Professional organizers love Christmas. It’s one of the reasons we have jobs. Closets and drawers are stuffed and glutted with gifts received years ago with the best of the season’s spirit. Bins and boxes labeled “Christmas” filled with every decoration, ornament, garland, music box, singing, jiggling character, and Christmas collectible are stacked and shoved into every available space in attics and basements. More bins with items purchased throughout the year to give, but that were forgotten instead, languish in corners. The Christmas Season begins earlier every year - Halloween and Thanksgiving apparently are there to help us be polite as we head toward commercial gusto and frenzy and the relentless scream of retailers to shop and buy. How about thinking outside the box...and the bin...and creating some alternatives?
*The party or the open house. Ask some friends to bring some of their favorite dishes...and today, store bought is quite acceptable. The one thing people never have enough of is time with their friends. One year that had been particularly stressful, almost to the point of hospitalization, left me with nothing by the time Christmas rolled around. I sent out invitations to friends and family and had a brunch at a local restaurant. They loved it. I asked for donations of canned goods one year and check to a chosen charity in other years.
*Plan an activity. There are many wonderful things happening around the holidays. Let it include a simple meal out or a special picnic at home. This can be a family plan or just a gathering of friends to get out of the house and enjoy the spirit of the season. Theatre tickets, a trip to a special place, a holiday tour are moments to be enjoyed and shared.
*Be specific: what does someone really need? Recently while working with a family who had to move their mother to a retirement facility and clean out the house, we found greeting cards everywhere. Suggestion: for Christmas, why not organize the cards by purpose (birthday, holiday, etc.) in a file box along with several books of stamps and some new pens? This way the mother, whose new facility was much smaller than her new home could always find a card to send and keep in touch with her scattered family.
*Be charitable: A friend whose daughter had just turned three, asked that for Christmas, everyone come to a party and bring a can of food only (no gifts) to be donated to the Delaware Food Bank. Their purpose was to show their daughter the real meaning of the holiday and to keep their home from being overrun by any more stuffed animals and little pieces of plastic. She already had enough and they feared a Christmas tide of toys and games that would overrun their small home. Professional organizers work with numerous clients who are in serious need of help. Could you be of service to an organization or neighbor?
*Think consumables: One year a friend went on sabbatical from her job, meaning she was making almost no money. It was a risk. For the holidays, she bought plastic containers and made three huge batches of soups to share with everyone. It was a delicious idea, and we still remember those soups.
Professional organizers work with clients who are now inundated with too many things, whose lives and homes and yes, storage units, are filled with things. We work with people who argue over things, who are stressed out because they have too many things, who can’t enjoy their own homes or closets because of things.
When we speak of alternative energy, we think of our cars; maybe we should be thinking of ourselves. How much more stress can we handle? How do we really want to be spending the holidays? Do you think people will think less of you if you don’t go into debt for the holidays or hand everyone brightly wrapped boxes. You know that well worn phrase, “ Oh, you shouldn’t have.” People reach a point in their lives when they really mean it. Christmas doesn’t have to live in your attic and basement; it can go back to living in your heart. Maybe Peace on Earth is a bit too challenging; maybe we could try for Peace of Mind instead.