Meal Hacks for People Who are Super Busy

For being one of the richest countries on the globe, America has one of the world’s poorest diets. Not poor in quantity, of course, but poor in quality. The United States is among the top countries for eating the most pre-packaged, processed foods. The American Institute for Cancer Research has found that nearly 60% of the average American’s daily food consumption consists of ultra-processed foods such as sodas, chips, and fast foods. As a result, conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart-disease, and certain cancers are still on the rise. 

The encouraging news is that most of these diseases can be avoided by simply eating fresh, whole foods that can be prepared at home.

But that’s the problem you tell us. We already know all that, but our schedule is too slammed to be stuck in the kitchen all afternoon whipping up home-cooked, nutritious meals. 

Enter your Monogram Personal Concierge. If the only thing holding you back from serving high quality, fresh-cooked foods to your family is a busy schedule, your Personal Concierge can fix that for you. There are a number of ways we can help make your dinner table a healthier place, depending on your needs and preferences.

How a Personal Concierge Can Help You Master Your Mealtime Routine

Let’s start with those of you who love cooking, trying new recipes, and planning a healthy menu, but simply lack adequate time. Easy. Let us give you the support you need with the tasks that are keeping you out of the kitchen to free up some of your time. Your Personal Concierge can take care of those little errands that run you ragged and eat up your day: picking up the dry cleaning, dropping off the library books, taking the car for an oil change, bringing your dog to the vet. We can even do the grocery shopping for you so you need only focus on the meal prep itself.

Now, what about those of you who care deeply about the quality of your family’s diet, but honestly are not that into cooking? The idea of sifting through recipes overwhelms you—or worse, ruins your appetite. Could your Personal Concierge come alongside you and just make it happen? Absolutely!

Watch how we can take you all the way from a recipe book to a sparkling clean kitchen:

Start with the Big Picture

You probably have goals for the kinds of meals you’d like to serve your family. If you haven’t thought about mealtime from this angle before, we can help you. Your family’s specific needs and preferences will shape the foods you purchase and the meals on your table. 

As you think about the big picture, you’ll consider the ages and stages of each family member. You’ll also note any dietary or health restrictions they have and their personal preferences. Does your family like a big breakfast? Do you have kids who need school lunches and healthy snacks? Are you following a diet plan like Whole 30, Keto, The Daniel Plan, or the Mediterranean diet? All of these factors will help us stock your fridge, freezer, and pantry.

Move to the Menu

With your big picture in mind, you’re ready to get down to business and think about actual meals and snacks. This is a fun process, and we can do it for you or assist you in doing it yourself. We also encourage you to solicit input from your family members, especially your children. When they participate in the planning, they get more excited about the eating! By making them part of the process, you’ll help them develop healthy eating practices as well. 

We can help you choose tasty recipes that meet your big picture goals and plug them into a monthly menu tailored to your schedule. This step is so important because it saves you from getting caught at the last minute on a busy night and defaulting to fast food or pre-packaged meals. Menu planning also helps avoid those cooking ruts we all fall into.

Master the Grocery List

There are two basic levels of grocery lists: what you might call the macro-list and the micro-list. We can take care of either or both of these for you. Think of the macro-list as your fundamentals. These are the basics that you always need but often forget about because you don’t shop for these items on a weekly basis. This list might include baking staples, aluminum foil, salt and pepper and other spices, and household cleaners. Don’t worry, we’ll create a master inventory for you and even help you organize your pantry and other storage areas to make it easier to see what’s needed. You’ll need to refresh the items on your macro-list about every month (sometimes even less with expert planning).

The micro-list, on the other hand, includes the items you need for a particular week as well as groceries that get used up quickly or don’t stay fresh for long. These will be ingredients for specific meals of the week, your fresh produce, meats, and dairy products. Micro-list shopping is obviously done frequently—ideally every week.

Go Grocery Shopping

Admit it. You don’t enjoy grocery shopping so much, do you? We get it. All that into the cart, out of the cart, back into the cart, into the car, out of the car. By the time you actually put the groceries away, you’ve moved those items seven times. If grocery shopping is the bane of your existence, or you simply don’t have the time, your Personal Concierge is happy to lighten your load by doing the shopping. We can take care of both macro and micro shopping. We can even grab those last minute items that might come up on a busy day. Since we know your kitchen, it’s easy for us to get everything in and put in its place for you. 

Begin Meal Prep

Did you realize your Personal Concierge loves meal prep? Isn’t that great news? Enlist the help of your Personal Concierge for a special meal or dinner party you’re hosting. We can also handle those busy nights of the week that make a sitdown meal at your own table a challenge. Let us come in while you’re busy getting through other important parts of your day and get that delicious meal ready to share with your family. It’ll be such a treat to walk in with the smell of a home-cooked meal wafting through your home. 

We can even prep some meals ahead of time for you—nutritious breakfasts and lunches made ahead that your kids can grab on the go. A quick, easy-to-reheat dinner for a hectic night. Again, preparing ahead is a key part to keeping processed foods off your table and fast food out of your car (and tummies).

Serve the Meal and Clean up

Finally, the only thing you’ll need to do is call everyone to the table and focus on enjoying delicious food and one another’s company. We’ll have your table beautifully set and ready to serve you. And perhaps the best part? We’ll even get it all cleaned up and put away for you, giving you some much longed-for relaxation at the end of a hectic day.

Depending on your schedule, we can work together to determine how much help you’d like and how often you could benefit from our support with meal prep and cooking. Our goal is to come alongside you, offering you services that free up your time so that you can focus on the things that matter most to you. We can help you improve the quality of the meals you are able to share with your loved ones and your ability to share them together

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Organization 101: Get Your Life Organized with a Personal Concierge

Do you relish alphabetizing your spices and rearranging your Tupperware cabinet on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Is poring over your calendar to make sure you have all the important dates and events lined up your idea of a party? Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with us!

If, on the other hand, hunkering down and getting organized is more like eating your veggies—you know it’s good for you, but you’d simply rather not—well, that’s OK, too. Maybe you’re even one of those highly creative, artistic types with papers flying, dashing to an important meeting you know you have first thing in the morning, but you just can’t quite recall with whom. And don’t ask when you last had your tires rotated!

Organization doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but most of us admit (even if begrudgingly) that being better organized frees us up to do more of what we love and reduces frustration and wasted resources. Organization brings a feeling of calm to our day.

We at Monogram Concierge recognize the value of being organized and appreciate how, with a little effort, organization yields more discretionary time for us to give to the things we love most. That’s why we offer our Essentials Maintenance program: to help our clients get their basic life tasks on a calendar, make routine chores feel more routine, and refine the process to create greater flexibility and freedom for our clients.

Tips for A Simple, Stress-Free Organized Life

Organizing your life according to the annual calendar is one great approach to getting things in order. Try grouping tasks according to when and how frequently they occur. Here’s some ideas that you might find helpful:

Plan Your Annual Tasks for a More Organized Year

There are a few biggies that loom over us and can seem daunting. Good thing they only happen once a year. Taxes. Cleaning out the garage. Even worse—the dreaded physical exam. Start with a list of all the tasks and appointments you need to tend to on an annual basis. Then break the tasks down into the months they typically happen. If they do not have a set due date, great—you can pepper them throughout the year to reduce stress and bottle-necking.

Maybe your birthday is a good time. The beginning of spring, or the New Year, can both be perfect, symbolic times to start something new. Or the long dark winter evenings might be a good time for certain indoor projects.

Consider these organizing projects we recommend doing annually:

  • Identify birthdays, anniversaries, and other annual celebrations. It is so easy to let these important dates sneak up on us, and become belated well wishes. Missing these special times can cause us to feel guilty. Review a list of these at the beginning of the year and mark them on your calendar. Some people find it helpful to do one big shopping trip for all the cards and gifts at once and then send them out at the appointed time. One of the first things we do in our initial Beautiful Beginnings session is get all of your important annual dates and social events on the calendar. Letting your personal concierge assist you with the shopping and mailing can also be a huge help.
  • Make appointments for annual physicals, dental cleanings, and vet checks. It isn’t always possible or practical to schedule doctors’ appointments a year out, but whenever you can, it is good to do so. The health and well-being of you and your family members (including the furry ones) is top priority. By planning well in advance, you will have more flexibility in appointment times that work with your schedule.
  • Clean out your closet. Admit it—if you haven’t worn it in the last year, you probably aren’t going to. You’ll enjoy the extra closet space, and you can feel good about making a tax-deductible donation to your favorite charity. The same idea can be applied to your bookshelves, your pantries, and other areas in your house. If it has been there for a year plus, and you haven’t looked at it, eaten it, or used it, it’s not likely you will.
  • Get your cars serviced. You take yourself to the doctor once a year even if you aren’t sick (and if you don’t, then add it ASAP to this list). The same principle applies to your vehicle. Instead of waiting until you have a problem, be proactive. You can extend the life of your car, avoid dangerous and inconvenient breakdowns, and likely save money in the long-run by planning to have your automobile checked over and serviced by a trusted mechanic every year.
  • Review your big goals. We all have a Bucket List. If yours isn’t written down, it should be. Some families like creating a Vision Board for this purpose and display it in a conspicuous place where it can keep everyone reminded of the big goals. Being mindful of your aspirations moves you closer to realizing them. Do you want to go on a big trip? Write your novel? Run a marathon? An annual review and reevaluation can be invaluable. What are the next steps? Are you any closer this year than last? What are the tasks and disciplines that can be worked into your daily and weekly schedules so that by next year’s review, this goal can be checked off—or at least be much closer to being realized.

Other tasks you might do annually include chimney cleanings, garage organizing, paying taxes, renewing pest control contracts, registering and getting vehicles inspected, ordering season tickets to sporting events or concerts, etc. We are at the ready to help you with all of these.

Quarterly Tasks That Will Keep You Organized

There are some tasks that need to be done regularly, but that are easy to let slip. The idea here is to deal with things that are important before they become a crisis. Or, to identify the subtle things that maybe aren’t important or urgent, but could become so down the road.

Here are a few tasks you might take on quarterly:

  1. Make backups. Especially in this modern age, virtually everything that’s important is worth having copies of. This includes digital backups of important documents and cherished family photos stored on an external hard drive or cloud-based system. Not only can this reduce clutter in your space, but it can provide peace of mind as well.
  2. Check expiration dates on foods and medicines. The time to throw things out and replace them is before they’ve gone so bad that you can’t help but notice. If you are afraid you’ll forget, mark your calendar every few months with a reminder. Fun calendar stickers are a handy memory jogger for this and other tasks and dates.
  3. Unsubscribe. How much time and space in your life (and inbox) is getting eaten up by magazines, catalogs, newsletters, and spam that you don’t read (or need to). Save yourself time and money by collecting them all in one place over the course of a few months. Then sort through which ones provide genuine value and which prevent it. The next step will take some time, and is a worthwhile task your personal concierge can take on. You guessed it—unsubscribing means a phone call (or email) to each and every unwanted magazine or catalog company.

Other quarterly tasks might include getting your engine oil changed, checking light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries, cleaning your gutters, and washing windows. And ladies, don’t forget getting those roots done!

Stay on Top of These Monthly Organizational Tasks

Getting certain tasks taken care of on a monthly basis will make your life run more smoothly. They are tasks that might be managed on a daily basis or as they make their way to the top of the urgent list, but will reduce stress when handled ahead of time with intention.

Possible monthly tasks you can add to your calendar include:

  1. Menu planning and grocery shopping. When daily and weekly life get overwhelmed by music lessons, work schedules, soccer games, homework, PTA meetings, choir practice, etc, preparing meals can be the last thing you feel like doing. That’s when we are most likely to get sucked into fast food shortcuts that are not in the best interest of our family’s long-term health. By planning a monthly menu and shopping accordingly each week, you are better prepared to anticipate those busy nights and have something made ahead you can pull from the freezer.
  2. Budgeting and bill paying. Of course, we all know we should do a monthly budget, but the smart organizer deals with all money matters and bills only once, on the same day every month. Put it on your calendar and use your bank’s secure, online bill pay feature to schedule monthly payments.
  3. Scheduling playdates. All work and no play. Social interaction is a critical component in our overall happiness, and if we do not plan it intentionally, it can easily get neglected when life is busy. So, with a calendar in hand, pick a time or two each month where you can schedule a lunch date or power walk with a good friend, have a favorite couple over for dinner, or go out for Trivia Night. Choose a Saturday when you can host your child’s friend for a playdate. And don’t forget to plan playdates with your own family members—it’s important, too!

Other common monthly tasks you can schedule ahead of time include replacing the air filters in your home and scheduling a monthly subscription order for household items you use regularly, such as trash bags, dish detergent, and paper towels. As a bonus, these subscription services also save you money. Your particular obligations and responsibilities may lend themselves to being added to your monthly organizational list. Be creative!

Daily Organizational Tasks:

There’s no way around it. Even if you get most recurring tasks scheduled out on the calendar, you’ll likely still need the Daily To Do List. At the end of each day, you can pat yourself for all the items you checked off during the day and rest easy knowing your list kept you from forgetting important tasks and appointments.

Everyone’s To Do List is different and is simply a reflection on what’s going on in your life. Giving your day’s list a glance the night before may help reduce stress and anxiety when you awake. You will go to bed having your head wrapped around your next 24 hours, which will stave off surprises and add some calm to your morning.

Here are a few things you might want to include on a daily list:

  1. House maintenance chores like laundry, ironing, cleaning bathrooms, watering plants. By spacing over multiple days, you can keep these tasks at a manageable level for your week.
  2. Appointments and social obligations.
  3. Errands and phone calls.
  4. Lessons, practices, games for the kiddos.

These are all, of course, just suggestions. There are as many ways to organize your life and schedule as there are personality types. You may find another system that works best for you.

No matter how you manage your days, Monogram Concierge is well prepared to assist you in creating an organizational system that suits you and your family best. Contact us for an initial consultation. We can help you identify the areas of your life that can most benefit from a good plan of organization. Next, we can tailor a system just for you. Finally, we can be an integral team member in sustaining your plan over the long haul.

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Get The Most Out of Retirement With a Personal Concierge

It’s Monday morning. But wait—I’m not going to work! Now what?

If you are new to retirement, you have likely been anticipating this Monday Morning Moment for years, maybe even decades. You’ve imagined the bliss of it. The relaxation and the reduction of stress. The abundance of time to do what you want. But now it’s here and suddenly you’re disoriented and realizing that there are, in fact, things you miss about work. So, now what?

One of the biggest adjustments new retirees face is their daily routine being turned on its ear. Often, we do not recognize how we crave the structure that working creates until we are no longer beholden to it. The joy of retirement isn’t so much in having nothing on your schedule, but being able to fill up your time with things of your choosing, things you really care about. All those worthwhile pursuits you spent your working life aspiring to won’t just happen on their own, but now they can happen if you will tackle them much like you tackled challenges in your career—break them down into steps and make the time to work through those steps. A Monogram Concierge can sit down with you, identify how you really want to be spending your time, and help you get set up to do just that.

4 Tips to Help You Have a Successful Retirement

The truth is, the vast open spaces of retirement can catch you off guard if you are not prepared for them. We humans do not always adjust well to change, even positive change, and retirement is one of the biggest life changes we’ll have the privilege of experiencing. Retirement, albeit hard-earned and exciting, can be jarring. Monogram Concierge would like to share four of our favorite tips to help you mentally prepare for retirement in order to make the transition smoother. We want to see you start enjoying these years you’ve worked toward for so long.

Invest in your physical health.

Being retired means you can no longer claim you are too busy to exercise. If you were faithful to investing in your physical fitness during your career, kudos to you. Keep up the good work. Now you simply have more time for it, and you might enjoy discovering a new fitness program. If you’ve played racquetball for decades, you might enjoy the calmness of yoga. Your extra time might afford you the ability to take your fitness program on the road to go on away hiking trips or weekend canoe outings. The possibilities are limitless.

If you were one of those professionals who couldn’t find the time to exercise due to the demands of work, it’s time to hit the pavement. We are never too old to benefit from introducing exercise into our lives. A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that incorporating a regular regimen of fitness and exercise, even if you do not start before retirement, dramatically improves health, lowers your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and slows down the aging process. And who doesn’t want those things?

Whether you’re already fit as a fiddle and excited to explore new activities, or you are starting from scratch, your personal concierge can help you be healthier. We can research gyms and fitness programs in the area, help you find the right exercise program, or help you get plugged into something new. We can also assist with general health by setting up regular doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, designing easy, healthy menu plans, and more.

Study that subject you didn’t have time for in college.

Mahatma Ghandi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Retirement is the perfect time for continuing your education. Education is, after all, a lifelong pursuit. We are never too old to learn new things. In fact, engaging in lifelong learning is proven to have many health benefits. Upstate retirees are fortunate to have access to Furman University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) where you can take classes in everything from cooking to philosophy. You can learn a new instrument or a new investment strategy.

Monogram Concierge can not only sit down with you to help you identify what you’d like to learn, but also assist with the registration and paperwork so you can focus on learning something new rather than on managing the details.

Spend more time with friends and family.

Even if you have close friends or neighbors outside of work, the importance of the workplace relationships as social connections are sometimes overlooked. There may be colleagues with whom you shared office space, common goals, and celebrated successes for years on end. It is only natural to miss seeing their faces at the water cooler each day. If you feel caught off-guard by the sense of loneliness that can accompany retirement, it is time to invest in relationships that may have been put on autopilot during your professional years. Developmental Psychologist Susan Pinker has found complex social connections to be fundamental to our health and longevity.

Diving back into a complex social network takes time and effort. Your personal concierge at Monogram can help you set up a plan to reconnect with old friends and beloved family members. We’re experts at arranging playdates for retired grownups! Let your personal concierge help arrange social engagements, plan dinner parties and other group get-togethers, and maintain your calendar of birthdays and anniversaries to keep you connected. We can also research the best cultural opportunities, from Broadways shows and plays to concerts and museum openings. Let us handle the particulars of getting good seats, making a dinner reservation, and arranging a car service while you enjoy a night on the town.

Fall in love with a good cause.

Working 40+ hours a week can leave little time to devote to a charity you love. But with some time on your hands, you can now give more of yourself to others. Organizations and charities that lack adequate funding to staff themselves or carry out their mission rely heavily on volunteers. When we volunteer, our community benefits, and when our community thrives, so do we. Studies show that volunteering improves our quality of life. Investing in people and causes outside ourselves brings a deeper sense of purpose to our lives. It nurtures a spirit of gratitude in us and promotes a more optimistic outlook.

If you already have a favorite charity or organization you enjoy serving, Monogram Concierge can help you keep abreast of its volunteer drives or local events you can plug into. If serving in this way is new to you, or you simply want to discover a new volunteer outlet, your personal concierge can meet with you to assess what causes are near and dear to your heart and research opportunities for you to engage, both locally or in other places where there is a need—even in other countries.

With your retirement comes wonderful opportunities to appreciate life and make deliberate decisions about how to spend your time. However, you won’t be able to enjoy your retirement to the fullest if you’re filling your day with mundane errands and other tasks, or if you’re feeling unmoored or socially isolated. Monogram Concierge’s Signature Senior Concierge Service will not only take day-to-day tasks off your plate but also sit down with you to assess your lifestyle and schedule. We’re here to help you shine in your golden years and make sure you’re doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.

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Real-Life Organization Lessons You Can Take from Marie Kondo

Are you ready to KonMari?

Who doesn’t want to spark more joy in their life? Even if you aren’t quite sure how, it sounds like a great idea, right? By now, Marie Kondo is practically a household name. Her best-selling book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, introduced the world to her method for sparking joy.

There’s even a Netflix show based on the book! The simple idea is that by systematically decluttering your home, keeping only the things that truly make you happy, you can increase your family’s sense of peace and contentment.

How to Apply the Marie Kondo Method in Your Home

On the surface, the KonMari method is simple. Deceptively simple. Step one: Divide all your belongings into four categories. Step two: Work your way through the categories one at a time. Hold each item, and ask yourself if it sparks joy for you. Step three: Get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy; organize and care for the things that do.

In reality, this approach can feel overwhelming, but the results are worth it. Let’s break down each of the steps and look at the potential difficulties:

Step One: Divide Your Belongings Into Four Categories

Rather than cleaning and organizing room-by-room, Kondo’s unconventional approach divides belongings into four categories. You’ll sift through your clothing, books, papers, and komono—kitchen and garage stuff, knickknacks, doodads, miscellaneous kitsch.

Go through one category at a time. Pull out all items in the clothing category, for example, and pile them in one central place. This step can be tough—especially if you have a little too much stuff. If you have done this step (or seen others do it on her show), then you understand the magnitude of it. There is something very powerful about seeing every item of clothing you own in one giant pile, but that’s the brilliance of her system. Kondo knows that seeing all of our stuff out in the open, in one place, is the only way we can be honest about where we need to make changes.

Step Two: Decide if Each Item Sparks Joy

Thinking about joy motivates you to pare down. But how? Instead of getting bogged down in practical questions about how much wear is left in an item, you simply hold the item and tune in to how it makes you feel. Does it spark joy? If so, wonderful! Keep it. It is worth finding room for. If not, also fine. There is no quota, just a commitment to rid your life of clutter to make room for joy.

Step Three: Get Rid of Anything that Doesn’t Spark Joy

If an item doesn’t spark joy, thank it for its service and get rid of it. While it may feel a little silly to be talking to an old sweatshirt that has been at the back of your closet since college, this too is an important step. Stuff is rarely (if ever) just stuff. It is attached to fondly-remembered chapters of your life (I remember when the kids used to play with that.). Or best laid plans that somehow never quite materialized (I meant to learn to play that guitar. I really did.).

Using this system helps you reconcile these unresolved issues. Life’s chapters have endpoints. The leftovers and trophies can crowd out your ability to enjoy the chapter you are in right now. In this step, you are tidying up and decluttering not just your external space but your internal self as well, letting go of whatever might be holding you back, weighing you down, or getting in your way—literally and figuratively. When you have decided what is staying and going in each category, put the “keepers” back in a more organized fashion, and move onto the next category.

Your Personal Concierge Can Help You Spark Joy in Your Life

As valuable and liberating as this process is, it can also certainly be daunting. Unless Marie Kondo herself is coming to your house (and there is a long wait-list for that!), then you are likely to need some support in the process. This is where Monogram Concierge can step in. Consider these practical ways we can offer help:

One man’s trash, another man’s treasure

As you sort through your belongings, there will be items that you no longer want or need but are useful to someone else. Those are things you’ll want to donate. However, no one wants to haul around their donations in the trunk of the car for five months before finding time to stop by Goodwill. We can arrange to donate any items that still have value to your favorite charity or resale store. Perhaps the thought of your old items sparking joy for someone else brings happiness to you as well.

We’ll hold your hand through the process

Many have noted that the magnitude of this task can be a bit overwhelming. If it helps to have a friendly set of hands going through the process with you, your Personal Concierge can do just that – whether that means toting boxes, emptying junk drawers, or simply asking the right questions to keep you on task. It is much easier to hold yourself accountable when you have a good friend there to give you guidance. Your Personal Concierge can assure you that you’re probably never going to wear those acid-washed jeans again or find the missing lids to all those Tupperware containers.

Taking care of your other errands to free up your day for the project

Perhaps you’ve committed to decluttering your life, but you prefer to work in privacy as you evaluate your things. This process can be emotional, and for some, it is a time to reflect and remember. If that’s the approach that fits you, but you can’t seem to carve out sufficient blocks of time to tackle the task, let us take some other things off your plate. We can help by taking care of your other errands so you can clear your calendar. It might motivate you to get through that pile if you know that you don’t have to put the rest of your life on hold. Partner with a Personal Concierge and when you’re done, the dry-cleaning will have been dropped off, the groceries bought and put away, the oil-change handled, and a nice home-cooked meal will be sitting on the table to reward you for your hard work.

Everyone loves a good yard sale

You may also want to get some bang for your buck by selling your not-needed-but-still-useful belongings. Maybe making a little money for something special can motivate your children to get behind the KonMari process and take the sting out of cutting back on their toys. Depending on just how much you hope to sell, organizing and executing a yard sale is a big deal. We can help you pull it together—the advertising, signs, hosting on the day of, and hauling off of the leftovers when it’s all over.

There’s no doubt that Marie Kondo sets a high standard, a standard that is not appealing to everyone. There are plenty of reasons to keep some things that don’t spark joy, and it’s OK to have some books on your shelves that you might not get to for a few years. It’s also acceptable to hold on to those old love letters or special mementos that she might have you release. It’s really about balance, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all fix.

However, there are bound to be areas of your life, or categories of your belongings, that can benefit from the KonMari approach. When you’re done, you’ll feel more like you own your belongings rather than them owning you.

At Monogram Concierge, we are all about sparking joy. We are ready to help you navigate KonMari so that you can bring some magic to your home and your life. Give us a call today and let’s work together to declutter your life and make room for more joy.

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How to Build Strong Rapport with Your Personal Concierge

So, you’ve decided to use a personal concierge, but you aren’t sure where to begin or how to get the most out of this service? Or maybe you’ve been using our personal concierge service for a while now and want to make sure you are receiving the maximum benefit to your life.

Monogram Concierge offers an extensive list of services to assist you in taking care of the daily minutia and personal organization in your life so you have more time to devote to the most important aspects of your life—like visiting with loved ones, pursuing your hobbies, writing your memoir, or traveling.

Every Monogram Concierge client is different, as are their needs and the ways they stand to gain from our assistance. While you may recognize some obvious tasks and responsibilities you can relinquish to us, you may not realize other areas where we can be of help. There are steps we can take together to develop a tailored plan that ensures that your Personal Concierge is providing you with the most effective support.

5 Ways to Build Rapport with Your Concierge

Like all relationships, the relationship between client and concierge is richest when both parties invest in building strong rapport. By making time for building a strong relationship with us from the start, we can more effectively identify the best ways to serve you so that you spend less time managing your life and more time living it to its fullest. When we’re in sync with you and your needs, we can begin to solve problems on your behalf before they arise.

Consider these suggestions for helping us get to know you better:

Dear Diary? Well, maybe not a diary exactly.

For a week or so, jot down a note every time you find yourself mired in a task that isn’t how you really want to be spending your time. A pocket-sized notebook works well. Or you can record a series of voice memos on your smartphone. The method isn’t as important as your noticing and logging all the areas where you could use some help.

Maybe you’re bogged down by shipping packages at the post office. Perhaps meeting with home service providers has sucked several hours from your week. You had to cancel lunch with your college roommate to meet with your accountant about taxes. You might be surprised to realize how many little tasks eat away at your time each day, and these may be precisely the kinds of tasks your personal concierge can take off your plate.

Give us a sneak peek at your schedule.

Make sure you are recording your comings and goings each day, as well as your daily tasks and schedule. We all have blind spots. We can be so lulled into our routines, that we don’t always recognize where we are inefficient with our time and energy. Let your personal concierge look over your calendar or daily planner with you so we can be helpful in ways that you haven’t even thought of. You might even consider letting your personal concierge accompany you for a day, getting familiar with your rhythm and responsibilities. This is a great way for us to help you identify those subtle time suckers that make your day less efficient. After all, organization is one of our specialties! We can meet with you and review your calendar and schedule so together, we can identify the most supportive services we can offer you. You’ll be on your way to getting valuable time back in your life in no time.

There’s no place like home.

When you’re comfortable doing so, allow us to come spend a little time with you in your home. The better we know your space and your pace, the more helpful we can be. Visiting your home will reveal to us a lot about who you are and what you value most in life. From there, we can hone in on ways to free up more of your time and attention for those things. In addition, your living space will give us important clues about where you can benefit from assistance with organization or maintaining routine tasks and chores associated with running your home. Alternatively, during our Beautiful Beginnings meeting or at your next meeting with us, walk your personal concierge through your home room by room, explaining what causes you to feel stress, guilt, embarrassment, or anxiety. Those are the things we’ll tackle first!

Celebrate “Bring Your Concierge to Work” Day

Next to your home, your place of employment is probably where you spend a significant chunk of your waking hours. Like your house, your work space can provide valuable insights into where you can use the most support in organizing your time and space, and what tasks there may be that we can take off your hands. We want to make your life better, and that means leaving no stone unturned. Especially the big ones.

A few of your favorite things

What brings you joy? When you look back on your life, what are the ways in which you will want to know you spent the most valuable hours? Know who you are as an individual, couple, or family and keep your priorities at the forefront of your mind. Share those priorities with us, so we know how to help keep you pointed in the right direction. When we know more about the things nearest and dearest to your heart, we can help sift through your tasks and responsibilities and make the things that are less important to you more important to us. In other words, we’ll take care of the things lower on your list of priorities to free you up for the biggies.

The better we at Monogram Concierge know you and your priorities, the better we can serve you. It is our goal to provide you the best Personal Concierge assistance we have to give. By investing in your relationship with us and sharing with us some important details about your home, office, and lifestyle, you play an important role in making the relationship with your Monogram Concierge not just good, but great. Let’s arrange a time soon to get together and start strengthening our concierge-client relationship.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing Your Home

Cliché as it may sound, spring cleaning is a wonderful way to push the reset button. As the cold weather surrenders to sunny days and milder temperatures, you can get energized to bring a renewed sense of order to your space. There is something in us that loves that fresh, clean, organized feeling of accomplishment we can get by going through our home and preparing it for the new season. Wouldn’t it be great if your home could feel as peaceful and welcoming as it does after a good reorganization all year long?

Essentials Maintenance: How to Get Your Home Organized

To keep that lovely feeling going year-round, we’d like to offer some of our favorite tips for establishing and maintaining a tidy space through the spring and beyond.

STEP 1: Make a comprehensive inventory of problem spots.

Everyone’s home has a couple default places that become catch-all clutter spots. They evolve over time as we settle into a lifestyle with routines and habits that create typical traps for clutter and mess. You may have a favorite end table where mail settles—and never leaves. Or a big arm chair that makes a perfect laundry basket for the clean clothes. Maybe you have a bulging junk drawer that’s home to 8 incomplete decks of cards, some almost-dead batteries, a couple coupons for frozen yogurt, and broken Christmas ornaments awaiting emergency hot glue surgery. You get the idea. You know where those weak spots are in your home—hunt them down and put them on your Organizational Hit List: STAT.

Grab yourself a notebook or legal pad. Go room by room, observing the places where family members tend to toss mail, backpacks or briefcases, socks and shoes, etc. Record those places on a page for each room, leaving space to write your organizational plan on the rest of the page. We’ll get to solutions shortly.

STEP 2: Design a plan of action and start small.

Rome was not built in a day, and your organization system won’t be either, especially if you are starting from Ground Zero. You can’t tackle everything at once. If you try, you are likely to get overwhelmed and give up. When we set small, reasonable goals with a step-by-step plan of attack, we set ourselves up for success and are more inclined to cross the finish line.

After identifying your trouble spots, prioritize your project by room. You might start with the room that feels the most in need of a rescue operation. Another approach is to start with the spaces more visible to company. It’s also not a bad idea to start with an easy, smaller space so that you have an immediate sense of accomplishment to get you energized for the project at large. What we’re saying is, there’s no wrong place to start. The main thing is to see it through so that you can start reaping the benefits and extra time afforded by living in an organized space.

STEP 3: Mark your calendar!

Now that you have a tentative list of priorities (don’t forget you are allowed to be flexible and change it up as needed), set a time to tackle that first space. Be realistic about the projected time commitment. For example, if you’ve decided to start with the home office or garage, you should set aside a solid weekend when you don’t have other commitments. These are big, intense, often densely packed spaces that will need a healthy chunk of time. By contrast, the living room or a linen closet may only take a few hours of your morning. The takeaway here is that if you start a project that you can’t finish and then have to shelve it for a week or two, you risk losing momentum and not getting the job done.

STEP 4: Clear the space.

Go ahead, give yourself the greenlight to let the mudroom explode into the dining room. Don’t worry what your neighbors think when you fill your driveway with rusty wheelbarrows, your college field hockey stick, your preteens’ old strollers, those power tools you haven’t quite learned to use. Just get it all out.

Before you can hunker down and get a space in shape, you need to completely empty it. This is a critical step in visualizing how you want it to look and feel. If you try to maneuver around the stuff, you’ll never get it quite how you want it. So clear it out—and then give it a good deep clean. Chances are, once you get your newly-organized belongings back in there, it could be a long time before you deep clean again, so make this a must-do part of the process.

STEP 5: Throw it away! Give it away! Keep it! Put it away!

With all your treasures out in the open, you are ready to make some decisions (some harder than others). We suggest four piles for the things you’ve just pulled out of the target space. Get started with a throw away pile. This one will be the easiest to deal with. Be brave. It’s ok to throw-away things that are of no use to you or anyone else. And then, don’t let it linger. Get it in the trash can or to the local dump ASAP before it weasels its way back into the mix.

Next, set aside things that are of no use to you, but are great for someone else. Don’t let buyer’s remorse guilt you into keeping something that you’ve never used. There is a cost to cluttering up your life with unneeded stuff.Think of it as adding value to someone else’s life. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Designate an appropriate charity or donation center for those items and haul them off!

Now you are down to the keepers. Separate these goodies into things you want to ultimately return to the space you are organizing versus things that need a home elsewhere in the house. Make yourself put those items that don’t belong in their proper place, immediately. Don’t procrastinate lest you find them right back where they started from.

Finally, you’re down to the nitty gritty. The stuff that will call that mudroom or garage a permanent home! And we’re ready to put it all back, but better this time.

STEP 6: Keep it attractive and user friendly.

We are much more likely to maintain the system we’ve just worked so hard to create if it is pleasing to our sense of taste and style. A laundry room with a fun theme and cute decorative touches and easy-to-use bins or baskets is much less likely to turn back into a vortex of mismatched socks and stinky soccer uniforms a few short months later. So with that in mind, think about colors you like and what kinds of storage containers appeal to you. This is a great time to make a Pinterest board to conceptualize the final product. Your options are limitless. Everything from Mason Jars to wicker baskets to stainless steel, no-nonsense shelves can add substance and style to your organizational project. The world is your organizational oyster!

STEP 7: Create some breathing room in your system. Differentiate public from private space in your home.

If you’re lucky, your friends don’t go much beyond your foyer or living room without invitation. If so, then you’re safe to have designated private spots in your home where you can “let down your hair” and not worry about a little mess.

Make it a goal to keep the rooms where you most often intercept visitors as public zones, rooms that you try to keep guest-ready at all times. And when then are not guest ready, they are never more than five or 8 minutes from shining like the top of the Chrysler Building. With this practice in place, you can rest easy knowing you are always prepared for an unexpected drop-in from a neighbor or friend.

On the other hand, you can designate a couple of specific zones as private—off limits to everyone outside of family and besties. The breakfast nook, mudroom, laundry room, playroom are great for this. These are the spaces where dirty socks, backpacks, today’s mail, groceries, dog paraphernalia, etc. are fair game for dumping when you don’t have time to put them away as you walk in the door. We all need those places to catch the overspill and detritus of our lives.

A few final specific home organizational strategies:

If you are a natural at organizing, you probably have plenty of great ideas. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by where to begin, consider some of our favorite strategies.

  1. Use transparent plastic storage boxes and drawers: these are great for closet shelves and under beds. They keep things separated and tidy while also allowing you to see the contents without having to guess and pull everything out.
  2. Keep warranties and user manuals in a binder: We all have a stack of these. They collect over the years. Toss all of the manuals and warranties you no longer need. Then slide those remaining into plastic sleeves and tuck them into a three-ring binder that you store on a shelf. This makes them easy to find and reduces clogging in your file cabinet or junk drawer.
  3. If detailed organizational systems are too much for you, just use open bins and baskets for general categories like mail, magazines, kids’ toys, remotes, etc. There are all types to choose from and can be a nice added touch to your home décor.
  4. We love the sock basket! Instead of friendless socks floating around for days or weeks until they are reunited with their partners, throw them in a designated basket as a holding place. Eventually they’ll find their mate—it’ll all come out in the wash! And if you’ve got kiddos, sock matching is an excellent kid-friendly chore.
  5. Speaking of children, use a reachable shelf for a big snack bin. Fill it with healthy snacks like granola bars, squeezable applesauces, crackers, raisins, etc. This makes for an easy way for your kids to grab a snack without having to ask for help or rummage through all the cabinets.
  6. If you have a tiny little clothes shopping habit that makes it a challenge to fit everything in your closet at once, store off season clothes in see-through bins and totes. Better yet, ask your personal concierge to help you rotate your closet, storing unneeded items in the garage or attic.

How to Maintain Your Orderly Home in 6 Easy Steps

Congratulations! Your home is organized and neat as a pin. Now comes the tricky part: keeping it that way. You’ll need to revisit and regroup these areas you’ve just whipped into shape a time or two throughout the year. In the meantime, we encourage you to impose on yourself a few non-negotiable daily chores that will go a long way toward keeping your house only moments away from guest ready at any time. You may have a few faves of your own that you’d like to add to our list, be we think the following six tasks will keep most homes in good shape year-round. Be relentless—hold yourself accountable to the following daily tasks:

  1. Go to bed with an empty sink. Develop a habit of handling dirty dishes right after dinner so you can relax and then wake up to a clean kitchen.
  2. Put away clean clothes and send dirty clothes to the hamper or laundry room before bed each day. Do not let them pile up in a stinky corner. This is great training for your children.
  3. Make those beds! A good day is made even better by a made bed. Not to mention that bed time seems so much more inviting when your bed is waiting for you all neat and straight.
  4. Empty the trash. It may be impractical to empty large kitchen trash can daily, but don’t let it overflow. Stay on top of it.
  5. Only touch mail once! In other words, either designate an inbox for all mail and deal with it on the same day each month or commit to dealing with a piece of mail when it first comes into your hands. Read. File it. Throw it away. Pay it. Whatever. Just don’t let it get stuck to the coffee table or mantle!
  6. Lastly, always have an emergency clean up basket on hand. We love this idea. That inevitable call is going to come when Aunt Vera is in town unexpectedly and is calling from two blocks away to let you know she’d like to drop by in four minutes. She’s no match for you. Your space is organized. You have designated the public spaces that stay pretty neat. You’re on top of your daily chores. Now, grab that basket and toss the few items lying around out of place. You’ll fill it before she is on your sidewalk. Tuck the basket in the laundry room and deal with it when she leaves.

Helping folks get organized is one of our specialties at Monogram Concierge. Whether you’re looking for help because you are overwhelmed and do not know where to begin, or because you simply do not have enough time and can use the extra hands, we’re here for you.

We will walk with you through as many of the above steps as you’d like, helping make your home a relaxing, orderly place you look forward to spending your precious time enjoying. We’d love to help you get started today. Give us a call, and let’s get those bins and baskets ready!

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4 Business Principles to Create a Happier & More Organized Home

TGIF! The work week is over! Escape the office for a couple days! Retreat to the solace of home!

But wait. What if it’s sometimes the other way around? TGIM? Back to the office for five days, where the mail is sorted and there’s a tight schedule you can follow. Where there are no dirty socks under your chair. Even if you are not headed to an office on Monday morning, perhaps you long for the organizational oasis you imagine your spouse or close friends basking in while you fight to tame the utter chaos of domestic life. Between sorting the mail, paying bills, caring for kids, running errands, scheduling home maintenance, planning meals, and all of the hundred other little things that quickly take over the day, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

In a business, the board would bring in a consultant or hire an assistant if the CEO was overbooked. Why should your home be any different?

Run Your Home Like A Business

The truth is, there is no reason your home can’t run like a well-oiled machine. It’s becoming a common practice to apply some simple business principles to how we set up, manage and organize our homes and families. Families are loving the results and feeling happier and more grounded on the home front.

Don’t get too excited. You don’t get to fire your five-year-old for booby trapping the living room floor with Legos. However, you probably can restructure a few home management policies that make Lego booby traps a thing of the past. Much like a group of employees functions together as a team, a family should be a team that works together toward a common goal. Toward that end, families can benefit from applying some key business practices:

Create a Family Mission Statement

Start with who you are and make sure you know your family’s core values. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll likely never get there. Nothing can give your life that hamster-wheel feeling more than thinking you are exerting a lot of energy, but getting nowhere fast. And what’s worse, you have no idea where you’re headed to begin with.

Successful businesses avoid this trap by having a mission statement, and using it as a tool to decide where to focus their resources. Successful families should, too. With an established set of goals and beliefs—a Family Mission Statement—and intentional decision making that aligns with those goals and beliefs, you’ll find that gradually the day-in-and-day-out takes on meaning and feels purposeful rather than punishing.

Gather your family up for a fun night of laughter, games, and junk food, and, as part of your time together, brainstorm and identify a list of 6-10 things that make your family who they are. Incorporate them onto a creative poster or collage and display it where everyone sees it each day. Get in the habit of checking in with it. Use it as a tool to evaluate the choices your family members are making as individuals and as a team. Let it inform how you choose to allocate your time and resources. Does this activity or commitment support our family mission statement? Yes? Great—game on! No? Then drop it. (Or, if it’s necessary, delegate it.) Monogram Concierge can help you manage those tasks that must get done but don’t support your family’s mission.

Identify Your Most Challenging Areas

Begin by making a list of all the things you and your family do that seem to pull you away from your goals or beliefs. This task can be accomplished with input from all family members, or you may prefer to keep this one between you and your spouse. You can also enlist help from us at Monogram Concierge. Often an objective third party can help you more effectively work through this important diagnostic step. We can meet with you in your home and walk you through the areas of greatest frustration and challenge for your family.

Is it a constant struggle to keep your house clean and organized? Is the morning routine making the children cry and causing you to pull your hair out? Are you spending more time preparing meals than enjoying them with your family? Is your schedule so frenetic that everything and everyone just seems out of control? Your personal concierge can help you focus on the places that need the most attention in order to help your home run more smoothly and feel more like a haven and less like a zoo.

Get To Work on Your List

If your list of challenge areas seems daunting, let us help you pick just two or three to focus on in order to get some initial traction. Remember, Rome was not organized in a day. Not only can we empower you to implement some helpful lifestyle management strategies, but we can actually execute some of those systems for you, taking some things off of your plate so that you have time to focus more on tasks and activities that strengthen your family.

Monogram Concierge can assist you with everything from organizing your mudroom to picking up groceries to filling your gas tank each week. Here are a few of the challenging areas that our clients let us manage for them:

  • Home Services such as scheduling yearly maintenance, researching and making major home purchases, scheduling lawn care, organizing a punch list for minor repairs, arranging for deep cleanings twice a year, managing subscription services, and much more.
  • Auto Services such as scheduling regular oil changes and maintenance, getting the car washed and cleaned and topped off with gas each week, getting the car detailed twice a year, and managing taxes, registrations, paperwork, and any DMV visit that doesn’t require your presence. (Yes. We will stand in line at the DMV for you.)
  • Personal Services such as creating a manageable meal plan, delivering groceries, scheduling personal appointments, maintaining a family calendar, simplifying morning routines, running errands, caring for pets, and staying on top of school functions.

Embrace the Family Meeting

While the stuffy but necessary weekly office meeting can be tedious and dry, the weekly family meeting can be fun-loving and re-charging. We encourage you to pick a regular time each week—perhaps a night where your family is consistently able to sit down to dinner together. Commit to a 10-15 minute check-in. Require everyone to share insights and inputs. Ask each other how the week has gone. What things did we accomplish that solidify our family mission? Where did we struggle or feel frustration? What can we do differently next week in order to make it more efficient, effective, and successful? You’ll be amazed how everyone will come to treasure these meetings and how much you will learn from your kiddos.

The best CEOs know that time is their most valuable and irreplaceable resource. In order for your family to be its best, you need to embrace the same idea. Free yourself to focus on what is important, and find other ways to handle the things that crowd out your ability to make the most of your time. Call us today to schedule your first strategy meeting so that your home can run like a great business too.

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5 Ways a Concierge Can Help You Make the Most of Your Vacation

Are you one of those people who gets home from a week of vacation only to proclaim, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”? Don’t worry—you are not alone.

The key to avoiding this scenario filled with post-vacation stress is sound planning before the vacation and excellent support in place while you’re away. Monogram Concierge can make sure you have both. We want your vacation to be the stress reducer it is intended to be rather than a source of additional stress.

Following some simple guidelines, and relying on support from your concierge as you plan your vacation, will improve your odds of having a successful vacation experience that brings you back home satisfied, re-energized, and ready to return to work (OK, maybe not exactly ready to go back to work—but two out of three isn’t bad!)

How to Plan the Vacation of a Lifetime

Know what you want and need from your vacation.

This is the first and most critical question to answer before determining where you’re going. Do you love to go-go-go while you’re traveling, seeing how many tourist sites can fit on the head of a pin? Or do you prefer to completely unplug, stay put, and enjoy a few low-key activities? The answer to this question may be largely informed by the pace and stress level of your work. Be honest with yourself and your family members about your vacation needs. Getting this right sets the stage for the kind of vacation you plan, ensuring that when you return home, you’ve reaped the fullest benefit from your vacation.

Need help determining what you’re looking for in your vacation? The Monogram Concierge Beautiful Beginnings lifestyle assessment can help you get an outside perspective and find the kind of clarity you’re looking for.

Consider everyone who will be vacationing with you.

A romantic trip for two looks very different from a journey with children who nap and drop goldfish between the minivan seats, which looks different from a trip where your mother-in-law comes along. Be realistic about everyone’s needs and limitations. A good vacation is one on which every traveler has at least one special activity or objective he is excited about and will enjoy. Find something for everyone. In addition, the dynamics of your group will determine the best mode of transportation and travel for you. Particularly if you are traveling with young children and/or senior family members, we encourage you to choose a transportation package with the best value over one that saves you the most money.

Our concierges are travel-planning experts, and can help you build an itinerary that appeals to your entire group.

Plan an itinerary that matches the length of your vacation.

Cramming two dozen museums into a weekend jaunt to Rome is a recipe for disaster. Determine how long you actually have to spend on vacation and plan accordingly. If you only have a few days or a week, do not squander all your precious time trapped in a vehicle or playing Sudoku in a tiny airplane seat. Get somewhere quickly, and stay there. Maximize your time at the destination so you can truly enjoy it. If, on the other hand, you have 2-4 weeks, this might be the perfect opportunity to make that RV trek out west to see the National Parks, to do some backpacking in Europe, or simply relax and reset at your favorite spot with your favorite people.

Whatever your schedule and your destination, our concierges can help you make the most of your trip by researching the area, finding once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and handling all of the minor details and tasks that pile up back home when you travel.

Do your homework on weather and crowds.

The last thing any of us wants to do is stand in line for 78 minutes in 100 degrees and 96% humidity for three minutes of the profound joy one can only get by spinning in circles in a lavender teacup. You stand a much better chance of enjoying your vacation and still wanting to live with your same family members after the trip if you minimize as many avoidable discomforts and inconveniences as possible before you leave home. If you are going to a heavily-visited destination like Disney World or Dollywood, it is worth putting your trip on hold until the off season. You can likely enjoy milder temperatures and more trips on Hogwart’s Flight of the Hippogriff after peak season passes.

If you need to travel during peak season, check to see if the park has any apps or special passes to help you manage and enjoy your time more fully. For example, Disney parks now have an app that allows visitors to schedule windows of time for their rides, which can greatly reduce wait times. Your personal concierge would be happy to find the best Disney package for your family, plan your route through the park and set up your park apps and restaurant reservations. As research experts, our concierges are also glad to help you find the best time of year to travel to top tourist destinations—or help you find that off-the-beaten-path spot that will become special to you and your family.

Pack and prepare like a pro!

Here are some quick tips to remember while packing and prepping:

  1. If you’re flying, include a change of clothes in your carry-on—in case your luggage is lost or delayed.
  2. Pack any medications needed during vacation (again, in carry-on if flying).
  3. Tuck in a good book to read while traveling. And some kid-friendly activities if you are traveling with your children. Word Searches, coloring books, card games and hand crafts like crocheting are some good options.
  4. Apply for and/or gather all required travel documents: picture id, passports, etc.
  5. Make sure you have any required immunizations if you are visiting another country.

Of course, Monogram Concierge can help you prepare for vacation with less stress by creating a pre-vacation checklist, making all travel arrangements, applying for any necessary travel documents, creating a packing checklist, and even packing for you and your family. We pride ourselves on getting to know our clients and adding those extra, thoughtful touches that give you true peace of mind. It’s Time for Your Vacation to be a Vacation!

We all have big expectations when it comes to our vacations. We spend months planning for and dreaming of them. An unsuccessful vacation is a big disappointment—and can feel like a huge waste of time and money. Monogram Concierge is here to help you prepare for your vacation and attend to some of your needs so you can rest easy while you are traveling, knowing things are taken care of.

Call us for an appointment and we can walk you through some of the planning steps we have included here and identify the ones we can help you with. We can assist in researching vacation spots and tourist attractions as well as booking travel plans. Let us lighten the load by taking care of some of the red tape associated with getting travel documents together and filling prescriptions needed while traveling.

And while you are gone, we can continue to support you in the ways we already do: dropping off dry-cleaning, checking on your parents, meeting any home maintenance personnel, arranging for pet care, talking to your plants, taking care of mail, etc. The ways in which we can assist you are limited by only your imagination. If you need it done, we can likely help. Just ask, and let’s get started planning your dream getaway today!


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The Best Neighborhoods in Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC Moving Guide: The Best Neighborhoods and Communities in Greenville

Thinking about a move to fabulous Greenville, SC? Long-time resident considering a move to a new neighborhood? You’re not alone. In recent years, people have been flocking to live and work in Greenville, SC. Rated by National Geographic Traveler as one of 2018’s Best Small Cities in the US, Greenville has an ethnically diverse population of nearly 65,000. Greenville is a stable city with significantly higher percentages of residents with BA degrees or higher as well as white-collar jobs.

Why People Move to Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville has a lot to recommend it. Since traffic is light and most residents spend little time commuting, Greenville boasts cleaner air than many cities and is one of the only US cities with natural waterfalls right downtown. It is home to some of the best urban parks in the country, including Cleveland Park, Falls Park on the Reedy, and the fabulous Swamp Rabbit Trail.

If you love to eat out, you’ll be excited to know that Greenville is considered by Southern Living to be one of the Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South. Downtown is a delightful mix of new and old architecture, beautifully preserved, updated, and put to fresh uses, from textile mills turned into ritzy loft apartments to the perfectly restored Town Hall and Westin Poinsett Hotel.

Monogram Concierge’s List of Exceptional Greenville Neighborhoods

Greenville also offers some of the best neighborhoods and communities to live in, whether you like a more urban residence close to downtown or you prefer to live farther out in a quiet suburb, perhaps with a neighborhood clubhouse or golf course. If you are researching a move to Greenville, or already live here and are considering relocating to a different part of town, we want to share with you some of our favorite places to live in the area:

  • The Overbrook Historic District

Northeast of downtown Main St. in Greenville, Overbrook Historic District comprises about 120 Craftsman and Bungalow-style homes from the early 1900s. It is one of Greenville’s first suburbs and is bordered by Pleasantburg Dr., East North St., Stone Ave., and Laurens Rd. Interstate 385 runs through this neighborhood at Exits 40B and 42. The neighborhood was first built in 1913 upon the expansion of the trolley line.

Nearby public school are East North St. Elementary School and Greenville Middle and High Schools. The average Overbook home sells for less than 200K. Overbrook encourages its residents to join their free Neighborhood Association. You can learn more by emailing

Why We Love It

Overbrook is a perfect choice for those wishing to live near downtown, who love  the charm and appeal of older homes, and who are looking for a reasonable price range. While homes in this neighborhood may require a little extra TLC, we think the charm is well worth it—especially if you have a personal concierge helping you with home management.

Residents love Overbrook for its low crime, walkability, and family and dog-friendly atmosphere. Soon, Overbrook will also have access to Greenville’s amazing Swamp Rabbit Trail!

  • Botany Woods

Located in East Greenville and established in the 1960s, most homes in Botany Woods are brick ranches ranging in size from smaller starter homes to lovely estates. Lots are large and lush with mature trees and shrubs. Amenities include a community pool, a playground, an athletic field, clubhouse, and a security Guard. Botany Woods is near Bob Jones University, the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, and downtown Greenville, Lake Fairfield and Butler Springs Parks. While the neighborhood feels private, there is easy access to I-85 and I-385.

Nearby public schools are: Lake Forest Elementary School, League Academy, and  Wade Hampton High School. The average Botany Woods home sells for about $350K. Read about the Botany Woods Homeowners Association here:

Why We Love It

Overall, Botany Woods has an intimate, secluded feel with winding roads, a river, and tall, dense hardwoods and flowering trees throughout the community. Tucked in among the estate-style homes and more traditional architecture; however, you’ll find several sleek, modern homes that would look more at ease on the cover of Dwell than on the cover of Southern Home—and yet everything blends together beautifully in this eclectic, established neighborhood.

  • Alta Vista

Greenville’s historic Alta Vista neighborhood is highly sought after. Nestled in the larger Augusta Road community, it is close to downtown—situated between Farris Rd., Augusta Rd., and Church St. Alta Vista’s charming tree-lined streets, sidewalks, and old bungalows give it an established appeal. Residents love their proximity to the beautiful Cleveland Park and Falls Park, Swamp Rabbit Trail, and Greenville Zoo, making it an especially great family neighborhood. Augusta Rd. restaurants and shops are within easy driving or cycling time.

Nearby public schools include: Augusta Circle Elementary School, Sara Collins Elementary School, Greenville Middle Academy, Greenville High School, Blythe Academy, Hughes Academy, and Eastside High School. Typical home prices range from $300,000 to $1,000,000. An active neighborhood association was established in 2008.  You can read more about it here:

Why We Love It

While downtown Greenville, SC is generally a fabulous place to live, Alta Vista is close enough to feel like part of downtown, but far enough away to feel like it’s own special place. The active neighborhood association keeps the community and the residents informed and connected by planning regular events and makes sure that the tree-lined streets remain beautiful and clean. The gorgeous and historic Crescent Avenue is also located in this neighborhood—and it’s a quick drive to the prestigious Greenville Country Club.

  • The Cliffs

Although not technically in Greenville, SC, The Cliffs is one of the most exclusive communities in the Upstate and well worth the 45-minute commute into downtown. Founded in 1991, this neighborhood is, in fact, a collection of seven exceptional, luxury master-planned communities tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains along the border of North and South Carolinas.The Cliffs are home to seven nationally-ranked courses, seven Wellness Centers and more than a dozen dining venues, an Equestrian Center, Beach Club and marina, and even an organic farm.

During development of the 1990s and 2000s, they opened golf courses by world-renowned names such as Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Jackson, Ben Wright, and Gary Player. Each property or home includes a Cliffs Club membership, and each community has its own HOA or POA dues. Homesites range in price from $75,000-$1 million+. Homes from $350,000-$2.9 million+.

Why We Love It

The Cliffs neighborhoods are close to one another as well as to colorful small towns and thriving cities, giving the community a distinct, mountain-village feel. In the fall, the foothill colors are stunning, and the golf is world-class year-round. A quick drive up into the mountains will take you to renowned western North Carolina cities, including Hendersonville and Asheville, while the thriving town of Traveler’s Rest, SC and the Swamp Rabbit Trail is a short trip down the mountain.

  • Montebello

An exclusive 350-acre, upscale gated community begun in 1997, Montebello is a luscious, hilly subdivision with wooded lots featuring a variety of condominiums, townhomes, and single-family homes—all with open floor plans. Montebello is a unique merger of Old-World style and architectural distinction manifested in stucco, brick, and stone homes. Amenities include a swimming pool, tennis and bocce ball courts, a playground, and several parks and pathways.

Nearby public schools include: Summit Drive Elementary School, Sevier Middle School, and Wade Hampton High School. The average home price in Montebello is a little more than $800K.

Why We Love It

There’s a lot to do in Montebello and great neighbors to meet. Residents represent all stages of life, from singles and one-families, to large families, empty nesters, and retirees. Homes in Montebello are nestled in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains, yet are only a short drive to downtown Greenville. The community is also located near Pebble Creek Golf Course and Paris Mountain State Park.

  • Gower Estates

Younger families are flocking to this recently-restored 40+ year old subdivision between Laurens Rd. and Pleasantburg Dr. Gower Estates is getting a fresh start, thanks to new schools that are underway and kids who grew up in Gower returning now as adults with their own families.

Homes represent a cross section of styles from multiple decades—traditional brick facades and single stories to modern exteriors and two stories. Many of the older homes have been updated with granite countertops, new cabinets, and modern features.  Most homes sit far back on their lots, creating deep front lawns and lots of seclusion. The 21-acre Gower Estates Park is located at 24 Evelyn Avenue and features lighted softball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic shelters, a horseshoe pit, a 9-hole disc golf course, a one-mile paved walking trail and an M60 Army tank.

Nearby public schools include Sara Collins Elementary School, Greenville Middle Academy, and the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities, Beck Academy, and JL Mann High School. The average home price in Gower Estates is about $420K.

Why We Love It

Gower Estates is that kind of charming subdivision that eases neighbors out to chat at the fence, wave as they walk their dogs, or enjoy watching their children play together. If you love the feel of close-knit community with residents invested in one another, Gower Estates is a great choice for you. Another reasons Gower Estates is one of our favorites is its Gower Pool Swim Team! Not only does the pool serve the community, but it boasts one of the largest and most successful swim teams in Greenville. They have been division champions more than 25 times.

  • The Hampton-Pinckney Historic District

Located in the North Main area, the Hampton-Pinckney Historic District is one of the oldest in-town neighborhoods and is recognized as Greenville’s finest area of Victorian architecture. It is also Greenville’s first “trolley-car neighborhood.” The district was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, becoming Greenville’s first National Register District. In 1979 the neighborhood became the first locally designated Preservation Overlay District.

The district includes 70 well-preserved structures dating from 1890 (except the McBee House from 1835). Architectural styles include Italianate, Greek, Gothic, and Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and various bungalows.

The neighborhood is only a couple of blocks from the Main St. business district and is convenient to Heritage Green, Greenville County Main Library, Greenville County Art Museum, and The Greenville Little Theater. Nearby public schools include Stone Academy Elementary, League Academy Middle School, Berea High School. Home sizes and prices vary. There are homes in the low $100’s to grander residences priced up to $1,000,000.

For information on the Hampton-Pinckney Neighborhood Association visit

Why We Love It

Hampton-Pinckney is home for young families, grandparents, and everyone in between. Investors and developers have been renovating many of the older homes to their former glory over the past decade, and the results are lovely. The neighborhood has a close-knit, friendly ethos—there is even a Book Club and Flamingo Friday Party! All-in-all, Hampton-Pinckney has that ineffable blend of established architecture and new energy that makes Greenville so unique.

  • North Main Community

Many Greenville residents will argue that we saved the best for last. The North Main Community, which is comprised of over 2200 families, is a sprawling, tree-lined neighborhood bordering the northern edge of downtown. The community includes historic streets, including Park Street and Earle Street, and boasts an active Community Association that plans frequent, family-friendly community events.

The North Main Community is a diverse and historic neighborhood with its own old-time soda shop, pharmacies, restaurants, craft brew pubs, and other amenities. While home prices on the outskirts of the North Main area average just over $200K, homes closer to the center of the action on North Main Street, Earle Street, or Summit Drive average $500K to $1,000,000 or more. For more information about the neighborhood, visit the North Main Community Association website:

Why We Love It

It’s difficult to describe the ambiance you’ll find in the North Main Community—but it truly is something special. Lots of trees, dogs, parks, and big, beautiful, historic homes. Residents go all out for holidays, especially Halloween, when families from all over Greenville gather on Earle Street to enjoy the outrageous decorations and plentiful candy handouts. If you go, just be prepared for a mob. Some of the best areas downtown are walkable from North Main, making it an ideal spot for couples and families who like to leave the car at home.


We hope you are as excited as we are about these wonderful neighborhoods and communities in Greenville. If you are moving to the area, or relocating from or to one of these or other Greenville communities, call Monogram Concierge for help getting settled. We’d love to assist you with meeting with realtors, making moving arrangements, finding and coordinating with service providers as well as contractors, interior decorators, and tradesmen to renovate or improve your new house—so you can make Greenville home.

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The Best Private Schools in Greenville, SC

How to Choose the Best Private School in Greenville, SC

Not only is Greenville, SC, a vibrant place to work and live—with mountains out your back door and beaches only a few hours away—but it boasts some of South Carolina’s best schools, both private and public. With 56 private schools serving nearly 11,000 students in the Greenville area, parents who want a private education for their children have a lot of options for both well-respected religious schools and nonsectarian preparatory schools.

While choice is a good thing, it can also make the decision-making process more difficult. To help you get started, Monogram Concierge has compiled profiles for six exceptional private schools that you may want to consider as you start your search.

Six Top-Ranked Private Schools in the Greenville Area

Monogram Concierge has put together profiles of six private schools in the Greenville area that have outstanding reputations and are located throughout the greater Greenville area. The schools we have chosen have superior academic programs; offer a variety of sports, arts, and extra-curricular experiences; have low teacher/student ratios; and produce strong SAT scores and college acceptance rates each year.

The approximate average tuition for private schools in Greenville (for both lower and upper schools) is $6600.00 per year, and the average teacher/student ratio is 1:12. Our profiles include a 2017-2018 or 2018-2019 tuition range that reflects a gradual rate increase from lower school to upper school. We have not included other fees such as application and testing fees, matriculation fees, or enrollment fees. Please contact the schools directly for more specific information regarding costs.

  • Best Overall: Christ Church Episcopal School

A K-12 independent college preparatory school in the Episcopal tradition. Established in 1959, Christ Church Episcopal School is known in the Greenville area for its remarkable arts and theater program and its rigorous academics.

Enrollment: 1100
Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:10
Average SAT: 1280
College Acceptance Rate: 100%
Foreign Language: Primer- 5th Grade learn exploratory Spanish. Grades 6-8 choose Spanish, Latin, French, or Chinese. Grades 9-12 have the additional choice of German.
Honors Academics: International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, International Baccalaureate Program, AP Courses
Non-Academic Programs: 47 athletic teams, well-developed arts programs, service learning opportunities, extensive clubs and extracurriculars for both lower and upper schools.
Faculty: 71% have advanced degrees.
Uniforms: YES
Religious Affiliation: Episcopalian, weekly chapel
Admissions: Strict application deadline. Families should begin the admissions process during the fall preceding the anticipated year of enrollment. Priority deadline is December 1.
Apply Online: CCES Online Application
Tuition Range: $12,830.40 to $17,529.60
Tuition Assistance: Need-based tuition assistance available.
Contact Information: 245 Cavalier Dr, Greenville, SC 29607, 864-299-1522,

  • Best SAT Scores: Greenville Classical Academy

A PK-12 Classical Christian Academy whose philosophy states that the “chief end of education is to prepare students to worship and glorify God.” GCA is an academically excellent private school with a low student-to-teacher ratio. The Academy was established in 2004 and offers a classical education as well as a flexible homeschool hybrid option.

Enrollment: 202
Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:6
Average SAT: 1355
College Acceptance Rate: 100%
Foreign Language: School-wide Latin instruction beginning in 3rd grade. Spanish offered starting in 8th grade.
Non-Academic Programs: A variety of student organizations, activities, and field trips. Athletics include girls volleyball, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys cross country, boys and girls soccer, and girls softball.
Faculty: 50% have advanced degrees. “We desire for our administration, faculty, and additional staff to have an active and faithful walk with Christ, to have a true love for teaching children, to be committed to the classical model of education, and to have a love of learning and a passion and skill for their subjects.”
Uniforms: YES
Religious Affiliation: Christian, weekly chapel
Admissions: Lenient application deadline. Applications become available in November for the following school year. Submit application by July 15th for a lower Admission Fee.
Apply Online: GCA Online Application
Tuition Range: Five day, PK through 7th grade: $2983.00 to $7300. 7th through 12th grade students are enrolled in a university model schedule where classes meet with M-W-F or T-Th and tuition is paid per class. In addition, Upper School students have the option of doing an on-campus/homeschool hybrid. See website or call Admissions for further details.
Tuition Assistance: Need-based tuition assistance available, multiple-student discounts offered.
Contact Information: 2519 Woodruff Rd, Simpsonville, SC 29681, 864-329-9884,

  • Nationally Recognized: Spartanburg Day School

Spartanburg Day School is a nationally accredited, nonsectarian independent school for students in grades 3K-12 that was founded in 1957. Spartanburg Day is known for its stellar academic programs and its well-educated faculty—nearly three-quarters have advanced degrees, more than any other private school on our list!

Enrollment: 450
Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:12
Average SAT: 1261
College Acceptance Rate: 100%
Foreign Language: Spanish in Lower School. Spanish and Latin in Middle School. Spanish, Latin, French through AP Level in Upper School. Accepts International Students in Upper School.
Honors Academics: International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, International Baccalaureate Program, AP Courses.
Non-Academic Programs: A variety of student organizations, activities, and field trips. Extensive visual and performing arts programs. Athletics program includes 11 sports.
Faculty: 74% have advanced degrees.
Uniforms: YES
Religious Affiliation: None
Admissions: Lenient application deadline. Continuous enrollment deadline is February 15th. No stated deadline for new students.
Apply Online: SDS Online Application
Tuition Range: $3455.00 to $19,230.00
Tuition Assistance: Need-based tuition assistance available, merit-based scholarships awarded.
Contact Information: 1701 Skylyn Dr. Spartanburg, SC 29307, 864-582-7539,

  • Best Evangelical Education: Hampton Park Christian School

A K4-12 Christian School that is part of the ministry of Hampton Park Baptist Church and provides high quality, Bible-based instruction. Homeschool hybrid option available. Strong academics and equally strong religious teaching are the cornerstone of this school that has served the Greenville area since 1970.

Enrollment: 420
Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:17
Average SAT: 1200
College Acceptance Rate: High
Foreign Language: Spanish
Honors Academics: Honors classes offered.
Non-Academic Programs: A variety of student organizations, activities, and field trips. Athletics include girls volleyball, girls and boys basketball, boys and girls soccer, and boys baseball.
Faculty: More than 33% have advanced degrees.
Uniforms: NO, but students are expected to abide by a dress code
Religious Affiliation: Baptist, weekly chapel
Admissions: Lenient application deadline. They offer a Part-Time Student Program for students in 7th-12th grades for students who are homeschooled and taking 3½ units or fewer per year at Hampton Park.
Apply Online: HPCS Printable Application
Tuition Range: $3,480 to $6,790
Tuition Assistance: Need-based tuition assistance available, multiple-student discounts offered. Contact admissions for tuition details for part-time students.
Contact Information: 875 State Park Road, Greenville, SC 29609, 864-233-0556,

  • Newest: Veritas Preparatory School

Founded recently in 2013, Veritas is a K5-9 (and adding a grade each year) Classical Christian School partnering with parents to provide a classical Christian, University Model education to students. Located in the heart of the downtown Greenville area.

Enrollment: 105
Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:6
Foreign Language: School-wide Latin instruction beginning in 3rd grade.
Non-Academic Programs: All students receive instruction in art, music, and sports training.
Faculty: “We desire for our administration, faculty, and additional staff to have an active and faithful walk with Christ, to have a true love for teaching children, to be committed to the classical model of education, and to have a love of learning and a passion and skill for their subjects.”
Uniforms: YES
Religious Affiliation: Christian
Admissions: Strict application deadline. Enrollment for next year is already limited. Application deadline is April 15.
Apply Online: VPS Online Application
Tuition: $4800 to $6500
Tuition Assistance: Need-based tuition assistance available
Contact information: 701 Cleveland St, Greenville, SC 29602, 864-309-0511,

  • Best Catholic Education: St. Joseph’s Catholic School

A 6-12 private, Roman Catholic, co-educational, college-preparatory day school. St. Joseph’s has been ranked among the top 50 Catholic schools in the USA. Established in 1993.

Enrollment: 700
Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:12
Average SAT: 1198
College Acceptance Rate: 100%
Foreign Language: French I and Spanish I in 8th grade. French, Spanish, and Latin in High School.
Honors Academics: Honors and AP classes offered.
Non-Academic programs: Athletics and fine arts, as well as academic, leadership, service, and personal enrichment clubs and organizations
Faculty: 51% have advanced degrees.
Uniforms: YES
Religious Affiliation: Catholic, weekly Mass services
Admissions: Lenient application deadline, but families are encouraged to begin the admissions process during the fall preceding the anticipated year of enrollment.
Apply Online: SJCS Printable Admissions Forms
Tuition Range: $11,940.00 to $13,410.00
Tuition Assistance: Need-based tuition assistance available, merit-based scholarships awarded. Multiple-student discounts offered.
Contact Information: 100 St. Joseph’s Dr., Greenville, SC 29607, 864-234-9009,

These represent only a handful of the many exceptional private schools available in Greenville, SC. The weight of choosing the right school for your child can feel overwhelming, and we understand it is a significant decision for parents.

Monogram Concierge can assist you in further researching any of these or other schools that may interest you. Call us for an appointment and let us help outline your priorities and preferences in your search for a private or public school that best fits your children’s needs.

We can assemble a portfolio of matching selections and from there can schedule appointments for you to visit schools and meet with admissions counselors. After your children are happily attending an excellent Greenville school, Monogram Concierge will be here to assist you in managing your schedule and helping you keep track of all of your children’s athletic commitments and extracurricular meetings and activities.

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