Donations


January (Attack your family room)

Declutter

  • Recycle old magazines & catalogs.
  • Separate photos into the good, bad and ugly.  Toss the bad and ugly. Share duplicates with family or friends.  Put the rest into acid-free boxes for now.  Sorting can be done at a later time.
  • Go through CDs, videos and books.  Separate into keep / loan-return / donate / sell
  • Sort through games and toys; collect missing pieces and put them into their corresponding boxes.  Put them into three piles 1) donate; 2) toss; and 3) keep.  Determine where to keep them and store together.
  • Begin a household inventory.  Start with your electronics.  Write down the manufacturer, model & serial number for your homeowner’s insurance.   Keep a copy of your inventory in a fire-proof safe or off-site in the event of a fire or other disaster.

Clean

  • Dry-clean or launder drapes, throws and area rugs.  If possible, rotate drapes to minimize sun damage.
  • Spot-clean sofas; vacuum cushions and sofa base, flip and rotate cushions.  Dig down the sides for lost coins and pens.  Vacuum down the sides after pulling out any large objects.
  • Vacuum and clean floor, walls, bookshelves, entertainment centers, windowsills, mini blinds and ceiling fans.

Maintain

  • Choose a basket or box to hold on-loan tapes, books and videos.   Write return dates on calendar.
  • Choose a drawer or decorative box to store remotes.  For components that are infrequently used attach the remote to the unit with Velcro.
  • Spend 30 minutes each week (schedule time on your calendar) arranging your photos into meaningful sections (by family member, in chronological order, by event – or a combination thereof).   Put into acid-free photo boxes.
  • Schedule 5 minute cleanup with family members to keep them moving forward toward organizing their designated space in your family room.
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Start off the New Year right.  Scheduling time to get a few items in order will set you up for success.

Below are a few ideas to get you started.

1.  It’s never to early to get organized (in 2011).   Set aside any clothes that are too large or 2 sizes too small.  Include anything you’ve not worn in over a year (with only a few exceptions for seasonal and dress clothes).  Choose a reputable charity and donate for a tax deduction (if you itemize).   See our list of local charities or check out Charity Navigator.

1.  Update your birthday calendar.  Copy special dates over from your current calendar to your new one.

2.  Pull together receipts and other tax documents and schedule an appointment with your accountant for tax preparation

3.  Transfer photos from your camera or smart phone to your computer.  Which brings me to my next point…

4.   If you haven’t already set up a system, back up your computer and/or laptop.   If you don’t have a lot of music or photos you can either use a thumb drive try Mozy.com’s free version.   If you do have a lot of family photos or collect audio files try either an external hard drive or a subscription backup service from Mozy.com or Carbonite.com.  For those that are not diligent in maintaining backups I recommend using an automated service such as Mozy or Carbonite.

7.   Set up new paper and electronic files for the new year.  If you use monthly files for receipts and bills consider creating revolving files.  Create files that simply have ‘January’, ‘February’ etc… without the year.  When you prepare for your taxes, pull out the months receipts and place into a manila envelope.

8.   If you are a planner, check our 2011 Organizing Schedule.  We’ll layout recommendations for each month that will keep you working toward your organizing goal.

Have you begun the mad dash to get all your holiday shopping complete?   Do you have younger children in your life? Can you see the deluge of toys that will invade you home Christmas morning?

This is a fantastic time to bring in the spirit of the holidays and introduce your children to donating.  Although parting with their loved toys can be difficult they can be  involved by choosing toys they played with when they were ‘little’.

There are several places you can look to donated gently used toys.

1) The usual suspects: Goodwill and The Salvation Army

2) Preschools, elementary schools, early childhood programs and daycare centers may accept toys

3) Homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters

4)  There are several ways to donate at your church; the church nursery, give them to missionaries traveling to poor countries or speak to someone there about donating to a family in need that is known to them

5) Ask around your neighborhood

Children often have so many toys because they are more affordable than ever and with the prevalence of advertising it seems that what is hot today is old news tomorrow.   This often leads to nearly new toys being relegated to the back of the closet or under the bed.

The most important part of this process is involving your child/children.   The experience of giving will give them the opportunity to see that they are blessed and the joy that comes from helping others.   And although that is more than enough reason to clear out toys and added benefit is that you’ll have the opportunity to get the remainder of their toys organized and make room for the new ones that are sure to be under the tree.

Best wishes and Merry Christmas!