Really Cheap Lifehacks for Storing all Your Holiday Decorations

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Even though much of the holidays are officially behind us, we bet there’s probably still holiday decorations lurking around your home. And to be honest, both of us like keeping up our Christmas trees as long as possible, because you just can’t beat the soft, pretty glow of those lights. Sigh.

However, it’s time to snap out of it and focus on the new year ahead (bring it on 2018!), so into storage the holiday decorations must go. But before you throw everything into a big box and call it a day, we have some easy storage hacks to efficiently pack away all of those holiday items. With these ideas, you can get a head start on your resolution to get your home clean and organized for 2018.

Before you start, purge!

As with most organizational projects, we first suggest taking inventory of what you have and doing a nice little purge. Get rid of decorations you no longer love and donate them. There’s no sense holding onto items that never even make it out of the box each year. Once you have everything that makes the cut for next year, it’s time to buy the proper containers to keep everything organized.

Invest in some different colored bins.

We highly suggest color coordinating your holiday bins. We have red and green bins that hold all of our Christmas decorations. (Get it?) It makes it so much easier every November when it’s time to head to the storage unit and get all of the holiday decor. Instead of hunting, you just grab it! Obviously you can even use some washi tape (or a label maker) to still mark the contents of each bin. There are always great deals on organizational supplies after the holiday, so head to the store and grab the essentials.

Get your wrapping paper under control.

Wrapping paper has been a big nuisance in our household for quite some time. We used to put all of the rolls into the corner of a closet, and whenever you open the closet door they would tumble out and unravel. The worst. Not to mention the paper gets beat up and crinkled when it unrolls.

To tackle this mess, we hit up the hardware store and purchased an inexpensive piece of foam pipe insulation. This cost next to nothing. We got the kind that comes pre-slit, so all we had to do was take scissors and chop it into one-foot pieces. We then slit the foam open and put it around the open wrapping paper to hold the container.

Not only does this keep the open wrapping paper from unraveling, but it also prevents it from rolling around! Now, these rolls lay flat on the top shelf of our closet and are way more organized than before. This is a must-do lifehack, if you ask us.

Store and protect your ornaments this way.

We absolutely hate when we go to decorate our tree and half of our ornaments are broken or tangled together. Next year, we’re not letting that happen! Yes, we invested in a container that is meant to hold small items. You can buy these from a hardware or big box store, and they can hold dozens of ornaments easily. The grid easily keeps the ornaments separated and organized inside.

Before, we never really thought it was worth the money to buy this specific of an organizer, but trust us when we say that we are excited about the prospect of not opening up a box full of broken ornaments next year!

Protip: If you have a bunch of small ornaments on your tree, save some egg cartons from the holiday season. These can be used to hold and separate lots of small and delicate Christmas ornaments. Each one gets its own little “cubbie” so it’s safe when you put it into a larger ornament box.

Prevent “tangled ribbon syndrome”.

If you haven’t noticed by now, the holiday season comes with lots and lots of gift wrapping. We already showed you how to tackle the paper clutter, but the bows are another beast. Personally, we both like to use silk ribbon to wrap our gifts (it just gives gifts a little something extra!), and when you accumulate a lot of spools of ribbon things can get messy really quickly! We used to just keep all of our ribbon in one basket, but it would inevitably become a big tangled mess. We had to get creative.

To keep things organized, we purchased a wire basket and a dowel for less than a dollar. We cut the dowel in half and fished it through the wire basket, along with the spools of ribbon. Now the ribbon is all organized and ready to pull through the holes of the basket! This will make gift wrapping a heck of a lot easier (and faster) during next holidays, or any time of the year, honestly!

We know you may be ready to just throw all of your holiday decorations into a bag or box and into your storage unit. But taking some extra time to efficiently store your holiday decor is well worth it. Just think of how good you’ll feel next year when it’s time to deck the halls, and your holiday decorations are organized and ready to go!

What You Actually Need to Get for Your Home on Black Friday

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As two gals who write about everything home, we are always looking for the latest and greatest when it comes to tools, furniture, electronics or really any item for your home. But we’re also budget-friendly bloggers and absolutely love the feeling when we find a great deal!

So with that in mind, we’re combining our two favorite things into one jam-packed post … first, we detail what we do before we go shopping, then we share a list of all of our favorite home items that will definitely have slashed prices during Black Friday (and Cyber Monday, too)!

Taking Inventory of What You Need

It can be really tempting to buy stuff just to buy stuff during Black Friday, but just because something is a good deal doesn’t mean it’s a good investment. Instead, we highly suggest taking inventory of what you actually need.

First, walk around your home with a pen and paper and jot down a list of items that need replacing. Perhaps your coffee pot has seen better days, or you’ve never truly loved that rug in the front hallway. Create this list now before those Black Friday deals start popping up.

Get that tape measure out.

If you find that you’re looking for furniture or home decor, grab your tape measure and write down some measurements. You don’t want to add a rug on super sale to your shopping cart if it’s way too big for your living room! Having these measurements on hand when you’re quickly trying to score the best deals will be helpful, and it won’t slow you down when you’re racing against the clock to fill your online shopping cart!

Browse online.

With your list of items and measurements, it’s time to start browsing. No need to buy anything yet, but get an idea for the items you may want to grab once those deals pop up. Here’s a popular site that collects all upcoming sales from the most popular retail stores. We suggest keeping a list of all of the links in an email in your drafts so you can easily access it on any computer or phone when you’re online shopping.

Protip: It’s tough to know what exactly will be on sale once Black Friday hits, but some smaller stores will put all of their deals out there ahead of time in their newsletter. Sign up for some of your favorite stores and you may be alerted ahead of time about those crazy good deals!

7 of Our Favorite DIY Items for Your Home

Now, onto our favorite home items that we recommend to absolutely everyone! Click the names of each item for a quick link.

Cordless Drill

Even if you’re not a fan of DIY projects, we think every home should have a power drill. This tool is a homeowner essential and we use ours every single week. Even if you’re just hanging something on the wall, power drills make everything 10 times faster. This DeWalt model is our favorite and we each have one that we use constantly. This drill will have enough power for just about any home task, and we love that it comes with an extra battery so you’re never out of juice!

Letter Board

We both have these letter boards on display in our homes and we can’t get enough! It’s a savvy way to display a positive quote or funny message in your house. We’ve used these boards for so many picture ops, but they work great even just as wall art. We’ve gifted this item to new homeowners before so you may want to consider scooping one up for yourself and/or for someone special during the holiday sales!

A Neutral Rug

If you’re looking for a large, neutral, and on-trend rug, we’ve got the one for you!

Bridget had this rug in her old office and got so many compliments on this bad boy. It can match with just about any decor, plus the Moroccan pattern is right on trend. Wayfair will have some major deals on Black Friday, so this is definitely one you may want to add to your home shopping list.

Geometric Planter

Casey has this planter in her home and it’s another one that our readers obsess over! You can’t go wrong with this classic black and white color combo and it’s such a good size for an indoor planter. Snake plants have thrived in this pot, but we’ve seen others grow all kinds of gorgeous indoor plants in this. We truly believe every room needs some greenery, so this planter may be the kick in the pants you need to work on your green thumb.

Purdy Paint Brush

If you have a painting project coming up, the best thing you can do is buy a high-quality paint brush. Trust us, those cheap ones may seem like they’ll cut it, but you’ll end up with little brush hairs stuck in the wet paint and on your walls. Not good! We only use Purdy paint brushes and recommend them to everyone. They are a bit pricier, but as long as you clean them well they can last forever! Stock up on some of these high-quality brushes if you plan to paint sometime in the future. You won’t regret it.

The (Perfect) Scented Candle

We’re candle junkies and light them just about every single night. It’s taken us years to figure out our tried and true scents, but we have narrowed down our winner to this one. This candle from Anthropologie is absolutely amazing (& the perfect 5-star review shows we’re not alone in our love for this candle!). It permeates throughout your entire house with ease, so we light these whenever we’re entertaining. And every single time, guests have requested what the smell is and how they they too can scoop up this candle. The best part? It works all year round, meaning you don’t have to feel weird buying something that smells distinctly like the holidays.

Cordless Vacuum

Bridget got this cordless vacuum cleaner for her wedding many years ago and it’s still one of the best items she put on her registry! You charge it in a dock (she keeps hers in their laundry room) and then it’s always raring to go so you can zip around your home cleaning up dust bunnies in no time at all. Because there is no cord, you can easily and quickly clean your entire home (no stopping to unplug the cord and find a new outlet.) Overall, this vacuum makes this dreadful task a little bit better.

The countdown to the holiday shopping frenzy is on! We encourage you to make a list (and check it twice) before those Black Friday deals hit the web. Happy shopping!

Does Paint Go on Sale?

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Painting a room can instantly transform the look, feel, and style of any space. Heck just by adding a fresh coat of paint, you can make an old, grungy room look new again and make your new home reflect your style right from the very start.

Because paint adds an immediate sense of freshness and personal style, we highly recommend all new homeowners paint what they can when they move into their new space. We also recommend painting your space right away if you bought your house or apartment from a smoker (more details on that in this post), but that’s another story. (more…)

Branding Your Moving Truck

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rocknrolltruck-banner

Creating an Image. Showing Your Character.

Pop survey time!

Which of these moving trucks would you say stands out?

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If you said “C” you are in the great majority, congratulations!

Now, whether you as a customer would be dying to use these guys is another matter entirely. The image of a pirate-turned-mover may or may not compel you to grab your cell phone and start dialing but let’s face it: they certainly grab your attention.

So how to grab the attention of the community you serve? By building your brand as a part of your business – our focus of this month’s main feature.

Brand Theory

In The Basics of Branding Entrepreneur magazine spells it out like this:

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Great. That’s what it does. But I want to know what it is.

Okay, fair enough. Our friends at Entrepreneur go on to tell us that any branding effort starts with a solid logo: an image, a design, some sort of visual that communicates your brand – in other words, your character. So your task then is to come up with that magic bit of creative artwork. How?

Start by asking yourself a few questions.

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Alternatively:

If your moving company was an animal, what animal would it be?

Sound silly? A United Van Lines agent, that yours truly once worked for, used the image of a teddy bear for their logo. It was on their paperwork. It was on their uniforms. It was even on their trucks. The feeling they were trying to elicit was one of gentle care with all your most treasured possessions. This was my guess anyway; there was never an official explanation. The idea was simply put out there for each potential customer to (passively) feel whatever they felt upon seeing plush teddy.

And so it should go for all of us. Create that logo; a picture, a design or a combination of the two, in colors that work for you. And start putting that logo everywhere: on your website, on your paperwork, on your packaging and promotional materials. All of these places amount to opportunities to integrate your logo and, in turn, communicate your brand.

Don’t Wait

Mr. Namihei Odaira, the founder of Japan’s Hitachi group, created a logo for his company before they had produced a single product. ‘To establish trust between the company and the customer’ or so the story goes. Right from the start, then, Hitachi could begin developing their brand by placing their logo on everything they did.

With $21 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2014 alone that logo must really be magic.

Even if you are already up and running and kicking some industry butt, if you don’t yet have that visual aspect of your brand consider adding one to your overall presentation. Because as we see in this article on the psychology of logo design, there really is power in that piece of art.

Now Say Something

Along with a logo a tagline helps create a strong sense of your mission in the minds of potential customers. Make it short. Make it powerful. Make it fat with meaning.

It doesn’t even have to be grammatically correct. Think Apple: Think Different.

And Back It Up

While it goes without saying, we’ll say it anyway. That logo can’t stand alone – even with the help of your tagline.

That logo, as it was said earlier, is your promise to your customers. Now that it’s out there, we need to back our promises with action that furthers our brand.

We know! Work hard!

Well, yes. But let’s listen to what our friends over at The Marketing Donut have to say about character, purpose and pride when building a brand.

Business2Community’s “7 Fresh Ideas for How to Brand Your Business” goes even deeper, explaining the concept of being authentic and building from the inside out. People make decisions largely on emotion. You can be the greatest mover in the region, but no one will know if you can’t first get through their front door.

So give it some thought. Who are you? Where do you come from – geographically or otherwise? As a moving company, what matters to you? What do you love? What drives you? Turn these things into a visual for your prospective customers and you’ll not only catch their eye, you’ll grab their imagination by showing them you are more than just a great mover.

And Yet, It’s Not About You

Another article from Entrepreneur disagrees with the idea that branding is all about you and your story. In dispelling the conventional wisdom of branding oneself: “you should focus on developing and promoting your products and services, not you.”

Yet the author goes on to say that “the sum total of all the experience customers have with a company, its products and services. That creates value.” So while it may be true we are selling our service, not ourselves, the two are so intertwined it is difficult to keep them separate. Our customers are not buying a toaster. They are inviting us into their homes…and letting us walk out with their stuff! A level of personal connection is inevitable. And this is where our brand comes into play.

If you don’t want to talk about who you are and how that drives what you do, that is fine. If your story has no direct bearing on your services then leave it out. Stick to an image, a visual, a concept the customer can readily connect with. And make that your story.

Now About That Black Truck

That image of the skull and crossed hand trucks is the logo of Real Rock n Roll Movers, a moving company tied to the music industry. Musician Scott Quist started the business with a group of musicians who needed to generate some income when they weren’t touring (or selling CDs though they don’t say as much). Naturally, they didn’t try to come up with a story – it developed organically.

Real Rock n Roll Movers began with a need, tied into the pursuits they enjoyed and the people they were. Theirs is more than a gimmick; it’s a symbol of what’s inside. And that is what makes a great image.

Nothing can take the place of quality service. But drawing more eyes and attention to our overall presence can hardly be a bad thing.

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