Easy ways to organize a bathroom closet.

I’m going to be honest with your, my bathroom closet has always been a mess. Its a very small bathroom, and a closet that has shelves so deep it’s hard to reach anything.

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Not only is it a “catch all” location for medicine, linens, toiletries, ect. I have no doors on mine. So that means its always visible. But if you have doors, you may feel it is out of sight, and no need to organize.

But, I recently decided I needed a change, and began to organize, and well, it was over due.

In todays post I want to share with you the simple process I went through for our bathroom closet organization and at the same time, give you some easy bathroom storage ideas to implement in your own home.

I hope this basic tutorial gives you some small bathroom closet organizational ideas that are easy to implement.

How to organize a bathroom closet.

In six simple steps!

Before we jump into it, lets take a look at how our closet looked before the process… (see above.)

Like I said, a dumping ground for what ever needed storing.

Ready to make it look amazing? I’ll show you!

Step 1 : Empty it out.

The first step to organizing anything is to empty the space you’re trying to organize.

This means you need to start by removing all the items from your closet. And yes, I mean everything!

Step 2: Clean

Next, wipe out your empty closet really well. I typically use basic cleaning wipes or all purpose cleaner with a rag.

Now you’ve got a blank canvas for organizing. One thing I like to do at this point is to measure the dimensions of your closet or cupboard. You’ll eventually be shopping for bins or baskets to fit in here, so it’s easiest to measure when it’s clean and empty. My favorite place to shop for this type of thing is Dollar Tree.

Step 3: Purge.

After you’ve prepped your closet, it’s time to go through your items and get rid of the stuff you don’t need.

I chose to dispose of anything we had too many of. (thing hotel shampoo and conditioner, floss, ect.) and items that were expired.

The other part of this step is moving items that don’t belong in this particular closet or cupboard to their appropriate homes.

We had quite a few items that had ended up in the back of our closet shelves but belonged in other rooms. So I put those away in their correct spot rather than back into this closet.

Step 4: Group like items.

After you’ve put items away that don’t belong in this bathroom closet or disposed of items you don’t need, its time to group like items.

Start by thinking through the categories of items you have in your closet. For us, we ended up grouping them in the following categories:

  • Appliances (humidifier, curling irons, hair cutter, etc.)
  • Large and small toiletries
  • medicine
  • first aid
  • dog supplies
  • towels
  • toilet paper

Step 5: Restock

Now that you’ve identified what groups of items your going to be storing in this closet, take time to restock the items your low on.

I always like to have all my first aid stocked in case of an accident and all of the large and small toiletries stocked in case guests need them.

One item I always make sure to have extra of is body wash. You can stock up in an inexpensive way by visiting Dollar Tree They have name brands for cheap! Dollar Tree is the best place to restock just about anything you need!

Step 6: Plan and assemble

Now that you have groups established and stocked, you can put into place a bathroom closet organization system.

Do this by evaluating how much stuff is in each group and getting baskets or bins that maximize the space in your closet as well as the space needed to store your like items. We actually drew out our full cabinet with dimensions and then drew in what we wanted where and what size of basket or bin we needed for each spot.

For example, I knew we wanted to store just toilet paper on the bottom shelf of our cabinet. So I took the dimensions of our shelf to the store with me and purchased a basket that filled as much of that shelf as possible.

There is a wide variety of color, size and shape baskets at Dollar Tree Don’t forget you can also order on line.

Using baskets or bins is a great way to take advantage of deep shelves. Try getting a large basket that’s full depth and then placing smaller bins inside to keep your like items separate.

If your storing towels in your closet, be sure to fold them efficiently so you can use the other half of shelf for a bin or basket or back stock items.

And that’s it! With just a few simple steps, you can have a bathroom closet that is pretty, stores just about anything and makes finding things super easy.

Now, lets review some of the key take away’s from this tutorial:

How do you organize a deep bathroom closet?

Use deep baskets with smaller bins inside!

A basket is perfect for maximizing the entire depth because it can easily be pulled out to access items stored all the ways in the back. Small bins inside can be helpful for keeping groups of like items separated.

How do you organize bathroom toiletries?

For ours, we chose to put larger toiletries (like tissue, cotton swabs and body soap) on the shelf and then store smaller toiletries (like tooth paste and cotton balls) in a basket.

The key to organizing bathroom toiletries is to downsize. Don’t keep too many things. Only stock up on things you’ll need and use, and even then, only keep a few back stock items.

How do I organize my bathroom linen closet?

  • Empty out the closet
  • clean the closet thoroughly
  • purge all your unneeded items
  • group like items
  • stock up on things you need
  • use a diagram of your space and groups of items to maximize the storage using baskets and bins.

I hope these 6 simple steps for how to organize a bathroom closet help you take your bathroom linen closet organization to the next level.

If you enjoyed this post, you may like https://uncommomspaces.com/9-valuable-tips-to-clean-and-organize-your-bedroom/

And if you still need help organizing go to Get 5% Off Your Order at EasyClosets with Code: CLOSETS165 They have excellent ideas, tools and a whole lot of other things that can put your closet in place.

30 little things that make a house look messy.

keeping a home comfortable and organized is really, really difficult. Not only do you have to figure out how you want to decorate but you also have to learn how to do so in a way that is comfortable and functional. The way you organize your things makes a big difference – this includes lighting, furniture arrangements, mirrors, carpets, and more.

Of course, part of keeping a home comfortable involves keeping it organized. That can be just as overwhelming! Its amazing how fast you can accumulate clutter. If your a Marie Kondo fan, you probably know that one of the best ways to keep things clean is, well – to have fewer things! But that’s not always possible for everyone. So how do you make the best of the situation that you have?

There are actually a lot of things you can do! Some are design tips. Some are organizational methods, and some are just good old fashioned cleaning techniques. With a little bit of creativity and some elbow grease, you’ll have your home tidy and comfortable in no time. These tips will help you do more than just make your home clean. They’ll help you keep it that way.

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1 Piling things on surfaces.- There’s a big difference between staying organized and just keeping things off the floor. When your piling stuff onto every surface, your home will start to feel crowded – fast. So, what ever your do, don’t throw junk on top of every clean counter top and table.

2 Not having enough on counters.- Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to go the other extreme too. Having too little on your counters also feels awkward and odd. The happy medium is to find the proper place for appliances on your counter tops, such as toasters and coffee makers.

3 Having clutter on the front of your fridge.- One of the main focal points of your kitchen is your fridge, so it’s noticeable when covered with clutter! Its easy to let junk accumulate on the front of your fridge. Make sure you regularly clear away old Christmas cards, invitations, and notes.

4 Neglecting your shelving.- The way you organize your shelving can make a huge difference in how your kitchen looks and feels. If your shelves are organized and you use them to keep your appliances neat and tidy, you’ll notice a big difference in the functionality and comfort of the space.

5 Over stuffing your cabinets.- Even worse than disorganized cabinets are cluttered cabinets. Not only do they look bad but it also becomes impossible to find the things you need. Take time to organize things in their proper place.

6 Letting your entry way become cluttered.- The first thing that people see when they walk through the door is, well, the floor. It’s easy to let your entry way get cluttered with shoes, jackets, and bags. Make it a priority to keep the entry way organized. Provide a place to put things as you come inside.

7 Letting your closets get messy.- Shove everything into the closet and your done with cleaning right? Not exactly. Having a messy closet actually makes everything worse. Whats more, it makes it difficult to find things when your need them. Try Get 5% Off Your Order at EasyClosets with Code: CLOSETS165 for help.

8 Not labeling your storage.-It’s a pain to try to find things lost in storage. To keep things organized and easy to locate, get out a marker and neatly label everything. That way you can find items again. Even if its years down the line. Check Dollar Tree for sticker labels also.

9 Over decorating.- One easy way to make things in your house look cluttered is crowding ways. Its easy to over-decorate with family photos, knick knacks, and collectables, but keep it simple. Minimalism can be much more pleasing to the eye. I tend to go overboard with throw pillows and blankets. Hofdeco has some beautiful pillows to choose from!

10 Having too many toys.- Every parent knows that it’s easy for toys to get out of hand. Birthdays, Christmas, and grandparents all mean an overflowing toys box. But your home will be much more comfortable with fewer play things. By the way, studies show children play better and focus more when they have fewer toys. You may want to refer to my post https://uncommomspaces.com/10-tips-for-controlling-clutter-in-kids-bedrooms/

11 Having a tangle of cords on the floor.- Having cords around the house in a simple part of life in 2019. With phones, laptops, tvs, and other technology, its hard to avoid having them in a pile on the floor. But this isn’t just a tripping hazard, it looks terrible.

12 Letting collections get out of hand.- Its all well and good to have a collection of postcards, vases, or figurines, but too many can quickly lead to clutter. Try to curb your collections by only putting a few of your favorite on display. My weakness has always been candles. Like these from Premium soy candles with hidden jewels valued $20-$7500 at JewelScent

13 Having too many books on display.- Every person who’s an avid reader probably has too many books on their shelves. Unfortunately, it can make your living space feel extremely cluttered. Try not to over stuff your book shelves.

14 Letting laundry sit around.- They say that laundry is the one chore that never ends, and they’re right. It can be really hard to keep up with, but try to stay on top of your laundry. Having piles of clean or dirty clothes can take up alot of space. click here to go to Easy closets.com. They have tons of storage solutions.

15 Using too much furniture.- Finding furniture that you love is great. But placing too many pieces in a room quickly turns it from comfortable to claustrophobic. Make sure to leave open spaces that you can enjoy.

16 Hoarding too much stuff.- Everyone know some one who verges on the brink of being a hoarder. Marie Kondo had one thing right: If you don’t use or like something, get rid of it. Someone else will enjoy it, and you’ll be able to breathe again.

17 Putting things in the wrong place.- Having too much stuff can make a room feel crowed, but so can putting things in the wrong place. Play with open spaces around the room and make sure you have enough of them to feel comfortable.

18 Holding on to things you’ll never use.- This goes hand in hand with hoarding. That tennis racket you think you might pick up one day? Let it go! It’s better to buy another one then to have an unused racket gathering dust and taking up space in your storage room.

19 Over crowding coat racks.- Coat racks are usually right at the entryway of homes. That means they’re one of the first things that people see when entering. When they get overfilled, it’s a quick way to make a room look cluttered. Keep your coat racks as clear as possible.

20 Not having a place for shoes.- Kids and adults alike are guilty of walking into a house and kicking their shoes off at the door. This makes a mess that can cause tripping hazard’s. It also makes getting out the door difficult. Putting in a shoe rack is a great way to avoid these problems.

21 Having too much open shelving.- Open shelving is a popular style these days but it actually can look more cluttered. Even worse, it means appliances gather dust faster and more conspicuously.

22 Having a too large table.- Trying to cram an overly large table onto a corner means losing lots of valuable space. Not only that, but tables are magnets for clutter. So, keeping your table small will only help you.

23 Choosing carpet over hard flooring. While our parents and grandparents loved their carpeting, it’s actually not a great choice for homes. For one thing, it makes rooms feel more confined. It also makes rooms more difficult to clean. Having hard floors gives you the opportunity to break up space with eye catching rugs.

24 Matching your decor too closely.- You might think that matching decor is a good idea but there’s a line. Not having enough variety in your decoration means not having a focal point in a room, which can make it feel cramped and uncomfortable.

25 Keeping your room too dark.- Sometimes, all you need to make a room feel better is a little bit of light. If your home is too dark, consider installing more light fixtures. Or using brighter light bulbs. It can make a huge difference in how a room looks and feels.

26 Pushing furniture against the wall.- Do you think pushing the furniture against the wall will open up a room? Well, it will technically. But that doesn’t mean it will feel more comfortable. Spacing your furniture in a way that alternates open and closed spaces will help a room look less cluttered.

27 Nat having a focal point.- A room needs a good focal point to center it and make it feel great. That might be a table, a television, a window, or a great picture on the wall. Centering attention to one place will create a feeling or organization.

28 Not having a color scheme.- There’s a bit of technique that goes into making a room comfortable and attractive. You’ll need to decide on a color scheme before diving in for some variation, this should be several colors, not just one.

29 Not dividing spaces.- Arranging furniture is a game of dividing spaces. Don’t just push everything up against the wall. Instead, play with negative space to see what feels the best to you.

30 Not mixing colors.

So now that you know these 30 tips, you may want to read this https://uncommomspaces.com/why-decorating-makes-you-feel-good/

The best home decor to shop for at thrift stores.

I absolutely love to thrift home decor! So often people purge their homes and donate things that are in great condition and thrift stores sell them at a fraction of the cost. This, my friends, makes thrift store decorating one of the cheapest ways to get a stylish home.

I know for alot of people walking into a thrift store can be overwhelming… There’s stuff everywhere, the shelves are packed, and if you don’t have a game plan, it can seem like too much.

That’s why I’m sharing with you what aisles I focus on and what items I always search for. That way, next time you’re doing your thrift store home decor shopping, you’ll know where to go and just what to look for at stores.

Why shop for home decor at thrift stores?

-Buying second hand saves money.

-Used decor can easily be made to match your style.

-Thrift stores often have vintage or unique items.

Yes, it’s true, I’m one of those thrift store decorating blogs. I’ll always be sharing with you fun ways to decorate your home with designer style on a thrifters budget and thrifting home decor is a great way to do that.

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8 Best thrift store home decor items.

Baskets

The basket selection at thrift stores is huge. Be picky about the ones you get. Only get ones that have a purpose in your home- whether that’s simply as decor or as an organizational tool.

My preference is to find ones that have a larger weave and are made of sea grass, but there are definitely some wood ones that catch my eye too.

Also, as a general rule, shy away from things with color or patterns. Natural colors are more versatile.

Get it

  • Flat, tray like baskets that can be used as a tray, propped up on a shelf, or hung in a wall gallery.
  • Round, two handled baskets that can be placed on the floor or shelf to corral groups of things like shoes, towels, or books.

Leave it

  • Baskets with a single large handle (unless you’re making Easter baskets!)
  • Colored baskets.
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Lamps

There are always tons of lamps available, but be sure the ones you get are in good condition. Damages to watch for are scratches on the base, missing parts around the bulb insert, and dents and tears in the shade.

Get it

  • Stylish full lamps.
  • Fun bases.
  • Individual lamp shades in the size you need.

Leave it

  • Lamps that are broken or missing pieces.
  • Lamps that are the wrong style or size for your space.
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Dishware

I always persue the dishes aisle, but the place I typically find what I want is on the end caps. The thrift store staff sets up the end caps to display their “nicest” stock, so be sure to scour each of them.

Even if they’re grouped by color, you maybe surprised to find a great piece of white decor on the purple themed end cap.

Get it

  • Small plates that can be used as trays or propped on shelves as decor.
  • Groups of small colored dishes that can be displayed on an open shelf or in a hutch.
  • Unique dish items that match your current dishes style.

Leave it

  • Generic dish sets – mugs

Greenery/florals

Be sure the greenery you purchase looks realistic. You don’t want to fill your home with greenery that’s obviously fake, rather invest in quality faux items.

Also, thrift stores tend to place larger greenery items (like faux trees) with the large furniture, so don’t forget to there too.

Get it

  • Realistic looking floral stems.
  • Stylish faux potted plants.
  • Twig or stick arrangements.

Leave it.

  • unrealistic looking stems.
  • Gaudy floral arrangements.
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Linnens

A lot of times stores will donate their stock that doesn’t sell to local thrift stores.

Our goodwill actually gets old stock from target, so there are frequently new and unopened curtains, throw blankets, sheet sets, and pillows for sale at thrift store prices.

As with all things, check for damage, and don’t forget to make sure the curtains are the right length for your windows or the sheets are the right size for your bed!

Get it

  • Unopened sheet sets.
  • Unopened throw blankets.
  • New throw pillows with original store tags.
  • Unopened table cloths or cloth napkins.

Leave it

  • Used or damaged linnens.
  • Anything with an unpleasant odor.

Frames/art

The frame aisle generally contains a lot more than just basic picture frames.

You can find excellent art (both framed and even on canvas) and mirrors (that can easily be spruced up with a coat of paint) mixed in with the frames.

Get it

  • Picture frames.
  • Mirrors
  • Wall art

Leave it

  • Cheap or damaged frames.
  • Frames or art that doesn’t match the style of your space.

Wood decor

While there are lots of aisles filled with all sorts of decor at thrift stores, I definitely take my time searching the section of wood decor. I typically get 1-2 items from this aisle every time I shop at a thrift store. There’s always great stuff!

You’ll also find that other types of decor might be placed here. So still be on the look out for greenery, baskets and other items while your looking through the wood decor too.

Get it

  • Decor signs
  • wood bowls or trays.

Leave it

  • Decor that doesn’t match the style of your space.
  • Items that you don’t have a place for in your home.

Craft supplies

The crafting aisle definitely one that can seem overwhelming. There is a ton of stuff packed onto those shelves. Don’t be intimidated by that, but rather go this aisle with a purpose. Knowing what kind of crafting supplies you use and are planning projects for and focus in on these things.

Get it

  • yarn supplies
  • stamp supplies
  • paper crafting supplies
  • thank you cards
  • embroidery wreaths

Leave it

Ok friends, lets review.

Must have thrift shop home decor items.

  1. Baskets
  2. lamps
  3. dish ware
  4. greenery/floral
  5. linnens
  6. frames/artwork
  7. wood decor
  8. craft supplies.

I really hope this post helps you feel more confident in what to look for so you can do some great decorating with thrift store finds.

I mean seriously, after all of that information, how can you tell me you don’t feel like you could walk into a thrift store with purpose now?

Many of the most common (and frequently most expensive) home decor items are just waiting to be discovered at your local thrift store for a fraction of the cost – so go get em!

How to encourage kids to be tidy.

If your home is like mine, it can be a never ending battle to get your kids to pick up after themselves at time. In my case older kids are even worse hen the little ones. Perhaps it has something to do with that teen attitude. But no matter what their ages, there are things you can do to encourage your kids to be tidy. Yes, you can have tidy kids!

We this in mind, now would be a great time for you to check out SuperAreaRugs.com. They have a ton of options, and area rugs are a great piece to help set aside spaces for your kids!

Its really a matter of knowing how to make it easy for them, and this is what I’ve learned through the years. As a former teacher at a day care, I believe these ideas to work!

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I have learned that as long as kids are living in my house, it will never look the way I want it to. But tidy is one of my favorite words to describe what I’m looking for. Again, far from perfect, but as long as its presentable and liveable, I have learned to be content. Some day when my kids are grown and on their own, I can have a clean home again.

There are things that we can do as parents to make cleaning up easier for our kids, however. I have greater success with making it as simple and straight forward as possible for my kids. The following are methods I find to be helpful with kids of all ages.

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Here are some things you can do to encourage your kids to be tidy too.

Set a good example of keeping things picked up.

Even if life is busy, you as a mom need to at least demonstrate what your expectations are and being consistent in how you care for your things and are tidy your self.

Teach your kids to care for their things.

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You will show them more than once in order for them to learn what your expect and to master the art of doing it. Especially if they are younger.

Use the pick up rule.

From a young age, teach your child to pick up after themselves before getting the next thing out. This is the pick up rule. Its amazing how simple this concept is, but its so hard to implement since kids can create a tornado in the two minutes that you are using the bathroom.

Maximize closet space in kids rooms.

Put a lower bar in their closet using a tension rod to put their hanging things with in their reach. This will make cleaning up their clothes on their own so much easier.

Organize kids toys smart.

Store toys in clear or opaque containers. That way, it will be easy for your kids to see how full each container is and to quickly sort the containers properly if they get out of hand. You can find these containers at the Dollar Tree.

Label where kids toys go.

Label their toys containers either with words or pictures of whats in each bin. You can purchase peel and stick labels at the Dollar Tree. But there are plenty of other ways of labeling as well.

Kids dress up clothes organization.

Keep dress up clothes on a simple coat stand or set of hooks. This will avoid taking up precious closet or cupboard space, and will add some color and fun to the room.

Label where kids clothes go.

Label their dresser drawers with words or a picture of what goes in each one. This is how to deal with kids who are not old enough to read yet. All kids can look at a picture and put things in the correct places.

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Organize small things in containers.

Use small container in their dresser drawers to keep things like socks, underware, belts, and slippers together. This is such a simple thing to do, and it makes a world of difference in them being able to maintain some sense of order inside drawers. This is especially true if their drawers are large.

Hooks work great for kids clothes and things.

Provide them with a few hooks in their room to hang hats, partially worn clothes, or even a sweater, sweatshirt or coat. This can be a really cute way of adding a pop of color or decorative touch to the room while also creating more room in precious drawer space.

Use a binder for kids special things and keep sakes.

Create a binder with clear page protectors for them to keep their treasures in. Most kids like to hang on to things that have special meaning to them. This could be things like birthday cards, special pictures, or letters from friends or loved ones. This way these things not only have a place, but they are also forced to pick and choose between what to keep and what to toss. This keeps them from hanging on to too much clutter.

In our home we enjoy doing crafts, and there is always left over parts. I find this falls into the binder category. We get this great box We Craft Box that has amazing cool things for kids to create, and even has a story that goes along with it!

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Let kids choose where their toys belong.

Let them be involved in the decision as to where to put their things. If they are part of the process, they are more likely to want to put things away.

Store kids pajamas out of sight.

Have your kids keep the pajamas they may wear for more than one night under their pillow to avoid having to look for them at bed time. That way they pajamas are out of sight, yet they are easy to find when bed time rolls around. I always say, what ever I can do to make bed time go a bit smoother is a good thing.

Color code different kids towels.

Have a different colored towel and wash cloth for each child so they can be responsible for taking care of their own towel and wash cloth after using them. When the bathroom is a mess of towels or wash clothes you know just who to seek out based on the color. It makes it so much easier to hold your kids accountable.

Choose kids packaging wisely (or get rid of it)

Get rid of excess packaging or packages that just don’t make sense or aren’t easy to use.

Schedule a 10 min. tidy 3 or 4 times each day.

Looking to have tidy kids? Tired of cleaning up after your kids? Put these principals into practice and experience the peace and calm that kids who are tidy can bring into the home.

30 memory making family traditions to start in 2019.

Looking for fun Christmas traditions to start it 2019?

I’ve been thinking lately about fun family traditions to start in 2019. I think its because I knew this year Christmas will be different, with out children getting older.

In an exciting way! (ok also scary) Its easy for me to jump ahead of my self here, and start thinking about December. It’s sort of like… the start of my “new life” is coming and the first thing that will happen in my “new life” will be Christmas.

Plus I just love Christmas and look forward to it for months anyway. I’m not allowing myself any sort of great expectations for this Christmas… I’d imagine in reality, it will be a very quiet Christmas, with us at home alot, and try to catch up with each others lives.

But any how, Christmas traditions have been on my mind. What sort of new traditions will we develop as a growing family? And what traditions can we steal from our own childhoods? And which current tradition will we carry on with this year?


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Why bother starting family Christmas traditions?

My family has awesome Christmas traditions – very few had to be put away. And with the coming of pintrest into my life, there are a few that I absolutely plan on starting with my kiddos. That will make special memories that will last them a life time.

One thing comes to my mind, that I want to point out. Its not the day to day at home growing up, that I most remember.

Its the special things we did as a family, the things that were different from the day to day, that stand out in my mind.

I want my kids to have great family memories, and Christmas traditions are one of the most fun ways I can think of to create those memories.

Memory making Christmas traditions ideas (to start this year).

1 Decorate the house on Dec. 1

I love having the whole month of December to enjoy the decorations. And growing up, I loved that there was never a question of when we would decorate. We always got the tree up and all the lights on as soon as December hit. To this day, on December 1 I blast the carols, drink the wine, and deck the halls!

2 Make a Christmas playlist.

Speaking of blasting the carols, everyone in the family should have a say in which songs make the Christmas play list. And let it be the sound track for your December. You can add to it each year.

3 Make homemade Christmas cards.

They can be easy or elaborate! Anything from a simple family photo stuck on card stock to adorable hand print reindeer… Its more about the time you’ll spend together then the finished product. You can find plenty of fun items at the Dollar Tree. I use photo prints from mixbook.com for my pictures. But if you would rather have them costume made for you they also have a great Mixbook’s Holiday Card Collection.

4 Ditch gifts altogether and take a family vacation.

You could even save money by forgoing the trimmings and jumping on a plane to Disneyland, or maybe spending a quiet week on a beach in Hawaii. Memories you’ll make will last far, far, longer then the legos you buy, and you’ll actually enjoy the break too. (you could still get the little people something fun to open from the Dollar Tree.

5 Make a family holiday bucket list at the beginning of the month.

On Dec. 1, sit everyone down and let each person pick one thing they’d like to do (as a family) in December.

6 Fill a shoe box with treasures for less fortunate kids.

Take the whole family shopping for shoe box supplies and teach your kids that Christmas is not ALL about getting.

The next 7 on this list are maybe my top favorite picks for fun Christmas traditions for kids.

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7 Decorate a ginger bread house.

This is never as much fun when you have to do all the baking of the ginger bread house pieces…but after they came out with the pre baked houses, we did one every year. Try to find kits on clearance right after Christmas and save them in your freezer. You can also make smaller houses out of graham crackers.

8 Bake and decorate Christmas cookies.

There are so many fun ideas for decorating cookies, and it can be just as much fun (and maybe easier) then decorating a ginger bread house.

9 Write letters to Santa.

Write letters to Santa with your kids, and send them off. You don’t have to tell your kids, but you really should photo copy these letters, and keep them in a album. Bring them out to look at when your kids have kids!

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10 Have a family slumber party.

Everyone’s allowed to stay up late and build forts in the living room. Read Christmas stories and drink hot chocolate. Talk about all the things that happened throughout the year- write them in a special journal that you can add to every year.

11 Have a Christmas movie night.

For as long as I can remember, we’ve had a family movie night (sometime during the week that is Christmas) and we always watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. With popcorn and hot chocolate. We still do to this day. On what ever day my family gets together to celebrate.

12 Or have a every night is Christmas movie night.

Choose a week (or two) worth of Christmas movies and each night cross one off of the list.

13 Family game night.

Just like movie night. Our hands down favorite game is pie in the face.

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These next few are the best Christmas traditions for adults.

14 Fondu night.

Maybe this just seems like Christmas to me because we did it for the first time at Christmas. And then it became another important thing on our Christmas tradition list.

15 Garage sale gift exchange.

Hear me out on this one – its another one of our favorite Christmas traditions. It’s better done in large groups. We know it’s coming all year long, and the longer you have to plan for it the better – because you can find the best gifts that way. We play it like a standard gift exchange – where everyone playing brings one gift, it’s assigned a # and then the # gets drawn out of a hat, if its your number, you choose the gift with that #.

16 After the kids go to bed – have “just you guys” Christmas traditions.

So I’m already planning how to adapt to this one! Your traditions can be super simple, but it’s important to focus on each other once in a while.

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17 Attend Christmas eve candle light service.

Its so easy to forget that Christmas is actually about the fact that Christ came here for us. This is something I will do with our kids every year. Take time out this busy Christmas season, and thank Him.

18 Go for a Christmas lights drive.

For the last couple of years, we’ve gone driving to look at Christmas lights late at night. Its awesome! Take popcorn and hot chocolate in travel mugs. It’s basically free entertainment for the kids.

19 Christmas eve gift box.

My parents always chose one little gift we were allowed to open on Christmas eve. I always looked forward to that so much. I love the idea of a gift, that’s just one gift for the whole family. It could be anything from a Christmas movie to matching Christmas pajamas.

20 Christmas morning music.

No one ever made us eat a healthy breakfast on Christmas morning, it was straight to the gifts, with hot chocolate and music!

These next 5 are amazing traditions to start with toddlers or babies.

21 Read the Christmas story.

It’s never a waste of time to stop and remind ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas and to cement it into our children’s minds.

22 Christmas tree ornament.

Pick out one new tree ornament to add to your growing collection of special ornaments. Or better yet, make a tree ornament every year. You could make salt dough hand prints and paint them, cut a ring off of the bottom of your tree and date it, or dip pine cones in glitter.

23 Hang up Christmas stockings.

Get everyone in your family their own stocking. Dollar Tree even has them! They can hang empty all month as decorations, and be magically filled over night on Christmas eve.

24 Hang your mistletoe

How did this get to be a tradition? 50 years ago when my parents got together, my mother hung up a plastic sprig in the entry way, and that’s where it was placed every year after.

25 Christmas morning family photo.

Every one in their jammies, with their hair all crazy, surrounded by wrapping paper. We set the camera on timer. These are some of my favorite photos to look back on. Print them out for display next year. Mixbook’s Home Decor has a ton of options to choose from!

26 Special “Santa” wrapping paper.

We keep one special roll of paper hidden. And every Christmas morning there was one more gift there than there was had been the night before, wrapped in special paper.

27 Want, need, wear, and read gifts.

This isn’t something that we did growing up. Its a great tradition to start with toddlers. I really was to keep Christmas from getting too materialistic. I love the idea of gifting everyone with something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

28 Christmas crackers at dinner-you must wear the hat!

29 Hide the Christmas pickle.

You don’t have to use a pickle-it can be anything.

30 Volunteer for the less fortunate.

Getting your kids out doing something nice for some one who has less is a great way to instill gratitude in them for what they have.

Creating Christmas traditions for your family is a very practical way to parent on purpose.

I think making a point of creating family Christmas traditions is one of the most on purpose things we can do for our families-these are things that will stand out in our kids minds when they look back on their time at home.

Making the time to enjoy the holidays together, and create memories together is something you’ll never regret.

Designer secrets for how to decorate a Christmas tree.

Almost anyone can decorate a Christmas tree, but there are a few secrets that designers have learned to make a Christmas tree look like it belongs in a design magazine.

The best designers think outside the box and use creativity to set their Christmas tree apart from others.

They often follow some rules, but bend the rule a bit to add interest. Here are a few designer secrets that you can use to make your Christmas tree a show stopper this year. But feel free to put your own twist on it.

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The Tree:

Designers know that the secret to a good looking decorated Christmas tree is to start with a good looking tree.

The Christmas tree should look full and healthy with out any ornaments on it.

Real trees always look best, but are more challenging to decorate than artificial trees.

Taller and wider trees are more dramatic.

Your tree must look full, so make sure to fluff your artificial tree. If you are using a real tree, don’t purchase your tree too soon, it may dry out and look dead by Christmas.

If your tree is not as full as you would like, a designer secret is to add some fillers. You can add a greenery swag that is simple evergreen or something with flowers, berries, or pine cones.

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The Lights:

Christmas lights make your tree sparkle, so don’t skimp on the lights. It’s nearly impossible to us too many lights. White or clear lights are used most often, however you can get a designer look with colored lights.

A bare minimum number of lights to use is 1 strand of 100 lights per foot height of tree, so a 10 ft tree would get 10 strands of lights. Feel free to double or triple that amount. Even if you have a pre lit tree, feel free to add more lights. Make sure you put the lights towards the inside and outside of your tree.

One designer secret to make your tree sparkle is to use 1-2 strands of blinking lights that are spread throughout your tree, but don’t make all your lights blink.

Another designer secret is to use a few strands of larger bulbs to add dimension and depth.

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Garland:

There are many ways to put garland on a Christmas tree.

You can use ribbon garland, beaded garland, paper garland, or whatever you like.

In order to get your garland evenly on your tree and not knock off any ornaments, designers put it on after the lights.

Feel free to use more than one type of garland or ribbon with different colors or patterns.

When putting on garland, floral picks, ornaments, or amything to your tree, a designer secret is to stop every 5 min or so and stand back from the tree, evaluate how it looks, and make adjustments. Make sure you leave room for your ornaments when adding garland. Don’t over do it.

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Floral picks

In order to add a variety of texture to a Christmas tree (as well as fill in the holes, add color, and help the tree look more cohesive). designers use floral picks on a Christmas tree.

A designer secret is to put the floral picks in the Christmas tree in the same direction as the branches, not sticking up straight, for a more natural look. Spread floral picks through out the tree, but especially in any spots that might not look as full.

Ornaments

Simple round ornaments are great for creating a color story for your tree inexpensively.

A designer secret for decorating your Christmas tree with plain round ornaments is to group them together in clusters of 3. The ornament clusters are more dramatic than 3 standard sized ornaments by themselves.

Put some lesser expensive ornaments towards the inside of your tree to fill in the holes and nicer ornaments towards the outside of your tree to show them off.

Another designer secret is that the larger your tree is, the larger the ornaments you need. A 10′ tree needs bigger ornaments then a 6′ tree that can use standard sized ornaments.

Typically, smaller ornaments are placed towards the top of the tree and larger ornaments towards the bottom of the tree, however some designers have gone away from the rule in recent years i order to add drama.

Many designer Christmas trees have recently started using focal point ornaments that are 6″ to 12″ tall. Designers use about 1 focal point ornament per foot height of the tree. Ornaments over 12″ tall tend to look juvenile.

Yet another designer secret is to use ornaments of different textures. Shiny ornaments are nice, but also consider adding some that have a matte finish, are rough (like burlap), glittery, pearlescent, mirrored, or fluffy.

Typically, more is better when decorating a tree, but make sure to have a little bit of tree showing. Some people have gone overboard and have decorated tree that are comparable to someone wearing all of their jewelry at once- don’t do that!

Gifts

Designers know that gifts under a tree are part of your decorations. Purchase gift wrap of appropriate style that coordinates with your Christmas tree.

For a vintage style tree, consider using simple craft paper as wrapping paper.

For a more colorful tree, use 3 different wrapping papers and 3 different ribbons (that coordinate with your color scheme) used in different combinations for interest under your tree.

Larger graphic patterns (plaid, stripes, dots, ect) and solids work best.

How to organize your fridge to keep your food fresher longer. (And cut your energy bill.)

Tip: Your fridge isn’t just a closet for food – it’s a high tech device that helps you store all of your favorite snacks, condiments, and meal fixins in optimal conditions. Not only do refrigerators have different compartments that serve different purposes, they also have different temperature zones. This means that if your storing things in the wrong place, your not taking advantage of the modern miracle of refrigeration. And that leads to loss of food, loss of money, and less desire to cook at home. (Who wants to face down a crisper drawer of wilted greens? Talk about a bummer)

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Chill out!

Food needs to be maintained at cold temperatures to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microbes that make food spoil – and can make people sick. Refrigerators should be kept at 40F or lower and freezers should be set at 0 f. But even when the refrigerator is sufficiently cold, the temperature will vary in different parts of the fridge, depending on how close they are to the cooling element. Master the art of the refrigerator, and your food will last longer.

Your game plan:

Freezer

Lets start with the obvious stuff: Freezers are for storing frozen things (duh!) You’r ice goes in the freezer, as do frozen fruits, veggies, meat, stock and other items. You can also store a surprising number of other foods in the freezer for latter use, such as tortillas, pasta sauce, and even eggs. (note: you can freeze bread for up three months, but don’t store it in the fridge or it will dry out) The trick with freezers is to pack foods tightly in their containers, and keep things well organized, since this optimizes storage space and also saves energy. (And moolah on the energy bill) Rather then using glass jars, which can break, freeze food in stackable plastic storage containers or in plastic freezer bags laid flat.

Doors

Doors are the warmest part of the fridge and should be reserved for foods that are most resistant to spoiling. Keep condiments, juices and other foods that can stand up to temperature fluctuations here. (and remember, that even condiments have a shelf life). Since fridge doors can get warm (particularly when they’re opened often), eggs and dairy shouldn’t go here, even if you guzzle milk straight from the carton all the live long day. (although, if that’s how you roll, you have bigger bacteria to worry about)

Upper shelves

The upper shelves of the fridge have the most consistent temps, while lower shelves are coldest. One pro strategy from restaurant kitchens is to place foods that don’t need to be cooked near the top of the fridge. This includes left overs, drinks, and ready to eat foods, like tortilla hummus and deli meat. Herbs can be kept fresh by placing them upright in a vase or jar with a plastic bag. You’ll want to keep berries up here for easy access. See crisper section for more berry info.

Lower shelves

The lower shelves are your best bet for raw meat, eggs, seafood, and other dairy to be stored at the coldest temps. To prevent raw meats bacteria from spreading to other areas, assign a particular section of the fridge as your meat locker. Keep meat in its original packaging, and place it on a plate or in an improvised bin that is cleaned regularly.

Overall: Don’t over crowd your shelves too much. Unlike the freezer, the fridge shouldn’t be totally packed. Cold air needs to flow here, and if it can’t you’ll get inconsistent temps with pockets of heat and warmth. (Luke warm yogurt anyone?) Leaving a little wiggle room between your left overs will also help keep your energy bill down.

Crisper drawers

The purpose of crisper drawers is to maintain moist conditions that help preserve fruits and veggies. But don’t make the mistake of jumbling all your produce together in a fruit and veggie free for all. Many fruits, including apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cantaloupes, produce ethylene, a chemical that helps them to ripen. Unfortunately the ethylene produced can also promote ripening in other plants, causing veggies to yellow and go limp or even sprout. So keep veggies in one drawer and fruits in the other.

Fruits and veggies should be washed before eating, but too much moisture can cause foods to flip from ripe to rotten before you can get your antioxidents on. The goal is to was fruits and veggies when its convenient, but not so far in advance that they are likely to spoil before you eat them. When washing fruit, remove extra moisture by draining in a colander, blotting with a paper towel, or using a salad spinner. Berries are particularly fragile so handle with care. Once washed, put greens and herbs in a plastic bag or container with a square of paper towel to soak up extra moisture. Out the containers back in the crisper for longer term storage, or on the top shelf where you more likely to see them.

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On top of the fridge.

If you’ve been using the top of your fridge like a food attic, stacking bottles or merlot or loaves of bread up there, stop! Even if you kitchen is tiny and that spaces feels super convenient, its not a smart idea. To regulate cold temps inside, the fridge’s condenser coil pumps warm air out, and heat rises around the appliances cabinet. Results: It gets pretty warm up top. Heat is krytonite to wine. And it will make bread mold faster. The best use of this space? Store appliances or supplies like paper towels or a stack of cook books.

To fridge or not to fridge…

One of the tougher questions is figuring out if something goes in the fridge in the first place. Certain foods don’t belong in the fridge. Tomatoes will turn mealy and odorless in the fridge – keep the comfy at room temp. Onions, squash, and potaotes do best in a cooler environment with low moisture, so store them in a dark cupboard or other place outside the fridge. Avacado’s and many fruits are just fine being left on the counter to ripen, but can also go in the fridge to slow the process down if needed. Herbs can be kept in the fridge in a vase or the counter top. If they’ll be used in a few days.

Then there’s the gray zone: Foods that can be refrigerated to maintain maximum freshness and quality but don’t have to be refrigerated, if you use them quickly. For example, nuts, nut flours, nut butters, are just fine to store in the cupboard, but refrigeration will help maintain the natural oils. So refrigerate if your house is warm or you wont be using with in a few weeks.

Like wise whole grain flours and oils such as canola, safflowers and olive oil will last longer if stored in the fridge away from warm temps. Bottom line: if these products are laying around your home for a long time. Putting them in the center or upper shelves of your fridge (or freezer) will help prevent off flavors that can develop over time.

How to host Thanksgiving on a budget.

If your going to host Thanksgiving this year, you may be concerned that this will be an expensive experience. This can leave you too stressed to enjoy the Holiday for what it really is. A lovely time to get together with your family and appreciate your blessings.

Would you be surprised to hear that it is entirely possible to host an amazing, delicious Thanksgiving dinner, even when your on a budget? These tips can help you have a wonderful celebration and save money.

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How to host Thanksgiving on a budget.

Pot luck time.

I’ll be honest. I am not always a potluck fan. When I invite people over for dinner, I want them to be able to just show up and relax. I don’t want them stressing over having to bring something.

But, if you are normally the Holiday hero, taking care of every item on the menu, you might consider taking a step back. A big Holiday meal might just be a time to set aside any pot luck missgivings you might have. After all, its a great way to ensure that everything is taken care of without having to break the bank or over doing it in the kitchen. The good news is, everyone will get something they love.

Make a list.

Write out a budget and a menu and stick to it. This is a great way to ensure that you stay on track with your spending and you don’t go overboard with the menu. If you create your lists far enough in advance you can even make sure that you pick up certain non-perishable or freezable items on sale, saving even more.

Cook from scratch

When you buy pre-packaged items, you are usually going to pay more for lower quality products. Instead of those instant mashed potatoes or boxed stuffing make it all by hand using ingredients you most likely have in your pantry.

Give high priority to must haves.

Its entirely unnecessary to have 20 different side dishes at Thanksgiving. Pick a few you fell you must have and forget the rest. There is no need to go overboard and it will save you money and food waste. And, if you are serving less you will be more like;y to opt for the “from scratch” option, saving you even more money.

Consider varying your main dish from the traditional. Isn’t it really the experience of gathering the family around the table to break bread together that really matters? If you can’t afford the spiral sliced ham you usually serve, opt for something less expensive this year.

Use decor you already have.

Going overboard on decor and table settings can quickly destroy your budget. Instead of heading out to buy trendy new items each year, use what you have on hand. In fact, there’s something special about bring out the familiar year after year.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match too! This may include versatile plates and serving dishes, plain napkins and glasses. By not going for a matchy match look, you can use a variety of items and add some extra color and texture to your table setting.

When creating a center piece, you can easily use what you find outdoors. Freshly fallen leaves, decorative squash and pine cones can go a long way to making your Thanksgiving table beautiful. You could even task the kids with going outside to gather up the items for this.

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to break the bank to be fun and delicious. One year, my daughter and I were unable to cope with a big feast. So we opted for a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. We had a mish mash of simple foods and treats we enjoy and and it while watching movies. It was one of out favorite holidays ever. If you just keep your eye on whats important and simplify as needed you might even create a new tradition.

7 things to do in November to save your sanity in December.

Ok, Halloween is behind us, now, as much as I don’t want to skip over November and rush though Thanksgiving – it’s actually my favorite Holiday – every year I try to use this month to accomplish as many Christmas tasks as I can, so that by the time December arrives I’m in pretty good shape. Here’s how I use November to relax in December.

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Take a Christmas picture.

Actually I get a jump start on Christmas cards a whole year before by shopping for cards on major clearance after Christmas. Then I pack them away so I don’t have to pay top dollar for them in November. Our family has made it a tradition to take a family photo on Thanksgiving. I then order 40-50 prints from Mixbook’s Holiday Card Collection There are plenty of creative options from cards to decorative boarders on your pictures. Then all that’s left is to address the envelopes.

Shop for gifts every Friday.

We have to budget for Christmas. I pay bills every Friday, so each week I allow $50 to buying Christmas gifts I’ve saved to my Amazon wish list through out the year. Since we are member of Amazon Prime I never have to pay shipping and can have a box of gifts delivered each week.

Check wrapping supplies.

I take 5 minutes to check my wrapping supplies in November, then pick up a roll or two of paper, shirt boxes, and tissue paper at the Dollar Tree.

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Start baking

Baking may not be your thing, but its a tradition in our family to make tons of different kinds of cookies each year. Not only do we have a cookie tray on the counter through out the whole season, we use them as gifts for the neighbors and the kids teacher and bus drivers. So each week starting in mid October I make 1 kind of cookie and freeze them. If they need decorating I sometimes save that step for the kids and I to do together when it gets closer to Christmas. I also double my pie crust recipe so I have an extra shell if I need to bring a dessert or something.

Make and freeze side dishes.

I always end up hosting at least 2 Christmas dinners at my home. I’m responsible for providing the main course. I try to make sure enough sides are made by those I ask. But I feel that if I have guests in my home, they shouldn’t have to worry about making something to bring. So I just double the ingredients at Thanksgiving and freeze. So then all I have to do come Christmas, is thaw and bake.

Shop for Christmas dinner.

Sometimes we host Christmas dinner. If is our turn, I make a list of what I making and shop for the ingredients a little bit each week on my regular trips to the grocery store. That way I’m not stuck with a huge grocery bill at the worst time of the year to spend more money.

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Plan Christmas activities.

Finally, I take a look at our December calendar and plan out when our other Christmas activities will happen. We always get our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, so that already there. Sometimes we go see a Christmas movie, some times we celebrate with friends with a white elephant party. I get it all on the calendar in November to save my sanity in December.

What are your tips and tricks for making use of the count down to Christmas?

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Here’s how to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table on a budget.

Its one thing to do the Thanksgiving menu on a budget, its another thing to set a beautiful table. Can you host 10 people for dinner and set a gorgeous seasonal table while on a budget? Certainly! And you don’t even have to be particularly crafty.

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Dishes and glassware: find beauty in the mismatched.

You don’t need a full cupboard of dishes to host 10 for dinner. There are other ways to set the table beautifully.

First strategy? Borrow. Ask guests and friends if you can borrow dishes. Keep everything in one palette. (white is always classic) for a blended, yet beautiful look.

Second strategy? Thrift store. Hit up your local thrift store. You can get a haul of plates for just a few dollars, and they will go together beautifully.

The same applies to silverware and glassware.Dollar Tree is the place to look for an even more inexpensive idea.

Greenery: Go outside (and go glam)

You can find inexpensive greenery at the Dollar Tree (We’ll come back to that), but for an even less expensive option, go outside and stroll through your neighborhood, gathering leaves and branches with fall foliage for your table. Candles are a great option and can be quite inexpensive. But you may want to visit Jewelry Candle Co – JEWELSCENT | Hidden jewel valued $15-$7500 in our jewelry scents for a way to decorate and bring out the scent of fall!

Skip the table cloth.

Table clothes are expensive. Skip them altogether and do a runner of brown paper. You can purchase this at Dollar Tree. Or lay a bright, pretty scarf down the center of the table for some color.

To capture all the memories from Thanksgiving… Don’t forget to visit Mixbook’s Homepage Where there are endless options to capture these memories for years to come.

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