Our featured client this month is Samantha, the mother of three young children and the matriarch of a large extended family. This hostess extraordinaire often cooks for 30 family members and friends to celebrate Shabbat each weekend. In addition, Samantha maintains toys for every possible age group to ensure that even the youngest guest has appropriate entertainment. Over time, though, her home has become the self declared “weigh station” for toys, clothing, books, cookware, and furniture for relatives and friends with younger children, ones who have yet to have children, and even those who are not yet married.
Like many women who hire us, Samantha’s organizational skills are the envy of her friends (“why do you need an organizer,” is a popular refrain she hears). Yet, Samantha felt that she needed expert advise in how to streamline her life to entertain and function at a higher level. She knew it was time to take back her home – it could no longer be a proverbial ‘candy store’ for children and adults alike – and she needed our help.
It’s that time of year again; the holiday season is rapidly approaching along with a seemingly endless list of things to do, presents to buy, and parties to plan. If you entertain friends and family in your home, you want it to look its absolute best. I recently sat down with Paintzen, an online service that makes painting your home simple, to discuss how you can prepare your home for the holidays. You don’t need to go overboard. Instead, focus on the four key areas that will be most visible to guests: the entryway, bathroom, kitchen, and living room.
Resourceful Consultants clients can use code “RC100” to get up to $100 off of their first paint project with Paintzen! Here’s to a Happy 2019 from Paintzen and Resourceful Consultants.
In 2016, my friend and colleague, Nancy Lascher, became involved with Beautycounter, and I learned a startling fact: the United States is one of the few countries that doesn’t regulate the ingredients in skin care products, and Beautycounter is one of the few companies committed to making skin care products without any harmful ingredients.
As a professional organizer, I never paid much attention to the composition of the products I used to contain and corral my clients’ clutter. Yet, the cancer diagnoses of several friends and clients over the past two years has led me to take a closer look. This week, I cohosted an event with Lara Metz about healthy snacks and food storage containers.
While I don’t profess to being an expert on the chemical composition of organizing products, one of my team members (and cancer surviver), compiled this summary of chemicals to avoid in food storage containers and a list of some recommended products. As we learn more, this list will evolve, and we encourage you to share what you know, so we can provide the most up to date information.
Avoid the following chemicals in food storage containers:
BPA – Bisphenol A Plastic
– Increased risk of cancer
– Sexual and reproductive issues
– ADHD and other developmental disorders
– Endocrine disruption
Last month, I posted a blog entry on college move in tips based on advice from friends and my own expectations about the process. Now, after doing two college move ins in two states for two children in three days, I’m ready to pass along my expertise to you. And, if it’s too late for you this year, I’ll repost it next year in July!
Four to Six Weeks Before Move In
• Select and order bedding. For my children, I ordered wrinkle free sheets from Lands End Home. I had the sheets monogrammed for an extra special touch.
• Unless your child attends Washington University (like my daughter) where dorms boast tempurpedic mattresses, you’ll want to invest in a mattress topper. I got this one for my son.
• Both my children also ordered headboards. While definitely not a necessity, they did make both rooms look much more put together.
• Visit your local Bed Bath and Beyond where you can take advantage of their Pack and Hold service. This means you can shop for the items you need in your local store, and you pick them up at a store near your college campus. We ordered the following: very deep under bed stackable drawers, shower caddy, drawer dividers, stackable shoe shelves, drawer inserts, towels, bath mats, mattress topper (noted above), garbage cans, hangers, Brita pitcher, desk lamps (one for the desk and one for next to the bed), extension cords, surge protectors, and stick on lights (for inside the closet).
• Select wall art and have it shipped to the dorm. My daughter was an intern at Art Sugar, and they sent her beautiful framed pictures. My son ordered artwork from Icanvas and Ikonik.
Eighteen and a half years ago, we became an instant family when my twins wore born. Now, the reverse is inevitable as the empty nest looms ahead. In August, my twins will start college. We’ll fly as a family of four to St. Louis where we’ll move my daughter into her dorm at Washington University. Then, three of us will fly to Atlanta to move my son into his room at Emory University. Five days later, only two of us will return home. While this time is bittersweet for us, it’s also a time where strategic planning and preparation can remove some of the stress, and help us enjoy a special milestone. Although I’m a first timer, here are some tips that I’ve gathered from friends and family that have made this journey before me.
1. Book flights and hotels for move in and family weekends when you’re notified of the dates. The closer the hotel is to campus, the sooner it gets sold out.
I first reached out to Elizabeth Sutton in December after seeing her posts on social media. Recently divorced with 2 young children, Elizabeth had experienced a tragic loss: while displaying her works at Art Basel, two of her employees, also dear friends, were in a devastating car accident. One did not survive, and the other was seriously injured. In dealing with the aftermath of the accident, all of her artwork in Miami was haphazardly packed and shipped to her studio in Long Island City. In the process, many paintings were damaged, and she herself felt emotionally damaged.
When Elizabeth and I spoke, she talked about a feeling of chaos, both in her personal life and in her studio. And, she knew that the chaos would increase the following month when she would be closing a pop up store in Soho and sending all of the art and supplies there to the Long Island City studio.
Elizabeth also expressed how her art studio, once a place of great inspiration, was now filled with sad memories and completely disorganized. That’s when Resourceful Consultants got involved. Our goal was not only to organize Elizabeth’s Long Island City studio, but also to create a hip, fun vibe that would match the mood of the vibrant pop art that is Elizabeth’s signature style.
Elizabeth and I met in her studio the following month. We talked about the organizational challenges she was facing, and how Resourceful Consultants could help. Elizabeth demonstrated how labor intensive each of her paintings was by crafting a single butterfly, gorgeous and glittered, while we watched. We met her team in order to understand how they worked together and separately, so that we could determine how best to organize the physical space in the studio.
Every year, so many of my friends and clients vow that this will be the year they get organized. And, despite the best of intentions, organization often falls by the wayside. So, instead of resolutions that are so ambitious or broad that they’re destined to disappoint, here are five simple behavioral changes you can implement to help you stay organized in 2018.
Tackle the Tough Task: Do what you dread most first—the rest of the day will run more smoothly without that dreaded task hanging over your head.
Stick to a Routine: Get in the habit of doing things the same way every time—if you always put your cell phone in the same pocket of your handbag, you won’t be scrambling to find it each time it rings.
Fight the Onslaught of Paper: Discard all catalogs, solicitations and advertisements you get in the mail immediately. Personal correspondence, bills and necessary financial documents should all go in an in-box and then addressed weekly.
Declutter Your Digital Space: In your downtime (waiting on line, waiting on hold), unsubscribe from all of your digital junk mail. Create an online filing system, so you have a place to put emails other than leaving them in your inbox.
Minimize Stress by Being Prepared: At the end of each workday, make a to-do list for the next day. Knowing what’s ahead of you will let you unwind in the evening and start the next morning in an organized way.
We all know holiday prep has a way of spiraling into full on hysteria. From gift shopping and RSVPs, to party attendance and clean-up, managing your holiday schedule is a full time job. This season, approach “the most wonderful time of the year” with a clear, organized plan of attack. Keep calm and party on!
Buy gifts you love in bulk and give them to as many people on your list as possible. Gift cards are your best bet.
Have hostess gifts on hand and keep it simple. It’s okay to bring a bottle of wine or to buy a dessert instead of cooking or baking.
Take inventory of your holiday decorations before and after the holiday. Before the holiday, you can assess whether you need to buy anything new. At the end of the holiday, you can get rid of anything broken or soiled.
Keep a spreadsheet of all of the holiday tips you give. You may not remember how much you tipped your mail carrier last year, but he or she will.
If you have a social commitment that you’re dreading, be targeted about how you spend your time when you get there. Arrive early and spend a few minutes one on one with the host. Put in your face time, do the necessary networking, and be on your way.
Don’t feel obligated to save your friends’ holiday cards with their children’s pictures. Since you probably don’t have your own children’s photos perfectly organized; why would you add pictures of someone else’s kids to the mix?
Here are some helpful tips for getting through the holidays…
Be prepared with suggestions when someone asks what you or your kids want as gifts. If you’re at a loss, ask for a gift certificate. Return the favor and give gift certificates whenever possible.
Display holiday cards until New Years Day, then discard them. You’re not expected to keep pictures of children other than your own.
Don’t keep gifts you don’t want. If you can’t return it, give it away. You won’t feel any better about disposing of it in a year or two, so you may as well do it now.
Now is the time to clean out the playroom and children’s bedrooms. Tell your children that they can’t get anything new unless they make room on their shelves by donating what they no longer use.
Teachers like to send home all of the semester’s artwork just before winter vacation. It only takes a few minutes to look through the pile when it comes home. Most of it should be discarded. If you don’t do it immediately, you’ll end up shuffling the same pile around for the next 6 months. Then, you’ll discard it anyway.
When packing for a holiday vacation, think light. New airline regulations levy a charge for suitcases that weigh more than 50 pounds and most charge extra for more than one piece of luggage per person. If you’ve been accustomed to traveling with large heavy pieces, invest in some lighter weight canvas/nylon carryalls.
Before starting your holiday shopping, search your closets for those gifts you bought throughout the year and then promptly forgot.
Keep a supply of hostess gifts and gift wrap handy. A bottle of wine is always appropriate and can be put in a pretty bag in seconds.
If you entertain, keep a list of everything you prepare or order. Make notes about what you’ll need more or less of next year.
Create a spreadsheet of all of your addresses in Excel or another similar software program. This enables you to make labels for holiday cards that can be easily updated each year.
Distribute your holiday tips a few weeks before the holiday. The recipients will be able to enjoy the gift when it’s needed most, and you’ll be able to cross one big thing off your list.
Get ready for next year by keeping a list of all of the holiday gifts you give this year. In addition to family, include your hairdresser, housekeeper, nanny, doorman, garage attendant, secretary, teachers, and postal carrier. You’ll no longer have to wonder if you’re forgetting anyone, whether you’re giving anyone less than last year, or how much you need to budget.
I love shopping, and I pride myself on not getting sucked in by sales and not buying what I don’t need. But, based on the closets that I help organize everyday, most people are easily sidetracked and end up buying too much and not the items they need. So, for those of you who may be shopping on Black Friday or any other day, here are my tips for an efficient shopping experience.
Don’t be sidetracked by items you don’t need.
Check that inventory tags have been removed before leaving a store.
Have gifts wrapped at the store when possible. Also have them shipped whenever possible.
Don’t go into a store without knowing what you want and how much you want to spend.
Ask for help. If it appears that an employee is clueless, disengage immediately
When shopping in a department store, start on the top floor, get everything you need there, and work your way down.