Holidays can bring many gifts to the children in your family, and sometimes it can seem overwhelming.  One idea to keep things under control is to have each child choose one toy to give away which they haven't used over the last year, for each new package that is opened.  It gives them the opportunity to give to those less fortunate and also keep the supply of toys down to a manageable level.  You can even plan an outing with the kids for the following week to the local shelter or wherever your donations go to keep in the spirit of the holiday!
 
 
Keeping your laundry room clean and organized includes cleaning out the inside of your washing machine.  At first, that may sound a bit crazy, but mold and mildew can build up, so I like to do it about twice a year.  Things you do twice a year can easily be kept track of by doing them each time you change the clocks!

For a front loading machines, directions are given in your instruction booklet.  For top loading machine, like I have, follow these simple directions.
  • Set your machine to the hottest water and highest setting to allow for the water to fill as much as possible.  Do not add any clothes!
  • Add four cups of white vinegar to the hot water filled machine, and let it agitate for a few minutes.  ,
  • Stop the machine by opening the lid and allow it to sit for an hour so that the vinegar can do its thing to get rid of the bacteria hiding in all those little hidden areas of the washer and also in  the hoses of your machine.
  • Once you have let it sit, resume the full cycle which will also do a rinse allowing it to be ready for the next load.
 
 
I recently read in one of my favorite magazines about an easy way to clean the interior surfaces of my oven without having to use the smelly, heat-producing, high energy wasting self-clean feature.  I had to try it first before sharing it and indeed it worked great!!

First clean off any food or crumbs by wiping out the oven.  Then combine baking soda and water to make a paste.  Spread it on the room temperature surfaces you want to clean and close the door and leave it overnight. Don't turn on the oven at all.  In the morning, use damp paper towels or a damp rag to fully wipe out the paste along with the yucky grease and grime!  I also understand it is better on the oven itself, as the self-cleaning cycles can wear out your oven far sooner!  Let me know if you find this easy and helpful--I sure did.
 
 
It used to be that every year I had this huge fear that I would receive an unexpected present from someone with whom I had not planned to exchange.  Now I simply keep some $10 gifts on hand should this occur.  I keep them wrapped in generic paper--suitable for Chanukah or Christmas.  I like Starbuck's gift cards, scented candles, or body lotion.  It seems to save me at least once each year.  Might be worth a thought if you also occasionally have that fear near the holidays.  One less thing to worry about, at a time of year when it is always seeming like there are plenty of worries!
 
 
Do you have way too many clocks around?  Own too many watches?  Now is a good time to purge.  Donate to a charity or give away to friends or family any you no longer use.  In the kitchen I use the time on my oven and microwave, so no need for a kitchen clock.  I now use the time feature on my cell phone, and no longer wear a watch.  I kept one for sentimental reasons and wear it on occasion, but all those Timex watches can go to the shelter where people may need a watch.  Think about paring down your watch and clock collection and see if you agree that we all have more than we need in this department!