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AuthorScott Roewer

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Step-by-Step Guide for Organizing Your Kitchen

organized-kitchen-5In honor of GO Month, we’re wrapping up our room-by-room organizational spree in the kitchen. For many of us, the kitchen is the heart of our home, so it is important to keep it uncluttered and functional. This post will give you some inspiration to make the most of the space you have… which is probably more space than you think!

The kitchen tends to be the busiest room in the house, so it’s also the easiest place to amass a mess. When getting organized here, don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s a big job, so it’s okay to tackle the cabinets and drawers on one day, and save the pantry and the fridge for another. As always, the best way to get started is by removing everything from where it’s hiding, so you can see it all and truly take stock of what you have.

Start by creating a staging area. Use your dining room table, use a folding table, or spread a sheet out on the floor, if necessary, and begin to group everything by category: cookware, cleaning supplies, storage items, etc. Confine everything you remove from the cabinets and drawers to this area to prevent the kitchen clutter from exploding all over another part of your house.

Deal with your duplicates. When everything is out on your staging area, you’ll realize that the overcrowding in your kitchen isn’t always due to lack of space, but rather an overabundance of stuff! Multiples gather because when you need something and you can’t find it, you buy another one. But no one needs three pressure cookers… do they? Pare down your gadgets, pots and pans, and even your dishes to what you will realistically use. Unburden yourself by letting go of bulky items like that ice cream maker you used once five years ago, or the popcorn popper collecting dust on top of your fridge. Then box up the rest for your local charity organization or, if you’re brave, your next garage sale.

Make sense of what’s left. If you have an unruly collection of plastic storage containers, sort them by size and locate the coordinating lids. Designate a drawer or shelf for these, and use one of the larger containers to keep the lids from getting lost in the shuffle. If your drawer space is limited, try moving your knives to a magnetic strip for safe-keeping and easy access. If you have extra glassware, serving pieces or other necessary but rarely used items, move them to your dining room buffet or store them in your basement until they’re needed.

Wipe down every shelf before you refill your cabinets. Install sturdy shelf liners to keep things slip-free and to make your upcoming spring cleaning a cinch. Use modular drawer dividers and shelf-expanding inserts to maximize your storage space and make things easier to see, so they won’t get forgotten in the back of your cabinets. There are also countless organizers available for under the sink (to wrangle cleaning supplies and plastic bags) and inside the fridge (like soda can stackers) that can maximize your space and keep things organized week after week.

When you’re ready to start putting things back, get real about how you use your kitchen. Do you cook every day or just once in a while? Do the kids spread out here to do homework? Make sure you designate a space for each activity and that will serve as the roadmap to getting organized. Return items to their logical “home” by placing items near where they’ll be used. Dishes should be close to the dishwasher so it’s easy to empty. Coffee and tea should be in the cabinet near your kettle or coffee maker. If your kitchen island serves double duty as a homework station, make sure there’s a basket or drawer nearby for school supplies.

Now that you’ve got everything in order behind closed drawers, make sure that your surfaces are equally clutter-free. One of the easiest ways to declutter your kitchen is to remove everything that’s collected on the refrigerator door. Your kids’ art is precious but plentiful, so rather than jamming everything on there at once, try rotating items every week. You’ll make each piece seem even more special, while also creating a more visually serene environment.

These ideas will help you reclaim your storage and increase efficiency in everything you do in your kitchen. Please share your biggest kitchen challenges and how these (or other) tips have motivated you to tackle them.

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Tips For Throwing a Winning Super Bowl Party

football-image1-5A Super Bowl party may be pretty hard to screw up. All it takes is a TV, some snacks and beer, and your guests are guaranteed a great time, right? Maybe, but still… just a little attention to the details and you can elevate your party to the stuff of legends.

Get pumped up pre-game.Even if your guest list is already set, a pre-party email will get everyone excited. Send the message out today or tomorrow. Be sure to include relevant details (where, when, what to bring) as well as your enthusiasm, and set the tone for the day ahead. Don’t just encourage guests to dress in team colors from head to toe, make it mandatory!

Prep the field for play. Obviously, the room should be focused on the game, so make sure you have enough seats in front of the TV for everyone to get comfortable. If you don’t have enough folding chairs, ask friends to bring some, and don’t be afraid to bring your lawn chairs inside – they’re perfect for the tailgating crowd! – but leave yourself time to wipe down anything that’s been collecting dust in the garage. Floor pillows also work well for younger football fans.

Put some heart into it! Football diehards may balk at the idea of decorations, but wrapping the room in team pride can make for an epic showdown. Of course, if you’re in Colorado or Washington your décor will be appropriately biased, but if you’re hosting a mixed crowd of Seahawks and Broncos fans, be sure to represent everyone’s colors on the buffet as well as on the furniture. Football themed rugs, banners, and blankets are inexpensive and easy to come by, so be bold and don’t hold back! You can also look for décor items in team colors that are not covered in football team logos. This will allow the items to be more versatile for future purposes. This reduction in décor clutter is key if storage is at a premium. Hang a couple of team jerseys on the wall, and they can double as prizes for your party games.

Extend your decorations into a nearby space for anyone who is looking for a respite from the crowd’s excitement. Deck out any space where guests are welcome to hang (don’t forget the snacks), so guests will know it’s okay to relax in there, too. Don’t forget to turn on and tune in every TV throughout the house. Your guests will be grateful that they didn’t miss any of the action during their bathroom break!

Feed them… well.Next to football, the food will naturally be the star attraction at your party. It’s a long game day – at least three to four hours – so expect people to be snacking and grazing the whole time. Think of appetizers and snacks that can be easily replenished and will stay yummy despite standing out for a while. The key is to have enough food and supplies on hand to keep guests feeling full and festive.

A buffet of finger foods are most appealing for their portability, so think “grab-and-go.” A big batch of stick-to-your-ribs chili (or your signature cold weather dish) is also easy to serve and satisfying fare. Just be sure to have plenty of extra napkins on hand, because spills are inevitable on Super Bowl Sunday.

Make sure everyone can reach snacks no matter where they’re seated. No one should have to miss any action just to grab some more chips! Likewise, place a few coolers or small tubs of beer and soda at various vantage points around the room, each with a stack of cups and an extra bottle opener. It’s another prime spot for team-themed decorations, plus your guests will appreciate the convenience… and the plentiful refreshments.

Beer is the football fans’ beverage of choice, so stock up on a variety or bottles and cans or even mini-keg to help keep the suds flowing. Have an ample supply of non-alcoholic options on hand for the designated driver, and an extra bag or two of ice, as well.

Make sure you won’t run out of snacks or spirit and you’ve got the right recipe for great game day. Even if you couldn’t care less about football, these tips will serve as your guide to throwing a Super Bowl party for the record books. If you have other ideas for a winning Super Bowl party, please share them in the comments below. Go team!

Going GREEN As You Organize

noodles8-5Have you gotten on board with Get Organized Month yet? If not, here’s your chance to GO for it while you also GO green!

If living an eco-friendly lifestyle is important to you, then it makes perfect sense for you to organize you home while simultaneously going green. With an eye toward simplifying your space and paring back (sometimes dramatically) on how much STUFF you live with, you will notice that your home feels lighter and more relaxing as you begin to unburden each room.

Going green is not just about living with less, although that is a great mindset to have. You want to make sure that the items you do buy are the healthiest, most sustainable products available. Start out by revamping the way you maintain your home. In other words, hit that scary collection of chemicals under your kitchen sink and clear it out. It’s worth a trip to your local hazardous waste center to dispose of those chemicals properly, as you should definitely not dump them down the drain or into the trash. You can always visit Earth911.com for details on where to recycle just about anything.

To clean your house without the toxins, you can turn to any number of readily available alternatives (like Seventh Generation or The Honest Company) that won’t harm your family or the planet. Or, if you’re ready for a real change, a simple Bing or Google search will summon countless recipes for safe and super-cheap cleaning solutions that can be made from household staples like vinegar and baking soda.

To apply the traditional green anthem of “reduce, reuse and recycle” to your home, start by going room-to-room and collecting items that are no longer useful. Those beautiful mugs that you shoved in the back of the cabinet because you never drink out of them can be repurposed to organize anything from markers to makeup brushes. And using them in that new way will also clear up some valuable storage space in the kitchen! Take a serrated knife to your kids extra pool noodles and cut them into DIY boot forms, or put that iPhone box you saved for no apparent reason in your junk drawer to organize your odds and ends. Use some colorful contact paper to dress it up first, if you’re feeling creative. Upcycling your underused items gives you a chance to appreciate them in a whole new way, reduces waste, while also saving you money.

You don’t have to be drowning under precarious piles of stuff to be ripe for a good purging. After you’ve repurposed as many of your belongings as you can, take everything else you’ve collected from each room and get it out of the house! Give away, donate or repurpose as many unused, unappreciated items as you can, relegating only the unsanitary or truly irreparable pieces to the dumpster. The idea is to unburden yourself but without being wasteful.

Prevent the re-accumulation of STUFF with one simple rule: in order to acquire something new, you must purge something first that takes up a comparable amount of space in your home. Get your belongings down to a manageable quantity and be mindful about keeping it at that level. If you bring something new into your home, make sure it has an intended use or specific purpose, so it won’t become unwanted clutter that you’ll have to purge later on.

Which room in your home do you think could undergo a green transformation? Tell us in the comments what you plan to change first…

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5-Tips for Bedroom Bliss

20140123-bedroom-photo-5It is the place where every single day begins and ends for you, so it makes sense that the atmosphere in your bedroom can have a tremendous effect on your state of mind. A chaotic, unorganized bedroom does nothing to recharge or restore you, which is precisely what should be taking place in this space. A clutter-free zone will promote restful sleep, and these five easy steps will help keep the clutter from sneaking back into the serene space you’ve just created.

1. Make your bed every day. If you cultivate only one new habit to keep your bedroom organized, I urge you to make this one your top priority. Get out of bed in the morning and make the first thing you do a ritual of organization that sets the tone for your entire day. You’ll spend a third of your life (or more!) in bed, so make sure it exudes the calmness that you want to carry with you from morning to night.

2. Use dual-purpose furniture to create extra storage. If you like to read in bed, eliminate unsightly piles of books and magazines by swapping out your bedside table for a small bookshelf. You can even use a taller bookcase as your headboard, but be sure to bolt it securely to your wall so nothing falls on you! If it’s clothes, not books, that are causing the clutter to pile up, try using a small dresser as your nightstand, and you’ll have extra drawers for the overflow. If you’re still short on storage space, a stack of old suitcases or a vintage trunk makes a stylish table, while also housing extra blankets or off-season clothes.

3. Keep the floor clothing-free. If there’s a chair or a patch of floor that tends to accumulate the same pile of “still in use” clothing week after week, create a proper space for those in-between items to go. Remember, if it’s not dirty enough to go into the laundry, then it’s clean enough to get put away. Make sure your laundry basket is conveniently placed so dirty clothes make it straight into the hamper with out a pit stop on your floor.

4. Make it easy to access your under-the-bed space. Stashing stuff under the bed isn’t a new idea, but modern accessories make it simple to get to what you need when you need it. You can store your bulkiest items in canvas boxes (good for sweaters which require air to circulate) or plastic bins, but first protect them with dust bags or cedar wood inserts, and of course, make sure everything is laundered or dry cleaned before it gets put away for any extended period. If you’re accessing your under-bed storage every day, opting for rolling bins will make it a breeze. They’ll keep your mounds of shoes and other unruly collections out of sight but always in reach.

5. Come out of the closet! If you’re plagued with tiny closet syndrome, make some room by pulling out your favorite space-stealing accessories and displaying them like the works of art that they are! Use decorative hooks or floating shelves to display purses and shoes… why not admire to your favorite items when they’re not in use?

Try out all of these tips or just one or two, and I promise you will notice the energy in your bedroom shift within the first day. It only takes a little effort to maintain the peaceful environment you need to get a good night’s sleep and prepare yourself for whatever the day has in store.

What organizing challenge has been blocking your bedroom from becoming the sanctuary you deserve? We’d love to hear your comments below.

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Kick Off Get Organized Month In The Bathroom

bathroom-5Back in 2005 when the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) named January as Get Organized Month or GO Month, they definitely knew what they were doing. According to StatisticBrain.com for 2014, “getting organized” is the number two resolution, second only to “losing weight.” NAPO recognized this widespread desire, so they launched GO Month to raise awareness of the benefits of organization and to inspire people to stick to it.

In a 2008 survey by NAPO, 65% of people surveyed said their household was at least “moderately disorganized.” Ninety-six percent of them believed they would save time every day by becoming more organized and 15% of that group felt the time they would save could total more than an hour each day. That’s more than 15 full days in a year! If you knew that you could save two extra weeks this year by taking some time to get organized now, wouldn’t you give it a shot?

Throughout GO Month, we’re going to guide you through easy but effective ways to get organized in each room of your house, starting with the bathroom. Follow these easy steps and get your bathroom in shape today:

SORT IT. Make piles of things that belong together like first aid items, grooming tools, or make up. Don’t try to put them away until you’ve collected and sorted through everything, that way you’ll be able to properly assess how much space each category really needs.

TOSS IT. Once your piles are sorted, go through and toss whatever you don’t need. Check for expired medications and outdated makeup, and toss them in the bin. (Keep track of the shelf life of your makeup by placing a sticker on the bottom of each item with the date of purchase.) If you have an abundance of near-empty lotion bottles or hotel toiletries that expired before your last three vacations, now is the time to let them go, too. And the same goes for cosmetic samples you’ve been hoarding. If you have saved unused cosmetic items for over a year, throw them out or collect the non-expired ones and donate them to a local women’s shelter. If you have old appliances that need replacing, opt for hairdryers or curling irons with retractable cords for easier, tangle-free storage.

CONTAIN IT. Once you’ve whittled down the mass from every cabinet, drawer and shelf in your bathroom, don’t just shove it all back where you found it, give it a proper “home.” Don’t forget to use plastic liners to protect your drawers and cabinets from scratches and spills. Use containers to corral smaller items, and label everything to make staying organized easier. Modular containers like these are great because they offer flexibility as your storage needs may change, and clear canisters help you see when your most used items are running low. Try modular utensil organizers (intended for use in the kitchen) to keep your makeup drawer in order. And mesh laundry bags are a great way to store the kids’ bath toys, so they’ll dry out between uses. Designate what will be stored on each shelf of your medicine cabinet or linen closet and label the shelves to help you and your family stick to the plan.

STICK TO IT! Prevent your bathroom from creeping back toward the clutter again. Putting something away when you’re done using it sets it up for the next use, and saves you time because you won’t have to tidy up each day. If you straighten up a little bit each day, it means you won’t lose half your weekend to another organizing marathon.

Whether yours is teeny-tiny or big enough to land a plane in, the way to keep your bathroom organized is to make sure everything has a place where it belongs. You’ll get used to the system you’ve created in just a few weeks and that is what will save you time moving forward.

Please share your space-saving and clutter-busting tricks in the comments below. What’s your favorite organizing trick to make your bathroom more functional for you?

This Year I Resolve To Keep My Resolutions… Again

A-Resolution-Revolution-5We all have a few resolutions that make it to the top of our list every New Year, and there are two reasons they keep showing up there: 1) we believe this resolution will improve our life in some way, and 2) we have never been able to make this resolution stick. If “Get Organized!” is at the top of your resolutions list every year, I want to share some ideas that will help you cross it off once and for all.

While the vast majority of resolutions will not outlast your New Years hangover (a 2007 study at the University of Bristol showed 88% of people who make New Year resolutions fail to follow through), the fact is you still have a much greater chance to make real, positive change in your life if you declare your intention to do so.

Once you’ve resolved to get organized for 2014, enlist some help. Get a friend or two on board and make yourselves accountable to one another. Help each other solidify the practice of organization while tag-teaming each other’s spaces! Schedule a regular weekly date to rotate through each friend’s closet, then master bedroom, then kitchen, and so forth. The key to lasting success when instituting change is to recognize that a resolution is just a launching point. For it to stick, you must make the change a regular part of everyday life. By joining forces with like-minded friends, you’ll maintain the willpower that more often dwindles before your resolution can become habit.

Organizing your desk, your office, your garage or even your entire home is a first step, but it is not something you do once and you’re done forever. Get organized with a method that you can incorporate into your daily lifestyle, and you’ll maintain order throughout the year. Support from friends and family is helpful, but they may not have the tools you need to make your changes last. You need to create systems to maintain your organized space. Without a system, it is too easy to fall back into the habits that created the clutter in the first place.

If the idea of a “system” seems intimidating, don’t be afraid to consult a professional. Organizing may not come naturally to you, but a trained pro can show you simple adjustments that, with a little discipline, will become second nature before you know it, and that can deliver big results. And before you agree to work with any professional, ask them these key questions to make sure you find the right fit that will produce the best results.

A huge goal may seem insurmountable, so think of your resolution as an ongoing action plan. If “losing 30 pounds” was an easily approachable resolution, you wouldn’t need to wait to New Years to take it on. But take that goal and break it down into clearly defined monthly, weekly or daily activities, and your unlikely resolution has become and organized approach to changing your lifestyle. And it will continue to bring you measurably closer and being the person you want to be in the New Year.

Which elusive New Years resolution do you want to commit to once and for all? What plan for getting organized is on your list for 2014?

How To Get Out Of Your Own Way & Have a Drama-Free Holiday

drink2-200x300-3You may be entertaining at home, braving highways of holiday traffic to visit your in-laws, or escaping the family altogether by trading snowy roads for sandy beaches, but the one thing that will remain the same in each scenario is YOU! So, if your holidays are always wrapped up in drama, aim to be drama-free this year by taking an honest look at how you might be adding to it.

I’m not suggesting that outside irritants and stressors aren’t everywhere this time of year. It’s no wonder you get a wee bit cranky when the radio is barking out Christmas cheer twenty-four/seven. I know that when stress is running high, I’m like a lot of people who tend to become rundown because, in doing so much for others, I can neglect to take proper care of my own physical and emotional needs. If that sounds like you too, then these few minor adjustments may have you ringing in a much happier New Year, instead of mumbling “Good riddance,” as you wave goodbye to 2013.

Have a slightly “less spirited” holiday. You maybe looking forward to starting the night off with a cocktail or three to brace yourself against the rush of relatives, but by cutting back on your consumption of alcohol, you’ll ensure a smoother scene unfolds. By hitting the eggnog with gusto, you give up control over your reactions to the onslaught of irritants that you’ll surely encounter at your next family gathering. Have a plan to keep your wits about you: institute your own two-drink maximum policy, make sure to have a glass of cider or a soft drink in hand at all times, or make yourself the designated driver. It may seem backwards, but staying sober can make enduring your relatives easier because you’ll be less likely to react to their antics.

Santa screwed up? No biggie! It doesn’t matter if you’re fourteen or forty-two, some of us just can’t hide our disappointment when we receive a dud present. We can sigh and pout and bemoan how ridiculous it is for anyone to think we would actually like to receive a digital alarm clock circa 1986, but in the end, you’re really just ruining your own fun. So what if the gifts stink?! If you b*tch and moan about getting “horrible gifts,” then you’ll have no one to blame for your bad night but yourself.

Excuse You! Strategic scheduling may be the keep to keeping your cool. If listening to your aunts arguing makes you nuts, then when they’re warming up for battle that’s a great time to excuse yourself. Offer to wash dishes, play a game with the kids, or just take a walk around the block. By the time you return, the annual argument over heirlooms will probably have passed, as will your urge to explode at your relatives’ incessant bickering.

You can’t expect every elf in your life to cater to you, so give yourself permission to take care of YOU during the holidays. Take this time to recharge, refresh and regroup before the New Year arrives… and please, post your comments below to share your favorite trick for staying calm when the holiday crazies kick up. You may help our readers have an even happier holiday!

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Holiday Drama – It’s All in Your Head!

avoid-drama-5It’s happening again. Sleeping kids everywhere have those silly dancing sugarplums in their heads, but you’re tossing and turning with the vision of your obnoxious Aunt Helen barreling through the house complaining that there’s “Nothing to eat around here but cheese? What, do you want me to have a heart attack right in front of the tree?” Well… no, Aunt Helen. That would be bad.

Stop worrying and get some sleep! This year, you’ve made sure to be prepared for anything and everything (at least we hope you did!) and organized back up plans for even the most random guest request. Your nephew’s vegan girlfriend has a problem with the turkey? Tofu and veggies wrapped and ready to serve! Grandma Joan spends all night asking to be reminded of the names of each of her seven grandchildren? You bought all the kids personalized Santa hats, so Granny has a cheat sheet on each of their foreheads.

Nothing could go wrong that you haven’t thought of and prepared for already… so why are you still so stressed? You’re anticipating the drama.

When family gets together, invariably drama ensues. You may not be able to prevent it, but you can control how you react to it.  Reducing family drama at the holidays can be as easy as shifting your perspective.

Soothing the savage beast… in YOU! You can keep a level head by preparing an auditory prescription for calm. Load up your iPod with your favorite music (keeping the guest list and occasion in mind) and you can compile a mix of your favorite fun and calming music to keep you floating through the festivities. Here’s a helpful How To in case you’re new to playlists. Add a few toe-tappers and Grinch-crushing feel good tunes, (and check out our favorite Christmas album http://bit.ly/JnWF9i ) and your personal playlist will keep everyone will in good spirits, most importantly, you.

Have a few conversation starters on hand to steer clear of troublesome topics. Avoid heavy subjects such as parents’ health issues or the kids’ trouble at school, which can stir up emotions you aren’t prepared to deal with during a holiday setting. And if listening to the same old small talk is as irritating to you as nails on a chalkboard, have a few go-to distractions ready. Write them down if you must, just be ready to toss out a new topic for them to dig into, and spare yourself the aggravation of listening to another 40-minute account of what traffic was like on the expressway on the way over.

There may be room at the Inn, but it’s definitely not in the kitchen! If you know what gets your ire up is interference in the kitchen, then prepare for the bulldozing relatives who can’t help but come in and “just add a little love” to whatever is in the oven. Make a couple of charming signs to post at the doorway, warding off unwelcome sous chefs. Say it sweetly, and they can’t complain. Then have an alternative activity to direct them too. Decide ahead of time what tasks you can save for guests… napkin folding and flower arranging can keep idle hands away from your stovetop!

Organizing is usually about the tangible things, but organizing your thoughts and being prepared for those non-material barbs that arise when family gathers is just as important this week. Getting your mental checklist straight can ensure you’ll stay calm and neutral, and maybe even be have a relaxing holiday! If it isn’t “Serenity Now!” then please tell us in the comments below, what is your pre-holiday mantra for staying calm in the midst of family?

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Chocolate Rum Balls

Chocolate-Rum-Balls-picture-600-x-451-300x225-5Each year, Nina (one of our lead organizers) always makes me her infamous Chocolate Rum Balls.  This year, I couldn’t resist asking her for the recipe and sharing it with you.  So, enjoy this holiday treat.  If you have a holiday cookie or dessert you’re famous for, please share it in the comments below.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark rum (or more if you’re feeling jolly!)
  • 2 1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafer cookies (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preparation

Stir chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Whisk in the 1/2 cup sugar and corn syrup, then the rum. Mix vanilla wafers and pecans in medium bowl to blend; add chocolate mixture and stir to blend well.

For each rum ball, roll 1 scant tablespoon chocolate mixture into generous 1-inch ball. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 5 days.

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Planning for a Stress Free Holiday Part Two: Preparing for Tranquil Travel

(Missed Part One, Read it here)

Tranquil-Travel-Part-II-5It’s been said that there’s no place like home for the holidays, but for some of us, when this season rolls around, home is the last place we want to be. But just because you’ve decided to skip town, doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the pre-vacay stresses of family and friends and all the holiday cheer you feel obliged to spread before you run off to sip eggnog under a palm tree somewhere.

With a little planning, a couple of phone calls, and an hour or so on your laptop, you can travel with a mind that’s free and clear, knowing that you’ve taken care of everything and everyone before you left. Here are a few pre-travel tips to make sure your trip is smooth and stress-free:

1. Hassle-free holiday cards. In this day of online e-cards, sending real, tangible holiday cards may seem like and outdated time-suck. But the fact is that opening an email does not deliver the same warmth or personal touch that you get from pulling a real card from the mailbox. Now, sending cards to all your loved ones is as easy as emailing! Automated services like Vistaprint or Red Stamp make it easy and affordable to upload your list and design your perfect card. You’ll find tons of options for personalization, and you won’t have to stuff a single envelope or lick one stamp. They’ll send your love to mailboxes across the country… even while you’re busy swinging in a hammock somewhere far, far away!

2. Give the people what they want! If you’re too busy packing to run around town shopping for presents, you don’t have to forego the gift-giving all together. Everyone knows that online shopping lets you skip the madness of the mall and still get everything off your gift list. I say you can take it even further, reduce your stress significantly, getting all of your holiday shopping done in under an hour, AND make the world a better place in the process. You can easily make donations to charities you know will hold personal significance to each person on your list. Or give one lump sum to suit your budget to a website such as Must Have Gifts or Heifer International. These organizations are working to end poverty and hunger and improve the lives of children and their families around the world. Not only will you be giving a meaningful – and “clutter free” – gift, you’ll be making the world a better place, while also saving time, shipping costs, and even the hassle of gift wrapping!

3. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. When you’re slammed with errands and details and holiday crazies, it’s often the adrenaline that keeps you pushing through. Then, so often it happens, when you finally have a chance to kick back and relax, you find your immune system has conked out, and you’re on holiday, too sick to get out of bed! To stay healthy, make sure that in the frenzied days leading up to your vacation, you don’t neglect your exercise routine, don’t replace your healthy meals with Christmas cookies and candy canes, and keep yourself hydrated… and not just with copious amounts of mulled wine! Also, don’t forget to schedule a haircut, manicure, and maybe even a massage for the week before you leave town. It’s hard not to feel good when you look your best, so pamper yourself a little before you leave town, and you’ll slip into vacation mode that much faster when you finally get there.

There’s no way to avoid stress completely when you’re travelling, but with a little planning and a positive attitude, you’ll be prepared to breeze through it and have a very happy holiday. Share your favorite tips in the comments below and help your fellow holiday travelers get organized and de-stress, too!

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