8 Tips for Holiday Gift Giving to Save You Time and Money – Part 1

Start your holiday gift giving engines with these smart tips that save you precious time and money!

The holiday season will soon be upon us, and consumer surveys show that most holiday gift givers start shopping in October.

If you’re among those who start their holiday gift giving now, here are the first of 8 tips to help you get the most of the time you’re devoting to your holiday gift giving. Plus, I’ve got a free gift tracker for you to stay organized with your holiday gift giving.

 

1. Shop where you are.

Getting as much done as possible in one place is a secret that time managers and professional organizers tell their clients. And shopping for gifts is no different—no matter where you are, from a hardware store to a discount megastore to a car dealership waiting room—gift ideas are all around you.

For example, let’s say you’re grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon and you realize there’s no time to sprint across town to the chic boutique to buy a hostess gift for the dinner party you’re attending that evening. No problem. Head to the floral department for a gorgeous bouquet or a healthy house plant; add a beautiful ribbon when you return home. Or, find a nice bottle of wine in the liquor department or box of quality chocolates.

The next time you’re in a time crunch and need a gift, no matter where you are, if you look at things from a gifting perspective you will find something prefect.

 

2. Shop when you are.

You know when Christmas is. You know when Hanukkah, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and your mom’s birthday are. If you find the perfect gift for someone but the occasion is months away, buy the gift now.

I used to think, “oh, I’ll remember” and even if I did remember, the item was usually gone when I went back. Buying a gift “when” you are will save you time and stress later.

Who knows, maybe you will be swamped with work or a family situation when the holiday or birthday comes around; by shopping when you are, you will have the perfect gift stashed away in your gift drawer.

To help you stay organized with your holiday gift giving, use a gift tracker. You can write down who you’re buying for, ideas for gifts and where to find it. Then, wherever and whenever you are, you’ll know what you’re looking for! Click the graphic below to download the gift tracker for free.

 

3. Create a signature wrap.

One of the best ways I’ve found to reduce stress in any area of life is to simplify and streamline. To adapt these concepts to holiday gift giving, develop your own personal style to present every gift you give.

Select one or two coordinating gift wraps (or gift bags), one or two colors and styles of ribbon, and one style of gift tag and keep these items in stock and handy. My mom often did this, purchasing multiple rolls of wrapping paper all at once (usually at a discount shop), even going so far as making sure everyone in the family has some of that year’s wrap.

Doing this decreases the amount of space required to store your holiday gift wrapping items, ensures you’re ready to wrap even the most last-minute of gifts and makes your gifts memorable. (Get more tips on creating a signature wrap.)

Plus, wrapping all your holiday gifts in a signature wrap creates a festive and cohesive look under your Christmas tree. There’s nothing like it! You can get creative with ribbons, bows and tie-ons.

 

4. Re-gift with confidence.

If you’ve ever asked, “Is re-gifting OK?,” think about these questions:
– Do you think recycling is OK?
– Is living without clutter OK?
– How about blessing someone else with a useful item?

As much as you strive to select the perfect gift, sometimes your recipient just won’t like it. Her tastes may have changed. She may not have room to store it. It may be a duplicate.

Whatever the reason, sometimes your recipient will pass your gift on to someone else. Is it OK? If the gift is perfect for someone else, then absolutely it’s OK. Your recipient appreciated your efforts and your remembrance of her occasion. Your gift will find the perfect home; just maybe not with the exact recipient you intended.

And by the way, the same goes for gifts you receive. Cherish the thought of your well-wisher, and let go of what would otherwise be clutter.

I once received a three-panel, brushed nickel picture frame. A nice frame, but I didn’t have space for it, and it did not coordinate with my home décor. I put it in my gift drawer, knowing that the perfect recipient would come along.

A few months later, a friend was visiting and while we were out shopping, she expressed a need for a brushed nickel frame. I pointed out a frame similar to the one I had unopened at home, she loved it, and it saved her some money!

***

Next week I’ll bring you 4 more tips for time-and-money saving holiday gift giving tips. Stay tuned! Be sure to download the gift tracker to get started!

These tips are adapted from my book Gift Giving for Busy People which goes more in depth on finding the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift giving list. You can get the Kindle version for a limited time for only $1.99!

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5 Quick Decorating Ideas You’ll Fall For

You'll fall for these quick decorating ideas to bring some autumn ambience to your home.

 

Ahhh …. Fall. It’s a season of effortless decorating with natural elements, a few tricks and some pops of warm color. Here are 5 quick and easy ways to refresh your home and get ready for fall.

 

Birdseed is a unique and inexpensive way to add lots of fall color and texture to your home decor.

 1. Fill in with natural elements.

Nature is abundant source of home accessories this season! Look for what’s plentiful in your yard: gather pine cones, seed pods, colored leaves, and even twigs and branches. Mix in bird seed (adds texture and color for not a lot of money) and add some softness with Spanish moss. Display them mounded in bowls on your coffee table, layer them in vases, or use them as a base for a candle display. Here are 10 natural elements you can adapt and use as vase fillers.

 

 

Everday votive cups get a fast fall makeover with twigs gathered from your yard and a few crafts supplies.

2. Get twiggy with it.

Transform simple votive holders into textural accessories perfect for your Thanksgiving table with just a few crafts supplies and some twigs from your yard. This is great craft to get the kids involved in, too! Get all the instructions to make twig votives here.

 

 

Extend the life of your outdoor living space with cozy throws, piled in basket by the back door.

3. Go hygge and go home.

Have you heard of the Danish concept of hygge? It crossed my path a few times earlier this year and intrigued me. Essentially, it’s getting cozy at home, spending time with friend and family in a non-digital way. Hunkering down and enjoying each other’s company is my way-too-simplified way to explain it.

Here are two ways to set your home up for hygge:

  • Give yourself a warm and welcoming space to come home to by setting a few lamps on timers and placing LED candles on timers around your living space. Pay special attention to the area you first see when you come home from a long day.
  • Extend the life of your outdoor living space. Cozy up on cooler autumn evenings with warm throws, a mug of mulled wine or cider, and maybe even a fire pit. Keep those throws easily accessible by rolling them and placing them in a basket near the back door so you can grab one on your way outside.

 

4. Add some color to your couch.

When I was about 10 years old, I wanted a home with white couches so I could change out the throw pillows with the seasons.

Little did I know how impractical white couches are (especially with the chocolate habit I have), but I do still love to change out the pillows with the season. It takes minutes and makes a huge impact! When I can, I buy just the pillow covers and re-use the inserts season after season. It’s easier to store flat covers than bulky pillows.

Punch up your sofa with autumnal colors that coordinate well with your everyday décor, and mix in a print or an embroidered design. My go-to shops for pillows include Pier1 (shown), Pottery Barn, West Elm, Home Goods and World Market. New hues this year include navy, along with traditional deep oranges and russets. Woodland critters are big this year, and we’re still seeing some gorgeous grays.

Have fun with this! You only need 2 or 3 to make a big impact.

 

 

Create the perfect fragrance for your fall home with savory spices.

5. Infuse your home with fall.

I love scented candles, particularly in the fall. Filling the air with pumpkin, cinnamon, spices, apples and a dash of sandalwood is a sure-fire way to reset your mind and body to the season.

But, not all scented candles are created equal! Some use harsh, artificial fragrances and chemicals that actually coat the hairs and membranes in your nose. Gross, right!?

Instead, try this totally natural way to set a fragrant fall backdrop for your home: fill a small pan with about 2 cups of water. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks, some cardamom pods, a few cloves, a few strips of orange peel (use a vegetable peeler to remove just the peel, none of the white pith), and a few star anise if you like. Let it gently simmer, but keep an eye on it! Add water as it boils down, and do not let it boil dry (you’ll ruin your pan, speaking from experience.)

Want more quick holiday decor tips? Check out my free Holiday Home Quick Start Guide by clicking below.

 

Recommended and useful items to get that fall feeling at home:

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It’s the De-boo of Our Etsy Shop!

Etsy Shop holiday planners Hallowen

 

If you’re looking for a way to stay organized and focused on what’s most important for your holidays this year, have I got great news for you!

All of the Smart Solutions planners for holidays and home will be available on our new Etsy shop!

It’s been years since I’ve updated our signature planners that use my POPS system to Plan, Organize, Prioritize and Schedule everything for your holidays. Now you’ll find the Halloween Planner updated and expanded to 16 pages of fangtastic Halloween organizing glory.

Smart Solutions Studio Etsy Shop Halloween Planner

 

Also up in the shop right now are the Holiday Home Essentials with checklists and shopping lists to get you ready for all of your holiday entertaining including the essential pantry, essential utensils, holiday table essentials (including the best diagram on how to set your table) and the essential guest room and more!

Smart Solutions Studio Etsy Shop Entertaining Essentials

 

 

I’ve also posted the Room Arranger room layout toolkit with everything you need to re-arrange the furniture and accessories in every room of your home. Over 40 furniture icons and step-by-step directions make it easy to move things around without breaking your back!

Smart Solutions Studio Room Arranger room planner Etsy shop

 

Each of the planners is listed for $5 or less! Click on the links or the planner photo to go directly to the shop!

Over the next two weeks I’ll be adding the Thanksgiving and Christmas planners, as well as in-depth holiday handbooks with daily to-do’s, recipes, decor ideas and much more. Stay tuned!

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with History, Home and the Best Irish Icing Ever!

Background of lush green clover leaves

 
 

Celebrate the start of springtime, the Irish in all of us and the color of the year all in one month!

 

March Madness may be about basketball for some, but for me, it’s about color and new beginnings and lots of good food and fun.
 

Here are my three favorite St. Patrick’s Day highlights for the history geek, the home decorator and the cook.
 

A Wee Bit of Irish History

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Learn about the legend and lore of St. Patrick, how the City of Chicago uses 45 pounds of vegetable dye to go green for St. Pat’s Day, and some key Gaelic phrases to back up that “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button.

 

Bring the Outside In: 7 Easy Ways to Go Green at Home

Home plant

 

Find out why green is one of the best colors to bring into your home, and 7 easy and inexpensive ways to take advantage of this multifaceted color, not just at St. Pat’s Day but the whole year through.

 

Spiked and Spiced: The Best St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

Spring 2012 043
 
Dig in to these delectable homemade cupcakes made with stout beer, or a cake mix version with added punch and spice. Both are topped with a scrumptious booze-laced icing that will make sure those Irish eyes are smiling!

(Shamrocks photo credit: © Swapan – Fotolia.com)

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