I love Halloween. Can I just say it one more time?? I LOVE Halloween! I have been trying to get my kiddos on board for years with some scary stuff (they prefer the cute, the historical and the humorous to anything with fangs or bones). I always went all-out with the creepy costuming as a kid (photo at left). I'm not talking gore here - I'm not into gore - just some old-fashioned, spooky, Halloween-y things. Ghost stories, a staple of my elementary school years at slumber parties and Girl Scout camp outs, do not appeal to them in the slightest.
Couple their scare-resistance with the fact that our neighborhood goes all out for Halloween - we're talking complete haunted houses in garages, people in werewolf costumes wandering around, and major outdoor decorations. I'm thrilled and envious...my kids are generally terrified. My husband is pretty much indifferent. It's tough to be a zombie around this house. I did manage to talk them into a couple of styrofoam tombstones and a plastic skull in the yard last year, which is big progress.
Imagine my delight about a month ago when my daughter expressed interest in dressing up as something to hand out candy. YES!! Her idea: to set up a fortune tellers tent with a crystal ball to tell the kids' fortunes before they get their treats. Not super spooky, but pretty creative - I'll take it. Naturally, I want to plan and execute this venture in great detail, and thought I might share how we go about pulling off something like this for an event or party.
For starters: logistics. We live on a fairly big hill with steps up to our front door. Sometimes the little goblins don't want to trek all the way up to get their Twix, which means they just skip our house. I've suggested that we set up our "Fortune Telling Hut" closer to the street in our driveway, which will be much easier to decorate and access. If you live on a big hill you might want to consider something like this even if you're just handing out the candy (because how much do you really want left over?!). We also have a couple of potentially spooky trees in our side yard, which would be a perfect setting for the aforementioned tombstones. Little brother was promptly assigned to be in charge of the graveyard setup (delegation is key). Fortune telling next to a cemetery - why not??
Next: plan. I asked my daughter to sketch out her vision for the Fortune Telling Hut, complete with decor and costuming. How do we set the mood? Music? Fog machine? I've also asked her to come up with some good, silly "fortunes" that we can tell. I found some good resources here: http://www.classic-play.com/carnival-party-fortune-teller/. Here is her rough draft:
Finally: supplies/budget. Oh yeah, we have to watch this one. I have to restrain my tendency to go overboard with my ideas, so first we will scour the house for anything that could be re-purposed for this project. We have an old outdoor canopy I got on clearance years ago...unfortunately it's pink (which is probably why it was on clearance). Some spray paint and experimentation may be in order. We have our tombstones, skeletons and skull from last year, stored in those huge Ziploc bags with the handles. We also have a couple of full skirts, lots of beads, earrings and scarves that can be used the fortune-teller look. We have a card table, and plenty of old table cloths to choose from. Music is pretty easy to manage with an iPod and speakers. Items we might need to purchase:
With all of that, I'm shooting for a $40 maximum (and we'll see if maybe DD is willing to contribute to that from her allowance stash).
And speaking of treat leftovers, check out this link for other great ideas for the excess candy corn: http://online-candy-stores-review.toptenreviews.com/top-10-things-to-do-with-your-leftover-halloween-candy.html
So is this post really about organizing? I don't know, but it was fun. I wanted to get it out before Halloween, in case it inspires any of you fellow ghouls out there, but I'll be sure to take pictures of our project and share later. Do any of you have a story to tell about putting together something special for Halloween? A haunted house, a fabulous costume, a party? Share with us...I need to start planning for next year!
(kind of just like Glamour magazine, only…not really)
A 2010 survey conducted by Brother U.S.A. (those folks that make the cool label-makers) indicates that an estimated 38 working hours per person per year are lost as a result of looking for misplaced items. That’s like, a whole work week. If you’re just starting your business, getting inspired to reorganize your current space, or working towards an efficient home office setup, think through the following list as you’re sorting and arranging – you’ll save yourself time, money and stress:
1. DON’T stack things. Piles of magazines, books, and paperwork will just continue to grow until you haven’t the foggiest notion of what’s there from the middle down.
2. DO use vertical space. Use file folders and an incline file sorter to house your bills, receipts, networking, action items, etc. LABEL the files. Put the file sorter in a central location so you can't miss it. Place magazines and books upright on bookcases or holders so that you can easily read the spines. Purge magazines older than three months (unless they are professional journals you are SURE you’re going to refer to again). Better yet, see if the information is available online and ditch a few subscriptions.
3. DON’T sit in a poorly lit space. Lack of light is hard on your eyes, and makes you groggy and unproductive.
4. DO situate your desk near a window, if possible. If your only light source is fluorescent, bring in an incandescent lamp for your desk. Even better, invest in an Ott Lite, which provides glare-free lighting for desk and other close up work. Originally created for sewers, knitters, etc., Ott now offers several desk lamp options: http://www.ott-lite.com/
5. DON’T write your passwords down on paper or in a notebook. Please. Don't. I actually saw a notebook in a store recently that had “My Passwords” stamped in gold on the front. Yikes – why not just post them on your Facebook timeline for everyone to see? It’s just too easy for someone to pick up and use, particularly if you have any traffic from the outside in your home office.
6. DO invest your time in installing a password manager like LastPass (https://lastpass.com, free or premium versions). I’ve yakked about LastPass before, but I really love it. LastPass stores your passwords in a “vault”, creates unique new passwords for logins, and even stores information to autofill online ordering forms. If a password manager seems intimidating, at the very least put the passwords in a secure file in Evernote or on your phone.
7. DON’T get excited and buy tons of extra supplies. I don’t care if dry erase markers ARE on sale BOGO at the office supply store – there will always be other sales and coupons, and those extra markers will do no good if they dry up before you ever even open the package. Not only does buying too much waste money, it takes up valuable space.
8. DO try putting all of the items on and near your desk in a printer paper box (or box of similar size). For one week, track which items you pull from the box to use most frequently, and how much you use. This method will give you a good idea of what your true needs are. Make a list, calendar regular visits to the store, and buy only what you need for a month to six weeks. Use a closet or storage cabinet for some extra supplies, and arrange them so that they can be easily labeled and viewed.
9. DON’T place items in awkward spots. Don’t put the shredder away from arm’s reach. Don’t put your printer on a shelf that you have to leave your chair to access. Many…no, make that MOST people just don’t stop to consider office equipment arrangement, but putting some thought into it makes a difference.
10. DO consider your height, any physical limitations, and whether you are left- or right-handed when you set up your space. Why put your pencil cup on the right if you’re a lefty? Make things easy for yourself. Having to stop what you are doing to find or reach something breaks your concentration and momentum.
And finally, if you’re working from home, make sure the other wonderful people that live with you know and understand that your office space is YOURS. If the kids absolutely have to share your computer, give them their own profile and box of supplies (again, labeled) so that they don’t end up taking or breaking your thoughtfully organized stash.
You will spend a lot of time in this space, so why not make it as pleasant and easy to work in as possible? If you want to learn more about Brother’s “Cost of Disorganization” survey, here’s the link: http://www.brother-usa.com/ptouch/meansbusiness/#.Uk1iwbyE7M0
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?