5 end-of-year resolutions to finish before the New Year

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Organize Toys

because-I-said-so-greenI love to get wrapped up in the Christmas spirit. Listening to festive tunes, reading by the light of the tree, snuggling on the couch and watching classic holiday movies. That Christmas-y feeling stays strong all month … at least up until December 26. When I wake up the day after Christmas, and it looks like a wrapping paper bomb went off in my living room, I start to feel the urge to purge.

Without fail, this decidedly un-Christmas-y sentiment happens every year between Christmas and New Years. Instead of warm fuzzy feelings and thoughts of staying in and relaxing, I feel inclined to get my house in order, metaphorically and literally speaking. I want the Christmas tree down — now! — so I can get everything in order for the new year.

I’m not the only one who does an abrupt about face this time of year. I tell myself it’s natural to want a clean slate for the New Year. However, I don’t want to spend the entire holiday overhauling my house. De-junking the playroom, sifting and shredding papers and reorganizing drawers may be my jam, but my kids are home and we need to play. So this year, instead of turning the house upside down, I’m focusing my efforts. Here are the five things I’m doing this week:

1. Sorting and organizing toys

Do you ever get the feeling that the toys in your house are multiplying overnight? Well, on Christmas Eve that actually happens. That makes the following week a great time to evaluate the toys in your house and donate toys your kids don’t love or no longer play with. My kids help me evaluate our toys every year, so no one wakes up to discover their favorite stuffy is gone. They are surprisingly practical about the process — sometimes I’m the one that wants to save a toy they no longer use.

2. Putting Christmas away by Jan. 1

I’m resisting my inner Scrooge and leaving the tree up until after New Year’s Eve for one reason: My children love it. Where I see clutter that needs to go back to the garage, my kids see cherished mementos of their favorite holiday. So I’m trying my best to leave the decorations up longer this year. But after the ball drops, all bets are off. I’ll be taking down the tree in record time.

3. Creating a new and updated budget

I know there are high-tech ways to track your spending, but a simple Microsoft Excel worksheet works just fine for me. This year, I’m updating and simplifying our family budget. Instead of line items for every little thing — Haircuts! Babysitting! Car washes! — I’m going to create one overarching category for it all to save myself time.

4. Tackling one problem area

I love to decorate and redecorate, and I could easily blow the entire week (and every last penny in my bank account) sprucing up the entire house. Instead I’ll focus my efforts on one area that drives me nuts for its lack of functionality. I’m going to give myself a set budget, allow time to look for inspiration on Pinterest and allot one day to execute my plan so the project doesn’t drag on for weeks.

5. Making a list of unfinished projects

Speaking of projects that drag on for weeks: We all have them. I tell myself I’m pretty good at busting out projects and finishing them, but the truth is that I’ve got quite a nice pile of half-finished projects. Instead of making myself nutty by trying to complete them all before the New Year, I’m simply going to make a list of everything that is undone. I’ll tape the list to my wall, so next time I get the urge to start a new project, I’ll tackle one from the unfinished list instead.

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Natalie Hollingshead is a former magazine editor turned freelance writer and editor. She writes regularly about home, family, food and travel for a handful of publications, and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking” (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Elyssa Andrus. A native of Alberta, Canada, Natalie lives in Orem with her husband and their three children.

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