Routines & Holiday Decorating

jamie_mtSeptember 10, 2008

I've been slowly "re-establishing" my routines since January, after they'd almost all disappeared under too much busy-ness (I cut the extra stuff out, and suddenly I can stick to routines again). It's been slow going (I just started making the bed daily again), but I finally feel like I'm getting control of the house. I still have a ways to go, but it's definately at least 75% better than it was last year.

Now it's time for us to begin decorating for Halloween (Halloween is to us like Christmas is to most people - done over-the-top and early, with a big annual party to celebrate), and I realized that this year, everything is going to be easier because of my routines. We start decorating in the basement (because it's so early, and no one can see what we're doing down there), and normally the laundry is the big thing that's "in the way". This year is our 5th, and it's the first year that I don't have to work around piles of laundry all over the basement! The laundry is *caught up* - and I can't tell you how weird that feels not to have to stress over where to "hide" the extra dirty clothes during the party (I'd never usually get caught up, and they'd all end up in the laundry nook, hidden behind a curtain). This year, since the laundry isn't an issue, not only do I not have to worry about hiding it, I can also expand our decor to use the laundry nook as well.

Normally we *intend* to get started early with organizational items like replacing posters on the wall with theme-oriented ones, getting invitations ready, etc. Instead, we usually have to clean up first to find a place to do those, so we get started later than we wanted because we had to clean. But last weekend, after my weekly housecleaning "routine", we replaced last year's posters with this year's in the space of an hour (we just leave them on the walls all year long aside from the living room ones - those replace the artwork I have hanging there the rest of the year). This weekend we'll be able to easily put our invitations together after the weekly housecleaning is done, because there's plenty of space. I have the added bonus of knowing exactly where the box of stuff for the invitations is, because of my office purging project this summer!

Cleaning will be easier too, since I've got a weekly cleaning routine in place, and the whole kitchen routine going on.

Like I said, it's not perfect yet. I'll need to take an afternoon and go through the basement to clean up "clutter" before I can get the decorating going (my weekly cleaning routine doesn't extend to the basement - yet). But it won't take nearly as long as in previous years.

Now if I can just focus on getting a routine for weekly basement cleaning down next year, then things will just keep getting better!

Have you found that routines really help with things like seasonal decor changes (if you do that sort of thing) and entertaining? I knew in my head that they would, I just don't think I realized just how *much* until this particular week...

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Yes, so much easier. I have been trying to do that for the last few months and it really helps. When my kids want to invite kids over on the weekend I don't have to go around like a crazy person because my house looks presentable and I am not as stressed. I still have a ways to go with paper clutter but am getting there. Have to do my garage and see what decorations I have because I do always have to many and then start getting overwhelmed. I did purge last year and hopefully it was enough.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 11:59AM
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Your party sounds like fun!

For me, routines are not what makes my life easier. But I am glad that works for you!

What makes my life easier is that I am decluttered and organized.
I know WHAT I have and WHERE it is. I have no junk stashed in closets or drawers. No 'room of doom'... no jumbled piles of anything anywhere. Everything in our house is loved and/or used and has a 'home'.
THAT'S what makes my life easier!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 12:28PM
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Interesting comments, luann. I guess for me, if I don't stick to routines, that's when those piles build up, and things get stashed, and dishes/cleaning don't get done, so things aren't in thier place. I can be perfectly decluttered and still unorganized if I don't have regular routines for dealing with the stuff I *do* have.

So how do you keep things organized without having routines? I'm always curious to know what others do, since nothing else has really worked for me...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 1:15PM
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I really am not good with routines.
I dislike knowing that I will dust every Tuesday morning until I die (for example). I don't want to do the same thing over and over again...
I don't even have 'to-do' lists. I KNOW what needs to be done... I just gotta put on the big-girl panties and do it! I instead keep a 'ta-da!' list of things I accomplished that day.

I also am one of those 'born organized' people - that helps a lot.
So that is some background as to where I am coming from.

"So how do you keep things organized without having routines?"

Well. of course the first step is being decluttered, because you cannot organize clutter.

Then, you need to have a 'home' for everything. No home means that piles... well, they pile up!

When things have a home, you need to put it there. Lots of people have trouble with this. But I figure, I only have to handle it once if I just put it away. When I was very young "Don't put it down - put it away" was drilled into me (thanks mom...). But I have found that to be a good mantra.

I don't even have a bill-paying center. That, to me, is just another pile.
I deal with all the day's mail that day. Toss, pay, whatever... it is done that afternoon.
When a bill comes, I pay it, enter it in Quicken and file the receipt. No pile of mail, no pile of bills waiting to be paid, no pile of receipts to file.

So maybe a have a 'sort of routine' in that I deal with today's things today. I don't put stuff off for another day.

But as every day is different, it is not a routine to me....

Does that help at all?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 1:47PM
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You're inspiring me! Keep it up, because Christmas IS the big holiday for us. I put up 5 trees, decorate pretty much every room except our MBR. We host a big group of friends on Christmas Day; sometimes as many as 21 for afternoon appetizers followed by dinner, with talk and games afterwards. Hearing you mention not having a routine that you stuck to before and the stress and extra time it took to work around this, made me initially cringe, remembering my own messes and stress. I could totally relate! I'm a great one for planning gifts, decorations and food; I'm just a huge procrastinator when it comes to the cleaning part. But, as I said, you're inspiring me to plan that better and get into a good, workable routine this year myself. Thanks! I'll be following this thread for more ideas.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 1:49PM
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Absolutely, Luann. :-) You probably do have "routines" for getting things done, you just don't do them "routinely", if that makes any sense.

I keep thinking I'm "born organized", but I'm also lazy, and a procrastinator, so it's like a constant tug-of-war between my need to be organized, and my want to just have some down time. Part of it is prioritizing my time though too...I get the mail sorted after work into junk (recycle bin), to-be-filed (box under the mail center), and bills (to the bill organizer)...but if I took the time to actually file what needs filing and pay what needs paying right then, dinner would be another half-hour later every night.

I can totally see that, strictly speaking, doing it right then would be the most organized way to deal with it though! :-) It really is interesting to know what works for others.

Yep Lynn - sounds like a similar situation all right. We send out 24 invitations, so have a potential of 40 guests or so (some invitations are "obligatory" - friends who have never attended, but would be offended if they weren't invited). We average between 15-20, but it seems like more people come every year. This year we already have a pretty decent list of "rsvp's" (without invitations out yet - they'll go out on Oct. 1st), so it could be huge. The party is on Oct. 25th, so we have about 7 weeks to prep. It sounds like a lot of time, but it will take us that whole time to get things ready.

Our biggest stresses have always been the deep cleaning (you know, under the furniture, wash the blinds, wash the walls, vaccuum corners, etc), followed by getting the "extra" theme-oriented decorations done. Last year we did a little better, and managed to get done cleaning about 2 hours before the party. But this year, I'd really like to just have the whole day of the party to do nothing but a quick vaccuum (to get the dog hair right before people show up), and just focus on warming/setting out the food and getting dressed (it's a costumes-required party).

This year I'd also like to see if I can't avoid leaving messes from party prep too. Like when we put the invitations together, I want that whole mess cleaned up *that day*. When I put together the gift bags, same deal. As I'm putting decorations out, I want to put boxes and tubs back away *right then*, so I'm not scurrying around trying to hide storage materials at the last minute that I forgot to deal with.

But of course, none of that has to do with routines. I do think my routines will give me the time to be able to focus on those though, without having to play "catch up" with my normal chores...or worry about whether they'll get done (because they're becoming more habitual now).

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 3:50PM
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I used to be the "Queen" of Christmas decorating. I had so many wreaths, handmade items, storebought items, Santa items, snowmen items,snowflakes, trains, Precious Moments, etc etc. Two years ago I pared down, threw out literally hundreds of dollars of decorations. I kept only three things-my tree (and ornaments), a wreath for the front door, and one Nativity Set. I can decorate my house in two days and take everything down in January in one. And my family doesn't mind at all. I still go crazy buying them presents, and to them, that's more important!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 5:33PM
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Jannie, I envy you! I keep telling my kids (now 24 & 14) that they'll never have to buy holiday decoration once they're married. Part of their "doweries" will be all the (good) decs they grew up with! I love putting up holiday decorations but there's just too many these days. And, it depresses the heck out of me to take them down and pack them away. It takes me three full days to get all my Christmas decs down and packed away! But I have to admit, the house looks gorgeous for the holidays. As my 14 y/o DD gets older, I'm finding that I can get away with putting less out, but I still get those sad, pathetic looks from her if I don't decorate nicely. Word to the new moms out there . . . be careful of what traditions you get your family used to. It may turn around and bite you some day!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 5:45PM
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Like I said, we go overboard for Halloween, but it's my husband's favorite holiday, and I've gotten "into it" over the years (it's also sort of an anniversary, since we started dating at a Halloween party 11 yrs ago this year). We have tubs and boxes and tons of stuff (nearly the entire storage room) and we add to it every year, but I don't mind. We take extra time to get everything out, and take our time putting it back too (about a week to pack everything back up - and some of it stays out for "fall/thanksgiving" decor as well as a few things I pull out after Halloween).

Christmas just takes 2 days for me to put out, and 1 day to put away (before New Years). After all the Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas decor, I want the house bare and clean to start the New Year.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 11:16AM
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Jamie, I'd love to see pics of your place decorated for Halloween. They have such neat ones these days. Will you post some pics for us? If not here, over on the Holidays Forum. Just let us know where they are so we don't miss them.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 10:30AM
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Actually Lynn, I normally post pics to my blog, so if you don't mind heading off site, I can give you that address. If you'd rather stay here, I'll try to remember to post them to the Holidays forum as well. :-)

As for the topic at hand...we started our decorating in ernest this past weekend, and I have to say - the routines are really going to save me if I can keep at them. But I didn't do my normal "housecleaning" routine this weekend (because we were doing halloween shopping/decorating), so keeping the routines *going* is going to be the difficult part!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 11:18AM
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biggest stresses have always been the deep cleaning (you know, under the furniture, wash the blinds, wash the walls, vaccuum corners, etc), followed by getting the "extra" theme-oriented decorations done. Last year we did a little better, and managed to get done cleaning about 2 hours before the party. But this year, I'd really like to just have the whole day of the party to do nothing but a quick vaccuum (to get the dog hair right before people show up)

Sounds like you need some other way to deal w/ the deep cleaning--maybe you do one of those things every month, or something.

But even the deep-cleaning is easier when you don't have to move the clutter, or the week's accumulated chores, out of the way first.

Word to the new moms out there . . . be careful of what traditions you get your family used to. It may turn around and bite you some day!

Hoo, boy, is that true--I invented a tradition where the stuffed bunny turns into the Easter Bunny and brings the basket--and I've had to go searching high and low for the stupid bunnies! (every kid has their own individual Easter Bunny, in our house) And it doesn't matter now that they don't believe it anymore; we've still got to have the stuffed bunnies!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 6:30PM
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I really do need a "deep cleaning" routine - rotate them out with my weekly chores or something (one week clean the blinds, the next vaccuum under the furniture, etc). Unfortunately, I haven't gotten that far in adding new stuff yet (I'm still sort of struggling with just getting the "basics" done weekly), and now that we're in party-planning mode, I don't dare try to add new things to all that. Hubby and I both take the week before the party off from work, so it will all get done then, as usual.

November November, after the craziness is done, I'm going to concentrate on getting basement chores and deep cleaning chores into my routines as well. Then maybe in 2009 the Halloween season will be even easier yet (not to mention my whole house will be cleaner more often)!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 11:13AM
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Just a quick note for Lynn...I did start a post in the Holidays forum for Halloween pics, so you can check them out over there. :-)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 11:11AM
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Jamie, thanks! I'm off to take a peek at them.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Just a quick update...

Routines? What Routines?

Yep, with everything that's going on, my routines are gone. Vanished. Nowhere to be found. And I'm drowning in a sea of "stuff" that needs to be cleaned, organized, or put up somewhere (decorations waiting for a display home).

It seems so unfair that my house won't just clean itself...

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 4:22PM
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This one of the areas where I have to remember to "decorate for the life I have", not the one pictured in the magazine.

I am such a sucker for trying to use seasonal decor and change pillows and table runners and everything, when I barely have the time (or maybe it's the lack of inclination) to vacuum and dust.

I do feel more creative when I try some of these things, but then afterward I sometimes wonder whether it was a good use of my time, plus any extra stuff (to change, alternate decor, etc, has to be stored).

So I've tried to do more of the type of thing where you use the existing objects but just add or change a slight thing so the whatever it is you change is either disposable/compostable, or is small and easily stored. Maybe this is not my best example, but as in, you have a basket that's always out but you change a decorative ribbon on it and add something from the yard, or something like that.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 7:52PM
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I actually use a lot of "reusable" decor items...a good deal of them, in fact. And it's a very good idea, since you don't have to store things like baskets and such, just swap out seasonal stuff.

My problem is more that I *like* to do the seasonal's the cleaning I don't want to do. ;-)

I'm taking half a day off work today to catch up with the kitchen, vaccuum, and organize the decor items and party stuff that is kind of all over. I'll feel "back in control" after I get that much done.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 10:49AM
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