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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Keeping the Holidays Mindful and Organized

Oct 04, 2022 03:53PM ● By Sherry Onweller
Elements of entertaining such as menus, flights, gifts, houseguests, and décor can feel daunting when preparing for the fall and winter holiday seasons. In order to feel a sense of control and balance during the holidays, it is helpful to take time in advance to plan, stay present and be mindful. This will help make the holidays more fun, relaxing, and meaningful.

Home or Away

Start in the early fall to put together a holiday strategy. Consider whether the holidays will be spent at home or away. If they will be spent away, think through travel plans, and book any flights, train travel, hotels and car rentals in the months of September and October. If the holidays will be spent at home, begin to develop a holiday plan as far as a guest list. Put out an email to all guests, with the relevant details such as date and time, also requesting any information regarding food allergies / food preferences (vegan, vegetarian, etc.) and any special accommodation needs. 

Preparing for Guests

If hosting, use the month of October to begin to plan out meals and research recipes. Be sure to have enough of all tableware, entertaining supplies, seating, bedding and the like. October is also the perfect time to put together mailing lists for holiday cards and to purchase the actual cards to be sent. These can be addressed and stamped in advance, and mailed out in late November / early December. October and November are also ideal times for putting up seasonal holiday decorations.


When it comes to gift giving, create a comprehensive list of all the gifts which need to be given, listing any ideas that come to mind. It is useful to buy throughout the year, as gift ideas present themselves, rather than rushing and doing panic buying at the last minute. In addition to tangible items, gifts can be certificates for food and restaurants, experiences, service providers, retail establishments, entertainment (plays, sporting events, movies, lessons, classes, subscriptions, etc.), thus allowing the recipient to decide what they want, and hopefully increasing happiness and decreasing clutter. 

Coordinating Future Fun

Once the holidays are over, take time to assess what of the holiday décor got used, and consider donating what was not used. This is a perfect time to use logic and experience to purge. Another useful exercise is to create a holiday planning binder for future years. Such a binder will become a valuable resource for simplifying future holidays, and will contain the information listed above, separated into tabbed sections. The tabbed sections in the binder should include: Travel Information (information with regard to: flights, car rentals, hotels, etc.), Entertaining Notes (this will contain the information regarding guest lists, menus, table photos, décor photos, a record of how long set up and clean up took, items to have on hand for last minute guests, a record of food allergies / preferences, etc.), Holiday Card Address List (this will contain a list of cards sent and received), A Gift Tab (the list of ideas by person), and a tab for Other Miscellaneous Information.

Doing some advanced preparation for the holidays will make them calmer and more enjoyable, and will allow for being present and in the moment when the holidays come around. 

Sherry Onweller is the owner of Everyday Organizing Solutions by Sherry, and provides sympathetic and nonjudgmental organizing, de-cluttering and time management services to residential and business clients. Using a holistic view to assess what is working and what is not working, she creates customized, individualized plans and solutions to help clients better manage their time, stuff, activities, physical space, work and family. 

For more information, call 908-619-4561, email [email protected] or visit See ad, page 9.

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