Keep your holiday supplies simple with an inventory and a plan

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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Photo by Foto Blitz Color

This week’s project is not revolutionary or a brand new idea, but the kicker is doing it in plenty of advanced time. This week, we’ll take inventory of our holiday items, get rid of what we no longer need, and make a shopping list for the things you need to buy.

Our family doesn’t have much Christmas decor to begin with, but in the next two days I’m going to get it all down and make a simple list of what we have. And then I’ll keep an eye out for what we need, well before the insane holiday chaos begins.

Here are a few tips to get your organizing juices flowing.

Organize Your Ideas

First, organize your holiday ideas. If there are craft projects you’ve found online that you’d like to do, bookmark them in a logical way where you’ll find them. You’re probably not surprised that I keep mine on Delicious.

Also bookmark decorating photos that inspire you. Don’t hold your home’s standard to an immaculate Pottery Barn catalog spread, but use those forms of eye candy to generate some ideas (I love Meredith’s inspired ideas from the coveted store’s catalog photos).  Most professional decorating ideas can be done much more frugally.

Once you have a general idea of some projects you’d like to tackle this year, you can scratch out a basic list of supplies you’ll need. For example, I already know I want to make a new tree skirt this year, so I’m going to keep my eye out for fabric now.

Edit Your Stuff

elf.pngEmbrace the philosophy “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” for the holidays as well as for life, and set aside any Christmas knickknacks you don’t truly love. If something doesn’t line up with your taste, you probably won’t love having it on display for the holidays. Even if you got it as a gift, you’re not required to keep it.

Then, depending on how much you have, either sell the items individually on eBay or Craigslist, or sell them as an entire set of holiday decor. If you don’t think you’d make enough cash for the hassle, consider posting your stuff on freecycle – someone else may love your stuff.

Inventory Your Supplies

You should be left with items you like and want to use this year.

Test your strands of lights, and if any of them are burnt out (and beyond simple repair), throw them out. There’s no need to hold on to them, and they’re easily replaceable.

Inventory your wrapping paper and see if you need to replenish your supply. I recommend mostly using season-less paper you can use year-round, but if you want specific holiday wrap, the earlier you buy it, the better the selection. I’ll share more tips on creative gift wrap ideas soon.

I love wrapping gifts with real ribbon – if you do, too, check how much you have, and keep an eye out for inexpensive spools year-round at craft stores.

Store Your Items Logically

After you inventory your stuff, store it logically according to when you’ll use it. If there are some holiday supplies you’ll use first, for example, box those items together in a box labeled “Christmas – Box #1.”

Even better, make a simple list of the box’s contents – then either write it directly on the box, or write it on paper and tape it securely.

Make a Shopping List, Keep a Sharp Eye, & Make a Plan

Make a master list of what holiday supplies you need to stock up on this year. Then keep it someplace, like your Home Management Notebook, where you can easily access it when you’re shopping online or when you’re going out and about.

Keep an eye out for items in stores, and watch for coupons. You might want to go ahead and schedule some of the project ideas on your family calendar, especially if they involve multiple people.

I’m looking forward to doing some holiday project “research.” Is there anything you already know you’re going to tackle? What are some things you no longer need? Start organizing and planning now, while there’s still plenty of time until Christmas.  All in all, it should only take you a few hours this week.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for all of the great tips. I try to weed through my ornaments yearly to make sure I only have ones I love. Last year I didn’t use “traditional” wrapping paper so that’s one last thing I have to store and sort through. What I am curious about is how you handle Christmas cards – receiving and giving. We received so many each year with beautiful photos I can’t bear to throw away. Honestly, they’re not to hard to store but I wonder if there’s some creative way to handle them?

    Alana @ Gray Matters’s last blog post…WFMW: Cheap Wall Art

    • The past few years, we’ve just kept the photos from the cards. We pin them on a small bulletin board in our kitchen all year, and use it as a reminder to pray for our family and friends.

      I’ve also heard families putting them in a box, then taking out one at a time over the dinner table to pray for them. Sweet idea.

      A few days ago, a reader had a cute idea of making simple ornaments out of the cards you love – use cookie cutters to trace shapes, cut, punch a hole, string with ribbon.

      The rest – the cards I don’t love – I toss. And I don’t feel guilty about it at all. ;)

  2. Simple, effective advice. A little organization before shopping will go a long way to not wasting cash on items you don’t need.

    Marc and Angel Hack Life’s last blog post…How Ignorance Can Lead to Success

  3. Re: wrapping paper. I go out and buy it during the first or second week of January. It’s all on clearance then. ;) I also buy the really huge rolls and each family member has their “own” paper. I don’t use tags on in-house presents, so when you know what pattern is “your” paper, all your gifts are wrapped in that.
    Makes it very easy for kids to know what gifts are theirs too.

    • Fun idea! I’ve got a post coming later about Christmas stuff to do afterChristmas for the next year. Gift wrap shopping will definitely be one of them.

  4. God, I only wish I lived in a Pottery Barn spread. Now that I’m a grown up, I’m still pretty bummed that I can’t get my house, or even one corner of my house, to look like Pottery Barn.

    Angie (from over at http://www.HalfAssedKitchen.com)

    Half Assed Kitchen’s last blog post…An easy-ass way to dress up your meat

  5. I take photos of my decor each year and then I store the decorations in a clear plastic box with the photo showing so I know which room the box goes to and how I decorated it. It saves me a ton of time!

  6. For those with a nearby Hobby Lobby, a lot of Christmas stuff is on sale this week, including 40% off ornaments. :)

    Caitlin’s last blog post…for a buck

  7. I inherited a lot of decorations that weren’t my style, but were in our family when I was growing up. I took pictures of the decorations I got rid of. I keep the photos in a little album with my Christmas decoration and look through it when I open my Christmas box. It reminds me of years past, but I am free of all the physical clutter.

  8. We have mostly given up on wrapping paper. My mother in law makes cloth sacks with ribbons to tie them shut. We put the present in there and tie a reusable label saying who it is to / from on the ribbon. The first year I saw these at her house I found them tacky and unappealing. The next year I was sicker than a dog and loved how easy wrapping presents became. I even found the tree cool and funky because of all the different fabrics in the sacks. It is like have 15 different types of wrapping paper. Now that I am feeling better, I am on the look out for some nice decorative boxes that I can tie with pretty ribbon. I no longer feel quite so bad about how much waste Christmas generates.

    • Your mother-in-law has a great idea! I’d miss wrapping presents, since I love that so much, but you’re right – Christmas really does make a lot of waste.

  9. avatar
    Anne Marie says:

    I agree with the wrapping paper and cards post Christmas. Every year we make a note on how much wrapping paper we have left and how many Christmas cards we sent that year. We keep a list of the names we mailed to as well, with dates next to the years we sent to ensure we mail to the same people each year and keep current on their addresses. Easy to keep an Excel Spreadsheet of that info. Then after the season we buy all we need for the coming season on clearance and store it away with our lists. Saves money and keeps us organized!

  10. This year, we’re forgoing commercial wrapping paper for something a little more creative…my son’s myriad collection of so-so preschool art. We’ve kept the best ones as mementos, but the rest of the sheets (on 18″x24″) will be used to wrap gifts. We’ll use any scrap ribbons, raffia, and yarn as bows, and any found objects from nature or around the house as little “ornaments” to tie on the gifts. This will give us a chance to save money and re-purpose items we already have.

    aggie’s last blog post…Freezer Labels

  11. Smart idea taking inventory of decorations, etc. Every year we spend at least half a day stumbling around the attic looking for that “one box of decorations” and can never find it! This would also be help when stocking up on after-Christmas sales.

    JW’s last blog post…Five Reasons to Dump Expanded Cable Television

  12. avatar
    Constance Dewhurst says:

    Thank you so much for what your doing on getting ready for the next 12 weeks. It has been wonderful and so helpful.

  13. These are great tips! This is the first christmas I have really tried to organize for, and for me the big thing is definitely inventory. Since I am just now leaving the stage of living with friends, I have practically no Christmas stuff! I am trying to budget so I can slowly build up my collection, but let’s just say this year will be a VERY simple Christmas.

    Lucie @ Unconventional Origins’s last blog post…Motherhood Rant: The Liberal Suppressing Freedom of Speech? Two O’Clock In The Afternoon Is Too Early For Porno.

  14. Those are great ideas! Christmas is my favorite holiday and I really tend to go overboard, sometimes stressing myself out. But I do keep a Christmas notebook and that helps me keep mostly organized.

    A note on what I like to do with old Christmas cards: I usually keep ones from special friends and family, but the rest I sort through and keep only the ones I find attractive. Then as long as there is no writing interferring, I cut the fronts into gift tags. Just use a hole punch to make a place for your ribbon and you’re set.

    Lora’s last blog post…Our First Lapbook

  15. I’m so glad you suggested making an inventory of Christmas decorations before Christmas. Last year, I went and bought but didn’t really know what we had (which wasn’t much) and wished I had more. Then our dog got a good part of that after Christmas so I know I’ll need a bunch of stuff this year. Thankfully, where we live, the ornaments are super cheap.

  16. I’ve got so many swirling project ideas in my head. Thanks for the reminder to get them all in a list where I can prioritize and put projects in a timeline.

    Becca’s last blog post…An olfactory void

  17. Here is a post idea, SimpleMom: talk about inexpensive ideas for teacher gifts. I always struggle with it wanting to show our thank you and gratitude, but with all the people in your kids lives, the cost could really add up. Some initial thoughts: (i) custom-made music CD with kid’s artwork as CD cover; (ii) small frame with your kids artwork…? Would love to hear other ideas. Thanks

    • This is a great time for craft shows. I do them and I usually make some cute teacher gifts, but I do know that they really get tired of “apple” things. They seem to really enjoy personal items, such as, gift cards, maybe Sonic, Starbucks, or even stuff from Bath and Body Works, also found online. Good luck and have fun. Penni

  18. avatar
    munchkin_momma says:

    My mother unloaded a basement full of Christmas stuff on me last year and after packing it up I have 15 fairly lage boxes of Christmas stuff I don’t care all that much for. I felt bad about wanting to get rid of some of it since they come to our place for the holidays but now I feel much better about it. Time to pass stuff along to the next person.
    I love some of the ideas of what else do do with old cards. I do use some of mine in scrapbooks and now i know what to do with the rest. Also framing the really pretty ones in homemade or thrift store frames is a very cheap way to add to the holiday decor.

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