Tuesday, 20 November 2018 05:58


30 days to Christmas and the silly season is upon us! A month ago, I wrote about preparing and planning well in advance. Here we are 30 days later and you might not have all your ducks in a row yet!

I thought you might like some more ideas on how to enjoy your festive season. Here is a 4-step plan that will help you go from stressful and anxious to stress less and relaxed this year.

Step one: Think, plan and prepare

Take a moment this weekend, grab a notepad and pen and spend some time thinking, planning and preparing. Think about what worked and what didn't last year!

Make a list of everything, I mean EVERYTHING you have to do until the end of the year and allocate time (enough time) to the tasks – and start today!

Step two: Simplify, organise and manage (and delegate)

Now break your long list down into smaller lists. Be specific about gifts, shopping, dinners, lunches and outings, activities and trips.

If it feels like too much – it probably is. Now’s a good time to be realistic and cross out all the things that would be nice, but would complicate your life or stretch you too thin!

Step three: Now put your plan into action (and don’t forget to delegate)

Now you have a plan that feels comfortable and do-able, start with all the shopping you can get done now. Remember that everywhere is going to be busier than usual so give yourself extra time. I like to get to the shops as they open, and get it all done before the crowds descend. Remember too, to factor in some down time!

Have a large daily calendar in a central place with everything on it for the whole family to see. Ask older children to add their plans too!

Step four: YOUR Silly Season Sanity Mantra

Repeat after me:

  • I will share the load and not try to do it all myself (that means I will delegate!!)
  • I will try to avoid the 3 Ó’s: Over-spending, Over-catering and Over-indulging
  • I will keep things simple and pace myself
  • I will be strong enough to say NO when I have to
  • Finally, I will give myself the time to be in the right space to enjoy it all!

So, do you have any tips to stay stress-free this holiday season?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 06:46

1,2,3,4,5 Gift Giving Ideas With a Difference



1. A thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.

1.1 An act of giving something as a present.


[WITH OBJECT]  1. Give (something) as a gift.

‘1.1 Present (someone) with a gift or gifts.

I love gifts. I love giving gifts. I love receiving gifts. I love the anticipation and the excitement gifts illicit. The joy of a gift given with love. The thrill of a gift received with a smile. I think we all love gifts, and I think we all love giving gifts!

This year let’s do it differently. Give differently. Change the way you think about gifts and gift giving…

Here are 5 gift ideas I love:

1. Give consumables.

I love giving yummy homemade biscuits from a small business down the road, or lemonade from a farm stall. Wine, homemade preserves, fudge or chocolate all go down well too!

2. Give experiences.

An experience can be shared, and with the experience the memories, joy, and connection without contributing to clutter. A coffee date, a trip to somewhere special, tickets to a show – the list is endless. One of my highlights last Christmas was paragliding with my girls.

3. Give ideas.

A cooking evening, an art class, or a course they would enjoy. I have enjoying tea tastings, cooking evenings, an introduction to mosaics, food and wine parings and many more. Loads of fun and educational to boot!

4. Give back

Instead of giving a gift, sponsor a worthy cause on their behalf. Every year one of my sisters makes up Santa Shoe Boxes for disadvantaged children on behalf of her nephews and nieces. Another sister supports a local shelter with food parcels. It makes such a difference to those who have so little over the holidays.

5. Give you.

Your time and attention are probably the most valuable gift you can offer. Spend real time with your family, visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while, invite someone who has no family to your Christmas meal. Further afield, take a shelter dog for a walk, assist an elderly person with their shopping or chores, volunteer to marshal at a sporting event.

Most of all give with love!

DO you have great gift giving ideas? I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 05:45


Can you believe it?

Christmas is just 60 days away! Christmas jingles ring out in all the shopping malls. Baubles and tinsel and stars and trees adorn shop windows. Before you know it, the holidays will be here! Friends, family, festivities, outings and traditions; so much to look forward, but so much to plan and organise.

I love Christmas with old family traditions along with a whole lot of new ones created over the years while our girls were growing up. I love Christmas pudding, a Christmas tree and Christmas lights. I love family gatherings and get-togethers. I love Christmas day with our South African version of Christmas lunch – delicious cold salads, turkey on the weber, and a gammon waiting to be sliced followed by an ice cream bomb with Christmas spices, watermelon, Christmas pudding and custard! Light summer dresses and bathing suits, dips in the pool and a nap in the shade when it all gets too much! Most of all I love spending time with loved ones and friends.

I don’t like the chaos, the queues, the frenetic to-do list, the stress over menus and venues. I don’t like the stress, the panic that sets in when it’s not going according to plan. And so, I take time to prepare and organise well ahead of time so that it is truly a relaxing and wonderful time of the year!

Here is my 15-step checklist I work off every year starting now, and thought you might find it good to use.

  2. Make a To Do list to take you through to the end of the year
  3. Break it down into smaller lists - Food, gifts, cards, activities etc
  4. Delegate tasks, and cheat where possible - buy your Christmas pudding, don't make it!
  5. Set a budget. Know what you have to spend, allocate and stick to it.
  6. Do half as much as you want to do.
  7. How much is enough? Keep it simple
  8. Spend twice the time and half the money
  9. Resist the pressure of too many invitations, too many expectations
  10. Schedule appointments and dates further apart to allow for holiday traffic
  11. Set boundaries and say no sometimes
  12. Think ahead
  13. Take shortcuts, don't do too much
  14. Remember one stunning dessert is better than a few average ones!
  15. Take some ME time - small breaks just for you

I would love to hear about your tips for a more relaxed festive season…

So often during the course of a downsizing session, we will hear our clients say

“I am leaving this to my son”

“My grand daughter is getting this when I die”

They believe that because they consider them valuable items, are family heirlooms or just precious to them, that their children or grandchildren will value them too. All too often this is not the case. All too often these items just become a burden, overvalued and unwanted. Lifestyles have changed, décor styles are very different with trends and seasons dictating, daily lives in general have become faster and busier. As a result, our children and grandchildren no longer covert our precious silver cutlery or crystal glasses that need careful handwashing. And the same applies to many other heirlooms we want to pass on.

Here are 7 items that are no longer as popular as they were a generation ago:

1. Antique Furniture

The value of antique furniture has dropped dramatically in the last decade. Young people are living in smaller homes, buying furniture with simple lines or perhaps repurposing cheap antique finds. Large, heavily carved dark antique furniture is not as sought after as it used to be.

2. Silver

This applies to silver as well. Tea sets, silver cutlery sets, trays and ornamental items are no longer in vogue. People don’t want to spend time cleaning and shining silver, brass and copper. Displaying these items is no longer in fashion, and most often display cabinets are a thing of the past.

3. China and crystal

You don't see the type of formal dinners people used to host. For the most part, people want dinnerware and glassware that can be stacked in a dishwasher. The market has changed, the demand has waned and so the value of china and crystal has dropped significantly and don’t fetch the prices people think they will.

4. Dolls

One of the few things that I kept well into adulthood was an original 1959 Barbie doll. It was my link to a happy and contented childhood. Neither of my girls wanted it and I was told it was “quite valuable”. Not any more! Barbie dolls, porcelain dolls and doll collections aren't as valuable as they were 25 years ago. And so, my “collectable” 1959 Barbie was donated, along with my daughters’ dolls and soft toys after they moved out of home.

5. Coin and stamp collections

Millennials aren't really interested in collecting coins or stamps and so those collections will land up in a box or cupboard somewhere. Most collections are not as valuable as they are sentimental.

6. Rugs

In the past, everyone wanted to own an Oriental rug. We loved Persians and kilims and hand stitched woven masterpieces bought on our travels. Today decorators follow the trends and we buy rugs that can be replaced when our tastes and styles change.

7. Ornamentals

Our children don’t have an emotional connection to our Beatrix Potter figurines, ornate ornamental items, and collections of owls, frogs or other creatures acquired over decades and lovingly housed in display cabinets, printers’ trays and mantlepieces.

It is wonderfully generous to want to leave your most precious and valued things to your family. But it is kinder still to consider asking them if they want them. Think practically about their lifestyles. When saving items for family members, think: Will they want this? Do they have room for it? Is the item valuable only to me?

The answers will help you with decisions to save for them or to let go now before a household full of heirlooms becomes a burden.

Monday, 08 October 2018 03:31

7 Ways to Get Rid of the Winter Cobwebs

In the last two weeks the ALL SORTED team has been hard at work helping clients “spring clean” their homes We tackled linen cupboards, swopping winter for summer linen, and filling charity bags with linen no longer loved or needed. Another favourite with clients is sorting clothes, letting go items that were never worn, and packing away out of season items.

I get so excited about the prospect of winter coming to an end and love spring cleaning my own home, room by room and cupboard by cupboard until it sparkles and shines welcoming summer!

If you don’t have time for a BIG spring clean, here are 7 ways you can get rid of the winter cobwebs.

Clothes: Gather all your clothes in one place, and go through them item by item. Let go anything that you have not worn in this last year, anything that no longer fits well, or makes you feel good when you wear it. Once you have done that, sort your clothes by season, and pack away out of season clothes. Don’t forget to empty pockets, clean or dry clean all items and check for stains or damage before storing. Use bay leaves or lavender to keep moths and other creatures away. (For more details on how to sort and organise your wardrobe check out my blog post http://www.allsortednow.co.za/news/clearing-sorting-your-wardrobe)

Your fridge and pantry: Empty your fridge and freezer, clean thoroughly (with vinegar and warm water) and only put back what you know you will use. Let go or toss all foods that you will not use, all foods that are past their best and obviously any leftovers that don’t look too good. Do the same with the pantry or kitchen cupboard and be ruthless, especially with spices, herbs and condiments.

Linen cupboard: This is the perfect time to check all the pillows and all the linen before you change to summer linen. Throw or donate all pillows that are not at their best, and any winter linen that you didn’t use and can’t see yourself using. Remember to thoroughly clean or dry clean any duvets, blankets or winter linen before you store them.

Children’s toys: Winter is a time when children play indoors a lot, and their bedrooms and playroom tend to get disorganized and messy. Get them involved in sorting out their toys. Discard anything broken or incomplete. Donate toys and books they have outgrown. Organise them in a way that makes it easy for kids to keep tidy.

Magazines and newspapers: Go through all the magazines and newspapers that have accumulated over the winter months. Take out any articles you want to keep and file then recycle the rest. If you have enough time, do the same with your books.

Television: While you are at it, do you record TV shows to watch later? Do you have a lot of shows piled up that you haven't watched, and probably won’t? now is the time to delete some of them.

Computer: Now do the same with your computer. Clear out your emails, and go through your files. Delete as you go, and backup where necessary.

Tell me how you get ready for summer…

Friday, 28 September 2018 06:35

Do you love SPRING CLEANING as much as I do?

With the Spring solstice on 21st September comes warmer and longer days in the Southern Hemisphere. I am not sure about you, but I have noticed that I no longer get up in the dark, and our afternoons are stretching! I love this time of the year, when I can throw windows wide open and start getting my house ready for summer. While I am not a domestic goddess by any stretch of the imagination, I love the yearly act of cleaning my house from top to bottom getting rid of all the winter cobwebs.

And so, to SPRING CLEANING! I have shared these tips and checklist before, but feel it’s worth sharing again. I hope it gets you in the mood to do some SPRING CLEANING yourselves.

Have a plan before you start. Make sure you give yourself enough time, and rather tackle this job over a few days. Have all cleaning materials handy and enlist help where you can. Work room by room, leaving bathrooms and kitchen for last. Don’t move on until you are done.

Here is a checklist that I use each year, which I hope you will find useful.


• Strip bedding, wash on high temperature and dry clean duvet inners
• Remove curtains and clean
• Clean picture rails, curtain rods, and cupboards
• Clean furniture and shelving
• Dust and clean window sills, window frames, burglar bars, doors and skirting boards
• Vacuum bed base and mattress, then vacuum floor moving all furniture
• Turn mattress

Living and dining areas 

• Wash curtains, loose covers, throws, and cushion covers
• Move furniture and dust walls, rails, window sills, frames and skirting
• Vacuum couches, chairs and cushions
• Wipe down all surfaces
• Dust lamps, lamp shades and light bulbs
• Remove books from bookshelves, dust and wipe
• Clean all electronic equipment, including wires and plugs


• Clear all gadgets and items off counters, donate those not used.
• Clean and wipe down appliances
• Empty display shelves and wash all items
• Dust and clean all surfaces
• Clear out grocery cupboards and throw away anything that is out of date
• Wash tiles, grout, basins and taps
• Wipe down cupboards inside and out
• Clean all kickboards under cupboards
• Pull all large appliances away from wall and wipe down
• Defrost freezer, clean fridge and freezer thoroughly
• Run dishwasher on hot cycle with one cup vinegar in soap dispenser. Clean filters and replace salt
• Run washing machine on hot cycle with one cup vinegar in soap dispenser
• Wipe out tumble dryer and clean filter
• Finally clean floors before moving large appliances back


• Sort through all toiletries, make up and medications. Remove anything that is out of date.
• Donate anything you don’t like or don’t use
• Wipe down all cupboards, shelves and countertops
• Clean all accessories and wash all towels, bath mats and shower curtains
• Dust down all surfaces, doors, window frames, mirrors and skirting
• Clean bath, shower, basin, tiles, taps and finally toilet
• Polish taps and mirrors and replace accessories and toiletries
• Finally clean floor

Do you have any great tips to add to our SPRING CLEANING repertoire?

Wednesday, 12 September 2018 06:45

9 Tips to help Seniors downsize

While I was growing up we moved every couple of years. With each move my mom would ruthlessly declutter and get rid of stuff she hadn’t used or no longer wanted. My lasting memory of each of these moves was mom presenting each of her 4 children with 1 large moving box. We had to sort out our toys, books and stationery and could only take what would fit into our respective boxes. As a result, we never accumulated unwanted stuff and each move was relatively easy.

Fast forward 50 years to my parents’ final move into a retirement home. Downsizing was easy, and decisions were made quickly and without too much stress.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Downsizing can be a stressful and anxious process for most Seniors, and choosing what to let go of and what to keep is often very difficult and emotional.

Here are 9 tips to make the downsizing process less stressful:

  1. Start early. Sorting out a lifetime and a home full of memories will take time. Give yourself plenty of time ahead of a move to work steadily through your home.
  2. Start easy: Start with items that have little emotional attachment and work your way to the more important items. I usually advise starting with linen, guest rooms, spare rooms and garages. This way you will ease yourself into the process and get used to letting go of things.
  3. Eliminate whole rooms: If you are moving from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom cottage, almost everything in those extra spaces will need to go, so it shouldn’t be hard to decide what to get rid of.
  4. Toss duplicate items: If you have more than one of anything, pick one you like and use, and donate the other. Also consider whether you need the item at all.
  5. Reduce your collections: If you have a number of collections it can be tough to get rid of them. I suggest you pick a couple of favourite pieces to keep and take photos of the rest, then let them go. That way you can remember your treasures without them taking up space.
  6. Make yes or no piles—no maybes: Sometimes you will struggle over an item. Put it in a ‘maybe’ pile and move on. Come back to it later when you have had a chance to think about it, and where it would live should you choose to keep it.
  7. Pass down special items: Now is the time to pass down sentimental or valuable items to younger members of your family. But be sure to ask them first!
  8. Allow yourself time to reminisce: While you don’t want to take too long to sort through everything, you should give yourself time to think about the memories and reminisce. It will be easier to move on if you do.
  9. Hire a professional: Consider hiring a Professional Organiser who specialise in working with Seniors. They can help keep you on track, will do all the heavy lifting and clearing of cupboards, leaving you to make the decisions. 

Possibly the best advice is to declutter on a regular basis (as my mom did), so that it is a lot easier when you get to that final move!

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 05 September 2018 15:37

7 Tips to help Seniors through the moving process

Recently we assisted an elderly lady downsize and move from her family home of 35 years. Her daughter, who lives overseas, had decided that her mom needed to move to a safer, smaller environment. While her decision came from a place of love and concern, it caused a lot of stress, anxiety and pain for her mom.

Just over two years ago my sister and her family made the commitment to emigrate. A difficult decision for them, made harder as our parents lived in a granny flat on their property. The house would be sold along with the granny flat and our parents would need to move. And so, she and I had to talk to our parents about moving into a retirement home.

Although they had already downsized twice – moving from a farmhouse to a small cottage in a seaside village, and then to the granny flat in my sister’s garden – the idea of a retirement home came as a shock. As a family we felt that they needed the safety and security that a retirement home would provide. It took a little while to find the right place, which gave them time to get used to the idea, and prepare for the changes.

Packing up was not difficult as they had already downsized considerably. Moving day came and went, and they settled in very quickly. Two years on, they love it there and wish they had moved sooner!

Talking to your parents about downsizing and moving can be difficult. Believe me, I know. I hope these 5 tips help you and your parents:

  1. Explain why you think its time for them to move into something smaller and safer. Perhaps they have become frail or forgetful. Perhaps the home is too big for them to maintain properly. Perhaps finances dictate. Whatever the reasons, be honest but gentle and help them understand that you believe this is best.
  2. Empathize with them. Having to move out of their home where they have been happy and comfortable will be emotionally taxing and difficult to come to terms with. Give them time to get used to the idea, and process the loss.
  3. Give you parents some control. Remember this is yet another reminder of their frailties and lack of control. Help them organize the move, but give them plenty of time. Rushing your parents will only make the process more difficult for them.
  4. Show your parents the benefits of moving into a retirement home/village. They will be able to socialise with people their own age. They will be safe. There will be assistance where needed. Less housework, less maintenance. The benefits are endless.
  5. Create a memory book. We created and printed a memory book of all their favourite things - the collections they couldn’t keep, the furniture that had to go, the huge photo collages on the walls, pictures of the cottage and garden and their favourite tree. Creating a memory book has helped preserve the memories of those years, especially now that my Dad has started losing his memory. And the best part is that my sister and I made it with my parents. That in itself is a wonderful memory for all of us.

Creating a memory book is a very creative way for your parents to keep everything they are giving away close their heart. The best part is – you made it together!

Probably the most important bit of advice I can offer is to be patient, and give them all the time they need!

Have you had to talk to your parents about downsizing? Do you have any tips?

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Telephone: +27 (0)82 926 3531
Email: judith@allsortednow.co.za