Thursday, December 23, 2010

Carry it with You, Stylishly (Reisenthel Carrybag)

I am in love. My parents got me this carrybag from Reisenthel as a birthday gift. Okay, I picked it out and emailed them the link. But still, they bought and wrapped it!

By now, I hope you have caught on to the trend of using your cloth or sustainable grocery bags when you shop. Target gives you five cents off for every bag you take in, my grocery store takes off three. Legislation in California has been aimed at banning plastic bags. And did you know that in Europe, they charge you if you need a bag? Learn more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Right Up My Alley

Just paged through my January issue of Good Housekeeping, and it's no surprise that the first issue of the New Year addresses organizing. Two fabulous articles:

The pictures in this article are great, which features the homes of actual magazine staff! Make sure you check out the pantry!!!

It's tempting to consider buying this lady's book, based on the quick tips contained in the article.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Key idea: Make holiday shopping simpler by tracking your purchases in one place.

I love buying presents. I love watching people open their gift. I don't like stressing about gift buying.

Lots of people set a holiday budget, either based on amount per family member or a grand total. I don't have a firm budget. However, for the past four years, I've been tracking my holiday purchases in a basic spreadsheet. Each year my total spending is about the same.

Here is a sample of what the sheet looks like:

Who Item Store  Amount 
Mom Sewing Book Amazon  $    20.00
Suzie Spa Socks Ulta  $     6.00
Jim Gift Card Best Buy  $    25.00

Why I like this system:
  • I can sort by name and see who I purchased gifts for last year. That way I don't forget someone.
  • I can see how much I spent in previous years.
  • It's easy to input ideas for next years' gifts. (Or remind yourself of what you bought ahead and stashed away.)
  • Rather than having a huge stack of receipts, I enter gift info as I make purchases. I still save the receipts for the less decisive family members.
  • The spreadsheet is a quick reference to what I have. I don't need to visit the hiding spot or sort through wrapped gifts and try to remember what's in them. (I tend to wrap immediately in order to prevent peeking.)
  • I can sort by store and see where I've been most successful with finding gifts. That saves me time in future years.
  • A quick scan shows me who still needs something or what else I wanted to buy.
I hope this helps you as you gift buy in the future. This tip comes with a caveat: I am the annoying one who emails family on October 1 asking what everyone wants. This allows me to spend another month politely hounding them for their list. My Mom and I usually go out on Black Friday to finish up our lists. So, when my shopping is done by early December, I can kick back, decorate, bake,  put on the music and think about the real Reason for the season.

Here's hoping that your holiday isn't too stressful. Of course, if you have any tips for gift buying, please share them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy and Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap

I am tired of spending hours wrapping up Christmas gifts.

Every year, I pick out the nicest wrap (with the grids so that I cut straight) and then painstaking fold and apply tape. All that and still the wrap is torn and crumpled up into a trash bag on Christmas morning. In less than a half hour.

No more!

The answer to my frustration came when someone turned me on to the idea of reusable gift bags. Yep, those bags at left contain presents for my son and sister-in-law.

I am hopeless when it comes to all things involving needle and thread, so I asked my crafty grandmother to make drawstring bags for me as last year's Christmas gift. I bought some cute fabric and ribbon, and gave it to her to assemble. You can find these on Etsy and there are many tutorials like this one available.

Wrapping gifts this year was a cinch (pun intended) and I am thrilled about the eco-friendliness of the whole idea. However, I'm curious to see what my extended family thinks. I'm also a little nervous about giving them to people outside the family. So, I came up with a little saying that could be pinned to the bags, in case people don't get the idea that I want my bags back:
"This wrap was meant for many friends. Kindly return or use again."

Oh, and for the record, it's December 2 and my shopping is DONE! The next post will give you a peek at the gift tracking spreadsheet I use each year.