Party Loot Bags or Something Better?

*I swear – it’s something I do – so be forewarned.  If you don’t like the word sh*t, don’t read on.
**There may be affiliate links that I carefully selected (I don’t want you to buy a bunch of sh*t, as it goes against what I stand for in this blog).  I may be paid commission on any purchases you make through these links.  They help fund my time, energy and thoughts I put into this blog.

How can you have an amazing birthday without giving people more plastic sh*t to throw away and feel guilty about?  Read on!!!

Have you picked up your kids from a party and the loot bag was all the rage – for the drive home and then it was all over the floor of your minivan/SUV and stayed there until the next time you cleaned said vehicle?

Why are we wasting the world’s resources and polluting our beautiful air with manufacturing of disposable plastic crap that doesn’t make it 1 hour outside of the store?

Dollarama toys crap
Plastic crap polluting our Earth!

My daughter is turning 5 this week and I am in the process of deciding what is going to be the thank you gift for the friends – you know, that loot bag.

I try to give meaningful loot bags.  Last year, we gave the girls a gift card to a girly store (Claire’s) and the boys a small set of Lego – both equivalent to $5.  It seems like a lot but a bag full of sh*t kids won’t use that you spend $60-$100 on is a real waste, in my humble but opinionated opinion.

I’m undecided this year.  Until, a friend on Facebook was selling Booster Juice coupons for her son’s soccer team.  $5 gets each kid a regular size smoothie for a fraction of the price – or for them – FREE!!

Why I love this idea:

  • I’m supporting a local kid in his sport
  • I’m not giving another mom a pile of plastic sh*t to clean up, or the kid to clean up (because we know how much kids love to clean up)
  • Every kid loves a smoothie from Booster Juice
  • I don’t have to drive all over picking stuff up – just one stop for thank you cards, one stop for vouchers
  • My child can sign each card and put her personal touch on it

Sure it’s $5 a kid – but have you ever calculated how much you really spend on a loot bag?  I’m going to wager about $4-5 if you wanted to give something “good”.  $2.50-3 if it’s the stuff that goes in the garbage within an hour to 2.

My husband argued that kids love loot bags.  (I love a great discussion to disprove or dispute my point.  I’m influenceable if the story has weight.)  They love all the junk, he said – but do they, REALLY!?

I want to spread the message that stuff doesn’t make us happy.  Having a smoothie date with Mom or Dad, sister or Aunt – that is what life is about.  Memories, laughter and a good healthy smoothie.

Here are some other ideas for “loot bags” or birthday party “thank you”s:

  • Gift Card for $5 to a local toy shop, McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s (or equivalent) in a Thank you Card
  • A candy bouquet – most speciality candy stores will do up a candy themed “loot bag” and you set the price
  • Lego set – the small one that is about the $3-5 range or Lego blind bags (Lego never gets old and doesn’t lose it’s value)
  • Movie pass (a bit more costly but an option)
  • Clip on Ty Babies – great for backpacks, purses and hand-sized “lovies”
  • Book

Here are some ideas for seasonal loot bags:

  • Spring:
    • Packet of seeds inside a watering can
    • Bubbles
    • Chalk
  • Summer:
    • Ice Cream Coupons (McDonald’s, Dairy Queen etc)
    • Pass/Admission to a local outdoor pool or spray park
    • Coupon to a grocery store to get a box of ice creams
  • Autumn/Winter:
    • Cup with hot chocolate and mittens (personalize if you have time)
    • A cake mix to bake with a parent
    • A health bag (Sanitizer that clips on to a backpack with an individual tissue packet, and a lip balm)
    • Admission to an indoor pool, skating rink or indoor playground

There are lots of great ideas so you do not have to give sh*t to kids.  They don’t need more stuff – they need experiences, memories and quality.  They need to bake a cake with a parent, play a game – you get the idea.

Sure some of that stuff ^ is stuff – but it has meaning, I think.

Don’t let society tell you HOW to give!  Be you and set your own pace!

What can you add to this list?

 

How to Store Small Electrics (and their many attachments)

So many of our small electrics for the kitchen now come with so many attachments. In the following picture, I have a food processor and a Ninja Blender/Food Processor.  (It may seem redundant to have both but the Ninja does not slice or grate like my KitchenAid food processor.) I purchased both at Costco and if you all know Costco, everything comes bigger and better.

 Screen shot 2017-12-21 at 10.26.13 AM

The food processor and blender both come with 13 attachments plus the motor base.  I don’t have a lot of drawers to store them in so I went to a local store and purchased these deep, excellent containers, with handles, perfect for storing these sort of items.  Inside each container I have loosely put all of the attachments.

The generous dimensions of my containers are 10″ wide by 14″ long and 9.5″ high.  Your cupboards may require different containers depending on the size you are working with. Another great idea would be baskets with fabric liners.

NOTE:  keep your manual with the appliance in these bins.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled it out for the reminder on how to care and clean them (do they go in the dishwasher is the usual question), or look up the recipes that they include with them.

Now they fit nicely in my cupboards, one behind the other.  The more frequently used one is in front, of course.  This is one of those deep corner cupboards so pulling out 2 containers to get to my slow cooker is pretty painless.  I set them on the floor without risking the actual attachments getting contaminated with the stuff on the floor.

Screen shot 2017-12-21 at 10.32.29 AM

It keeps everything looking tidy, but most importantly, together and easy to find.

 

Share your creative ideas for storing small electrics.

 

 

iPhone Health App & Medical ID

The Apple iPhone has this amazing app called Health including a Medical ID component that is accessible from your emergency screen.  I discovered it after my FitBit died and I searched my phone for a pedometer to track my steps.

Medical ID Screenshot
Photo captured from Apple Support Website

Maybe I am the only person who didn’t know that before this week, so I had to share just in case there is one other person out there who doesn’t know about the Health app, and more importantly, Medical ID, on Apple iPhones.

Screen shot 2017-11-24 at 11.38.14 PM
Photo captured from Apple Support’s website

If you were in an accident or crisis situation, how would First Responders know who to call, how to administer drugs, and medical care to you in a timely fashion?

Did you know that you can program in your allergic reactions, current medications, emergency contacts (yes, more than one) and more and all this is accessible without needing your pass code?

This is a great way to be ahead of the curve ball, just as you would if you bought insurance.   I encourage you, after you are done reading, to find your phone and plug your information into this very practical, potentially life saving app.

I did a bit of research and while I have an iPhone, you can get apps for other phones such as Android.  I found this link from Google Play to guide the Android users.

Information you can store on the Medical ID app (iPhone):

  • Name
  • Picture
  • Birthdate
  • Medical Conditions & Notes
  • Allergies & Reactions
  • Current Medications
  • Blood Type
  • Organ Donor
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Multiple Emergency Contacts

It seems like a lot of personal information and it is.  I would rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.

If you make an emergency call from your phone, the people you have listed as your Emergency Contacts, receive a message as well that you have made an emergency call.

If you are not comfortable with divulging all of the information, I recommend renaming your contacts who are your emergency contacts.  Start their names with ICE, meaning in case of emergency.

If you address book files by first name, then put ICE John (under first name) Smith.  If your address book is filed by last name, it should appear as John ICE Smith.  You can find how it’s filed in your settings, under Contacts.  Don’t forget to double-check your contacts to make sure under the letter “I” you have all your ICE1, ICE2, etc contacts listed.

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Are there other things your phone can do to help you be prepared and stay organized (that is a whole other ball of wax isn’t it)?

Comment what your favorite app is, and please SHARE!

Week 1: Minimalist Game Challenge

We have now completed 8 days of the Minimalist Game Challenge and purged a minimum of 36 items.  I say minimum because on some of my days, I have a bag of things that I consider “1 item”, as do others in the challenge.

The lessons are already plentiful.  I realized after day 7, that if I am helping people purge with a challenge, I should probably watch “Minimalism”, the documentary on Netflix.

And I am glad I did because for a long time I have decided not to fall into the consumerism trap, not feel the need to fit in because of what I owned and purchased.  I don’t need the latest iPhone or perfume, brand name clothing appeal less to me than practical clothing, especially because they are all made in the same place.  I have been called cheap because I refuse to buy some things.  Perhaps I am, I would tell myself, and I would feel bad for that negative label.  But after watching Minimalism I accept myself and my beliefs – and to me, that is what matters.

Here is what I am learning so far by completing this challenge!

  1.  I love helping people!  When people comment about their items, or show appreciation for the challenge, I smile inside and out.  Helping people is my life’s purpose.
  2. Things are only things and I accumulate a lot.
  3. I would rather put the money from meaningless things toward my mortgage so when I’m older I have more freedom.  And I’d rather take my kids to the attractions and events in our city and surrounding areas than buying them more toys.  Life experience teaches them so much.  Yes, they need toys.  They need to learn to take care of their belongings, share with their siblings and friends, and use their toys in a number of ways that teach them about life.  But they also need the right number of toys – too much is not the right number.
  4. Be confident in my beliefs and when someone suggests I “need” something or wants to purchase something for our family, be bold enough to respectively decline such gestures.  I appreciate your kindness but I would prefer if you didn’t contribute to the stuff I am so diligently trying to minimize.  Please contribute to our life experience.
  5. Happiness comes by way of connection with people and experiences in the world.  I would rather snuggle a child and read them a book, than play with another plastic toy.  I would rather go to the science center or park than the toy store.
  6. Before purchasing even an organizing tool or bin, ask myself if it is the right product or can I be patience until I find the product that works best for what I need it to do.
  7. Buy the best quality I can afford.  Rather than buying the cheapest product that is going to perhaps fall apart before it’s useful life is over, buy the best quality with a great warranty (that is usually a good indicator of the confidence a company has with it’s products) and have it last for the next person who may use it second-hand when I am finished with it (clothes included).
  8. Cleaning and staying organized is easier with less and having less is freeing!

have-less

Are you bored? Don’t go shopping for THINGS and STUFF!

Call someone you love! Humans crave connection with humans – we require it to be happy and healthy.

Love people and use things, because the opposite never works!

Are you overwhelmed by stuff?  

Why not start something today you’ve wanted to do for a long time?

Purge – Day 1

Today is Day 1 of my Minimalist Game Challenge!!!  Who’s excited?!?!  I am!!!

Minimalist Game Challenge.jpg

Like everyone, I’m wondering, what is that one thing that is going to be my first victim!?

But first, let’s prep!

Grab 2 boxes or totes and label them;  Donate and Sell.

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I’ve already started purging…which is what spurred this challenge.

Items that will be garbage will be immediately put there so there is no need to create a space for them.  Act on things right away so you can’t remove it later.

I would recommend only trying for about 1-2 weeks with selling an item, until you put it in the donate box.  If it’s worth what you are asking, it will sell.  If not, then let it gracefully go to someone who could benefit from it.  (Contact me if you would like a list of places to donate within Edmonton area.)

Second, open your mind.  Please, do not think about what you are giving up, but what you are gaining.  This includes thinking about the amount of people you will help with your donated items.

Third, make a decision to be picky about what comes back in your space.  If you are feel overwhelmed by stuff (which is why you are joining me on this journey), then stop accumulating stuff, as much as you can.  Of course, some things work their way in but you can stop spending.  So, for the next 30 days, join me in a Spending Freeze!  No shopping for anything you do not NEED!

And get resourceful – for example, one of my window blinds broke yesterday.  My first thought was we’d have to replace it.  But a quick YouTube video showed me how I can easily fix it.

Fourth, grab a notebook or piece of paper or calendar.  As you go through your house, if there are items you don’t want to toss because you have a project in mind, make a list of those projects.  Then schedule time into your calendar to do them.  Allow yourself to keep the stuff that you enjoy doing or contribute to your passions or hobbies.

Here’s a list of places to get you started and keep you going through the 30 days:

 

  1. Pet supplies
  2. Craft Room
  3. Make-up
  4. Jewelry
  5. Closet
  6. Dresser
  7. Shoes
  8. Linen Closet (towels, sheets)
  9. Winter Outdoor Gear (extra mittens, scarves, hats, etc)
  10. Cleaning supplies
  11. Pantry
  12. Fridge
  13. Baking and cooking supplies (pots, cookie sheets, etc)
  14. Bathrooms – the junk drawer
  15. Office (files, junk drawer, dried out pens and markers, excess supplies, etc)
  16. Receipts and papers
  17. Basement storage room
  18. Toys (day-to-day use)
  19. Outside toys (In the winter, sleds and snow toys.  For summer, balls, beach toys, etc)
  20. China Cabinet
  21. Rags
  22. Old paints and leftover handy project items
  23. Books
  24. Liquor cabinet (got gifted a Brandy you never drink?)
  25. Purse/Wallet (remove the loyalty cards you are no longer loyal to)
  26. Medicine/First Aid
  27. Garage/Tool shed
  28. Electronics (have an iPod from 2010 you haven’t used since 2011?)
  29. Cell Phone (apps or contacts that are no longer relevant)
  30. Kitchen Junk Drawers
  31. Vehicles
  32. Seasonal decorations

This list is not inclusive.  If I missed any or if you would like to contribute to the list, please COMMENT below.

Don’t forget to follow the daily updates on Facebook.

Let’s get started!!!

Minimalist Challenge – February 1st, 2017

Have you heard about the Minimalist Game Challenge?

It’s based on a book (Everything that Remains) and website created by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.  Even in my research about these 2 men, I have fallen in love with the articles and ideals.  I won’t plagiarize or regurgitate everything they say, because frankly, you can read their website yourself (or watch this trailer or the movie).

http://minimalismfilm.com/watch/

I will share you with some of my journey to create a more balanced life.  For the love of all that is good in this world, I just moved and the things looking back at me that we don’t need, use or love in this house (and garage) is alarming.  When just spent time, money and energy moving some of these things.

But I too am human!  I digress!

Minimalist Game Challenge:

Day 1 you find 1 thing to part with from your possessions.

Day 2 you find 2 things to part with

Day 3 you find 3 things…

Day 4, 4 things and you get the point.

And on Day 30, once you rid yourself of those 30 items, you’ll be at a grand total of 465 items you have decided you no longer need, use, want.

These items can be clothes, junk drawer items, cooking utensils, hair accessories, old lotions, foods you’ve tried by didn’t like, papers in your filing cabinet, you name it, if it’s in your possession and you feel that item is taking some of your precious energy away for it’s use, toss that thing out (garbage, recycle, donate, sell).

Follow us and then check in everyday with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what we’ve put into the box.  I’ll be selling valuable things as we go, garbage daily and donating the remaining at the end.  The key is to get it out of your house.

If you have kids (and sometimes husbands and most times your second-guessing self), I recommend you keep this box somewhere, clearly marked with your end goal, out of reach.

February 1st is the starting date so follow this blog for regular (probably not daily) updates, and play along.

Comment or complain below!  🙂  If you get stuck, I’m here for you.

Still not convinced why you should play along?  Maybe this will help convince you.

 

Benefits of Letting Go

As a Professional Organizer, the first step when I start working with a client, is to help them “purge” or let go of the things they no longer use, do not like, or clutter their life.  My philosophy is that there is no point in organizing items you do not need.

Many dig their heals in right away, but with a little coaxing, respecting their family values, their sentimental reasons for some things, they often feel better once things have left and while most think they’ll never heal from the losses of letting go of things, most people never remember what they let go of.

Things are so insignificant!  That line is so important I’m going to repeat it again!

Things are so insignificant!

Studies have shown that consuming more, and buying more shoes, clothes, toys for our children, do not make us/them happier.  Experiences do, however, especially when done with friends and family.

I personally, am in a shopping freeze (besides bills, groceries, fuel etc).  My kids ask me everyday to buy them things and I say no.  Not right now.  We’ve become so accustomed to consuming, having…and less time on enjoying and BEING!

Imagine the freeing feeling of going on vacation twice a year, or enjoying concerts, sports games, spending time with family and friends, regular massages, without the worry of not enough money because you’ve just bought more stuff.

What does this have to do with letting go?  Letting go doesn’t mean just parting with things you no longer need, but letting go of the idea that you need to consume, purchase and fill up the spaces you just freed up.

Do you ever find your material items take up mental space?  Everything we own requires a small bit of our attention and contributes to a stress in our lives when we cannot attend to it.  On a more extreme note, if you have a lot of clutter, you may often or always feel anxious, on edge or nervous.

I’m not asking you to get rid of those special items that link you to your favorite memories or people – because Gosh, that is what life is about…and that is my point.  If an event, a moment or a thing, creates memories and love and joy for you, that is what you cling to, but not mindless, needless things.

If you are keeping things that never see the light of day (like your least favorite sheets, while you rotate between your 2 favorite sets of sheets), ask yourself, “If I set this item free, what good could it do in the world”?

And once you let go, be picky!  Do you need that new bottle of shampoo when you have a half of bottle at home?  Do you need another jacket (in Canada, we have 23 seasons it feels like so you need a jacket for every one) or pair of shoes?  Be picky about what goes in your space, and just focus on BEING!

moments

Let’s sum up a few benefits:

  1. Your goods can do good in the world when they are being used.
  2. Save money by being picky about what you allow back in once you let go and earn some money selling your unused items.
  3. Save space which means you have free space for all those things you love and use…no more searching for your everyday items.
  4. Save time on cleaning.  An organized, clutter free house is an easier house to clean.
  5. More energy for the good things in life when you rid yourself of energy suckers.
  6. More money to spend on yourself, with your family and friends.

Let’s go do this Minimalist Game Challenge!!

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