Honoring Your Heroes on Memorial Day

This Memorial Day promises to be a jubilant one. With a surge in vaccinations against COVID-19 — especially among the aging members of the veteran population — towns can again honor the memory of the more than 1.3 million people who have given their lives for the nation since 1775.

The Organizing Blog urges readers to get out and commemorate these heroes while observing proper social distancing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Many parades are back after skipping 2020 due to the pandemic, and outdoor activities remain relatively low-risk, especially for the vaccinated.

The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day is a great time to have a cookout, go to the beach, or shop the garage sales. But you can make time to #honor those who died in service to their country before, during or after engaging in the #summer fun.

Reader’s Digest suggests decorating for the event, visiting a cemetery to place a flag and flowers on a grave, or watching a war movie. You can also observe a moment of silence privately during the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on May 31.

This Memorial Day, we should also give special remembrance to nearly 600,000 citizens who have lost their lives to a dreaded disease in the last 18 months. (That’s more lives lost than in all of World War II.) And let’s also remember the heroic health care workers and volunteers who are on the front lines of the war on COVID.

While Memorial Day is designed to honor the deceased, you can support living veterans by writing letters to active-duty troops overseas or dropping off treats at the local veterans home. And if there are any veterans among your family and friends, this would be a great time to pay them a visit, take them to lunch or give them a call.

The Organizing Blog feels duty-bound (pun intended) to remind readers that it makes helping veterans easy. We pick up your donations of unwanted, lightly used clothing and household goods and resell them to fund veteran housing, health care, events and initiatives. Gather your donations and visit ClothingDonations.org to schedule a free, contactless #donation pickup.

This year, let’s honor the memory of those we’ve lost in a way that feels reverent and genuine. But let’s not forget that there are heroes still walking among us.

Valentine’s Romance Without the Clutter

Valentine’s Day inspires gift-giving of a specific kind: jewelry, apparel, greeting cards. These things don’t take up a lot of space on their own, but like anything else, they tend to accumulate even though you and yours may not use them every day. What’s a person, couple or family to do if they already have enough of that stuff laying around?

Get creative! Instead of giving your loved ones things that take up space, Organizing Maniacs says, give the gift of time. Take a hike, play a game, do a puzzle, clean the house or volunteer to wash and vacuum the car.

Make memories rather than more space for material goods. Plan a weekend getaway, take a virtual cooking class together, or schedule a spa day. Set a date night — whatever that might look like in the current pandemic climate.

If you want to get craftsy, you can buy or create a coupon book of actions or favors for your loved ones to cash in at their leisure, Meaningfully Organized says. Depending on your skill set, coupons can be exchanged for anything from a hug to a beach vacation.

There’s nothing wrong with food when it comes to giving, either — it rarely takes up space for long. But while that giant heart-shaped box of maple creams may be the perfect gift for a person who loves maple creams, your significant other may be more into coffee, craft beer, or crackers and cheese.

You can combine food with an experience by making a favorite meal at home together. And flowers may be appropriate, but we at the Organizing Blog think it’s better to give a living plant that rewards its recipient through the seasons than a run-of-the-mill bouquet that turns brown by week’s end.

A rule of thumb? The more thoughtful the gift, the more useful it will be — and the less likely it will one day be considered #clutter.

If you or yours need to #declutter, make that your Valentine’s Day goal, project or gift. Just be sure to contact ClothingDonations.org for a free #donation pickup before you and your loved ones tackle that drawer, closet or room. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Shopping for Christmas … From Your Screens

The novel #coronavirus has upended life as we know it. Even the holidays haven’t been spared, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommending that more than 330 million Americans reconsider their Thanksgiving travel plans to stop the spread.

Generally speaking, the fewer people you come into close contact with, the better. And with Christmas, Hannukah and other celebrations due up, CDC lists “Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on or after Thanksgiving” as a high-risk activity.

Since it rarely requires interpersonal interaction, online shipping is low-risk. It has been growing apace with the internet for more than 25 years, and it is now set to eclipse all other channels for holiday gift-giving during the pandemic.

Retailers are ready to provide home delivery and contactless pickup if you’re willing to offer a credit card number. The deals aren’t bad, either; many outlets are offering loss leaders just to get you through their online storefronts.

Sitting in front of a screen trying to source great gifts can be tedious — there’s just no way to browse as fast as you might in a physical setting. That’s where online gift guides can help: They can point you in the direction of good gifts for anyone on your list.

Stuck for ideas? Just Google “gifts” and few keywords of the things and activities your giftee likes, and you’ll soon have a page of links to lists suggesting products with click-throughs to online stores ready to take your money.

Whatever they like — be it tech, gaming, music, movies, pets, exercise, cooking — there’s a gift guide for it. At the Organizing Blog, we like to give gifts that don’t add to clutter, meaning they are immediately useful or take up little space. Gourmet foodstuffs, a subscription to a streaming service, or a charitable donation are good options.

To help fund valuable veterans programs during a particularly stressful and often isolating holiday season, consider donating your extra stuff to ClothingDonations.org or making a direct donation of money or a vehicle to VVA.org. The veterans appreciate the help. Now get shopping!

Check the Thrift for Football Fan Gear

Football season is in full swing, and just six weeks in, it has been a roller-coaster ride for many fans. The early part of the season has been marked by an unusual number of huge upsets, shaking up the standings and causing some to question their longtime allegiances.

But for fans looking forward to having their favorite teams make the playoffs (or banking on their Fantasy Football picks), every week is a make-or-break viewing. And for true fans, nothing beats having a jersey or other souvenir announcing which team the support.

On game day, you want to be wearing a pro jersey from your favorite team with your favorite player’s name stitched on the back, or at least a T-shirt or cap with the team logo. Bears or Lions, Patriots or Jets, Saints or Seahawks, fans just have to have the merch.

The trouble is, that stuff is expensive. An “official” NFL Green Bay Packers jersey with Aaron Rogers’ name and number on it starts at $99.99. Add your own last name and another two-digit number, and the price shoots up to $149.99.

This isn’t limited to football only, of course; baseball, basketball and hockey fans have their own high-priced fan gear. Astros, Cardinals, Nationals and Yankees gear will see a surge in sales this week, as those teams vie to compete in Major League Baseball’s World Series.

There is a less costly answer, though, if you’re headed to a gameday event and need to show your sartorial support. The local thrift! Supplied by generous donations to ClothingDonations.org, they are an incredible resource of sports paraphernalia.

Think about it: Pro (and college) sports teams are something lots of people rally around. And a lot of those people — fans — buy themselves new stuff, gain or lose weight, and otherwise grow out of their gear. When they weed that extra stuff out, they often donate it.

That means that the local thrift has lots of jerseys, T-shirts and other stuff representing local and regional teams. It may even have stuff from out-of-town teams if a few of your neighbors have moved to the area and/or maintained their fandoms from afar.

Fan gear is in wide demand, and there is no shortage of it — so why pay more? Track it down at the thrift, and you’ll pay pennies on the dollar compared to buying new. And if you have outgrown some of your own fan gear, donate it to ClothingDonations.org; it will be resold to help fund valuable veterans programs. Yay team!

Stay Organized All Summer Long

Everyone wants to make the most of their summer leisure time, but the added burden of managing all of that extra summertime stuff can be overwhelming. Let’s say you love going to the beach, for example. Do you really need two coolers, several inflatables and a ladder golf set to have fun?

That junk takes up space in your car and home, and you’ll have to find an out-of-the-way place to put it when summer is over. That’s why you should keep your summer stuff organized and at the ready for when you need it, while also storing only the essentials in the off season.

By this point in the season, you should have already disposed of any summer clothing you haven’t worn this year and/or didn’t wear last year by bagging it up and #donating it to ClothingDonations.org. That stuff has #cluttered your closets for months, tempting you with thoughts of summer fun — and guess what? It hasn’t delivered.

When it comes to a summer outing, try to keep the things you have to bring (and later find a place for) at a minimum. If you’re headed to the beach, pack a bag of the essentials — sunblock, towels, (deflated) inflatables and sunglasses — and keep it at the ready so the day doesn’t become all loading the car and no fun.

To keep from gathering too much stuff, the Krazy Coupon Lady says, borrow instead of buying. Public libraries are a great source of books, movies and even power tools, and when you’re done using them, you can simply return them. Another suggestion? Read digital books and magazines to keep from having to shelve your summer reading long-term. And always borrow or rent a kayak, canoe or personal watercraft unless you know you’ll use it every week.

To keep summer-only stuff from creating #clutter throughout the home, establish “drop zones,” Simplify 101 says. “A hook or shelf by the main entrance/exit of your home makes a terrific drop zone. As an added bonus, this area can also serve as a launch pad when you’re ready to head out on your next summer outing.”

Summer is all about relaxation. To maximize your R&R, make it simple for yourself, your family and friends to get out and enjoy the weather without making packing, organization and storage a burdensome chore before and long after the outing. You’ll never miss that extra stuff.