Kristen Cook - Arizona Daily Star
You know them. You probably hate them. Those people.
The organized ones. They never suffer from holiday hysteria. They get their
Christmas cards out on time. They don't even have to set foot in the malls during
the mad month of December because they've been done with their holiday shopping, for months.
Exhibit one of the hyper-organized: Gari-Sue Greene.
Of course, it's her job.
Greene is a professional organizer. So, naturally, she has a chart mapping
out what Christmas decorations are in which boxes. Of course she has a folder
in her computer breaking down what holiday tasks she needs to do, gifts she's
purchased and a Christmas card list complete with specific details about people
that can be included in personal notes.
Exhibit two: Alison DeVore.
The working mother of two has a jam-packed holiday season: She bakes several
different kinds of cookies, decorates the house and a live Christmas tree, buys
gifts for about 40 family members, mails around 100 cards (last year, she and
her husband, Sam, included black-and-white pictures of their daughters that
Sam developed and printed). And, if that weren't enough, her 3-year-old daughter's
birthday is Dec. 21.
How does she do it all?
"Probably lack of sleep," laughs DeVore, a senior mechanical engineer
with Raytheon Systems Co.
Keep your contempt in check. You, too, can be this organized. Even though the
calendar says October, it's not too late. But the clock is ticking.
Here are some tips from the professionals to keep you from lapsing into a holidaze
Start organizing. Now.
Even if you just gave up last year and threw all your decorating stuff into
random boxes, crammed them into a storage shed and now you have no idea where
anything is, you can get organized before Christmas rolls around.
Greene suggests hitting discount stores that sell different-size plastic containers.
Start transferring items from the disorganized cardboard boxes into the new
containers. Make sure to label them.
This is a good time to employ the buddy system. If you have a friend who's
going through similar disorganization angst, take turns at each other's homes
organizing things, Greene suggests.
Be a list maker.
Greene and DeVore keep assorted lists, from gift ideas to the types of cookies
and sweets they'll bake.
"I would suggest someone buy themselves a real pretty spiral notepad,"
Greene says. "I would just sit down one afternoon, one evening, with an
iced tea or cup of coffee and think, 'How would I like my Christmas to be?'
Have different categories, will I be entertaining? Will I be having people
over for dinner? Lists are good things."
When you make these lists, have realistic expectations, DeVore says. That way
you won't be bitter if you can't plow through everything.
Make a yule log.
No, we don't mean the jelly-roll cakes. Although they're really good. We're
talking about a gift list. Greene keeps a list on her computer of gifts she's
purchased and where they're stashed.
Sally Schaper, a retired teacher and grandmother, even keeps a list of what
she's bought her three grandkids the previous Christmas.
"We usually keep pretty good track," says Schaper, who was nearly
done with her shopping last month.
If people happen to mention during the year something they'd like to have,
jot it down in the log.
Where have you heard this before, it's never too early to start shopping.
Even if it's the day after Christmas. That's when Greene finds lots of good
bargains she can save for the next year. Little things like mugs and towels
with festive designs come in handy later as hostess gifts during the holidays.
Shopping for Christmas, in say, March, has some definite benefits.
Kailash Sozzani, who does personal shopping as part of her business, ColorEssence, isn't big on last minute buying.
"It just makes it so stressful when there are thousands of people in the
malls and you're trying to pick out something," she says.
Save your receipts, too, suggests Sozzani. Write each gift-recipient's name
on each receipt and slip them into one envelope. That way, if a gift needs to
be exchanged or returned, it's easy to track down the receipt.
Another alternative to the mall is the arts-and-crafts-fair circuit. DeVore,
who can't stand malls, finds unique gifts there.
For the mallphobic, Internet buying can spare you the crowds. You can duck
out of wrapping duty, too.
DeVore has to mail tons of packages since her family is scattered. Internet
shopping is a saving grace.
"You can just ship right from there," she says. "Love the Internet."
Set up a Christmas card system.
You can score serious deals by buying cards at the end of the holiday season.
Of course, that's the easy part. The hard part is sending them out on time.
Greene begins addressing hers in October.
Photo Copyright Getty ImagesCopyright Scripps Howard News Service 2003