Newsletter: November 2012

In this newsletter: getting organised for Christmas, combining clutter clearing with seasonal giving, how apdo members are spreading the word about what we do, and regional focus on members based in the South West.

We are now planning our newsletters for 2013 – if there’s an issue YOU would like us to feature here please email and put ‘Newsletter’ in the subject line.

12 ways to a more organised Christmas

It’s become traditional to have a grand old clear-out come the New Year, but with Christmas just a few weeks away it makes even more sense to get organised before the festive season to make space for all your gifts, goodies and guests. With that in mind, here are some tips that come with apdo-uk’s very best wishes for a relaxed and peaceful Christmas and a clutter-free New Year.

1 Make space BEFORE you go shopping 

This sounds obvious but have you ever come home from a marathon gift-buying session for family and friends then wondered where you’ll find space to hide all their presents till the big day? Better to clear the decks before you deck the halls and spend all your lolly. The bonus of a proper pre-Christmas clear-out is that those secret corners may hide unwanted or forgotten items that could either make this year’s presents or be sold to give you more seasonal spending money.

2 Cut the paper trail 

Christmas means wrapping paper. Lots of it. But before you rush out and buy rolls and rolls, are you sure you haven’t got leftovers from last year sitting around somewhere waiting to be used up? One tip is to buy gold, silver or plain coloured foil wrapping paper and ribbon that doesn’t have obvious Christmas decorations or greetings on it – then it can be used for gift wrapping throughout the year.

Wrapping paper stored on ceiling Strings across a cupboard ceiling make a simple way to store wrapping paper

Karen Storey from London-based Homespace says: “I often find that clients have random collections of Christmas cards and wrapping that appear out of the loft, from the top of wardrobes etc. and they always say that each year they’ve forgotten what they had left from previous Christmases and so go out and buy everything new.

“Search for all those sorts of things sooner rather than later, work out what you’ve got that you can still use and then make a note of what you really need – then if you’re in a shop and happen to see something you like, you know you won’t be buying duplicates.  And you’re saving money because you’re making use of what you already have.”

Cherry Rudge of Surrey-based Rainbow Red has a creative suggestion for dealing with another kind of paper mountain. “It’s easy to accumulate an embarrassing number of paper napkins of different designs. Sadly, they can’t be recycled; so if they’re in good condition, how about making up variety packs to give as stocking fillers to friends – a couple of each design, tied up with a pretty ribbon?  Alternatively, use them to wrap presents with – to protect fragile items – or create collages or mosaics out of pretty napkins cleverly arranged in attractive frames, and give them as presents.”

3 Make a list – and check it more than twice!

Once you’ve unearthed the goodies and gift-wrap you’d forgotten about, be organised about your present-buying. Cherry Rudge says: “Make a list of people you have to buy for and possible gift options before you start shopping – that way you shouldn’t end up spending money on presents which are surplus to requirements. I list my present list in a spreadsheet, which I update once I’ve bought things, with make a note to show where I’ve put them and whether they’ve been wrapped.  If you don’t keep the list electronically, keep it somewhere you’re going to see it regularly (your undies drawer if necessary!), so you don’t lose it.”

Ingrid Jansen of Organise Your House believes one way to reduce pre-Christmas stress is to take the time to draw up a master checklist of ALL your seasonal tasks and deadlines –  “menus, food shopping, who you need to buy presents for and how much you want to spend, who to send Christmas cards to and their addresses, when to put up the tree …” It certainly beats trying to keep too much in your head – and don’t under-estimate the satisfaction of ticking things off as you get them done!

4 Avoid decoration distractions

Christmas decorations are the set-dressing that creates the real magic of the season, but there’s no need to splash out on a new look every year just to fit fashion’s whims.

Christmas decorations Classic Christmas decorations won’t date

Rachel Papworth of Brighton-based Green and Tidy says: “Do you remember Christmas 2009 when black artificial Christmas trees were all the rage? Last year, the fashionable Christmas colours were silver and green and I’ve already seen articles asserting that this year’s Christmas colours will be ‘bright and vibrant’. But buying new Christmas decorations every year is expensive and a waste of resources. If you’re acquiring decorations, choose ones that won’t date, will last for decades if stored carefully, and can gradually become part of your family’s traditions and memories.”

And if you do find decorations you don’t need or like while decking your halls, box them up and give them away to brighten up someone else’s home or a perhaps a local charity’s Christmas event.

5 Weed out your wardrobe 

If your wardrobe and drawers are already full to bursting, where will you put new party gladrags or clothing gifts? Have a proper sort-out and give a Christmas bonus to the charity shop of your choice by donating all your unwanted clothing and shoes. The best way is to get EVERYTHING out of your wardrobe and go through every item – if you haven’t worn it in the past year, let it go. Do the same with your drawers and shoe and coat cupboards. Quality items could earn you some welcome festive dosh on eBay or through a local dress agency. Another fun way to recycle festive fashion items is to organise a Swishing party where you can swap good quality clothes, shoes and bags with your female friends. That little black dress that’s just TOO little these days could be exactly what a slimmer pal is looking for, while the heels and bag she wore last Christmas might be just the thing to jazz up your 2012 partywear. Find out more about the Global SuperSwish on November 14 at

6 Clear out the kitchen 

Christmas entertaining means lots of extra food and drink to store, so why not save on the food budget for a week or so by making store-cupboard meals to use up all those tins and jars that have been sitting around waiting to be used. You’ll save money so you have more to spend on delicious festive fare and it’s an opportunity to clean and reorganise the cupboards ready for Christmas. Make time in November or early December to empty out and scrub down the fridge and freezer – throw out all those leftovers you are NEVER going to use, and use up the food that’s in there so there will be plenty of space for storing all the Christmas necessities as well as room for some pre-cooked meals to ease the festive cooking burden over the holiday period.

7 Have a bathroom blitz

As with the kitchen, so with the bathroom. Some body and bath products are bound to appear in almost everyone’s Christmas stocking, so make way for them by clearing the bathroom of all those half-empty or unused products that are cluttering the shelves and cupboards. Don’t just bin those surplus bottles and jars. Sort the best of the less-used products into men’s and women’s ‘goodie bags’ and offer them for free on recycling sites like Freecycle  or Freegle  if there’s a group near you – less well-off families will be very grateful for them.   Unused bathroom products can also be donated to your local domestic violence service for use in their refuges, see

Unwanted towels can often go to local rugby clubs (to wipe their balls with – honestly!), while animal charities will often take towels, tea towels, and bedding.  Check first before donating.

8 On your (book) marks!

Are your shelves groaning with books you’ve read and will never read again? Or even never read? Donate them to a charity shop or sale or recycle the good quality unread ones as gifts.  The same goes for CDs and DVDs. There are also community conservation initiatives in many areas to save books and household items from landfill. Healthy Planet  has 25 Books For Free Centres across the UK which distribute books that would otherwise be pulped to individuals, libraries, charities and schools. Healthy Planet also organises regular Stuff For Free events, a community re-use initiative to redistribute good quality furniture, clothing, toys, household items and sports equipment to new homes.

9 Gadget giveaway
Sort out those gadgets and gizmos that were ‘must-haves’ when you got them.  If they’ve been gathering dust, or superseded by a better, newer model, are you REALLY going to use them again? If the answer’s no, sell them on eBay or give them to a good cause and you could make someone else’s Christmas. This applies just as much to unused kitchen ‘essentials’ (when did you last use that fondue set or cappuccino frother?) as ‘boy’s toys’. 

10 Create space for Christmas guests
Is your spare room a depository for all the stuff that won’t fit anywhere else in your house? Then you’ll need to sort it out fast if you’ve got guests coming for Christmas. If you don’t have the time or the task feels too overwhelming why not treat yourself a practical pre-Christmas present? has professional declutterers and organisers based all over the UK who can help turn a spare room clutter mountain into a welcoming bedroom in just a few hours. 

11 Make space for your new gifts
Decluttering can be a pretty good Christmas present in its own right, but let’s hope Santa will bring you something nice too.  Homes can feel pretty crowded at Christmas so it makes sense to encourage everyone in the family to make a space ready to store their gifts so they are not cluttering up the living room once opened. 

12 Recycle and re-organise
Once Christmas is over, clear the house of all the festive clutter as soon as possible – wrapping paper, cards, tree and bottles can all be recycled.  And as for this year’s unwanted presents?  There’s someone out there who would LOVE them – so let them go and make someone else happy, whether you sell them or donate to charity.

Cherry Rudge has one final suggestion for a practical New Year resolution if your Christmas cheer is annually tested by hunting down decorations and other festive paraphernalia in a chilly and cluttered attic. “Dividing the loft into different zones will help you keep track of locations where things are kept.   For example, sub-divide a Christmas zone into an area for wrapping paper, another for presents, another for Christmas cards, and so on. Simply moving things from one place to another without organising them is a waste of time and will perpetuate the frustration next year.”

Clare Parrack
Newsletter Editor

Where clutter clearing meets Christmas giving

It can be hard to persuade youngsters to part with their old toys and games, even when you’re running out of room to store what they’ve got already and Santa’s going to deliver loads more. But little ones have big hearts and can be very generous if it’s explained that they stuff they’ve outgrown or grown bored of can brighten up other children’s lives.

Stuffed toys Unwanted toys could cheer up a less fortunate  child’s Christmas

This year, after research showing that the average UK family has 80 toys but children don’t play regularly with two-thirds of them, and 13 million toys end up in landfill annually, retailer Argos has joined forces with the Barnardo’s to run the Toy Exchange. Until November 27 toys can be donated at 740 Argos stores and 500 Barnardo’s shops where unwanted toys can be donated in exchange for a £5 Argos voucher towards the cost of new toys (minimum £35 spend) by December 24. All donations will be sold by Barnardo’s to fund its work with vulnerable children and young people and the charity’s director of retail Gerard Cousins says: “Every penny raised through the sale of these pre-loved toys in Barnardo’s stores will go directly toward helping those in greatest need.”

It’s BBC Children in Need day on November 16 so why not offload unwanted items to help others with a fundraising sale or other event? And of course there are thousands of charity shops across the UK which welcome donations to aid the work of myriad other good causes.

National Buy Nothing Day on November 24  aims to highlight the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism and offers another opportunity to declutter for Christmas with ‘swap shop’ events where unwanted items can find a good home without cash changing hands.

Apdo-UK Member News

apdo-uk’s members are a busy bunch who are passionate about helping others improve their homes and lives by getting organised and clearing clutter. Here are just some of the ways we’ve been spreading the word recently.

  • Around 80 people picked up tips on decluttering, upcycling, repurposing, recycling, and other environmentally friendly ways to get rid of unwanted items at a workshop organised by Surrey members Linda Wylie of Tidy Rooms and Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red in association with Leatherhead Residents Association and environmental campaigners from the local Transition Network.
  • Louise Barton of Cheshire-based Silver Concierge was a runner-up in the Enterprise Vision Awards 2012, created specifically recognise business women in The North West who are inspiring others.
  • Karen Storey of London-based Homespace has been working with estate agent Your Move to educate staff on how clutter-free homes sell faster and for a higher price.
  • Juliet Landau-Pope of JLP Coach is running a workshop on decluttering at Healthy Planet’s Stuff For Free event in London on November 17-18 and 23-24.

Read all about it

We’re delighted to published authors in the ranks of apdo-uk and our colleagues in other countries. Click here to find out more about their work and order from Amazon . 

Regional Focus

In this issue we find out a little more about the services offered by some of our members in the South West 

Be Tidy
Be Tidy offers decluttering and organising services covering Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. After relocating many times with her own family, Melanie Peters is especially sympathetic to the needs of clients moving house. She says: “After one of the most stressful days of their lives, moving day, most people find themselves surrounded by boxes and the only available items, their bed and the kettle – that’s if their removal men were good!
Knowing where to start is what most of my clients find difficult. Having someone to help unpack, even if it is not the whole house, can be a huge relief. I am increasingly asked for help with the kitchen, this is such a crucial room and yet probably the most daunting to organise.”

Devon Clutter Busters
Based in Torbay, Devon Clutter Busters covers Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.  Christine Durrant helps her clients put in place systems designed to meet their specific needs.  They might want to sort a set of cupboards or reinvent a room.  Hoarders may just want to find the floor!  Whatever their needs Christine has a sympathetic and fun approach which leaves her clients feeling good about themselves and their homes.  Christine wants everyone to be able to experience the bliss of a clutter free home.

End To Clutter
End to Clutter was started in 2006 in Bristol by Katie Shaw. This summer, we relocated to Plymouth , where we now cover South Devon and North Cornwall . We work with clients on a one to one basis, working in the home to create a better functioning living space through decluttering and re-organising. Katie has a degree in Contemporary Furniture Design, which gives her an extensive knowledge of function, design, and an ability to create well-organised living spaces.

Strictly Organised
Strictly Organised provides organisational solutions in the modern world. Based in Wiltshire, we provide organisational solutions in the modern world and specialise in helping homes and businesses to utilise technology more efficiently to help them keep their lives running smoothly. Our business clients come from a variety of sectors and use services such as financial and back office organisation, IT system deployment and developing processes. Our residential clients include busy professionals, frantic families and lively pensioners and we help them with de-cluttering, household finances, room by room organisation and IT support. We develop long-standing relationships with our clients and we love the different ways we can help and support them in this busy world of today.

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