October 20, 2013

Ideas for an Organized Halloween


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!

October 9, 2013

Anniversary Post - It's Been Four Years!

It doesn't seem that long ago that I dropped my three year old off at preschool, came back to my office and wrote my first blog post. I had so many ideas swirling around in my head--I couldn't wait to put them in blog form.

That three year old is now in second grade and it's the fourth anniversary of my blog! The four years have flown by quickly. I can't believe I've written close to two hundred posts in that time.

In reviewing my posts, I saw that the most popular post I've written over the past four years is Best Products for Organizing Your Car. I'm thinking of writing a Part 2. Or maybe a series of posts titled, 'Best Products for Organizing Your ________.' Gotta go with what works!

I'm always thinking about what I'll write next. Sometimes it will be about something I've seen, learned or experienced. Sometimes I'll write about a product or helpful resource. What I do try to keep in mind as I write is that a blog post should do at least one of five things for their readers:

• Educate
• Entertain
• Inform
• Inspire
• Empower

I keep this list handy when I'm gathering ideas for my blog. I write for my own enjoyment and to keep up my skills as a writer but for the most part, I write for YOU--my reader. I hope over the past four years I have educated, entertained, informed, inspired and empowered you to lead a more organized life.

I also have exciting news! All being well and good, this time next year, my blog will be part of a WordPress website--no more separate blog. I am in the process of hiring a designer to merge my existing website and blog into one WordPress site. I can't wait--my website has needed a makeover for a while and there are things about my blog I'd love to change (larger writing and photo area, different fonts/colors). I'll be keeping you posted throughout the process and I look forward to celebrating my fifth anniversary with you and my new, improved WordPress site.

Another exciting development--my book. Although I've said in past anniversary posts that I would post updates about the book I was writing, I've been pretty quiet. I promise to blog about it more often in the future. I completed the manuscript at the end of 2012 and hired a book coach this summer to help me navigate the sometimes bumpy road to self-publishing. One of the many details she helped me with was a title. The working title is: The Organized Bride's Thank You Note Handbook: Let Systems and 101 Modern Sample Thank You Notes Take You From Overwhelmed to Organized. The peer review stage is almost complete and the manuscript will be reviewed by an editor by the end of the year.

With all of these exciting projects come extra work. And extra work means sometimes I don't have ample time to write a blog post (kids home on school vacations take away from writing time, too). So, I have been hosting guest bloggers to bring you new ideas and fresh perspectives when I am unable to fill that space. I hope you have learned from them--I know I've picked up a few great organizing ideas from my guest bloggers, too.

Image from beedivinedesigns.com
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my posts. Your support, kind comments and words of encouragement motivate me to keep writing and bringing you the best of the world of organizing. Onward to year five of blogging!

October 2, 2013

Tales of a Town-Wide Garage Sale

In 2000, my husband and I got married and merged two households. Between all the stuff we came with and the beautiful wedding gifts we had received, our home was overflowing with three of this, four of that and too much of a whole lotta stuff. So, we decided to sort through what we owned, purge out what we didn't need and have a garage sale.

I wish I had pictures to show you but our driveway and lawn were filled with our belongings. People thought we were downsizing and moving! I overheard one woman on her cell phone yelling to a friend, "You gotta come over here--there's so much great stuff!"

Two days and almost $1000 later, we had done a good job of clearing space in our home. We used the funds to buy a patio set which we still own. At the end of day two, I turned to my husband and said "I never want to have enough stuff in our home to do a garage sale again..."

It's now 2013. We've had two children and our house was feeling full. My husband swore our attic floor would soon buckle and bins of stuff would crash to the floor below. In the Spring we began, Operation 'Get It Out of the House.' Big ticket items like our crib and two exersaucers found new homes. Bags upon bags of baby clothing found their way to three different expectant mothers. My husband says he could hear the attic exhale for the first time in years.

Multiply this times three and that's how many bags of 0-12m baby clothing I gave away!
I kept purging--kiddie toys to the preschool, old pillows to the trash and then it happened...My neighbor tells me our town is having it's first town-wide garage sale.

I pass the great news on to my husband. He's as excited as I am.

I continue purging. I started to collect boxes and plastic bags, and began pricing. I even dug up the Word file for the garage sale sign I had created in 2000 (Hubby says that didn't surprise him one bit...).

My cousin Dale gave me the 'Fill a bag for $1' idea. Brilliant!

After pricing, I sorted our items by category--Baby, Kid Toys, Housewares, Books, etc. counting down the days when I could finally reclaim my garage space again.

We had about a tenth of the stuff we put out in 2000. Our friend gave us some of her things to put in the garage sale so she could purge her house, too. We had two beautiful sunny days and although foot traffic was light, enough customers made purchases to say it was successful.

My neighbors across the street set up a few tables and my nine year old neighbor decided to try his hand at selling some toys he and his brother didn't play with anymore. I advised him to lay them out on towels grouping 'like' with 'like'--dinosaurs with other dinos and all vehicles together, too. He sold a few items (including one of the bikes in the background) but at least half of them went to my son's preschool or to my own kids!

The wares of a budding entrepreneur...

A few shoppers commented on how organized my labeled pricing system was. I smiled and said, 'Thanks.' Oh, if they only knew...

Two days later, we made less than a tenth of the money we had made in the 2000 garage sale but that's OK. We weren't doing it for the money--we were getting rid of the 'old' to make room for the 'new.'

Some funny/unexpected things that happened during the garage sale:
• My neighbors bought some of my stuff!
• A shopper thought a painting marked $3.00 was actually $300. We all had a good chuckle...
• A grandma about six inches shorter than me bought and then picked up a Little Tikes picnic table and walked back to her house with it.
• I sold a NJ Devils giveaway towel to my seven year old for $ .25. I thought it would be a good math lesson...

He said, "Mommy, I can't believe you were going to sell this!"
Some great things that happened during the garage sale:
• I had fun hanging out with my neighbors and celebrating our selling successes.
• My kids acquired some cool toys and baseball mitts from our neighbors across the street.
• I got to read two magazines during selling 'downtime.' Any mom of small kids know that this is quite a feat!
• We made a little extra spending money.
• We purged our home of things we no longer needed.

At the end of the garage sale, I packed up all unsold goods and split them into three categories. Give to Preschool, Give to Thrift Shop, Bring Back in the Garage. The 'Give to Thrift Shop' bags and boxes went from my driveway to my car to a local donation center. My 'Preschool' items are enjoying a new home in my son's classroom and the one (!) bin marked 'Bring Back in the Garage' is being dealt with this week.

So, if your town is declaring a town-wide garage sale soon, or you're looking to make some room in your home and some money for your wallet, here are a few tips to make your garage sale successful:

• Use a color coded pricing system and hang your signs everywhere. I used blue painter's tape and a marker for any item over $2.
• Wear comfortable clothes with pockets and comfy footwear. You're going to be moving and standing a lot.
• A few weeks before your sale, start collecting large and small plastic shopping bags for customers to put their purchases in.
• Group like items together. If someone is looking for kids toys and they're strewn across your lawn, customers are less likely to see them and buy them.
• Smile and welcome your potential customers. Engage them in conversation and ask if you can help them find anything special.

OK--Who is ready to have a garage sale?