Several years ago, my husband and I approached the Christmas season with our social, professional and volunteer commitments overflowing. The activity in my professional life always peaks in December and that particular year my husband was about to ascend to the presidency of the community organization he serves. The weekend before Thanksgiving, he experienced a back injury which immobilized him for several weeks. To say we were overwhelmed was an understatement. All traditions we typically enjoyed like cookie baking, family dinners, church musicals, and gift shopping were abandoned left and right.
Although full-scale decorating was out of the question, I did want to put up a few decorations. Maybe a wreath on the front door, a nativity set, a candle or two. How much time could that possibly take, right? I grabbed a thirty minute window on a Saturday morning and headed up to the attic to grab those few decorations., I soon descended in total frustration, having opened tub after tub looking for “this and that” to my accomplish my goal. The cramped crawl space, poor lighting, and packed tubs were insurmountable obstacles in my tight timeframe.
Two nights later, I set up our artificial tree in the living room. That ended up being our only decoration for the whole season, no ornaments, no lights, no garland, no icicles, just a stark green artificial tree. So, so sad!
The next year, our lives were at a very different place and we reinstated most of our holiday traditions. When I took those decorations out of the attic and started to plan my decorating strategy, I became a bit overwhelmed again with everything spread out all over my garage. Then I had an Aha! moment. The challenge the year before and the challenge I faced right then was knowing what decorations were in what tubs. Excel to the rescue! A very simple spreadsheet would give me an inventory of what I had and where it was stored
Here is my very simple spreadsheet that is my best tip ever in simplifying this important part of holiday preparations. Because the list of items is relatively short, grouping them by tub works fine. A quick visual scan locates the item I am seeking.
If trimming the tree was first, then I would grab tub 7 for ornaments and tub 4 for garland and head to the living room, ready to do some business! Snowmen next – no problem, tub 9. Stockings – tub 8, yipee! Even packing everything at the end of the season was easy when I knew what would fit in each tub.
An alternative would be to put each item on its own row and then an alphabetical sort of items might be helpful. I setup Sheet 2 for this method. Again, simple, simple, simple, but it has made holiday decorating and the cleanup so much more enjoyable.