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The January Challenge: This December WILL be Better than the Last One

Our first challenge begins now. For background and rules, see here.

We've just wrapped up the holiday season, so now's the time to get that holiday stuff organized and ready for December, 2009. Yeah, I know, you don't even want to look at another Christmas box right now, and some of you may have already taken down your stuff and packed it away, but wait - you're not done yet. Let's suck it up and make this coming December easier than last.

Your tasks (and prize package) are below:

This month, you have four tasks (feel free to substitute "Holiday" for "Christmas").

If you're like me, you don't send a holiday card to everyone in your address book or contact list. Addresses constantly change because many of your friends are in the military and some have moved since last Christmas. Plus, you meet new people and make new friends. So, now's the time to update your Christmas card list. I keep my list on the computer even though I sometimes address my cards by hand. If you don't have a Christmas card list that is separate from your all-purpose address book, create one. If you do have a separate list, go through it and make any necessary additions or changes.

I have lots of ornaments and Christmas decorations. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I go all out on the decorating. I've rarely bought anything that wasn't discounted at least 50%. Over many years, I've accumulated quite a bit of Christmas stuff, most of which I acquired by shopping at after-Christmas sales when the merchandise is at least 50% off, and, in some cases, 90% off. In fact, I just bought my party invites for next year's Christmas party, for - are you ready - .74 cents per package! That's because they were 75% off (at Target). Aren't they cute?

Invites

If you need some holiday items, better get out and get them now while they're dirt cheap (and before they disappear).

There are a few problems with having a lot of Christmas stuff, though. For one, I tend to hold onto ornaments and items that I bought years ago and thought I would use, but which never seem to make it out of the box because I didn't think it through when I bought them, or I just prefer to use other items. I've even - gasp - left broken ornaments in boxes out of sheer laziness. And, we move all the time. Some houses have been bigger than others and I tend to buy more when I'm living in a larger space, but when I move to a smaller one, I can't use all the items. It's time to weed the boxes of unwanted/unused items. It will be painful, but it must be done. And hey, it should make the moving process a little easier next time around...

I used to have several boxes marked "Christmas," and I would throw items that don't necessarily go together in the same boxes. That meant that ornaments for the main tree and decorations for various other parts of the house could find themselves in the same box. This makes decorating for Christmas a challenge, especially when I think I'm done with one area only to open the next box and find something that goes in the space I thought I had just finished.

Go through your Christmas boxes and make sure all items in the same box have some relation to one another. If not, segregate them out in a manner which makes sense and works for you. If you move into a smaller house and only have space for one or two displays, all you need to do is pull the right boxes out. Those of you who have more than one tree can pull the ornament boxes for each particular tree and decorate as you go, knowing that you won't find more decorations for a tree that you've already decorated in another box. If you don't have your Christmas boxes or bins labeled properly (main X-mas tree, lawn display, kitchen decorations, bathroom towels, etc.), label them. Knowing what you have, and where to find it, will save you time and money.

Finally, get a 2009 Christmas gift list going. Some of you shop year-round (smart) and if you don't keep track of what you bought, for whom and where it's located, you could end up spending a lot of money during the Christmas crunch. This is where organization really pays off. I use a little notebook to record gifts I buy throughout the year (something I don't do enough of) and pull it out each Christmas to avoid overbuying. However, in the past, I've not logged where the items are located and that's caused a problem, so it may be a good idea to not only organize your boxes and bins, but create one box for items you purchase throughout the year so that they're all located in the same spot.

So, the January Challenge is as follows:

  • Create or prune your holiday card list
  • Weed your boxes of unused/unwanted items
  • Carefully label your Christmas bins or boxes so that you know exactly where to find the items you want
  • Start a record of gifts purchased for 2009
  • Take photos of one, or all, of the tasks once they have been completed and send them in via email. Be creative here...

January's prize package consists of a Christmas Card registry book, a wreath storage unit and a gift wrapping station.

Jan prize package

The card register is awesome because it allows you not only to keep track of who you've sent cards to, but also who you've received cards from. If you don't want to hand-write the addresses, just print them out on small labels and stick them in the registry. I love the wreath storage unit (I bought one for myself). It's large enough to accommodate two standard-sized wreaths and the wreath hangers, plus it hangs neatly from a hook or nail, or tucks away nicely in a closet. The wrapping station keeps your gift wrapping items stored neatly in one place.

Time to get to work. The challenge ends January 20.

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