6 Smart Ways to Manage Your Wrapping Supplies

ribbon in a basket

After you’ve gotten gifts for everyone on your list you’re ready to face the next challenge – wrapping them! Some people wrap as they buy, others plan a time to sit and wrap everything all at once. Either way, keeping your wrapping supplies organized is a good idea for several reasons:
» Wrapping paper gets messy and torn when improperly stored
» It is easy to find what you need when you need it (this is important all year-long)
» Having nice paper & supplies makes the wrapping process more fun
 So pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on your favorite Christmas movie and let the wrapping begin!

 

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Store rolls of wrapping paper
in  “re-purposed”
plastic bag dispensers,
like this one found at Ikea.

 


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A simple garment bag can be used for storing wrapping paper.
This solution uses minimum space and when hung in the closet
uses very little space & is  out of site.  If you don’t have one you can
find a garment bag to use here.

 

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Use closet door organization systems
 and/or magazine racks
to keep wrapping supplies sorted
and easily accessed.
This solution can handle a variety of items!

 

ribbon in a basket

I love this idea for ribbon storage.
It is easy to make & doesn’t use a lot of space.
Plus you can carry it into any room or space
where you need ribbon.

 

 

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To all of our friends, fans and colleagues…

May the Christmas season 
fill your home with joy,
your heart with love
and your life with laughter.

(author unknown)

5 Great Gift Ideas To Wrap Up Your Holidays!

gift package

Gift buying can add major stress to your life during the holidays!  How much should you spend?  Can you find something unique or interesting?  What if the recipient doesn’t like the gift? Spending hours in holiday crowds searching for the right gift can zap your holiday spirit.  You need fresh ideas to finish your holiday shopping.

Go to Girl has created a list of gifts to thrill anyone on your list.  We look for gifts that are unique, reasonably priced, and help make life easier and more fun.  Because they are useful, they don’t add unnecessary clutter and help keep your loved ones organized.

 

  1. No more retrieving the phone charger cord from the floor.  Cord Buddy keeps your phone and device cords together and in place.  Sold in a variety of styles, shapes and colors, this gift will be happily used on the desk or counter top every day!
  2. Catch Caddy Car Seat Catcher – Do you know someone who needs helping keeping their car organized? This simple product catches the items that fall between the seats and provides space for extra storage in the car.  Your loved ones will never lose anything between their seats again!
  3. Folding Salad Tongs are a wonderful gift for the foodies in your life. They are especially attractive, used with only one hand and fold flat for easy storage.  After you see the ingenious design, you will want to order one of these for yourself!
  4. Carry your holiday happiness into the new year with a gift of tickets to a local show or event.  This year, we are recommending Baltimore’s own Stoop Story Telling Series as a unique and fun experience to share with a friend.  Plan to go together and celebrate your friendship!
  5. What is your favorite thing?  We know a group of friends who buy each other the things in their lives that they personally love using.  The gifts are not fancy or expensive but always bring a smile.  Some of the more memorial ones include the Scrub Daddy and the Ultimate Water Bottle for the gym.

If you have a great gift idea, please comment here or on our Facebook page.

At Go to Girl Organizing Solutions, we look for ideas to help simplify any process that causes stress or anxiety.  Visit us at www.gotogirlmd.com to read other great blogs and learn how we can help you get organized in the new year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


5 Quick Tips for a Stress-less Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving is upon us!  Hopefully, you’ve planned in advance – your shopping is done, your guest list is confirmed and you are excited about hosting a wonderful holiday party.

However despite all of your careful planning things, can get stressful when it is time to get the meal on the table.

Stress happens when there is too much happening in too little time or too little space.  We want Less Stress!

Here are a few tips to help you manage the kitchen activity and keep the day stress-less:

  1. Write out a timeline for the day. It is easy to get sidelined with family and guests around. You may not follow the timeline exactly but it helps to have an idea of what should happen when.
  2. Keep the party out of the kitchen!  Set up an area for drinks and appetizers away from the kitchen.  Ask a specific person to keep an eye on the ice and other supplies.  It will be much easier to get everything on the table on time when the party is out of your work space.
  3. Plan some downtime for yourself.  This means taking at least 15 minutes out of the kitchen to have a glass of wine and talk to your guest.
  4. Ask for help:  Opening wine(s), filling glasses with ice, adding salt, pepper, butter, etc. on the table, lighting candles…. These tasks can be done by almost anyone and will be a big help when you are getting the food ready for the table.
  5. Some say leftovers are the best part of the Thanksgiving dinner.  Be prepared.  Whether you are sending food home with your guests or stocking everything in your own refrigerator, have containers and wrapping supplies ready.  Also, keep a space available for this part of the cleanup.

Preparing for Black Friday 2015

Let’s start with Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving typically starts the holiday shopping frenzy. This year Black Friday falls on November 27th, although a great deal of stores will open on the 26th and some stores have already started offering Black Friday deals.

That’s right. Stores including Macy’s and Amazon.com have begun to advertise “big sales” going on now to lure people in before Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t opening at special hours for Black Friday…

Who is opening when?

  • Macy’s is continuing their tradition from 2013 and opening at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. The store will have a variety of Extra Special deals on apparel, jewelry, handbags, kitchen appliances and more. Check out their Black Friday Ad here.
  •  Target will open at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. They will offer their “lowest prices ever on all T.V.s” along with other door busters including: 25% off Apple TV, free gift cards when you purchase any Apple iPad mini, iPad Air or Apple watch plus movies starting at only $4 and MANY more. You can check out their Black Friday Ad here.
  • Walmart will open their doors at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day and is taking preventative measures to avoid dangerous situations that they have had in the past. This year Walmart’s Black Friday motto is, “Deals, Availability, Simplicity”. The large retailer is offering deals on TVs, tablets, hot children toys, kitchen appliances and much more. You can check out their Black Friday Ad here to see all of their deals.
  • Kohls will open their doors at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day, but will start offering Black Friday Deals at Kohls.com on Monday November 23rd.  Some locations are offering free movie tickets to the first 100 customers on Thanksgiving. Other offerings include $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 you spend and special pricing on items ranging from jewelry, kids toys, housewares and much more. Electronics are on sale too including: fit bits, speakers, TVs, gaming devices and more,Check out their Black Friday Ad to get a jump start on their sale.
  • Sears will open their doors at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day and is offering over 1,000 door busters  including deals on tools, appliances, apparel and more. Check out their Black Friday Ad here.
  • Staples will open their doors at 6 AM on Black Friday, but you can take advantage of their Black Friday sales online all day Thursday. Some of the items you can find deals on at Staples include Windows 10 laptops, tablets, Kindles, printers, speakers, office furniture and much more. Check out their Black Friday Ad to see if they have what you’re looking for! Staples is even offering “buy online and pick up in store“, but be careful, they have a 1 item per person limit on some highly sought after electronics.
  • Toys-R-Us  will open at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day and is offering a $10 gift card to use in December with any purchase of $75 or more. Check out their other deals in their Black Friday Ad here.
  • JCPenny will open at 3 PM on Thanksgiving Day but you can shop their deals online all day Thursday and they are offering free shipping on any orders over $49. Can you say avoiding the crowds?? Yes please. Their sale items include jewelry, apparel, housewares, bedding and much more. Check their Black Friday Ad out here.
  • Best Buy will open at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day, but will be offering their Black Friday deals online all day Thursday. Best Buy is also offering free shipping on all purchases ALL season long through 1/2/16. Best buy will have deals on TVs, computers, gaming systems, cameras and much more, check out their Black Friday Ad here.
  • EBates is another money saver – not just on Black Friday but all year long.  If you prefer to do you shopping online, check out their website to see the savings offered at more than 1,800 retailers including:  Macy, Under Armour, Nordstrom, Overstock.com, Amazon.com Pier 1, Toys R Us and so many more.

Remember it is a good practice to call the stores ahead of time to verify opening times as they can vary by location!

Another good practice for Black Friday shopping is to visit stores you plan to shop on Black Friday ahead of time. You can determine where the items you plan to purchase are located, preview them and ask questions without the pressure of all the other shoppers.

Now lets review some useful shopping apps…

Go to Girl has researched shopping applications that you can easily download to your smartphone and found the following apps to be the most useful.

Keyring
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  • Scan and store all of your loyalty cards on your phone so you don’t have to keep all of the cards in your wallet or on your keys
  • Store loyalty or club cards, gym membership cards, library cards and gift cards
  • Simply scan the barcode through the app, select what store the card is for and voila! Your card is now saved in the easy to access app
  • Create shopping lists with coupons included to make sure you get the best deals, lists can be shared with friends and family

Red Laser
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  • Scan an items barcode to compare prices from other stores
  • Scan and store loyalty or club cards
  • Store your favorite products or items you buy often to get notified when they are on sale
  • Get store alerts to know when stores are having special sales
  • Scan barcodes on food items to get nutritional information

Cartwheel
target-cartwheel-coupons

  • An app specifically for Target
  • The apps presents special offers that are ONLY available on cartwheel
  • You add the special cartwheel items to a shopping list from your phone or computer.  When you scan the barcode in app at checkout, the discounts are applied then and there
  • cartwheel deals change regularly and CAN be combined with other coupons.  They can also be used over and over until they expire!
  • Finally, the Target Red Card gives 5% off store wide all the time (including cartwheel purchases), free shipping and extended return times.  Available as a debit or credit card, the savings can really add up with this card!

America Recycles Day is November 15th!

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“Reduce, Reuse & Recycle” is the everyday practice of most professional organizers.  At Go to Girl, we regularly encourage reuse of household items in our organizing projects.  Once clutter is reduced, we also set up systems to help our clients keep the clutter away.  So much of the clutter we see is paper – in every shape and form!  So, although America Recycles Day is several weeks away (Nov. 15th), we want to share a few easy and effective tips today to help make your recycling efforts easier.

Stop receiving junk mail in the snap of your smartphone camera!

Did you know that the average American household receives over 800 pieces of junk mail every year? While it fills recycling bins everywhere, it is also a persistent clutter issue that most people would love to eliminate from their home completely.  Well, you can do that with the PaperKarma app:

  1. Search for the PaperKarma app in the App Store or Google Play Store.
  2. Download the free app to your device.
  3. Take a picture of the address label on your unwanted junk mail (make sure to include the name of the mailer in the photo).
  4. Submit to PaperKarma.  They’ll do all of the work – even keeping track of your requests.

Watch this clip from the Today Show.  It demonstrates how easy it is to use PaperKarma.  It is effective too!  One of Go to Girl’s clients was able to eliminate the regular delivery of over 30 catalogs just by using this app.  Give it a try and start reducing the amount of junk mail coming into your home!

Are you still receiving the Yellow Pages?

Whenever the phone book is delivered, I wonder how they stay in business.  I also wonder how they justify printing so many books that are immediately tossed into the recycling bin.  Of course, if the publisher doesn’t know you don’t want the book, they will continue to deliver it year after year.

Opting out of the phone book is another fast and easy process. By visiting www.yellowpagesoptout.com you can easily register and choose to no longer receive the phone book.  Yellow Pages publishers know that there is no point in delivering a print directory to someone who does not want one.  So they provide the opt out service to stop or limit your receipt of the phone book.

Often clients will say they keep the phone book “just in case”.  Once we start talking about how they actually find products & services, clients realize there are many other ways to find what they need and admit the phone book is rarely used.  In these cases, it’s hard to justify storing the books when they are used so infrequently.

Do you want your sales receipt with that purchase?

The last time I bought Tic Tacs, my sales receipt from the drug store was almost as long as my arm.  It included coupons, advertisements, plus the ever present opportunity to take a survey and win lots of money.  It ended up in the trash.  Most of us are accustomed to taking a sales receipt with the smallest of purchases.  It is a habit we should consider breaking, and here is why:

Most cash register sales receipts are printed on thermal paper, which contains BPA.  Now, research conducted at the University of Missouri is reporting data about the hazards of the BPA on these receipts.  The chemicals on the paper are easily transferred through skin.  In particular, after using a hand lotion and touching a receipt printed on Thermal Paper, subjects showed a rapid increase of BPA in their blood.

Also, a New York Times article reported  “About 30 percent all thermal paper receipts enter the paper recycling stream.”  Recycled paper is processed and remade into other paper items such as: toilet paper, napkins and food packaging. Of course the BPA contamination says in the remade paper.

The EPA has been looking for alternatives to the use of BPA in thermal paper but until then, maybe we don’t need to take all of the receipts offered – especially if they’re going to end up as household clutter.  You can avoid thermal receipts by accepting email receipts as an alternative to printed copies. You can also decline your receipt at the gas pump and the ATM. Finally, do not put your thermal paper receipts in with your recycling as it contaminates all recycled paper.

Can I recycle this?

In researching for this issue, Go to Girl found another useful resource:  www.iwanttoberecycled.org.  Use this site to learn what is recyclable (or not), how to recycle it and what recycled products are made into!  Check it out!

5 ways clutter costs you money!

 There are so many great reasons to eliminate clutter from your life but what if being organized  helped you save money and become more thrifty!  These 5 facts may give you a new perspective on the clutter in your home:

1.  Replacements: Have you ever purchased an item at the store because you thought you were out? This often happens in the pantry. You thought you needed tomato sauce. You swore you were out.  4 days later, you find 6 jars on a random shelf in the basement. These were purchased as a back up but since you don’t have a good organizing system, these errors happen more than you care to admit.

2.  Deadlines:  Recent reports say up to 23% of adults are late paying bills (and incur late fees) because they actually cannot find the bills in their homes. Not only does this clutter habit cost you money but it is stressful too!

3. Fees:  Americans are hooked on self storage. According to www.bloomberg.com the self storage industry generates more than 24 billion dollars in revenue (2014 estimate) annually.  That is a lot of money that could be spent on other things – like a fabulous vacation, getting ahead on your bills, or a higher balance in your IRA.

4. Space:  The US Department of Energy reports that 25% of the households with a 2-car garage can’t use the space for parking because the garage is filled with “stuff”.

5.  Health:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention magazine state unequivocally that 80% of our medical expenditures are now stress related. Clutter and disorganization create stress for everyone – from the head of the household to the child who can’t find her gym shoes for school.

So even after you have bought and paid for the things in your home, you are still paying to store, clean, move and manage your stuff!  Maybe looking at clutter from this point of view will motivate you to finally take care of your clutter problem.  Go to Girl Organizing Solutions can help you reclaim your garage, empty that storage space or set up a bill pay station.  Control your clutter and save money too – we promise it will make a difference in your life!

 

 

Fourth of July Party Tips

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Planning to host a Fourth of July party? Rule #1 is to Stick to What You Know. A party filled with friends and family is not the time to experiment, because who needs the added stress of  unpredictability? People are more comfortable when their party host is relaxed. If you want the perfect, well-planned celebration, incorporate the following tips into your party!

  1. Buy in Bulk: Pinpoint a few go-to recipes that you know will please your guests. With this, you can stock up on the basic ingredients at the start of party season and be ready for any type of gathering.
  2. Prep Your Fridge: Before you come home with 80 bags of groceries, clean your refrigerator and freezer. Getting rid of refrigerator clutter will reduce your stress during party-planning time.
  3. Show a Little You: Show your unique style through decorations, food choices, and table arrangements. Don’t go all Martha Stewart on your guests, but a few unique touches will make your party memorable.
  4. Early Prep: Don’t waste valuable time on the day of the party searching for plates, serving spoons, or linens. Choose your supplies before the party and keep extras handy for restocking your table.
  5. Friends and Food: Most friends are happy to bring a dish to your party. If you provide the meat and drinks, ask friends to supplement with appetizers, sides, and desserts. This will save you time in the kitchen and ensure you have a variety of yummy food for your guests.
  6. Stock the Bar: Alcohol is expensive so stick to the basics. Decent wines, distinctive beers, and a few basic mixers should do the trick. Most guests will consume two drinks per hour. Remember to always have nonalcoholic beverage choices and don’t forget the ice!
  7. Clean as You Go: Don’t make your guests feel as if you’re cleaning up the house because the party is over. Instead, grab used napkins, unattended empty glasses, and used plates on your way into the kitchen. A little cleaning here and there will keep the party looking nice and will reduce your stress at the end of the night.

 

Organize your Head, Organize your Home

Researchers say physical clutter makes us feel irritable, impatient & overwhelmed.  The premise is simple.  Since our internal and external worlds are linked, clutter in your physical space can have a direct impact on your mental space.  When we let go of the physical clutter and release objects that no longer serve a purpose or bring us joy, we creates an easing of tension that affects us mentally.  If you are suffering from clutter overload, try these simple decluttering activities and  alleviate your clutter overload:
1. Problem:  your magazine baskets are overflowing with issues you have not even opened.  Solution:  keep no more than 2 months of back issues of any magazine.  It is highly unlikely you will make the time to read  any magazine that has been in the pile for that long.
2.  Problem:  bills are often paid late because you cannot find them.  Solution:  create a physical file of incoming bills.  Keep it close to the place where you open your mail.  This is the ONLY place you can store bills until they are paid.
3.  Problem:  Your closet is stuffed with linens  you haven’t used in years.  Solution:  ask yourself ,  “how many sets I sheets do I really need?” and start eliminating the excess.  Besides, you can only use one set at a time!
4.  Problem:  the thought of cleaning out your email “In” box makes you cringe.  Solution:  If you really feel a need to look at every message, start with the oldest messages first.  You can create a file for the ones you absolutely must keep and archive the rest. When you archive, the messages don’t go away.  You can always find them if you need to but you won’t see them in your “IN” box.
5.  Problem:  you have enough packages of mustard, ketchup and soy sauce to open your own carry-out.  Solution:  find a local food pantry and donate them to folks who can use your excess.
Decluttering your Head, Decluttering your House will be held on Friday, June 7, 2013 at “The Salon” presented by The Family Alliance Counseling & Education Center, 8028 Ritchie Hwy., suite 310 Pasadena, MD  21122.   Please join us for a delicious breakfast and stimulating conversation plus useful tips to help simplify your life.  You must register to attend.  The 9:30-12:00 noon session will also feature Psychotherapists Mary Gentile and Helene Cain and is $40 pp.  Seating is limited so – RSVP NOW! deb@gotogirlmd.com.
 

Clutter clearing is my specialty.  

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or thought on this topic.

 

5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress

With less than a week before Christmas Day, I hope you have the holiday spirit and feel ready for anything.  But in case you are beginning to stress out about what still needs to be done, please take a deep breath and remember these 5 rules to get you through.

Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress

1.  There is a thin line between challenged and overwhelmed

If you are feeling overwhelmed, look at everything you have to do and edit your list.  Some of the things you may want to accomplish might not get done.  It is OK.  None of this is mandatory.  Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Being challenged is manageable, being overwhelmed is not.

2.  Adapt to changing circumstances

You have just learned you will have 5 more people for dinner than you planned, and the special gift you wanted to give someone is on backorder.   Deal with it!  Think of the best way to accommodate the change of circumstances and move on. Worrying will not solve the problem.

3.  Outsource the task

Instead of wondering how you are going to make it happen, think about who can make it happen for you.  Call a grocer who delivers.  Pay, print and ship your package from home instead of waiting in line at the post office.  Call an organizer to get your family room de-cluttered before company arrives.  Find another way that takes the burden from your plate.

4.  Let the phone ring

A ringing phone is an invitation to talk.  You are not required to take every call.  Let people leave messages.  Then you can listen and return the call when it is convenient for you.

5.  Look at the big picture

There may be a lot to do in the upcoming days but the easiest way to get through your “To-Do” list is one chunk at a time.  Write it all down and break it all into manageable chunks. Seeing the list will give you perspective and help you prioritize.

Relax and have a very, merry Christmas!

Go to Girl Organizing Solutions helps busy people get more accomplished.  Contact us today if you need help with a single project or want a whole house make-over!

Make the most of your herbs & spices with these 5 tips

Whether you are baking cookies for the school party or preparing a holiday feast for the family, you are bound to occasionally wonder if the spices in your drawer for ages are still potent.  Here are a few tips to help you figure it out:

      1.  Proper storage is the key to extending the life of your herbs and spices

     If they are stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool dry place, some spices can retain their flavor and effectiveness for years!

      2.  Shelf life

     With proper storage, whole spices (cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, cumin to name a few) will last for four years or longer and ground spices will last for two + years.  To make sure ground spices still have their flavor, shake the jar.  If they still have their fragrance, they are still good.

      3.  Herbs are different

To test their potency, crumple some in your hand.  If they still have their unique aroma, they are probably OK.  If their potency is fading, you can always use extra in the recipe to use up your supply.

     4.  No heat or moisture

Keep them away from the heat of the stove – even when adding to your cooking.  It is always better to add the spice from your hand or a small bowl.  Also, moisture has the potential to spoil your spices too.  Don’t store them in the freezer or near the dishwasher.

     5.  Buy small, date & label

     If you don’t cook often, buy the small containers of herbs.  You may have to replace them more frequently, but they won’t go bad.  You should also write the date of purchase on the container.  Then you will really know how long they have been sitting.

I recently found this  Pull Down Spice Rack at The Container Store (by Rubbermaid) and love it for its efficiency and ease of use.  Perfect when you have lots of spices but not a lot of cabinet space!

Go to Girl Organizing Solutions makes kitchen organizing fun.  Call us today at 410.299.2022 for your FREE consultation!

Eat, drink and be merry this season!