Monday, November 25, 2013

Simplify the Shopping 2013

Now let’s talk about Christmas shopping!!!!!!!! Could shopping possibly be a part of a Simplified Season? You betcha!!! And who doesn’t love shopping? I don’t mean the “sharpen your elbows, Black Friday, 3am” kind of shopping. Although if anyone can turn shopping into a contact sport those ladies sure can! If you are out there this weekend, have a great time!!!

My favorite thing about Christmas shopping is finding that PERFECT gift. The gift that you know that the receiver will open and love.  It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  It can be handmade. It can be extravagant.  It depends on your giving style AND the style of the one you are giving to.  Gifts should be a blessings.


FIRST - Make a list of everyone for whom you will need to buy gifts.  Include family, friends, neighbors, clients, your child's favorite playmate, service people (school teachers, nursery workers, massage therapist, babysitters, hair dresser, the staff members at an office you frequent regularly, postal worker, barista, whoever!).  Even if the gift is "just" a plate of cookies, jot the person down.  Great!  So, my stress free friend, just by making the list of recipients, you may even get some gift ideas.  Hooray for you!  With just a little advanced planning, you are well on your way to a stress free Christmas Celebration. Do you HAVE to give gifts to all these people? NO!  They are just some ideas of people in your life you may want to show appreciation to during this time of year.

SECOND-Think about that list of people you just made. Do you have to buy gifts for people whom you hardly know? Whether it is a brother-in-law or a boss, this can be a daunting task. What are their hobbies, and favorite sports teams?  How do they spend their time? 

There are several sites which offer GIFT FINDERS to help you narrow down a personality, generate ideas for a gift, even purchase the gift ( and – just to name two).

Are you a parent or a grandparent (or an aunt) looking for toys for the tot in your life?  Try the search features on Amazon, Target, or ToysRUs websites for age appropriate toy ideas.

Still no luck finding the gift you seek?  Get a gift card.  Make it personal.  Think about the recipient's tastes on this one.  For example, if the recipient is a luddite, a gift card for an electronic or computer store is probably not the best idea; however a restaurant gift card for that uncle who enjoys fine dining - a gift card to you aunt’s favorite boutique - some movie passes for the college student – a Netflix subscription and a box of microwave popcorn for the new parents - and a bookstore gift card for the reader whose favorite author will be releasing a book past your holiday celebration deadline – all great ideas. Simple pairings make them personal by adding on some simple and inexpensive “tags” - a bag coffee candy (or bag of Starbucks truffles) with a Starbucks card, a bookmark with a book store card, a box of movie candy with the movie card. Now you’re thinking outside of the gift card envelope!!

One more shot… and it’s a good one! 

Think about giving “clutter free” gifts. Instead of just giving one more generic bath set -- know the giftee. Find out if they have a favorite brand or scent and go with that. Novel concept?  You betcha!  Have I stepped on any toes yet?  Probably.  Sorry, we’re simplifying!!!  

Think about giving gifts of FOOD.  If you know a person enjoys something in particular.  What a great way to make someone’s holiday breakfast more simple than an easy muffin mix!

Experiential gifts are also a great way to keep the clutter at bay.  For a child: Seasonal Zoo, Water Park, or Theme Park passes really go a long way.  Whether it’s a date for your spouse, or a special day out with your favorite kiddo, even a round of mini golf or a night of pizza and ice cream are a great gift to give.  They cost little, other than time.  They don’t add to the clutter in your home.  They help you create happy memories with someone you love and WANT to spend time with. 

As a family, we love to be generous and give to others, especially during the holidays. We try to Simplify our Season by only purchasing a few gifts for our child. There are things that we would rather spend DOING with him than GIFTING (plastic toys) to him. We usually choose a small gift and a large gift.  I also use this time to set up traditions. He gets an ornament every year and Christmas/winter themed pajamas. Those are more things that I want him to have than things he would choose, so I do not consider them gifts. We have Christmas pictures taken or I spend time with him taking shots at a special place. We usually chose a charity to give to - adopting an angel from the angel tree or filling a shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse.

I have a friend who gives their children each three gifts as a reminder of the three gifts of the magi.

When you are shopping, keep in mind that you are going to stay the course and have a Simplified Season.  Keep your list updated and keep it handy while you shop.  That’s right! Take it with you.  You’re making a list and checking it twice here!  That’s how it is going to stay simplified.

One final note on shopping. Let’s not forget about on-line shopping to save time and gas money. This is especially great if you can find FREE SHIPPING options. Some sites (like Wal-Mart) will even let you ship to the store nearest you for free.  Happy Cyber Deals, my friends!

If you are in the Jacksonville/St. Johns area and would like your home better organized (or you want some help Simplifying YOUR Season), and would like the assistance of a professional organizer, e-mail  You can also find me on Facebook by clicking HERE or by searching for Organize With Julie.  Stalk me on twitter @juliebavi.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Simplify the Traditions 2013

As we inch towards Thanksgiving and continue to plan for Christmas, share with me:  What are some of your favorite Christmas time traditions?  Are there things you can remember doing as a child during the holidays that you would like to pass down to your own children?  Are there events in your area that you attend annually?  Maybe there are some Season Spectaculars that you have always wanted to experience, but never seem to make the time.  This is your year, my friend!

Our area boasts all sorts of local events from festivals to school plays.  Free school concerts to Symphony Pops at their finest.  Whether you and your family choose simply caroling in your neighborhood or the extravagance of going to the Nutcracker Ballet, make a plan!


First, list the events that are local to you that you/your family is interested in attending.  It may not be possible to do it all.  Pick and choose and save some events for next year.  If your area isn’t rich with local happenings to enrich your traditions, create some of your own. 

Trimming the tree
Holiday Baking
Taking cookies to firemen, neighbors, shut-ins
Hosting a Party

After listing your preferred events, do a little research.  Find out when, where, and how much it costs. 

After selecting the celebrations you wish to be a part of, go ahead and add these events to your calendar.  Make a plan to go. 

Have a Holly Jolly Time!

If you are in the Jacksonville/St. Johns area and would like your home better organized (or you want some help Simplifying YOUR Season), and would like the assistance of a professional organizer, e-mail  You can also find me on Facebook by clicking HERE or by searching for Organize With Julie.  Stalk me on twitter @juliebavi.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Simplify Thanksgiving 2013

It is officially November!  Halloween is over.  Winter weather is going to be here any day now.  Santa has made his mall debut.  Thanksgiving is just about 2 weeks away.  What does all of this mean?  It’s time to prepare before the holidays sneak up on us.  It is time, my friends to – Simplify the Season 2013!


If you haven’t already, let's take care of Thanksgiving Meal Planning.  Which family member is hosting this year?  Are you having Lunch or Dinner?  If you're the hostess, make a list of dishes to be prepared.  Whether you decide on turkey or ham, pumpkin pie or pecan pie, mashed potatoes or rice, salads and veggies – Make sure to decide!  Make a plan and keep it Simple this Thanksgiving!  Have fun and dole out the responsibility!  That's right.  Let Aunt Emma make the sweet potatoes.  That not only frees you up from cooking an extra dish here and there -- let’s face it you can still cook your favorites -- it allows everyone to be a part of the celebration.  You may want to let the bachelor uncle stick with being the ICE BRINGER.  It is an important role. 

To keep track of all the planning make sure you have everything written down, budgeted, and everyone accounted for. 

If you have family coming in for the holiday the night before, would you like a great idea for what to feed these weary travelers? Wouldn’t you like it to be simple? How about an easy crock-pot stew, chili, or spaghetti?  It will stay warm if traffic or a flight causes a delay and won’t get soggy like a casserole may.

Keep these same things in mind when planning your Christmas dinner! Look at that! You just moved a month ahead of the game! Woo hoo!


If you are in the Jacksonville/St. Johns area and would like your home better organized, and would like the assistance of a professional organizer, e-mail  You can also find me on Facebook by clicking HERE or by searching for Organize With Julie.  Stalk me on twitter @juliebavi.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Simplify the Season 2013 has begun with a… BINDER!

You thought I was going to say “with a BANG” didn’t you?!

As we move toward our time to Simplify the Season 2013, I have been pouring over my notebook to guide us along.  There are SIX individualized sections in my notebook: TimeLine, Party Planning, Baking, Portraits/Cards, Wish Lists, List of ME TIME Activities, Family Traditions/Outings. 

Simplify the Season Binder 005

TimeLine:  Contains monthly calendars of November-January.  I keep this separate from my planner because it contains ONLY my Simplify the Season plans.  These plans coincide with the weekly blogs you will read through the next few months.

Party Planning: Includes our plans for Thanksgiving Dinner through New Year’s Brunch and any party or family event that we host in between.  This includes guest lists, menus and “Who is Bringing What”.  (Perfect for that cookie decorating party with the little ones or a Mom’s Night In cookie exchange party.)

Baking: This is a great place to house your favorite Christmas goody recipes, the ones that are favorites year after year. 

In the past I had a Portraits/Cards section: This section holds my holiday cards, address book, and photos to insert into cards. (Stamps and a pen are housed in a pencil pouch in the front of my notebook.)  Also, if I receive a card for someone and have not previously known their address, I can Simply tear off their return address from their envelope and put it in this section to correspond with them at a later time. 
I now use an on-line service to send out my holiday cards.  I made the switch last year when I was so so ill for months.  I will continue to use the online service because it is so easy to make my own picture cards and send them directly from their site.  No more stamps, writing addresses out, or extra trips to the post office for me!  This has been a real time and sanity saver!
So this section still holds my list to update when I am away from my computer.  But other than that, it is becoming obsolete for me.  Still I know many of you cherish sending actual cards, so I didn’t want to do away with this section. 

Wish Lists: Every child’s favorite section! This section holds wish lists, budget, store locators, and “crafts for gifts” ideas.  I also keep an envelope marked “Christmas Receipts” in this section. 

List of ME TIME: so that I do not neglect myself during a busy holiday season, I keep a running list of ways to spend my precious alone time.  Watching campy holiday movies, getting a massage, treating my toes nicely, stopping by my favorite antique shops.  It is important to take care of ourselves during this busy, and sometimes stressful, time of year.

Outings/Traditions: Contains a list of area happenings that the family enjoys going to year after year – along with a list of new things we may want to try each year.  I have high hopes that one of these years, we will get to go on that scenic historic holiday trolley ride with hot cocoa!!! 

All wrapped up: This was just a plain green binder.  I recycled some old Christmas wrap that was past it’s prime, so that it would be a little more festive and gave my plain old binder a little bit of pizzazz. 

Simplify the Season Binder 003

So there you have it: my Simplify the Season Binder has finally been revealed to you all.  Now let’s get ready to SIMPLIFY YOUR SEASON!

If you are in the Jacksonville/St. Johns area and would like your home better organized (and your season simplified!) and would like the assistance of a professional organizer, e-mail  You can also find me on Facebook by clicking HERE or by searching for Organize With Julie.  Stalk me on twitter @juliebavi.