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‘Twas the Week After Xmas

The floodgates tend to open in December, with a variety of celebrations involving gift exchanges and shopping. When I shop for other people, no matter how hard I try, a little something for myself always makes its way to the register. I have to admit that my own closets and bookshelves have become a little bloated lately. Lots of stuff is coming in, but not enough is flowing out.

The week after Christmas is an excellent time to purge, diet and otherwise lean out before the official “Ready, Steady, Go!” of New Year’s Day. I always like to get my ducks in a row the week before New Year’s so that I feel refreshed for New Year’s Eve celebrations and can hit the ground running on the first of January.

My ideal post-Christmas week looks like this:

Pull out the boxes and bins and spend a leisurely few hours taking down the tree with a good movie or CD playing in the background. When the holiday decorations are cleared, look around the house with a fresh eye. Is there anything cluttering up the space that you can live without? Now is also the time to ditch any ornaments that didn’t work — the old tired wreath, extra unsent cards, etc.

Make a list of what you need to look for or replace next holiday season. Hit the holiday sales for gift wrap, cards, ribbon, tree accessories, and other holiday items at 50 percent off or more. Buy only what you can reasonably store.

Exercise daily and eat right to make up for holiday indulgences and to get party-ready for New Year’s Eve.

Spend as much time as possible creating a vision for 2012, including a business plan for the year, if applicable, and some resolutions for areas you’d like to change or improve in the next 12 months. The more writing, visioning and planning you do now, the more likely your goals and dreams are to become reality. The first step in organization is imagining what you want your life to look like. Then plan realistic action steps to make it happen.

Take care of any nagging house, family, auto, pet or garden chores that you don’t want to carry over to 2012.

If you had any holiday cards returned for lack of a correct address, make adjustments to your address book or contacts list.

Catch up on movies, books and your television queue. Discontinue any subscriptions (magazines, Netflix, Hulu) that you didn’t have time to utilize in 2011 and don’t want to continue in 2012. Recycle the backlog of 2011 and older magazines that you didn’t get to — don’t start the new year with the guilt of an overwhelming “to read” pile.

Catch up with friends for informal lunches and dinners before the work madness begins again.

Check your new purchases and gifts against your older possessions. Try to abide by the “one in, one out” rule. Give your closet a check-up and consign or donate whatever didn’t work for you in 2011. Carry only the best quality over to the new year.

Get some sleep. The holiday madness is behind us, the challenges of a new year not yet begun. Breathe deeply, take naps if possible, and use this precious “betwixt and between” week to revive your spirits and prepare yourself for a very happy, healthy, prosperous and orderly new year.