The 12 Days of Holiday Organizing by Sara Skillen


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What’s on your holiday to-do list this year? One thing on mine was to write this guest post about the 12 Days of Holiday Organizing. For some reason I was struggling with the topic a bit, so to prepare I did a little informal polling on people’s holiday plans. Given what I see and do in a typical work day, I don’t think too many of us have trouble spending too much, extending ourselves too far, and getting completely overwhelmed any time of the year. Most people still don’t seem to have a grip on what is coming in the next four weeks (Poor things. Bewildered and slightly fearful, murmuring “What?? The holidays…?! ”). Thus, I wanted to focus on the unpretentious, the lean, the meaningful, and in that spirit I made the radical decision to outline ten days.

That’s right - not twelve.  I’m a professional organizer, so I purged two days (you can binge-watch something on the extra two).

Let’s see if the season this year might inspire a little less glitz and a little more introspection - this post may be as much about what NOT to do as what TO do when getting ready for your celebrations.  Without further ado, I present 10 days of ways to celebrate a more peaceful, orderly holiday season:

Day 1 - Un-shop.  Go through your home well before the Big Day(s) with a few boxes and start rounding up the things that apparently don’t work for you anymore. Not just clothing, but maybe that Belgian waffle maker that never sees the light of day, the books you’ll only read once, the electronics that have already become obsolete.  It’s time to find those things a new home at a local charity or recycling facility - so take them out to your vehicle right now.  Put them in the trunk and get them to where they will have the best chance of being adopted and loved. Back at the home front, you’ll have more space and less to take care of.

Day 2 - Plan your work and work your plan. I’m a bit of a diagram and list nerd, so I have all of my to-do items in Wunderlist (including my brain dumps for 2017 goals). I also created a color-coded chart of holiday considerations (decisions to make, scheduling, tasks, shopping, decorating, cooking). You certainly don’t have to follow my weird lead, but coming up with a solid plan means less frazzled nerves, and ironically, more time for spontaneity. So pull out the calendar and get a framework pinned down, especially if you are traveling (or others are traveling to you). Take it all the way to January 2.

Day 3 - Shop local. Is Nashville not one of the best places on the planet for local shopping?  November 26 is/was Small Business Saturday, and you can check out all sorts of places around town to fill out the unique, not-your-average-gift-giving list. If you’re up for a short road trip, downtown Franklin is a great place to start. Check out their festivities for that day, but remember that any time is a great time to support local a business. Organizer caveat: yes, you can absolutely give a gift certificate for organizing services, but please make sure your loved one actually wants it. No one craves a surprise “why-can’t-you-get-your-____-in-order” message in her stocking.

Day 4 - Listen.  I mean really listen. When a loved one tells you they don’t want another thing, believe them.  According to a recent SpareFoot blog survey a whopping 81 percent of Americans would rather receive experience-based gifts. And friends, Nashville is chock full of experiences. So “Listen” can also mean, “Hey, instead of another artisan hand-carved shaving set, what say we head downtown and listen to some music?” If you have kids, get them tickets to a play or a museum or a concert.  I guarantee you will never have to clean any of those things up off of their bedroom floor.

Day 5 - Like getting organized? Start with that pantry.  The pantry is a great space to get in top shape during the holiday season. Even if your culinary adventures only extend to making cereal, you see that space every day.  I find that organizing pantries often gives people a real sense of control and satisfaction, because even if life is imploding all around you, by God, you can get those cans and spices in order.  So here’s the routine - pull everything out, check those expiration dates, discard and donate (see also “Un-shop” above). Put back the things that are needed - “like with like”, and place the stuff you reach for most often front and center.

Day 6 - Lights? You want lights? I recently read that approximately 15,000 people end up in the emergency room each year due to holiday decorating-related injuries. That is a lot of physical therapy. Maybe instead of channeling the inner Clark Griswold you could check out Cheekwood’s annual Holiday Lights.  Or, take a drive through a neighborhood where other people have wrecked their backs to decorate. And candles. Just buy some candles.

Day 7 - Give your time. Another way to cut back on excess stuff: Instead of a shopping trip, check out local organizations that could use a little help sorting food for the needy, providing love to animals, or hanging out with the elderly or the homeless. You may even find something that inspires you to keep going with your volunteer work on a regular basis throughout the New Year (cutting back on even more shopping trips!). 

Day 8 - Those co-workers. And service providers. And teachers. And...  There is often the expectation that absolutely everyone you come into contact with, from the guy who picks up the dry cleaning to the lady at the drive-through teller, must have a gift from you. Of course, all (most?) of those folks are deserving of a gift, but the business of trying to decide what to bulk purchase (or make) for everyone can be a real drain on your mental AND financial resources. I’m all for pairing down the list, but for those who really do make the cut, a donation to a worthy organization in their honor is a nice way of saying “I appreciate you,” without cluttering up their spaces or your brain.

Day 9 - Decoration organization.  I’m hoping to keep my own decorating pretty simple this year, and do my best to use things that are sustainable or timeless (read: no fake greenery or plastic pumpkins). Still, whatever you decorate or wrap with has to be put somewhere during the rest of the year. Hold off on this project until after you’ve used what you’re going to use this year, then take a hard look at what didn’t make it out of the attic or garage. If you have excess lights (see Day 6 above), consider a holiday light recycling program like this one. If your storage is not temperature controlled, reflect on what’s going to hold up well, and invest in storage that will protect it.

Day 10 - The day after.  Rest, nibble on some cookies, talk to people you care about, express gratitude. And stay away from the sales.

Sara Skillen is the owner of SkillSet Organizing based in Franklin, TN. Her mission is to help busy people from all walks of life manage their stuff, their time, and their technology. An active blogger and speaker, her tips and ideas have been featured in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Angie’s List Experts, and NOU Magazine, as well as her own blog “Sorting Through the Haystack”. Sara is an Evernote Certified Consultant, and became a Certified Professional Organizer® in 2015.

"How to be a White Girl in Nashville" Part 2 By Benton

"How to be a White Girl in Nashville" Part 2. By Guest Writer Benton 

LIVING For LIVING In Nashville!

You came, you saw, and you didn’t get pregnant, so overall it was a pretty great trip! In fact, I bet in a tequila drunken haze, you even stumbled your way into a tattoo shop and got a dope ass teeny tiny infinity symbol tattoo on your wrist. No wait it was star, no an inspirational quote written in a cursive no one can read.  Well...it doesn’t matter honestly, because there’s no news bigger or more disappointing to the Nashville Natives reading this than your decision to move here! We get it you’re so excited to send out that Facebook status and announce your plans to move you and your Ugg boots and Yoga mats to Music City, but the locals here feel like their small town city is full. Me however, well I feel the way you white girls feel about going to the bathroom, the more the merrier. But to avoid the stress and fights that are often caused by that mindset, and not to mention the long lines it forms, I am going to help you fit right into our city with some more helpful tips.

I Need A Place To Keep My Wine, Oh And To Live…

Well, you have boxes full of leggings and rom-coms to unpack, but where is the best place in Nashville to lay your messy bun at night? Broadway is a great place for you and your fellow potatoes (see part one if that reference doesn’t make sense) to go out in body glitter and cry over boys you don’t know, however, I don’t think it’s the perfect place for you to call home. You could come to the Gulch; it’s a lot like joining a cult when you live here. You’re surrounded by signs telling you to live, eat, and work in the Gulch. Honestly I’m not sure if when you arrive you’re ever allowed to leave. What I do know, is that your bank account will never be the same, and if you can't afford Starbucks; you can't take pictures of you holding Starbucks and if you can't take those pictures then you can't use that Katy Perry lyric that speaks to you in the caption and if you can't do that, well then who are you really? Then there’s East Nashville and we would need a whole other post to talk about the place were teen angst, arrogance, and poor hygiene are the three best terms to describe literally everything there, including the people. It’s just not for you, unless you too have given up on shaving your legs and decided disappointing your parents is important to you. If so, please move there, they may need help making organic recyclable bird feeders out of old I.U.D’s and calling it art. That could be your new thing, but I think it's a safe bet that you're not that kind of girl.  No, a girl like you belongs in the headquarters of the #NWG (Nashville White Girl), Hillsboro Village.

Yes, of course I know that the “white girl” can be found anywhere, rather she have physical form or be in the hearts of our family and friends, she is there in the crowd. But it is my personal belief (and now yours) that Hillsboro Village is the home base of the NWG, I mean correct me if I’m wrong, but is that not where Tay Tay goes for lunch? I mean look around, there are tons of over priced boutiques selling you $130 kimono style cardigans, basic brown leather bags, and cheeky coffee mugs talking about how much you LOVE whiskey. I mean it’s overpriced trendy ridiculous coffees and sweets as far as the eye can see.  Honestly, I thought when there was that much basic in one place Lauren Conrad would just materialize. I know, I know, I’m so horrible talking about your queen like that, she’s a real trendsetter that one.  I bet, right now as we speak, she’s doing something crazy like adding some highlights or posing in floral on the cover of Cosmo. Okay focus, you’re reading this blog right now, you can go search her blog for a post on how to do a twisty braid later. My point is, this is exactly where a white girl should put down roots, and by roots I mean your Target comforter set that you found on Pinterest.

I've Seen Every Episode Of The Simple Life; I’m Totally Qualified!

Because you don’t get paid for being in a sorority, and eventually you have to leave college, you’ll need a job. Yes, you need a job to pay the rent on your new place, but more importantly you need coins because your Sephora coupon is about to expire and the new "Naked" pallet has a gold color you just love. No, you won't use any of the other colors in the pallet, but if you get this one that means that out of the 4, you will have a total of 7 colors you like, so it's worth it. But first you need a job, and what is a white girl like you qualified to do, other than make a juice box drip every time she watches Magic Mike?  With that being said, please ladies lets be careful, puddles are a safety hazard. Okay now where were we, oh yeah, you need a job, and since you’re already headed to Sephora why not apply? You love makeup even though you don’t wear any, like ever. That’s okay though because you watch YouTube, and you really, really love contouring, oh and liquid lips. So makeup artist is the perfect job for a NWG, or better yet, a wedding makeup artist, and before anyone tries to make me out as villain for talking about makeup artists, I’ll have you know that my inner white girl chose that career.  When I’m not doing comedy I happen to take jobs as a makeup artist myself, so see it's okay to laugh at yourself. My inner black girl however wanted to be Jennifer Hudson, but turns out that’s not a career more than one person can have at a time, so she became an Instagram model and a chef.  Yeah, let's see you do both Tyra. Anyways, enough about me let's move on.  You could also get a job as a hair stylist and the more you focus on up dos, the more your white girl shines. Plus, that could really help with the weddings, a two for one on basic. But if you want something trendier, something exciting, the job every modern 2016 NWG has decided to take on. A job to help not only herself but everyone around her to be healthier, happier, and smell like a Contributor salesman on a hot Nashville day, well then you need to get into the business of essential oils. I know, of course, there are oil hippies who have been around for years, but right now oils are trendy. You know trendy, like how all of a sudden every Sarah, Jessica, and Allie wants black lipstick and a floppy hat after watching one tv show about witches. But that’s trends for you; it’s all about taking the identity of the unique and finding a way to wear it to Chili’s. But it's true and you should know that right at this very moment, there are white girls all over Nashville who didn’t get the memo on hot sauce and instead made room in all their bags for bottles on bottles worth of voodoo juice. Then they have the audacity to try and look us in face and sell us tiny little bottles of frankincense. You know the stinky flower that one of the two hipster wise men, that clearly couldn’t get their shit together, “gifted” Baby J. Yes, just like the fools who walked for miles with a man carrying a gift of gold to the newborn king of kings, and deciding, what I assume was last minute, that maybe they should bring a gift too. These white girls are coming from all over into your jobs and homes trying to pawn off the smell of the plague in exchange for your gold. Oh and don’t even get me started on the peppermint oil, you're not a holiday drink for Starbucks ladies! But I digress, my point is that if you want a job in the dark arts these oils could be for you. But remember while you’re on your way to becoming Nashville’s newest medicine women, that these oils do have a great power. Of course that power is keeping boys away, but hey, maybe now we can get through a High School graduation without watching a crowning baby grabbing the diploma for its mama. I’m kidding, I’m kidding, pregnant teens don’t have mid birth babies grabbing their diplomas, they grab their GEDs. On a serious note however, parents reading this need to know essential oils will not stop teen pregnancy, these kids are wild now…have you heard about the cake they eat?

Sorry, got a little sidetracked, you know like when you start to think about how you’re 30 and that sorority didn’t prepare you for anything but how to force yourself to form life long codependent relationships with girls who can't hold their liquor. Anyways, here are some more jobs you can do now that you're living as a true NWG. You can work at a golf course, be a wedding planner, a Realtor, or pretend you go to Vanderbilt. Just not Hooters, those girls are heroes.  It takes big ovaries to stand in a room full of men who are all under the delusions that all the girls there want them, and NOT use their lady charm to convince the guys the spicy wing sauce makes a great lube. In the end it’s about being happy, so you really should just work wherever Chacos are sold.

BARbie!

Well now that you're settled in, I am sure you’ve made friends who have mutual interests like wine, searching for the perfect nude lipstick, talking about a boy you found on Instagram who could be your husband (but you don't know him, and he lives in Spain), posting Bible verses under bikini pics with your prayer circle, and doing a “workout” that allows the use of a ballet bar, so that you don’t feel so bad about having all your childhood dreams crushed because your child bearing hips ruined any chances of being a real ballerina, well, that and you sucked. That run on sentence was worth it.

Who cares though, now you have friends.  Sure, they aren’t perfect, but they own the perfect amount of Tory Burch, and they will keep you from being alone in your snaps. Exciting, now that you’ve formed a squad, it's time to hit the bars, but where does a group of single lady caspers like yours go for a good time? I know what you’re thinking, Broadway, and yes,  that’s a classic choice for potatoes, drunks, and ghost babes like you, but it's overplayed. You could head to a comedy club, but talking about how you wear your spanxs when you watch the Bachelor just because you feel like he’s giving the rose to you is highly frowned upon. I know this doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, because how could everyone not want to know what you’re feeling at all times?! I mean hello,  your Facebook post has 24 likes! But it's true ladies, the comedy clubs are less interested in you and more interested in letting the person with the microphone talk, so maybe save the comedy club for date nights. Also you’re a local now and you and the snowballs want to have fun, you're not looking for guys, Tinder has that covered for you (more on Tinder in the finale part of our trilogy) and for you ladies it's all about the white girl “whhhooooas”! So like any good NWG that means you’re headed to the gay bar! I know there are lots of gays who have probably expressed to you their distaste for the drunk white girls who are taking up their space and sloppily making moves on the bears and twinks and daddies, oh my! Girls, I’m here to tell you to pay those bitchy little Mary’s no mind, any good gay would welcome you with open arms. They know the NWG just wants a chance to get shit faced, break a nail, and dance till she sweats through her bra! Your local LGBT friends understand the fears that come with having a vagina and a mixed drink now a days, but with the gays you know you can enjoy being in a room full of boys who aren’t competitive swimmers with dreams of the Olympics. It’s like I said, a gay worth your time loves having you at the bar, it’s not a secret that loud drunk girl groups like yourselves have played a big part in making sure the drag queens get tipped. Sometimes I feel like you ladies are keeping these queens in business,  one potato party at a time. So be the NWG you’ve always dreamed you’d be, find your place in the rainbow, and open a new note in your iPhone because you can bet you’ll be leaving with some makeup tips.

What Filter Makes My Future Look Best?

Well my fresh linen Bath and Body Works candles, it looks like we’ve come to the end of part two in our guide to finding your true white girl here in Nashville. I hope these tips help you settle into Music City a little easier! And no matter what horrible things you hear people (me) say about you, we all are so thankful you have chosen to come here. That’s a sentence that should mean something to you, because so many people go through life never hearing that, just ask Bill Clinton. I really do want the best for you girls, even now I’m praying that bread bowl between your legs clears up so you don’t have to start asking all your dates if they enjoy eating at Panera before going to third base. Oh and speaking of third base, I hope you find love, my wish for you all is that you fall madly in love with someone who won’t give you HPV, well won't give you MORE HPV. I hope you keep #Pinning and you never take off your Michael Kors watch, but more than anything I hope you enjoyed this post. I’m hoping it made you laugh a lot, cry a little, and second-guess your life most! Please keep commenting and sharing your funny #NashvilleWhiteGirl stories and photos with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I hope you make your way back over to check out the third and final post in the “How To be a White Girl in Nashville” series, it's going to be all about love, marriage, and what happens to NWGs when they grow up. Personally I’m pretty excited! Once again, I hope this made you smile, mostly because I want to clear something up. There’s a saying that tells us “happy girls are the prettiest”, but that’s a lie, girls who use filters are the prettiest.

Benton is a self proclaimed Glamour Comic, standup comedian & writer based out of Nashville, TN. His charmingly cute, yet brutally honest approach to everyday topics and pop culture makes him the perfect person to give advice on love, life, and anything else your family and friends insist on lying to you about.

PC: Bombs Over Betty Photography

PC: Bombs Over Betty Photography

I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I did!  It's so much fun to make fun of basic white girls, like myself!  Part one was such a big hit, I just had to have Benton back for part 2!  If you missed it, you can read part 1 here ----> ohttp://www.nativeinnashville.com/be-my-guest/bentonhickerson .

For more of Benton you can follow him on Instagram @RoyalBabyBenton and visit him on FB at https://www.facebook.com/RoyalBabyBenton/

**All opinions are purely for comedy and do not reflect Amber's opinions. Amber loves East Nashville and girls who sell essential oils.  She also used to be a Hooters Girl with a star tattoo on one wrist & a cursive infinity like symbol that says "love" which she found on Pinterest on the other. Remember people, tattoos are PERMANENT. 🙈

Please remember to vote for your favorite blog on the Tennesseean's TOAST of Music City Awards.  Native in Nashville has been nominated in the "people and places" category for best blog.  You can vote here --->  http://tennessean.secondstreetapp.com/l/TOAST-Readers-Choice-2016/Ballot/PeopleampPlaces

THANKS YALL!! XOXO- Amber  

"How to be a White Girl in Nashville" Part 1 by Benton

"How to be a White Girl in Nashville" Part 1

by guest writer Benton

Welcome! 

Okay.  You’ve made it to THE Nashville. Your iPhone is at 20% and you are determined to get as many photos of your food, coffee, and frienemies as possible. But where do you start? You’ve never had to can in Nashville, so how will you even know what you can’t?  Well luckily for you I’m here to help! I’ll literally give you all the info you need to literally make it as a literal white girl in Nashville. So find somewhere comfy, grab your Kate Spade planner, flip to the notes section and pay attention.

What Would Tay Tay Wear?

Okay, first thing's first: what are you going to wear? Winter is like, so over so it’s time to retire those oh so unique and one of a kind knee high boots that mix black and brown in a way everyone says you shouldn’t but some how you seem to make work. What’s that you always say? “Hey I can literally wear these with everything.” And you do wear them with? LITERALLY EVERYTHING! But good for you for getting your money's worth, and no matter what anyone tells you over-sized shirts from crab restaurants, leggings and those boots look amazing! You keep doing you girl! Oh and maybe later everyone in your group can change into tiny little dress and…wait for it… cowboy boots! AHHHH so Nashville of you! So cute and it has literally never been done before. I thought perhaps 2011 Taylor swift had cloned herself and tried to make that trend cute again, but she didn’t. Not a problem though, wear it anyway, girl.  Tonight is about having fun and when you look basic you feel good! So lets see where the day will take you!

Murals Are Like, Soy Latte Cute

So now that you have your oh so chic daytime adventure outfit picked out, we have to get you to the nearest murals. I mean who would even believe that you were having a good time or even really in Nashville if there wasn’t a mural in the background of your photo stating that you, yourself Believe that Nashville is real. That’s right.  You don’t think Nashville is some made up place that’s only in country songs. No ma’am. You believe in it. You think Nashville is like a pumpkin spice latte...not always available to you, but you know it's there…waiting to embrace you and your squad. Nashville recently painted a mural in front of my parking garage.  Do you even know what it's like to wait 45 minutes to get home because you’re waiting on the yoga pants posse to take 33 photos using the flower crown snap chat filter in front of guitar shaped angel wings?! Well if you didn’t know it’s not very pleasant, and with that being said here’s what you should do when you arrive at a Nashville mural. Take your photo and leave. YOU TAKE YOUR PHOTO IN YOUR YOGA PANT COVERED UGGS AND YOU LEAVE. Trust me, nothing you do in front of that mural will be that unique, and that’s okay because you still deserve your memory with it, but if you don’t hurry you’ll be late for brunch and that's like literally not ok. 

#FoodPorn

Ahhhh, food.  Now, I know you white girls may feel nothing when you turn on films like Big Breasted Blondes 3: The Milk Maids, but if I sent them a pin of flatbread on a wooden plank there would be more activity in their pants than when all four generations of women in their family took a day trip to see whatever the latest Ryan Gosling movie was. Oh yeah, white girls love food pics, and if given the opportunity to take their own…well you better stay out of the way. It's probably best if you eat before going to dinner with a large group of white girls because chances are you won't be getting a bit of whatever trendy meal you were dragged to till after they snap the perfect insta photo. By the time that happens the food is colder than any of the girls at your table who felt like a bando top would efficiently keep them warm. However, with all this being said if you want to do it right then you must get your selfies with a few very important Nashville food groups: hot chicken, tacos, and hipster coffee. 

So ladies, hop in your ubers and head to your food porn paradises. The internet is in desperate need of seeing what food you take with your Plan B pill. 

No One Cares You’re Getting Married…Literally No One

Let's end part one of our guide to being a white girl in Nashville with one of the most basic and dreaded sights to a Nashville Native: The Bachelorette Party. Let us set the scene: you see it coming for you...a huddle of drunken potatoes all in matching Forever 21 dresses and cowboy boots bought just for this occasion. Their orange skin covered thick in body glitter and the smell of their Victoria's Secret body spray  as it's wafted towards you by the oversized pair of fake eye lashes they all helped each other put on in the car on the ride over. Each potato yelling about how their friend is a bride as they all stop in the street to make duck lips for a photo in their matching red lipstick (which, other than the lashes and eight sticks worth of eyeliner, is all the makeup they felt was needed for this night out. They were wrong). As a potato in the group you know that people have seen potato groups like this all night, however you know your queen potato is different and her sash and veil is really going to win the hearts of these strangers you’re walking by. So, what do you do? Exactly. You scream as loud as you can at any person who positioned themselves within 100 feet of you that “YOUR BEST FRIEND (insert potato name here), IS GETTING F$#%ING MARRIED!” and then when no one really seems to care you know what to do...you call them all assholes. Now you can choose to call random strangers assholes before or after you fall down and then take your heels off to walk around the bar/street barefoot. That's up to you. I'm not here to tell you how to live your life. (Yes I am)

And Where Do We Snap From Here?

Well there you go ladies (and boys who are white girls at heart). We have gone over some very key things you will need to partake in if you're planning to earn that pumpkin spice trophy here in Nashville.

If you enjoyed part of this series I hope you will let us know! Please leave comments, share your photos with us on social media using #NashvilleWhiteGirl and by all means please keep being yourself! That seemed like a good place to slip in a message about “…be yourself, all white girls are like snowflakes, totally different and unique…” blah blah blah. Truth is you’re more like marshmallows: pretty similar but wonderful none-the-less. So till next time, keep “literally dying” over the most basic of things, keep reliving your favorite moments of Laguna Beach, and don’t you dare let anyone tell you that leggings aren’t pants.  Most importantly, never ever forget ladies... boys lie. -Benton Hickerson

PC: Bombs Over Betty Photography

PC: Bombs Over Betty Photography

Benton is a self proclaimed Glamour Comic, standup comedian & writer based out of Nashville, TN. His charmingly cute and yet brutally honest approach to everyday topics and pop culture makes him the perfect person to give advice on love, life, and anything else your family and friends insist on lying to you about. 

I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I did!  It's so much fun to make fun of basic girls, like myself!  For more of Benton you can follow him on Instagram @RoyalBabyBenton and visit him on FB at https://www.facebook.com/RoyalBabyBenton/

**All opinions are purely for comedy and do not reflect Amber's opinions, but the opinions are hilarious!!!