Organizing 101: Holiday wrap-up
Here's your chance to end last-minute dashes to the card store by setting up a system that reminds you who to send cards to and when. It will also enable you to buy and organize a year's worth of cards ahead of time.
• Create monthly lists of birthdays, anniversaries and any other special occasions for all family members and friends (include name and date of event).
Create a system
• Buy either an accordion file or a large binder.
• Mark sections for each month; add a section behind the monthly divisions for extra cards, such as birthday, congratulations, get well, sympathy, thank you, and all-occasion blank cards for a new friend, or that perfect card you happen to find two weeks after you've already sent out another one.
• File each monthly list in its appropriate section in the accordion system, or three-hole-punch the lists and place them in the appropriate sections in the binder.
• Purchase all of your gift cards ahead of time. File them in the appropriate month. For the binder, use top-loading plastic sheet protectors to store cards. Look for heavy-duty ones designed for multiple documents, which will hold more cards and last longer than those designed for regular use. (All supplies are available at office supply stores.)
• At the end of each month, check next month's list to ensure that you have cards for everyone. Send all the cards for that month at the same time. For example, send cards for February toward the end of January. If a person's birthday doesn't fall until the end of February, send a card toward the end of January anyway; better the person receives it a few weeks early than not at all.
How you store supplies depends on what kind of wrapper you are (elaborate or minimalist), how many supplies you have, and whether you use a designated wrapping area (a corner of a room) or your dining table.
• Choose a spot for supplies -- ideally, as close as possible to where you wrap. If the only space you have is a basement corner, consider setting up a work surface nearby.
• Store holiday papers separate from other papers, if possible.
• Rolls of wrapping paper can be stored in a variety of ways, such as Rubbermaid wrapping storage containers, which come in horizontal and vertical models. Slide a horizontal one under a guest bed, if possible, so that you have space for off-season clothes storage under the beds in your family's rooms. Tall baskets, laundry hampers, wastebaskets or umbrella stands are other options.
• Storage boxes are excellent for ribbon, scissors, tape, embellishments like dried flowers, and tissue paper; shoeboxes work well if stored out of sight. Place them under the same bed as rolls, or stack them on shelves near your wrapping area.
• Spools of ribbon can also be hung on the wall in a designated wrapping area. Thread the spools onto a piece of string hung between two wall-mounted hooks. Other options for: hang dowels on the wall, or hooks on a pegboard. Even paper towel holders (wall mounted or countertop) do the trick.
• For flat paper, if you have space, mimic store displays by slipping single sheets over towel bars wall mounted vertically about one foot apart, so you can see the patterns at a glance. If you don't have space, you can layer the sheets. Keep square packages of wrapping paper under rolls in a Rubbermaid horizontal wrap container or any sweater storage box.
• In a closet, a canvas zippered wardrobe can hide a wealth of rolls; stand them in wastebaskets at the bottom of the wardrobe. Canvas shoe organizers make great cubbies for smaller supplies like ribbon; larger canvas sweater organizers provide shelving for bows and gift boxes.
• Keep folded gift bags in one large gift bag or fold flat and store in a large plastic storage container or drawer.
• Custom built-ins offer premier storage. Gail Johnston Habs, editor of Style at Home, included a drawer in her home office renovation for gift bags and ribbon. When planning built-ins, ensure drawers are at least 32 inches wide to accommodate 30-inch rolls of paper. Use dividers to separate rolls of paper from smaller supplies. If drawers are deep, stack storage boxes (the size of photo storage boxes) and organize bows, ribbons, tape and scissors.
Have note cards and stationery on hand for thank-you cards and thinking-of-you notes.
• Stock up on note cards from discount tables at card, gift and bookstores.
• Use a medium-size decorative storage box to organize the small boxes; store favourite pens in the box, too. Display it on a shelf in a home office or close to wherever you do correspondence. A shoebox could also work and be stored out-of-sight on a closet shelf.
• Keep a supply of fine stationery and matching envelopes. Store loose paper and envelopes in a folder in a file cabinet, a plastic sheet protector at the back of your greeting card binder, or in a separate, appropriately sized box alongside your note card storage box. Scent the paper with a few sprigs of dried lavender (separated from the paper with a sheet of tissue, so oils don't stain the paper) or a sachet.
Take the time now, at the beginning of the year, to update addresses in your book, PDA or on your computer.
• Transfer all contacts to your computer, if you haven't done so. Most programs include a contact book that you can access, edit and use to generate lists and labels once information has been entered. It will make sending out party invitations and Christmas cards easy.
10 essentials for furnishing a wrapping area
1 work surface (a plain table will do)
2 chair (it will save your back if you wrap frequently or elaborately)
3 wall-mounted shelves, or small bookcase
4 wall-mounted pegboard (for scissors, ribbon, tape and more)
5 cart with transparent or wire drawers (so you can see contents)
6 a container for rolls of wrapping paper
7 lidded storage boxes
8 tabletop pen holder and selection of favourite pens and markers
9 scissors and tape
10 wrapping supplies