Holiday Blog Series: Gift Wrapping

I have a big smile on my face as I write this blog post. Gift wrapping is one thing my husband has no patience for. Most of the gifts he gives me get wrapped by the store where he purchased the gift, usually in a gift bag.  And I say, “Good for him!”. You shouldn’t do things you don’t like to do.

For today’s post, I thought a visual representation of gift wrapping would give you some new ideas.

I saw this on Pinterest (cover toilet paper rolls) and have filled these with all kinds of goodies!

Used the wrapping paper to bundle multiple gifts going to one person.

Purchased this awesome gift card holder at a craft fair this weekend.


Love the ribbon weaving!

Source: via Christine on Pinterest

Simple touches, with a bit of glue, transform this plain bag.

Trader Joe bags!?! Genius!

Way cute and an extra gift to “boot”!

Source: via Nesie on Pinterest


Holiday Blog Series: The Gift Budget

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind me, I struggle to write this blog post. I wish this outlandish buying frenzy would stop. Our society so driven to buy, buy, buy and Christmas was never meant to be about that…(Now I am off the soap box, I promise)

When trying to figure out who and what to buy, don’t forget about the how. How will you pay for it? Please don’t rely on credit lest I stand back up on my soap box again! The best thing to do here is to create a budget and track your spending. Here are 5 easy steps to do this:

Step 1: Decide how much money you have to spend in total. That is your gift budget.

Step 2: Break down the total into smaller budgets for each person. Let’s say your budget is $300 and you have 4 children and a spouse. Your breakdown may be $50 per child and $100 for your spouse in gift spending.

Step 3: Brainstorm a list of items as gift ideas. Write them down. Also write down the amount you intend to spend on each person.

Step 4: Take it when you shop – the brainstorm list and your budgeted amounts

Step 5: As you shop, write down what you purchased and the cost. When you reach the budget limit for a particular person, stop buying for them.

In the past I have carried a tiny notebook in my purse, using one page per person that I intended to buy for. On each page, I also wrote the budgeted dollar amount beside their name. Then I switched, for a few years, to an actual Christmas Planner. Just Google “Christmas Planner” and you can download forms/lists to make your own holiday planner.

In a blog post, I showed some ways you can make your own holiday planner, if you are crafty. But now, I just use my Evernote. I have talked about Evernote before when I shared how I turned my recipes into a digital format and how it can be used to help you organize your travel plans. This is my second year using Evernote for my Christmas shopping. It’s really convenient for me because not only is it on my tablet, but it’s also on my phone (which goes with me everywhere)! Essentially I created a notebook called Christmas 20xx, then made a page per person just like I used to do in the notebook I kept in my purse. Here’s a screen shot of one of the people I shopped for last year. Next to his name was my gift budget for this person.

Evernote_Christmas_pageWhenever I went shopping, I paid attention to the bold items because bold items were what was left to shop for. The numbers in pink represent how much I had already spent so far.   This system of writing things down and assigning a budget to each person has really helped me to stay within my personal budget and not incur debt during the holidays. Give this a try when you shop this year; it’s easy to do whether you are using paper or your smart phone app!

Holiday Blog Series: Christmas Parties

I remember looking forward to the company Christmas parties; it was the once a year chance to get my hubby to dance with me… Natalie Conrad Professional Organizer

This is the time of year when we are typically do more party going than the rest of the year – parties, potlucks, gatherings, performances, etc. Here are a few of the high points to getting you and your family ready for those parties and other such joyous events:

  1. Decide on the Holiday wardrobe. Having a few pieces to mix and match can go a long way towards making your outfits for each event look unique. Now is the time to shop for outfits for you, your spouse and/or children. If you will be wearing clothes you already have (what a novel idea!) then get them out to spruce them up. Take clothes to the dry cleaners or get the ironing done now so they are ready for your holiday events. 

  2. Pick up a few host/hostess gifts. If you are going to private parties, it is customary in America to bring along a gift for the host. Don’t add to the usual holiday clutter! Think about giving a gift that is consumable. Gifts from local wineries or specialty food vendors are easy gift ideas. Or make some of your own baked goods to give. If you want to stay away from food items, then bring a live plant or a gift certificate based on your hosts’ preferences.

  3. Write out (or type up) your babysitter and/or pet sitter instructions in advance. Update the emergency phone numbers and put down specific instructions for the sitter now. Put it on the refrigerator or in the office to give to the sitter when they arrive. It’s a small detail, but making up the instructions now means one less thing to remember to do as your events sneak up on you!

No matter how you decide to prepare for Christmas parties, relax and enjoy the festive season!

Holiday Blog Series: Getting Ready to Travel

To kick off the Holiday Blog Series, let’s get ready to travel!

vintage luggage

This may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the holidays… or it might.  Nevertheless, it’s not too early to start
planning. Why not get this part of the holiday plans set in motion now? I want to break each post in this blog series into manageable steps. The first 3 key points for holiday travel are when, how and what.

1. Decide when you will be traveling this season specifically for November, December and New Year celebrations. Mark those dates on Laptop with Airplane ca. 2003your calendar and make those reservations right now. Because our holidays are likely to involve other friends and family, be sure to compare and confirm dates with others.

2. Decide how you will travel- by plane, train, or automobile and staying at a hotel, a friend’s or to grandmother’s house you go. Once you have done so, set your budget for travel and the expenses that go along with it. I am famous for calculating about how much to budget for gas for a trip but I usually forget to take into account the fact that there are other expenses to prepare the car for the trip – tune-ups, new tires, snow chains, oil change. If you don’t set aside money for these expenses, you could spend part of your holiday trying to find a repair shop or getting towed home! If you are traveling by another mode of transportation, be sure to ask about surcharges, baggage fees and taxes. Set a budget for traveling and have the money set aside so you minimize those unexpected expenses that cause you to go into credit card debt.


3. Find out what tools or apps are out there to help you as you travel. This can be something as simple as a journal and envelope that youjournal use to hold tickets, boarding passes and receipts. The journal can be a source for confirmation numbers, addresses and phone numbers needed specifically for the trip. If you like smartphones and apps, Evernote is a great place to keep this type of information. Another useful app is TripIt. Tripit is a travel organizer (no wonder, I recommend it!)  It takes all your itineraries, confirmation numbers, and puts them in one organized place for you to access on your smartphone,computer or iPad. You can email your travel plans to others who need to know. Here’s a link to the best travel apps for kids. Remember, apps can keep them quietly amused as you travel!

Now that you’ve read this post, go plan your trips. Come back often as the Holiday Blog Series continues; packing for travel is next!

Introducing the Holiday Blog Series

Excited to announce that this week begins our Holiday Blog Series at Organized Habits!

The purpose of the series is to help you lower that holiday stress and manic reactions to all there is to do for others during the holidays. The premise is simple, these blog posts will help you “eat that elephant” (as the saying goes) one. bite. at. a. time.  Each week, there will be 2 articles that focus on organizing the variety of extra activities that the change of season brings with it.  To give you a better idea, here’s a quick rundown of some of the topics:

Travel during the Holidays

Home Decor

Gift Giving



Now would be a good time to subscribe to my blog using the RSS feed button you’ll find about mid way down this page.  It will have these timely tips delivered right to you so you don’t have to remember to come to the blog to read the latest information (because we’ve already established that you will have more on your plate).

Is there a particular part of this season that you need help with? Leave a comment here and I’ll write a post about it if I can.

Christmas Shopping on a Budget

Today, I’ve decided to do something a little different.  I’ve invited a guest blogger to post on my site.  I think the blog is perfect for this time of year.  Let me know what you think.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Happy Holidays and happy shopping!  Warmly, Natalie

Do you wait until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping?  Well, with only a few days to go, you need to get moving!

Although this is a fun time of year, it can be stressful especially in today’s economic climate.   A lot of us can feel the shortage of cash these days and most of us need to be aware of what we are spending.  Do you have a Christmas budget?  If not, here are a few tips that can help you control your spending during this festive time of year:

  • Leave your debit and credit cards home.  This gives you an instant visual indication of how much you’re spending.
  • Shop at outlet malls. Shopping at outlets of your favorite stores and designers can save a bundle.
  • Have a game plan.  Set a budget, even a good deal isn’t a deal if you can’t afford it.
  • Hang onto your receipts.  Many stores give price adjustments within 14 days.
  • Shop with a list.  You can zip through the stores faster and are more apt to avoid impulse buying.

I hope I have given you some good tips and even if you don’t use all of them, just a few will be better than not using any tip at all.

Guest Blogger: JoAnn Lennon, Pure Edge Nutrition –
Pure Edge Nutrition is dedicated to providing you with the most advanced, all natural, weight loss supplements.
Also check out the new beauty line!

Not another gift exchange!

A while ago, I did a post called Stop Buying Useless Gifts.  The essence of the post was that we need to be more conscientious of the kinds of gifts we are buying.  Let’s not add to one another’s clutter. Now that we are in the largest gift giving season in America, it’s important to consider the gifts we are buying.  This post is a result of a recent almost-useless-gift-exchange.


Recently I was hosting a ladies luncheon and the attendees suggested we do an ornament gift exchange since it was Christmas this month.  In my head, I immediately thought “Oh, great more clutter!” (I also wanted to roll my eyes but fought the urge.)
Rather than an ornament gift exchange, I thought about another gift idea.  I suggested that we each purchase a toy and bring it wrapped to the luncheon.  The ladies agreed and after the luncheon, we gathered around the table with all the wrapped toys. We proceeded to play the infamous “stealing game”; each person takes a turn, chooses a gift to unwrap or can steal one that has been opened by another person.  As each toy was unwrapped, we “oohed and aahed” and talked about our childhood memories of our favorite toys.  Once the “game” was over, they all said good-bye and left the toys….with me.


Not to worry, it was all part of the plan.  I then took the unwrapped toys to a local non-profit that serves homeless families.  They were overjoyed and said they prefer the toys be unwrapped so that they can see them and determine which child should get what. And so, the luncheon was a success; everyone had fun, got to unwrap something and somewhere in our city a little child will be blessed with a new toy on Christmas morning.


Put a little thought into your gift exchanges this year, and let me know what you decide to do. I’d love to hear your gift ideas!


Tip Junkie handmade projects