Pumpkins give way to carols


San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik ran this item a few days ago: “I stopped in at Macy’s yesterday,” e-mailed Tom Torriglia last week, ” and was surprised to see the store already decked out for the Christmas holidays. That can only mean one thing: Halloween is right around the corner.”

Indeed it is. Monday, to be exact. So if you’re the organized and plan-ahead type (or if you want to be), that means it’s a good time to nibble a few bite-sized candy treats and start thinking about holiday events, meals and gifts. Too early? Hardly. Planning your holiday now helps you:

— Beat the crowds at the mall, the delay in deliveries and the rush jobs on seasonal cards.

— Create the type of season that’s meaningful to you.

— Stay on budget through careful spending and preparations.

Check out the FlyLady for some sanity-saving tips and a schedule of bite-sized steps to tackle through the next few weeks. (Thousands of loyal fans swear by her counsel, and I like that she doesn’t take herself too seriously.)

So between now and Nov. 15 is a smart time to:

— Take your holiday photos for cards. Upload to a site like Shutterfly and place your order. Then you can address the envelopes at your leisure and mail them with time to spare.

— Set a holiday budget. List everyone you’re planning to buy a gift for and write a dollar amount by each name. Don’t forget your babysitter, newspaper carrier and other service people. Here’s etiquette expert Emily Post’s advice on who to tip and how much to give.

–Shop wisely. Work with what you have: Raid your “gift drawer” for items that are ideal for the people on your list. Consider buying gift cards. They’re easy to mail, need no gift wrap and likely to please everyone. Teens and college students love iTunes cards, and everyone can find something great on Amazon.

Every year I buy holiday gifts to thank a handful of contacts who were especially helpful or helped my business grow. When I saw holiday tins of Mrs. Field’s cookies on the Costco website, I pounced. For $25, Costco will deliver a tin of 24 cookies to each of recipients, who will undoubtedly be impressed by my thoughtfulness and good taste.

If you want to send a few tins to folks on your holiday list, go right ahead. Just do it before Nov. 13, when the price goes up to $35. Planning ahead really pays.

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About organizesf

Professional organizer June Bell (www.organizesf.com) combats clutter and chaos with sage advice, tested techniques and good humor.
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