5 Things I Learned from Being a Bridesmaid

kbb_tulips_on_mantel

I’m no Jane in 27 Dresses, but once I did have the pleasure of participating in the wedding of a good friend of mine several years ago. She was one of my first friends to get married and her wedding felt like it was a milestone in my own life, marking that transition from crazy college student to actual adult.

I have to admit at this point that I’m really not a wedding person (although I like wedding movies), but I was wildly excited to help my friend out with hers. I thought I’d be running around helping to schedule dress fittings, sample wedding cakes, and pick out favors. Kind of like in 27 Dresses. (Did I mention I used to be really obsessed with that movie?)

Being a bridesmaid, however, ended up being more like starting a job without reading the employee manual first. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, or that I didn’t have fun at her wedding, but afterwards I wrote a little piece about my experience as a bridesmaid to not only pass on some of my own knowledge to other first-time bridesmaids, but to process my own feelings on the subject.

Years (and many weddings later) I still stand by what I wrote; now that wedding season is fast approaching, I thought I’d share them again here with all of those bridesmaids-to-be that are out there- even those not obsessed with 27 Dresses.

Don’t expect to look attractive. I already knew the dress was horrible on me (as per the tradition of the bridesmaid dress) but I was still shocked when the first photos were posted online. That make-up, that hair, that general pasty awfulness? That I was not expecting.  Try and not let your ego be bruised too much. Your friend’s wedding day is more about her looking good than it is about you looking good. Years down the road, people will look at her wedding photos and forgive you for the hairstyle that makes you look like you have a giant cupcake on the top of your head. (At least, that’s what I’m hoping.)

Bridal showers are super boring. No one loves little sandwiches with the crusts cut off as much as I do, but other than that the bridal shower will more or less consist of you watching your friend open presents for two hours straight. I was happy for her, but it was kind of like spending two hours at your favorite housewares store and not buying anything. (Or maybe you torturing yourself like that!)

The bachelorette party may not be the party of a lifetime. They never show this in any of the movies (well, maybe with the exception of Bridesmaids) but you’d be surprised at how a seemingly innocent night of drinking can rapidly deterioriate into a night of screaming, crying and drama.

You’re not going to know anyone. Literally. After the ceremony you’ll be hanging out at the head table and all sorts of family and friends will be wandering up and congratulating the happy couple. They’ll smile vaguely at you because you were introduced when you entered the hall, but other than that you’ll probably be left to your own devices- and to the bottle of merlot the bride and groom are going to leave untouched because they’re too busy greeting everyone.

It’s going to make you really sad. Don’t get me wrong- I was so ridiculously happy for my friend that I found myself holding back tears several times during the wedding planning, throughout the ceremony and at the reception. No one really tells you what an emotional experience being a bridesmaid can be. It’s lovely and romantic and also bittersweet. Whether you’re decidedly single, or you’ve been married for several years, I don’t think that feeling will ever go away- that realization that you’re watching a person blossom into themselves; the sensation that they’re beginning the rest of their lives. We grow and change and get older, and having the privilege of watching a few select people grow and change along with you is both painful and wonderful all at the same time.

I know the above seems like I’m being all Negative Nancy, but fear not future bridesmaids: when all is said and done, being a bridesmaid can be a wonderful experience that can (hopefully) bring you a little bit closer to the bride-to-be and can help solidify a friendship between two people transitioning into a new phase in their lives. If you get the opportunity to try it sometime, do it!

Just never mind the ugly dress.

KBwB-BFlower-50

Do you have a horrible bridesmaid story you’d like to share? Or even better, do you have a photo of yourself in your ugly dress that you’d like to share? (We won’t laugh, we promise!) Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below with your story and we’ll commiserate.

Reclaim Your Home From the Holidays!

kbb-holiday-mess

Cleaning up after the holidays is the worst. Not only is cleaning kind of a chore (har har), but you’re also coming down from that holiday high and finding yourself staring down at the long, dark tunnel of the winter months with absolutely nothing to look forward to until the spring.

I’m kind of a buzz-kill, aren’t I?

The Swedes have it down pat, though, when it comes to holiday clean-up: a whole other holiday known as Julgransplungering, or literally “the plundering of the Christmas tree”. It’s kind of a holiday unto itself that usually occurs the twentieth or so day after Christmas. There’s food, and singing, and one last dance around the tree (yup, just like a maypole) to mark the end of the holiday. I always regarded it as the “final hurrah” of the Christmas season before it’s back to the reality of winter.

If it’s something you’re into, I highly recommend conducting your own modern adaptation. Mine usually involves a glass of wine and one last listen of all my Christmas playlists as I take down all of my decorations. It’s not quite like dancing around a tree, although I may or may not do a happy dance after my apartment is looking clean and back to normal.

The time of year is another great opportunity to review your greeting card list (Don’t have one? Want one? Click here to learn more on how to assemble your own) and make note of any changes in address, or personal information. I always try to update my list to include anyone who’s given me a card during the past season. Hopefully there are no deletions on your list!

I’ve got a Christmas budget, too (read all about that here), so after the holidays I go through my receipts and make notes on how much I spent, saved, and of course, what I ended up buying. Sometimes I’ll come up with new ideas for gifts after the exchange has occurred so I’ll note those too, along with my purchasing information like sizes, color preferences, etc. It sounds like a pain but it really helps me with my shopping the next time the holidays roll around!

Every season I find that my decorations and other holiday fare grows exponentially in comparison to the amount of storage I have allotted for these items. Taking the time to put everything neatly away allows me to discard any unwanted items, and gives me a chance to make notes about repairs. (I chat a little more about storing holiday décor here.)

Dealing with the aftermath of the holiday season is not necessarily a party. (Although the Swedes have made it so.) But the act of cleaning up and organizing everything afterwards has become almost a ritual of closure for me. It’s a way of embracing the calm and restoring order after a busy and often anxiety-inducing time. I also find it clears the air and gives me a sense of renewal and purpose for the year ahead.

The final act of the Christmas tree plundering when I was younger involved a procession with the tree out of the door and to the yard, where we’d toss it onto the ground in a grand finale. Although I never actually threw the tree itself I found the whole thing kind of satisfying. There’s no tree-throwing in my version now as an adult, but there’s still something to be said for engaging in the ritual- it leaves you with that same sense of completion.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’m so happy to have spent another holiday season with you and excited to start a brand new year on the blog. What are some of your end-of-holiday rituals? Have you ever plundered a Christmas tree? (Have you ever plundered anything?) Tell me all about it below or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

I love talking about the holidays so if you’re still feeling that holiday fever, you can read more about the most wonderful time of the year here. Interested in cleaning up and getting over with? I write lots about organizing your household and your life here and here.

Have Yourself an Organized Little Christmas

18bfp-7cookies1-group

The day after Halloween should be its own holiday: it’s the first day that we can officially talk about Christmas without feeling like its way too soon.

(Americans take note: we Canadians already had our Thanksgiving so we’ve got almost two months of nothing to do except plan for this.)

In actual fact, a lot of the Christmas displays have already been up in the stores for a coupe of weeks. I hate to admit it, but there’s a part of me that’s growing excited. A lot of people may argue that Christmas has become too secular, or too commercial, but I can’t help but feel that there’s some kind of Christmas spirit that lingers out there all the same this time of year. People become kinder, more thoughtful. The daily grind starts feeling a lot more cheerful.

And everywhere there’s this urge to connect- with family, friends and neighbors. Maybe I’m just imagining it, but it’s the one time of year that I feel more than ever like part of a community.

There’s a downside as well to the holidays- the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” and give the most expensive gifts, host the most fabulous parties, and decorate until your house looks like Santa’s little workshop. It’s a lot easier when you plan ahead a little and keep yourself organized. Last year I shared my trick for organizing the Christmas cards I send, and how I organize my holiday shopping. I love figuring out way to become more productive and organized and this season I’ll be sharing a lot more on tips on last-minute gift ideas, party planning and taking time off of work to help things run smoothly.

This isn’t a happy time of year for everyone- the holidays can often bring up old memories and grudges, and many people still have to face life’s challenges despite all the cheer the holidays have to bring. I shared a story about one particularly lonely Christmas last year on the blog, and in the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more ways that I’ve been able to find inner calm and gain perspective during this busy season.

We can’t really talk about Christmas without talking Christmas baking either, and the Swedes have a special tradition every year of making seven different types of cookies. (Eating sweet things makes you nicer, apparently.) Part of my background is Swedish so I’ve invoked this tradition in my household again. I’ll be posting this year’s selections some time closer to the holidays but if you’re looking for inspiration in the meantime, my Swedish Gingersnaps, Maple Butter Cookies, Jam Slices, Rugulahs, Orange Crunch Cookies, Vanilla Horns and Chocolate Crinkle Cookies were all big hits last year. (These posts are all updated with new information, and brand-spanking-new pictures!)

And don’t worry- I’ll still be blogging about business, books and all things keeping busy (not just holiday-related!).

I hope you’ll join me on my quest this season to have an organized little Christmas, and to make the most of this special time with friends and family.

KBwB-BFlower-50I like to talk about the Christmas holiday on the blog because it’s what I know, and what I grew up with. It’s a special time of year for me, but for some of my readers I know it won’t hold the exactly the same meaning. I don’t want to be presumptuous either, and write about other holidays or traditions from other religions or cultures for fear of misrepresentation.

Having said that, I’d love to hear about all of the other celebrations my readers participate in, in their own words! Comment below and let me know what kind of meaning time time of year holds for you (if any!). Or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and let me know how to be more inclusive to my readers. Perhaps you’d like to collaborate on a post with me?

And as always, I’m happy to hear your comments and ideas over Twitter, or share some of your holiday projects you’ve been working on with me on Instagram. Pinterest is an especially dangerous place for me this time of year, and I’d love to see what you’ve been obsessing over as well.