Christmas Card Conundrum

By Andrea Gill.

Within the next few days most of us will be packing away all evidence of the recent holiday. The decorations will go back into their respective containers to be returned to storage until they are called into duty again next year. But what about all of those beautiful Christmas cards received from family, friends, and co-workers? Now that so many are photo cards it makes it harder to just toss them out with the wadded up wrapping paper and uneaten fruit cake.

For the past 10 years I’ve put all the cards together, labeled them with the year and filed them in a storage container in my office labeled “Christmas Cards”. While this is certainly an organized approach, it fails to do what I am always encouraging my clients to do – honor the items they choose to keep.

This year I have been inspired by several ideas that do just that.

1)      Create homemade placemats with them. Cut out poster board the size of a standard placemat and arrange the photos from the cards on the front and back. Be sure to include your family’s card as well. Glue them down and then laminate or cover with clear contact paper. Every year bring out the placemats with your holiday decorations to enjoy during the season. This is a simple project that can easily involve kids of all ages – cutting, arranging, gluing.

2)      Keep a card scrapbook. Select a photo album or scrapbook that suits you and simply add the cards and photos you receive each year.  Put the album out for family and guests to enjoy during the holiday. It makes it easy to flip through and reminisce. Once you have your album started it will only take a few minutes to update it with the current cards before packing it away.

3)      Christmas Card Shower Curtain.  For just $19.99 you can purchase a clear shower curtain that holds up to 40 pictures.  This is a great place to display the current years Christmas Card pictures so they can be enjoyed the entire season!

4)      Pray for the families they represent. Keep the cards together in a decorative basket. Every week select one card and spend time praying specifically for that family. At the end of the week, send them a short note letting them know you have been praying for them. It is a tangible way to share the spirit of the holiday year round.  At the end of the year you could still create placemats or a scrapbook with them.

Once you have a plan in place, you won’t be faced with the annual indecision regarding what to do with your Christmas cards. It may even become a new family tradition that you look forward to each year.

Happy Holidays from Simplicity!


“The Satisfied Life”

By Anne Steppe

Many of us have heard of Charlotte’s leading lady in radio and TV, Ramona Holloway – but she and two other phenomenal ladies, Sharon Decker and Pam Stone have a show on 107.9 The Link that airs on Sunday’s from 7:00-8:00am called “The Satisfied Life.”

Simplicity owner, Laurie Martin and I were honored when asked to come on “The Satisfied Life” to discuss organization!  We had a blast talking about the importance of shaping a vision for your space, practicing time management, and involving children in the process of creating organizational systems.

We enjoyed our time with the ladies from “The Satisfied Life” and hope that you will take time to listen. 


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A Different Christmas Tradition

giftwrappedWe have officially entered into the busiest season of the year.  This time of year is supposed to be focused around celebrating time with loved ones, but sadly for most, the holiday season becomes the most stressful time of year.  In the mix of spending countless hours searching for a gift, waiting in long lines, and maxing out credit cards, we lose sight of what is most important during this holiday season – the gift of time with each other. Time is the most powerful expression of love – there is no price you can place on it.

Four years ago after cleaning up a mountain of destroyed Christmas wrapping paper, I decided enough was enough.  I was experiencing anxiety trying to find places for my new Christmas gifts to be stored, and guilt knowing that I couldn’t give anything away because it had been given to me by a family member – yet I didn’t want all the items I’d received.

It was time to do something different.  It was time to simplify Christmas.

The following year I proposed a new idea for Christmas.  Listed below were the guidelines for each family member:

1)         Purchase one gift for yourself. No other gift purchases are necessary.

2)        There is no minimum or maximum price on the gift.  Choose a gift for yourself that you  can afford.

3)         Wrap up your gift with newspaper or old/recycled wrapping paper.

4)        No labels are needed.

5)        When you arrive at the host’s home, discretely put your gift on the coffee table.

That Christmas, my family traveled from several cities to celebrate Christmas together.  Instead of carrying in baskets of wrapped gifts, each family member discretely brought in his one gift and put it on the coffee table.  After a delicious meal together, we gathered around the warm, crackling fire and the coffee table.  It was present time!  The oldest family member selected the first gift to open.  When the gift was opened, that family member had to guess to whom the gift belonged.  They were given three chances to guess correctly.  If the selection was correct, the family member who opened the gift then gave the family member who had purchased it their present.  If the person who opened the gift did not guess correctly after three attempts, the present was put off to the side until the end when it was revealed who had not received a gift.  It was hilarious to see what each person bought.

By focusing on our time together as a family we hadn’t wasted time in long lines.  There was no added stress in spending too much money. There was no guilt in keeping a gift you really didn’t want and there was no huge mountain of destroyed wrapping paper sent off to the landfill.

We all opened a gift that day, receiving exactly want we wanted, but m0re importantly we experienced Christmas in a new and more fulfilling way.

What’s one way you can simplify this holiday season and create a different kind of Christmas tradition?