Perfect Party Time Line

Party Time Line



Party Time Line

When planning a party its hard to think of everything. Waiting tell the last few weeks or days before the party to pull it all together adds so much unneeded stress. It’s easier on the budget (and you)  if you plan it over time. That way you can look for bargains, do DIY projects and order supplies without having to pay for express shipping. Following a party time line will make planning a breeze. You will feel more confident and prepared, leaving you time to enjoy your special event.

Three Months Before

Set date, time and place
Pick theme and colors
Set budget
Secure venue if you are not having it at home
Secure party vendors such as bounce house, pony rides, face painters, etc.
Photographer if needed
Start researching parties ideas
Start purchasing party supplies and decorations
Name on the list of your favorite cake baker if they only do a limited number of cakes per week.

Two Months Before

Create a guest list
Continue purchasing party supplies that are non-perishable
Set up rentals of chairs and tables if needed
If making party decorations by hand, start now

One Month Before

Choose and order invitations
Collect all the addresses to mail out invitations
Order any banner(s) you need
Choose cake design and give it to baker
Continue to purchase non-perishable supplies
Plan menu
If setting up a candy buffet or dessert table, plan for that now
Rally a team if needed (delegate, delegate, delegate!

Three Weeks Before

Mail invitations and online invitations
Sketch out the party to make sure there is enough seating and tables for everyone, this will ensure that everything is going to work out as you have planned
Make sure anything that needs to be ordered has been to avoid rush shipping

Two Weeks Before

Start a  list of the people who have RSVP’d
Create a grocery list
Plan games and prizes for winners
Plan food layout
Plan location for coats, bags, and parking if needed

One Week Before

Create a playlist of music to fit the theme of the party
Check the guest list and follow-up if needed
Confirm  the number of guests
Prepare foods that can be frozen
Do a practice set up
Call all vendors to confirm
Plan location of gifts
Make a time line for party to keep things on time and running smoothly
Double check with volunteer helpers to make sure they on board with their assigned duties

Four Days Before

Put party favor bags together
Guest names on favors if needed
Deep clean house if party is at your residence

Two Days Before

Purchase all food
Start setting up party if you can
Iron linens if needed
Clean outside front entrance if needed

Day Before

Pick up rentals
Start preparing  food
Pick up fresh flowers
Set up as much of the party as you can
Light clean
Stock the guest bathroom with toilet paper and clean towels
If outside, mow the lawn and rake
Pick up birthday cake and desserts

Morning of Party

Spray for bugs if needed
Make drinks and chill
Finishing touches on decorations
Set up games
Finish all food preparation
Empty all garbage
Set out garbage containers
Make sure the birthday boy or girls has a healthy meal before party
Set aside time for you to get ready
Make sure the pets are secured if needed. Nothing is worse than a lost pet because someone left the door open. I know from experience, I send mine to daycare for the day

One Hour Before

Turn on music
Start putting food out
Light candles
Quick walk through to make sure it is the way you want it
Sit down, relax, and enjoy

Make Your New Year’s Resolutions A Success

Once again its almost a new year and time to start thinking about resolutions. I must admit I love this time of year. I’m always so ready to say good-bye to December and hello January because it is a new beginning.  A time of soul-searching and reflecting, it’s a fresh start and maybe even time to reinvent yourself. As the clock strikes twelve it’s magical and a time to reset and look forward to another year filled with the promise to be the best year yet. Okay, that maybe going a little over board, but “it’s never too late to be what you might have been” (George Eliot).
The truth is that about 45% of Americans make resolutions and about 8% achieve them. So to make your resolution become a reality you must do more than just say them. If I say I want to lose 50 pounds, stop procrastinating, get out of debt, or quilt smoking, I need to have a plan of action to put these resolutions into force to be successful. If I want to lose weight I may enlist the help of a friend to workout with and keep me accountable or join a support group. If your goal is getting out of debt, or saving money I highly recommend the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course. To quite smoking may take a visit to your doctor for medication or check your local newspaper for a class and support.
The number one resolution is losing weight and getting into shape and that is no surprise with so many Americans being overweight.

The Statistic Brain Research Institute list the 10 top resolutions as:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Getting organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quilt smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

I know several of them have been on my list over the years and I can’t say I have landed in the 8% of achieving them, but this year will be different and here is why. I will state my resolutions, write them down and make an action plan for each one. I plan on checking my list each month to see how I’m doing. This will keep my resolutions in focus so that they don’t wilt and wither by valentines day. I will not expect perfection all the time. I know that it takes 4 to 6 weeks to create a new habit and nothing happens overnight. I have nothing on my list that is not obtainable and I know I will be a better me by next year.

An example of an action plan might look like this. If my new years resolution is to save more and spend less, I will:

  • Set up an automatic withdrawal from paycheck to go into savings
  • Sign up for a Dave Ramsey course that is offered at local church or on-line
  • Set up a budget that I will revise each month if needed
  • Start clipping coupons and take a how-to coupon class
  • Use the web site site Rakinginthesavings
  • Use the web site Thedollarstretcher
  • Clean out my closet, kids toy box, and garage to have a yard sale in the spring
  • Sell items I don’t need or use on Craigslist
  • For one month I will cook meals from foods I have in my freezer and pantry
  • Plan my meals around the sales at the grocery stores weekly ads
  • Eat out less
  • Will not go shopping without a list of what I need to buy. I will stick to the list
  • Have a month of no spending (I will only pay the bills and buy groceries)
  • Turn hobbies into profit

Now that you have thought of your resolutions its time it’s time to say them out loud, pick up a pen and paper and start writing, or hit the keyboard and start typing. With some creative thinking and planning you can easily reach your new years resolutions and be one of the 8 percent that actually succeeds.

Resolutions Chalkboard

10 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

Manage Holiday Stress

The year has just flown by and it is once again December, the most stressful month of the year. Why, I ask myself, it contains all of the things I love and enjoy like decorating, planning, cooking, parties, giving, and spending time with my family. While this all sounds wonderful, it is all compacted into just a few short weeks with no time to spare, and an empty wallet, no wonder I’m so stressed. I remember one December I had a headache the whole month, I don’t remember anything about that Christmas except that terrible headache I suffered from all the stress of trying to make the holiday something it couldn’t be.

If your like me and have a blended family, or live many miles away from family it’s hard, if not impossible to get everyone together to create that Norman Rockwell kind of picture that lives in all our minds. Cooking two or three Christmas dinners to try and create that feeling is crazy, but I have done it more than once. The only feeing I created was resentment, anger and exhaustion on my part. So that tradition went out the window and I cook one Christmas dinner and that’s it. The point I’m trying to make is don’t expect perfection, be open to changes.

Now that the holidays are here, and all the demands of the season are upon us I have put together a list of 10 ways to help minimize stress and enjoy the holidays a little more.

  1. Get in touch with your feelings

    Recognize and acknowledge them. Feeling sad if you can’t be with your loved ones because of distance, death or divorce is ok. It’s important to take the time to express your feeling of sadness and grief and yes, it’s ok to cry. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because its the holiday season. Make a list of what really stresses you out about the holidays and what you can do to change that. The number one thing for me is the christmas tree. It takes me forever to pick one out, it takes days to decorate it, the whole house is a mess until it’s done, the dog takes the ornaments off of the tree, everyone loses interest after the first 10 minutes and its left for me to finish. Then when the holidays are over, it’s a mess to take down and dispose of it. This year I bought a 4 foot tree so that I could take pictures of the ornaments that I have made for my blog. I planned on putting it on the stair landing when I was done. I love that little tree it was so stress-free and without even knowing it I solved my biggest stress of the season. It has become our Christmas tree even though it’s artificial and small it fits the bill.

  2. Don’t expect perfection

    Get that Norman Rockwell picture out of your mind. Families, and traditions change. Be open to creating new ones and new ways to celebrate. If you can’t all be together, Skype is the next best thing. It is a great way to see and communicate with each other. Set aside grievances and be understanding that others are stressed out too. Try to accept family members and friends as they are. It might be a good idea to limit the amount of alcohol you serve if it’s a trigger for some of your guests. You don’t want to add fuel to the fire if it can be avoided.

  3. Don’t overspend

    Make a budget and stick to it. Don’t attempt to buy happiness with excessive gifts, that’s not what Christmas is all about. Creations from the kitchen are wonderful gifts to give. Giving of your time. A coupon book for babysitting, favorite treat, meal or a movie night would be something anyone would enjoy. I use to make a coupon book for my daughter each year with something for each month, she loved it and still talks about it years later.

  4. Plan ahead

    Set aside days to bake, shop, wrap gifts, etc so that you are not trying to do it on one day at the last minute. Scrambling to get it all done creates extra stress. Buy a gift card each month and by the time Christmas arrives much of the shopping is done. Whether you give the card or purchase a gift with it the money has already been spent, it’s an easy way to budget for the holidays.

  5. Learn to say NO

    I know this can be a hard one but remember you are no good if you are feeling resentful and overwhelmed. If you are unable to fulfill all the commitments you have made everyone will be unhappy. Don’t add extra stress to an already stressful time.

  6. Ask for help

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help, admitting that you can’t do it all is not a crime. Ask for help preparing the house for your quests. Have each quest bring something to add to the meal. Ask for help with the clean up. Don’t cook at all and go to your favorite restaurant. Have your gifts wrapped at the mall.

  7. Continue or start with healthy habits

    Don’t let the holidays be a free-for-all. Overindulging will not only make you feel terrible but you will feel guilty and stressed. Get plenty of sleep, get regular physical activity, have a healthy snack before holiday parties, and drink plenty of water.

  8. Make time for yourself

    Take 15 minutes a day to meditate or just spend some time alone without distractions to free your mind. Slow your breathing and restore inner calmness. A 20 minutes power nap maybe just what you need to regroup and restore energy. Get a massage, a pedicure or manicure or both. Listen to soothing music, do something just for you. Remember if you don’t take care of yourself no one else will.

  9. Count your blessings

    It is important to give thanks. Our local newspaper has a Christmas for all fund and each day of December they feature a story of someone who has written to the press asking for help from the Christmas for all program. I read them each day and realize how blessed I have been and how small my problems are. Suddenly the stress of planning a Christmas celebration, wrapping gifts, endless shopping trips, what to buy aunt Nell don’t seem like a problem at all.

  10. Seek professional help if needed

    Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If despite your best efforts, you find yourself feeling persistently sad, anxious, depressed, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, overwhelmed by physical complaints or unable to start or complete routine chores. If these feelings last for a while it’s time to talk your doctor or mental health professional. They can help to discover the source of your stress and give you useful coping skills. With a little planning and preparation this can truly be the happiest season of all!
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

De-cluttering My Life 101

I grew up in a home filled with clutter and messes everywhere. That was before the days when hoarding  became a household word. The term pack-rat was used, but I’m sure the pack-rats lived much cleaner and organized then we did. It was not as bad as the homes you see on television, those are the extreme cases and level 4 hoarders, but it was definitely a hoarders situation. My mother had a hard time letting go of things. She had plastic sacks full of mail that had never been opened, three microwaves in the kitchen, but only one worked. Piles of clothes and stuff stacked everywhere making it hard to move around.  One of my vivid memories of my mother is her looking for something that she wanted or needed and as she was digging through a pile another pile would fall. She would get so mad and overwhelmed that words would fly and I just wanted to hide. This was pretty much a common occurrence. The effect that it had on everyone was devastating, the shame and guilt I felt was overwhelming. I didn’t have friends over and worried that I might turn out like that.

I got married, left home and eventual moved several hundred miles away. Each time I visited, the mess got worse. I had many conversations with my siblings about all the clutter and mess and how we could get it cleaned up or at least get mom started. I had talked with her about doing one area at a time, but she wasn’t interested or would just say ‘yeah’ and wait for me to stop talking. I made it my mission on one of my visits home to clean things up. I got up early one morning to get started and was moving things around, she asked me what I was doing, I told her I was cleaning and it was time to make some decisions to get rid of some things. I looked at her and the hurt in her eyes stopped me in my tracks, I knew right then and there that this was much bigger than I was, and I wasn’t going to get rid of anything. I tried another approach one time to clean when she was not there, making sure not to throw anything away that she might miss, but that didn’t work either because she accused me of throwing away important papers, which I had not touched because they were buried in some pile. I learned never touch a hoarders stuff.

My mother was a wonderful person despite her horrible childhood, spending several years in an orphanage with her three siblings and then reunited with her alcoholic mother. She was finally forced to leave home at the tender age of sixteen. She wanted a better life for her children. She was so kind she would do anything and everything for her family. She was a hard worker and as strange as it sounds she cleaned private homes. Working for the same people for years and she did a fabulous job. I Learned to clean from her she had very high standards, and everything had to shine. In her own home it was chaos, but I don’t think she saw it was as bad as it really was.

When the hoarders show made its appearance, I could really relate to the family members and it really shed some light on the disease, but some of the facts were upsetting. The one I find the most disturbing is that it tends to run in families. So that has me asking myself some serious questions and searching for answers. I asked myself why do we have so much stuff? Since the 1950’s the average american home has doubled in size yet the number of family members has decreased. 1 in 11 households rent a storage unit and many don’t even know what they have in storage. The average 3 bedroom home has about 300,000 items in it. I have 4 bedrooms, and I would never think I had that much stuff. According to the statistics I probably have more. That has me a little freaked out, and that’s  a whole lot of items to manage and half the time I feel like they are managing me.

All that excess of things add so much extra stress in my life. I know it can’t be good for my health. I open the freezer and something falls out, things fall out of the cupboards and break, I can’t close the drawer without moving things around. I can’t park in the garage because it is being used for storage.  Clutter costs money, monthly storage payments for things you don’t even remember having.  I can’t find an item that I know I have so I have to buy another. I end up with three or four of the same thing! Clutter makes it difficult to make decisions, like too many clothes in an unorganized closet. I can’t find anything to wear! Time and energy is lost trying to clean and dust all the stuff. I avoid having friends over becauseI have not picked up or cleaned all the junk.

I ask myself why is it so hard to let go of things, and there can be a number of reasons. Holding on to the past. Sometimes it hard to let of things that remind us of a happy time. An  item may remind you of your youth or a success you had, even though it doesn’t really serve a purpose now. I have an old Letterman sweater hanging in my closet, it’s too big, needs some repair, and  I have never worn it. I have kept it for many years I just can’t seem to let it go. I always envision myself wearing it to a class reunion even though I have only attended one and they are in the summer and too hot for a sweater. My high school years were not exceptionally happy and It is the one thing I have allowed myself to keep. Why, I don’t really know, but maybe I’ll figure it out. Another reason it’s hard to let things go is that they cost so much when they are purchased, and it feels like a waste to give them away. Maybe it’s the fear of losing memories or the sense of obligation, this is a hard one for me. It might be a gift or a hand-me-down, even if I don’t love it or display it, I don’t want to let it go. I think this is probably the most common reason I hear why we don’t throw something away. I might need it some day and I become attached to something with no real meaning. How many times have you thrown something away and really needed it? I could honestly say maybe a couple of times in my life, but that is no excuse to hold on to the over 300k items I have.

When I look around my house I see clutter, I open the pantry and a can falls on the floor, I get this feeling I’m turning into my mother. Yikes! It’s time to take action, and this is the plan. I will start small in an area that is really driving me crazy and causing a lot of unneeded stress, and that would be my linen closet which seems to be a catch-all for things. It’s out of sight and out of mind until you open the door. I started with 3 containers marked Trash, Donate, and Keep. I worked from the top, left to right and eventually made my way to the  bottom and every thing is touched. I ask myself do I need it, when was the last time I used it, do I love it, how many of these do I need, and when will I use it again. When I find it hard to make a decision, I take a short break and start again. I have a vision of what I want the area to look like and I’m committed to see it through.

Once I’m finished I immediately deal with my three containers full of items marked Donate Trash, and Keep. The Keep is neatly put away, the Trash is taken to the dumpster, and the Donate is taken to wherever I feel its needed the most. It’s important to donate your items as soon as possible because they will find their way back into your home in no time. Deculttering and organzing is a commitment and with a routine it will become a way of life.

My linen closet is done and I’m happy with the way it turned out. Everything is in its place, It’s labeled and I can open the door without cringing. I know I will save time and energy next  time I need to find a certain tablecloth. When we have guests spending the night I won’t have to make excuses for the mess in my closet, and that’s a lot less stress! I’m ready to tackle the next area. Organizing is a commitment and with a routine it will become a lifestyle. This is week one of organizing my life.

You can go to my Organizing My Life – Week One page to see the linen closet make-over