Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!


Hello! Please read me! This is a sponsored post. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write this. Also, the links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will be good fit for my readers. All opinions are my own.

2014Q3_holiday-catpage_topbanner_HFS_v3

I’m in love. With our Christmas cards.

I know that sounds weird, but when you guys see them, you’ll understand. They are shiny and GORGEOUS. And my face is all over them. What’s not to love?

By now I’ve placed several orders through Minted and I while I’ve always loved them, I think it’s safe to say they are officially my favorite. Their stationery is fresh, unique, and of the highest quality. And this year, they’ve upped the holiday card game because now …

… you can get GOLD FOIL PRINTING on your cards.

Oh yes, friends. Who would look at a gold foil card and think, “meh?” NOBODY.

When I saw a sample in a mailer I received, I just knew I had to get our holiday cards with Minted and harness this shiny gold foil for myself. Thanks to Minted I was able to make a shiny and pretty holiday card with some of our Alaska cruise pictures (remember that Alaska trip that I haven’t blogged about yet?).

((But I’m not going to share it yet because I want those of you getting cards from me to be SURPRISED!))

Instead I’ll share some of my favorite gold foil designs from Minted. These are five of DOZENS of gorgeous designs:

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
spirited holiday foil-pressed holiday cards

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
merry typography foil-pressed holiday cards

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
merrily foil-pressed holiday cards

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
love line foil-pressed holiday cards

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
pine and berry foil-pressed holiday cards

And for all you newlyweds out there, Minted has a line of cards just for you. Aren’t they adorable?

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
married little heart holiday photo cards

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
married & merry holiday photo cards

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
married & bright holiday photo cards

Make Everyone Jealous of your Holiday Cards with Minted + GIVEAWAY!
very married holiday photo cards

AND to make your life easier, Minted now offers FREE recipient addressing on your envelopes! All you have to do is save your address into your Minted account and they will be there forever. I’m trying this out for the first time this year and I’m giddy over all the time I know it’s going to save me when it’s crunch time in December.

Now it’s your turn to make your own Minted holiday cards! I am doing a SUPER QUICK giveaway for $50 in Minted credit. Enter between now and Sunday November 23, 2014 for a chance to win. The winner will be announced on Monday, November 24, 2014! I’m doing this giveaway QUICK because I want to make sure you have plenty of time to order your holiday cards. So start browsing Minted for your perfect design and start looking through your 2014 photos for the perfect holiday-card-worthy image.

Before you enter, read the fine print. It’s important!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Sweepstakes ends Sunday November 23, 2014 at 11:59pm Pacific time. Open to Legal Residents (18 years of age or older) of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Prizes cannot be substituted or exchanged for cash value. Winner will be selected by Random.org via Rafflecopter and be notified by email on Monday November 24, 2014. The odds of winning depend on the number of entries. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Please note that Budget Fairy Tale and Mindy Joy Media are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. I will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you in obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you. Mindy Joy Media is not responsible for lost/undelivered email, typographical errors, technical failures, etc. The product offered for the sweepstakes is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are in no way associated with this sweepstakes. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner. By providing your name, you agree your name will be mentioned in a blog post announcing the winner. No other information aside from your name will be shared. Prizes not claimed will be retained by the sponsor. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t want to wait to see if you win? Now through Tuesday November 25 you can save 15% off your holiday card order using code HAPPYHOL15 on Minted!

Good luck!

Thank you to Minted for sponsoring this post.

Selecting Music for Your Disneyland Wedding

This post contains affiliate links.

Selecting Music for Your Disneyland Wedding // Photo by White Rabbit Photo Boutique
{Photo credit: White Rabbit Photo Boutique}

Today’s post is all about music! Specifically, selecting the best music for your Disneyland wedding, or any Disney themed wedding. To help me out, I went to my friend Martin, a DJ with Waveform Events. Martin has DJ’d dozens (hundreds?) of weddings and events at Disneyland, so I thought he would be a great resource to help me share what’s popular these days with Disney wedding couples.

But before we get to that, let’s talk about ME.

Selecting Music for Your Disneyland Wedding // Photo by Root Photography
{Photo Credit: Root Photography}

When choosing the music for our Disneyland wedding, I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted, and for the most part everything was spot on! We hired a harpist for our ceremony and pre-reception (Ted the Harpist, highly recommended!) and he learned two new songs for us (we had to provide the piano sheet music). Mr. BFT wanted to walk out to a Phish song, and I wanted to walk out to “Reflection” from Mulan. Our grandparents walked out to “Second Star to the Right” from Peter Pan, and our flower girl came out to “Bibbidy Boppity Boo” from Cinderella. Our recessional was to “Love and Marriage” by Frank Sinatra (the Married: With Children theme song – another one Ted learned for us). He also played Disney classics about 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the ceremony. During the pre-reception, he played a mix of Disney classics and contemporary hits. “Stairway to Heaven” on the harp was a big hit with our guests.

For our reception, as hard as I fought, Mr. BFT would not agree to my #1 first dance choice, “I See the Light” from Tangled. But it ended up being just fine! We picked a Beck song that we both really love. Our grand entrance was to The Tonight Show theme (Carson-era) and we danced to “The Golden Age” by Beck. We did our parent dances at the same time to “In My Life” by The Beatles. For meal service, I had kind of a strange request. Mr. BFT and I love to sit and have drinks in the Golden Vine Winery area in Disney California Adventure. They play very unique music – kind of like slow jazz, elevator music. After a lot of research I discovered the sound I was loving was from an instrument called the Guitar Harp – WHO KNEW. Between our DJ and myself we were able to put together a great list of Guitar Harp songs to play during meal service to get that “Golden Vine Winery Feel.” Honestly, I’m not sure anyone else in the room noticed except my husband and I, but that’s all that matters! Before the Guitar Harp songs, we kicked off meal service with “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast. When Mickey, Minnie, and Donald were introduced, we played “The Mickey Mouse Club March” followed by “Everything that I Need” from The Muppets for the actual cake cutting. For the 30 minutes when the characters were out, I requested two additional songs – “Shake a Tailfeather” from The Blues Brothers and “MICKEY” by Toni Basil. The rest of the songs were Disney songs, DJ’s choice.

So now that the IMPORTANT stuff is out of the way, let’s “dig a little deeper” into how to select music for your Disneyland wedding, with some advice from a popular Disneyland wedding DJ.

Selecting Music for Your Disneyland Wedding // Photo credit: White Rabbit Photo Boutique
{Photo credit: White Rabbit Photo Boutique}

CEREMONY

For general ceremony music, a lot of couples still lean towards the traditional arrangements, like Canon in D, Wagner’s Bridal March “Here Comes the Bride,” and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. If you want to go the Disney route but looking for something subtle, consider instrumental versions of Disney classics. Martin recommends this CD released by Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings. Movie scores from more well known Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen are also great choices. If there’s a Disney movie that is very meaningful to you, have a listen at some of the scores from it and see if they would fit in with your ceremony. Remember, I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of “Reflection” from Mulan. Not exactly typical wedding music, but most of our guests just thought it was lovely harp music. The Disney songs will be instantly recognizable to the hard-core Disney fan, and for those guests who are not Disney fans, it just sounds like pretty music!

Martin says, “For the actual processionals (bridesmaids, flower girl and ring bearer, and of course the bride), you can go a little bolder and use actual tracks from the films, or the pop versions. Popular choices are “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King, or “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Tarzan. You can also choose to go with a single movie theme throughout your ceremony! Using The Little Mermaid as an example: “Part Of Your World” for the processional, “Kiss the Girl” during the sand ceremony, then Under the Sea for the recessional.”

For pre-reception, if you choose to play music, you can continue with the Disney theme by playing instrumental pieces or scores, or actual vocal tracks, or a mix of both! For our pre-reception, our harpist played a mix of Disney tunes and classic rock/pop songs. Remember, the music at your pre-reception is really just background noise, so it should be mellow and subtle, and don’t bother putting a ton of thought into it!

Once you get to the reception, you will have to consider when and when not to use Disney music. Four hours of Disney music may seem fun to you, but that’s A LOT to for your guests, even if they are minor Disney enthusiasts! Consider playing some Disney songs at the top of the reception – when guests are entering and finding their seats, the couple’s grand entrance, the first dance song, and maybe a couple songs during the meal service. Martin says, “The Fantasmic! theme, or the Main Street Electrical Parade theme work well for grand entrances because they are so upbeat. Or, if you want music that is a little less intense, there is ‘Heigh Ho,’ ‘Friend Like Me,’ or ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me.’” As far as the couple’s first dance, “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, and “I See the Light” from Tangled are popular choices. For meal service, Martin says he usually will kick things off with “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, and right now “Let it Go” from Frozen is in heavy rotation.

If you have Mickey & Minnie or any of the other Disney characters visiting the reception, you pretty much have to play Disney music or “Disney appropriate” music the entire time they’re there. “I prefer to play the fun, upbeat songs during this half hour,” says Martin. “Songs like ‘Bear Necessities’ from The Jungle Book and ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ from Mary Poppins.” I know “The Mickey Mouse Club March” and the Steamboat Willie song are also often played when Mickey & Minnie are visiting.

Last but not least, the dancing! Generally this is a no-Disney-music zone, as guests are more prone to pack the dance floor to classic songs like “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson and current hits like “Happy” by Pharrell. Martin notes that because it *is* Disney after all, any songs played should be the clean versions (radio edit) and avoid playing any songs that may be too sexually charged or are otherwise sending out a negative message.

Selecting Music for Your Disneyland Wedding // Photo by Root Photography
{Photo Credit: Root Photography}

Need some more inspiration? Below are some lists of Disney songs to consider for your wedding, compiled with the help of Martin and my Disneyland bride friends.

CEREMONY

Grandparents/Parents Processional
- Candle On The Water from Pete’s Dragon

Wedding Party Processional
- That’s How You Know from Enchanted
- You Got A Friend In Me from Toy Story
- Paperman by Christophe Beck
- Define Dancing from Wall-E

Bride Processional
- A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella
- I See the Light from Tangled
- When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinnochio

Unity Candle/Sand Ceremony/ Etc.
- A Whole New World from Aladdin
- Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid

Recessional
- Ever Ever After from Enchanted
- Married Life from Up
- Star Wars theme

RECEPTION

Bridal Party Entrance
- Disney’s Electrical Parade Music
- Life is a Highway from (as heard in) Cars
- Heigh Ho from Snow White
- You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story
- Friend Like Me from Aladdin

Couple Grand Entrance
- Fantasmic! theme
- That’s How You Know from Enchanted

First Dance
- I See the Light from Tangled
- Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty
- The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight from The Lion King
- A Whole New World from Aladdin

Father/Daughter or Mother/Son Dance
- You’ll Be In My Heart from Tarzan
- Baby Mine from Dumbo
- Ma Belle Evangeline from Princess and the Frog

Bouquet Toss
- I Won’t Say I’m in Love from Hercules
- Someday My Prince will Come from Snow White

Garter Toss
- I’ll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan
- Prince Ali from Aladdin

Meal Service
– Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast

Cake Cutting
- Dig a Little Deeper from Princess and the Frog
- Spoonful of Sugar from Mary Poppins

Mickey & Minnie Moment
- The Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song
- Fantasmic! theme
- Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book

A special thanks again to Martin from Waveform Events for letting me interview him for this post, and to White Rabbit Photo Boutique and Root Photography for letting me use their great images.


Do you have any Disney wedding songs to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

40 Cranberry Recipes for Thanksgiving

40 Cranberry Recipes for Thanksgiving

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I am all about the cranberries. The funny thing is, cranberries used to be my least favorite part about the Thanksgiving meal! When I got older I found out there was life beyond the jelled cranberry sauce that comes in a can … and now I looooove cranberry sauce!

To celebrate my love of all things cranberry, I compiled this roundup (with the help of my blogger friends) of 40 cranberry recipes that would be perfect for Thanksgiving, or any time. I sorted them by category to make browsing and selecting a little easier. If you need some inspiration for your meal next week (yes … Thanksgiving is next week – SURPRISE), look no further than these awesome ideas!

Sauces

Easy Orange-Cranberry Sauce from Robyn’s Online World
Cranberry Apple Sauce from Maine Course
Homemade Cranberry Sauce from My Turn for Us
Perfect Homemade Cranberry Sauce from Family, Food, and Travel
Raspberry Cranberry Sauce from Hot Eats and Cool Reads
Amazingly Delicious Cranberry Sauce from Simply Darrling
Crockpot Cranberry Sauce from Stock Piling Moms
Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs from Smitten Kitchen
Maple Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce from Gal on a Mission

Sides

Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries with Pecans and Goat Cheese from So There By Amy
Quinoa and Cranberry Muffins from Family, Food, and Travel
Cranberry Relish from Coupon Cutting Mom
Pork Tenderloin, Pear,and Cranberry Salad from The Redhead Baker
Cranberry Pineapple Jello Salad from The Thrifty Couple
Creamy Cranberry Salad from Hot Eats and Cool Reads
Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad from The Vintage Modern Wife
Cranberry Waldorf Salad from Food Done Light

Desserts

Cranberry Fudge Mini Cheesecakes from Family, Food, and Travel
Cranberry Bliss Bars from Simply Darrling
Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies from The Redhead Baker
Cranberry Duff from Melanie Makes
Cranberry Swirl Bundt Cake from The Redhead Baker
Cranberry Orange Frozen Fruit Treat from Kathe with an E
Easy Chocolate Cranberry Cashew Fudge from A Little Claireification
Oatmeal Cranberry Cheesecake Bars from Mom on Time Out

Drinks

Cranberry Wine Delight from Robyn’s Online World
Cranberry Mojito from Mind Over Batter
Holiday Mulled Cranberry Tea from The Kitchen is My Playground
Cool Cranberry Cocktail from Kendall Rayburn
Cranberry Margarita from PopSugar
Ruby Relaxer Cocktail from Ann’s Entitled Life
Christmas Cranberry Cocktail from Simply Darrling
Slow Cooker Cranberry Spice Mulled Punch from A Little Claireification
Cranberry Fizz from Kendall Rayburn

Misc

Pork Chop with Cranberry Sauce from Family, Food, and Travel
Cranberry Salsa from My Recipes
Holiday Jams – Cranberry Raisin Jam from Confessions of an Overworked Mom
Turkey and Cranberry Pinwheels from Family, Food, and Travel
Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Granola from Sew Creative
Cranberry Orange Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup from My Recipes

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

How I Save Money on Energy Bills to Splurge at Disneyland


How I Save Money on Energy Bills to Splurge at Disneyland

Perhaps you have already noticed this, but I love to go to Disneyland. Shocking revelation, I know. Something I hear all the time from non-Disney people is, isn’t it expensive??? Well, the answer is … yes, of course it’s expensive! But the joy I get from being at Disneyland is worth the money I spend. But last time I checked, I still don’t have a money tree growing in my backyard, so in order to splurge on my Disney obsession I have to save money elsewhere. One of those places is our energy bill. Mr. BFT and I try to be as resource-conscious as we can be, so keeping an eye on our energy usage isn’t a huge struggle for us. We know that limiting our resource use to the bare minimum is not only good for the environment and puts less strain on the grid, but will also save money on energy bills … which means more money for Disneyland!

When we bought our house last year, the first thing we did was examine the energy usage. Living in a detached house is so different than living in an apartment! There are so many new factors to think about, like running sprinklers, attic insulation, and water usage (which we didn’t pay for in our apartment). We loved that all of the utility companies in Burbank offer free inspections. We couldn’t believe how much energy the previous owners were wasting! Below are some of the adjustments we made, just off the top of my head:

– The water heater was turned allllll the way up! A free inspection from the gas company told us that was completely unnecessary, and moving it down to about the middle level would give us plenty of hot water. We made the adjustment and have never had a problem.

– We had NO insulation in our attic! No wonder we had to run our heater so much when we first moved in! Adding insulation helped keep warm air in during the winter and cold air in during the summer, saving us big bucks on our monthly energy bill.

– The previous owners had the sprinklers set to run every day for 10 minutes. That’s kind of an insane amount! Sure, everything looked lush and green, but what a drain (LITERALLY – har har) on resources. We cut back to three times a week, for five minutes (and now we are restricted to one day a week, due to the drought). I’ve noticed our roses aren’t quite as abundant this year, but they still look great and it’s a small price to pay for the amount of money we are saving on both water and energy.

– We replaced our decades-old drafty windows with new higher quality, energy saving windows. Yes, this cost a significant amount up front but our new windows have a lifetime guarantee and we expect to earn our money back in energy savings in about 4-5 years.

How I Save Money on Energy Bills to Splurge at Disneyland
{A shot of our still thriving rose bushes with a peek at our new energy-saving windows}

Speaking of savings, here’s what’s REALLY important. With these changes, we estimate we are saving about $50 EVERY MONTH. And on the hottest and coldest months, the ones where you have to have the heat or AC running practically all the time, we estimate we are saving nearly $100 each month compared to when we first moved in. So that’s about $600-$1200 each year! To put it in Disneyland terms, that covers approximately*:

My annual pass
or
5 runDisney 10k races
or
20 pairs of Mickey ears
or
60 drinks at Trader Sams
or
110 churros

*based on a savings of $600

Isn’t that a little mind boggling? All the result of making a couple calls to our utility companies for inspections, investing in energy-saving upgrades for our home, and being energy conscious every day.

How I Save Money on Energy Bills to Splurge at Disneyland

***

Want to save a little cashola for Disneyland? Here are five EASY tips for saving money on your energy bill:

1. If you have a yard with automatic sprinklers, review your usage. Cut back by one day a week if you can. During the winter months you only really need to be running your sprinklers two days a week (according to our Department of Water and Power … although that was before we were restricted to one day a week due to the drought). Or, take your energy savings to the next level by planting drought-resistant plants that are still pretty but don’t need to be watered as much.

2. Use space heaters and fans. I rarely run the heat or AC at night. Instead I run a temperature-control space heater/fan I picked up years ago at Sharper Image. I keep it next to my bed so I can easily turn it off and on if I need to. We have the luxury of a programmable thermostat so we can program the heat to turn on 30 minutes before we wake up, so hubby is not freezing in the kitchen while making his morning coffee. Also, use a blanket or a sweater instead of turning the heat on. There’s no need to heat the entire house or apartment if you’re only spending time in one room! Wrap up in a cozy blanket for as long as you can stand it.

3. Do dishes by hand. I know, it stinks! And not really practical if you have a large family or babies in the house. Since it’s just us, it’s fairly easy to wash dishes as we use them. It’s not the best use of water, but not running the dishwasher on a daily basis saves us a ton on our energy bill.

4. Wash your hair every other day or just a couple times a week. Saves a bundle on water and energy (to heat said water; hair dryer), not to mention a few extra minutes in the morning! Besides, it’s good for your hair and scalp to build up a little oil in between washings.

5. Unplug your appliances. Plugged-in items like televisions, computers, DVD players, and video consoles still suck up energy even if they are on “stand by” mode. Put them on a power strip you can switch off at night. (But don’t turn off your DVR if you record any programs while you’re sleeping.) You can also save a few dollars per year if you unplug kitchen appliances like your toaster oven, microwave, and coffee maker, and office appliances like your printer and phone charger.

How I Save Money on Energy Bills to Splurge at Disneyland

Want more energy-saving tips that can help save you money for your next Disney trip? PG&E has plenty of resources available on their website, including:

Warm weather, cold weather and everyday savings tips (broken down by no cost, low cost and investment solutions).
Plan your next project by focusing on a specific area of your house with this Money Saver Tool (and learn about rebates).
Do your research and plan ahead when shopping for appliances by checking the rebate catalog.
Refrigerator recycling rebate program.
Dozens and dozens of quick and easy “My Energy” tips from PG&E.

And, happening right now, PG&E is hosting an Instagram challenge, where seven lucky people will win a $100 Home Depot gift card to help with some of those energy-saving home improvements! Go to the PG&E Instagram page for further details on how to enter to win and don’t forget to hashtag your entries with #PGEhome.


Do you have your own energy saving tips? I would love to hear them! Also, what would you do with an extra $600 a year to spend at Disneyland?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tips for Cutting the Clutter BEFORE the Holidays

Christmas. You guys, it’s not even Thanksgiving and I’m already stressed out about Christmas. Over the weekend we booked our flights back east to spend Christmas with Mr. BFT’s family, worked on our wishlists (per the request of family members), and ordered our holiday cards. Soon I’ll need to start shopping, and the house will be filled with packages and toys and food and STUFF. SO MUCH STUFF. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the traditional exchanging of gifts. I love presents. But after Christmas I always end up with so much STUFF and I feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to fit everything into my already cramped closets and shelves.

Now, the following paragraph is related so stick with me. In my yoga class last week, our instructor focused on making space. Making space with our breathing, and pushing into every pose to create extra space within ourselves. During the opening mediation he told a story about how he was forced to do a massive sorting of his belongings when his apartment unit needed to be deep cleaned. He lived in the apartment for three years and, as a minimalist, was shocked when he realized how much clutter he had amassed during that time. He talked about sorting through everything and finding things that had sentimental value when received, but that he hadn’t thought about in years. He used birthday cards as an example. He held on to birthday cards because he couldn’t stand the thought of throwing them away. Someone had put thought and money into sending that card to him and each one was special. But … three years worth of cards later … do you really need to keep them? Can you imagine if you kept every birthday card you ever received over your lifetime? What would you really do with them? AND, would the sender really want you to hold onto that card forever, verses living a decluttered, happier life? Ultimately he looked at each card again and recycled them. He decided he didn’t need the physical reminder of those relationships, when he also has memories.

Listening to all of this really hit home for me. I am a total packrat and I hold on to EVERYTHING. I am surrounded by clutter. It’s not HOARDERS level of clutter, but it’s still excessive. And embarrassing. And I genuinely hate it. But I’m the same way … I hate to throw anything away, especially if a friend put time and thought into a letter, card, or gift. Because of that, every time a new item comes into my home, I panic a little. That seems like a horrible way to live life, doesn’t it?

I decided to try my best to do some decluttering BEFORE the holidays even get here. That way I’ll feel less stressed about bringing new gifts into the home. I’m long overdue for a deep deep DEEP sorting, tossing, and cleaning. I’ve already started a little, but I’m thinking I’ll take some time off around Thanksgiving to really focus on getting it done. If you want to join me, I have some decluttering tips I’ve learned over 35 years of being a stuff magnet. I hope you find these tips for cutting the clutter before the holidays helpful!

Tips for Cutting the Clutter BEFORE the Holidays

1. Block off a whole day for decluttering. Don’t kid yourself – you’re not going to go through ALL the stuff hiding under your bed in 20 minutes. And if you find yourself rushed for time, you’ll make poor decisions. (“I’ll just put everything back for now and deal with it later!” – Not that I’ve EVER said anything like that, ever.)

2. Make a list of all the areas you want to declutter. Breaking the job down into smaller tasks will make everything feel more manageable. When you finish up one area, cross it off on your list and then give yourself a small reward. Chocolate generally works for me.

3. Make four piles: Keep, Donate, Recycle, Trash. A massive “pro” to decluttering before Christmas is finding treasures you can donate to thrift shops or even a program like “Toys for Tots” that will help families in need have a merrier Christmas. I have a million and one Hello Kitty and Disney trinkets that are brand new, that I really don’t need. I plan to max out that “donate” pile this year. FYI – If you’re doing it right, all piles should be pretty much equal (with the exception of Recycle – hopefully you don’t have THAT much old paper lying around).

4. If you haven’t touched it or thought about it in one year, it goes. My trick, and I believe I’ve mentioned it on my blog before, is to put things you THINK are important to you into a bag and put it in the back of the closet or under the bed. If you think of any of those items, you can pull it back out. But in six months, if you haven’t a clue what is in the bag, you probably don’t need it. Just take the whole bag to Goodwill without even looking inside. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to deeply sentimental items like your baby blankie or grandpa’s army uniform.)

5. When deciding to keep something, ask yourself, “Is keeping this item more important than having a calming space?” This one is especially important if you find yourself constantly overwhelmed by how much stuff you have (like *ahem* me). I know it’s just “one more item” but all those items add up. Magazines older than three months? Toss them. Receipts a year old? Unless you need them for tax purposes, shred them. A book you read once and know you’ll never read again? Donate.

6. Don’t forget to declutter your computer, too. Especially the desktop or whatever your “catch-all” space is named. Set aside a couple hours to sort through your computer files. What files and folders can be deleted? What can be moved to an external hard drive? What files should be renamed so you can find them easier? Even though your files are not taking up PHYSICAL space, having a cluttered computer can be just as stressful as having a cluttered office or desk.

7. Focus. Turn the TV off. Put the phone on silent or in another room. Put on some background music and focus on the unpleasant task at hand. Also, if you live with others, let them in on what you’re doing and respectfully ask for them not to interrupt you, or let them know if there’s anything they can do to help. I personally find that I do best cleaning and sorting by myself, but when I’m on a decluttering rampage, I will ask my husband if he wouldn’t mind going to the store or preparing dinner without me so I can keep working. He hates my clutter so he is generally happy to do whatever I ask of him!

8. Visualize how you want your space to look. If you’re envious of the types of rooms you see in home magazines and on some blogs, use that as your motivation. You may not get there 100% but visualizing your dream space will help encourage you to get going on your decluttering and cleaning.

I recently found this quote and thought it would be the perfect way to end this post:

“We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants.” – Donald Horban

Image Source: Sindesign on Flickr used and modified under CC 2.0