Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year's Purge Part III: Gift Wrap/Arts & Crafts

As the last installment in my New Year's purge series, I attacked our gift wrap supplies and the kid's arts & crafts supplies.
If you're anything like me and like to reuse things as much as possible, you probably save every gift bag you ever receive a gift in because you never know when you'll be able to use it again. After every birthday party, baby shower, Christmas, etc I would gather up all the gift bags and stuff them into a container in my attic. Of course when I had an event to go to and I wanted to use a gift bag, I never went up in the attic to find a bag because I didn't have time to search through and find the right one.
Similar to my other purges, the first step was to get everything I had in one place so I could assess what I had. Then I looked at every bag and decided if it was worthy of being used again (ie was it wrinkled too much, did it have stickers on it, etc) and immediately got rid of about 30 bags. Then I sorted them by occasion - birthday, Christmas, baby shower, wedding. Next, I took each pile and sorted it by size. In addition to the bags, I also gathered up all the bows, ribbon, gift boxes, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and name tags that I had and sorted through those as well. Once I was done sorting, I had to brainstorm on how I was going to store this stuff using the containers I already had since I didn't want to spend any money on this project. This is what I came up with:

The container at the top houses all the non-Christmas supplies. The other container has the Christmas stuff.

I used some pieces of cardboard to separate the different occasion bags.

My last purge project was the kid's arts & crafts supplies. I had 3 or 4 boxes with all different art stuff in it like paints, crayons, markers, colored pencils, coloring books... and the list goes on. Whenever the princess wanted to do something, it was a project in itself just getting the supplies out for her and when it came time to clean up it was even worse. As you can probably guess - the first step was gathering together everything we had, it looked a little something like this:

Turns out we had a TON of crayons (many of them broken), a lot of markers (a lot of which didn't work anymore), heaps of construction paper, and well you get the idea. My first step was to weed out all the stuff that was past it's prime (ie the broken crayons, the dried out markers, broken pencils, etc). Then I designated a container for each kind of item. Taking a hint from my friend Francesca Verri, I made kid friendly labels for each container - meaning I put the word on the label as well as a picture of what was inside. This will not only help us find stuff but also help in the clean up process because the kids will better understand where everything is supposed to go. At the end of the sorting, the container looked like this:

SO much better! Just so you know, it's already been kid tested and it works!

Question: I have to know - did I inspire anyone to purge??

Last words: I will probably do some more purging when the springtime rolls around, but for now I will enjoy my freshly organized spaces!

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year's Purge Part II: Personal Filing Cabinet

The Queen is back with more stories of purging and organizing for the New Year. As I said at the end of my last post, the next project I was going to tackle was our personal document filing cabinet. Before we get down to the actual organizing, let's talk about this for a minute. It wasn't until I had 2 kids and started running Junk King with the King, that I realized, running a household is sort of like running a business. You always have paperwork and things to keep track of and if you don't have some sort of system to handle that stuff as it comes in, you can get overwhelmed pretty quickly.
A couple months ago, I decided to gather up all the various paperwork that was scattered around my kitchen and when I put it into one big pile, the pile ended up about 1 foot tall! When I had that in front of me, I decided to put the pile aside and tackle it another day - which as you can probably guess - never happened!
Fast forward to this past weekend, it was finally time to tackle the project and get it here we go:

1. The first step was to get all the papers in one place. Most of the stuff had been in our filing cabinet, so we took the drawers out to make it easier:

So it doesn't look like we have that many papers or even a problem organizing them - but the truth is, a lot of the stuff in these 2 drawers was so old and irrelevant to us now that I knew I could free up room to organize the stuff we actually needed to keep.

2. The next step was to take everything out and put it in piles, at the same time, we went through everything we took out and got rid of all the old stuff we no longer needed. A couple useful sites I used for advice on how long to keep certain documents from the IRS and this great chart from Good Housekeeping. All the stuff we got rid of that had sensitive information on it, got shredded (the princess gave us a hand - who knew it could be a family activity!):

One thing I do when I shred papers is put all the shredded pieces into paper bags and it goes right out with the recycling. I hate those plastic bags that come with shredding machines - the ease of them makes you want to throw it in the trash but really, you're shredding paper - recycle it!

3. The last step, was determining what we were keeping (by using the piles we made) and then making sure each thing had a folder in the drawer. At the end of this project, we filled up a one of those town recycling bins with paper as well as filled 4 paperbags with shredded paper - now that's a purge (I should've taken a picture of it, it was impressive)! What a relief - everything has a place now and we'll be able to find a document next time we're looking for one!!

Question: Do you have a home paperwork system that works for you? Please share!

Last words: Next week, as the last installment in the New Year's purge we will tackle gift wrapping supplies (come on, I know you're excited and I also know most of you probably have a bin full of stuff!).

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year Purge

Most people like to do a purge of items when they spring clean (it's the King and I's busiest season!), but for me I like to do it when the New Year starts. In my mind, the New Year is about new beginnings and a clean slate. Here's what I've done so far:

1. Kids clothes - If there are any moms of small children reading this blog, I'm sure you can relate. We have so many clothes for the princesses, it's crazy. Of course I kept all the clothes my older daughter wore so that my younger daughter could use them but at some point as I kept temporarily putting things out of commission as the older one grew out of them, I ended up with containers with about 5 different sizes all mixed together. As my younger daughter got bigger, I'd go searching for clothes in the containers and give up because I couldn't find the size I was looking for. So as part of the New Year purge, the first thing I did was gather up all the kids clothes that we had and here's what it looked like:

It was a big enough pile for the kids to jump into...
First, we sorted them by item - shorts, pants, shirts, etc., next we sorted by size. After that, I put aside all the stuff that wouldn't fit either of the girls so I could either donate or sell at a tag sale that the Chelmsford Mother's Club holds twice a year. Next I sorted the size piles by season (summer vs winter) and then put them in labeled containers. Now when the littlest princess is ready to move to the next size, I can go up in the attic, grab the right container and she'll be good to go...phew!

2. Christmas Stuff - I took some of the advice I posted in an earlier blog post, and in the process of taking down our Christmas tree, laid out all our Christmas stuff and decided what I was probably never going to use, what I had duplicates of, etc and got rid of a bunch of stuff. Then, similar to the kid's clothes I sorted what was left into containers and labeled them (very detailed!!). It'll be fun next Christmas to go up and get my decorations out and know exactly where everything is!!

So, I do have more organizing/purging I plan on doing but so far my donation/sell pile looks like this:

I think my next project will be all our personal office papers and filing cabinet - that's going to be a big project!
Question: What's your favorite thing to do for New Years? Do you like to make resolutions? Goals?
 Last words: Happy New Year everyone! Til next week!