put away. Here are a few options at different price points that can assist in making next year’s holidays less stressful and more joyous.
From inexpensive to high-end:
Christmas Tree Shop (or any similar discount store)
I saw an ornament organizer for less than $5 last time I was there.
The Container Store
Wing-Lid Ornament and Light Storage Boxes $14.99-19.99
Wreath Storage Bag $14.98
Tree Duffel $69.95
The Cover Store
Rolling Tree Storage Bag (up to 15′) $149.99
If anyone knows of menorah storage solutions, I’d be interested in seeing those…
How many times have you eaten turkey in the past 72 hours?
I don’t cook the turkey but for the past bunch of years my cousin hands me the turkey carcass at the end of the night. I can pick a good two pounds of meat off the bones so when I’m looking to do something creative to it, I turn to the Food Network website.
If you still have some leftovers and need a new recipe, check out Food Network’s Thanksgiving 2010 Leftovers page. My personal favorite use of turkey leftovers is Rachael Ray’s Turkey Corn Chili recipe. Try it over brown rice for a change of pace from the usual flavors of Thanksgiving.
Let’s make sure none of those leftovers are left to languish in the back of the fridge. Clear containers are best–no tin foil surprises at the end of the week.
Get ready to purge your fridge anyway…Hannukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa are just a few weeks away.
Have you eaten all of your kids’ Halloween candy yet? Make way for chocolate turkeys and Russell Stover Santas–it’s holiday time! I know you’re busy just thinking bout the holidays and for those celebrating Hannukah, it’s an ‘eat-turkey-then-quickly-fry-latkes’ kinda year.
To help make this holiday season less stressful, run, don’t walk over to my website to read, ‘Tools and Tips for Keeping the Holidays Organized.’
I’d love to hear if any of the tips worked for you.
Still working on that Facebook Fan Page. I’ll let you know when I’m up and running!