I have to admit, Labor Day put a bit of a cramp in my style. Leave it to another holiday to throw off my preparation for the biggest one of the year. But, company is gone, kitchen is clean, and now it's time to get back into the swing of things. Labor Day marks the unofficial kick-off to Fall, at least in the retail world. You'll find that stores, as early as today, are stocking shelves with Halloween and even Christmas decor items. Most stores have already outfitted their racks with Fall clothing as well (pun intended). We tend to scorn retailers here in the desert for selling sweaters when the forecast calls for a high of 109, but with Christmas shopping in mind, we may be a little more forgiving (And, yes, that is our actual estimated high for today- in case you were wondering).
It's week two of our holiday prep and there are a few things to think about this week. First thing's first- if you haven't completed any of your lists, be sure to do that a.s.a.p. You'll need to have them all done to continue on with your planning, as you'll refer to them often throughout the course of the next few weeks.
Next, as you prepare for your grocery shopping this week (or run back to the store for one of your many "last minute" trips after work), buy extra flour, sugar, and any other baking ingredients you might need. You don't have to stock up for a year, but having an extra bag or two on hand will help tremendously over the coming weeks as we start our holiday baking. Look for sales on butter and take advantage. Butter freezes beautifully and can be pulled out and thawed at will whenever you need it. Hopefully you've made your list of goodies to make/give and know what you'll need for each one (That's what your long-term shopping list is for).
Think about ideas for gifts and decor. Make a master list of gift ideas. The more time you have to think, the more likely you are to choose sincere, meaningful gifts for your family and friends and find them on sale.
Start buying a Sunday paper, if you don't already get one. Look through the adds with Christmas in mind. Take advantage of sales on toys and clothing. Save and use those coupons to stores like Michael's and Joann's to pick up holiday decor items at a discount. You'll save and, when it comes time to decorate your home, you'll have what you need.
Last but not least, find space (however small) to designate as your gift closet. Your gift closet doesn't have to be an actual closet. But if it can be...you're my hero! My gift closet happens to be a box that sits on a shelf in my closet. It will multiply over the next few months into several boxes, but everyone has to start somewhere. I haven't broken this news to my husband yet, but as we begin searching for our next house...I'm looking with a gift closet in mind (wink, wink). Prepare a master list so that you can keep track of what is in the gift "closet". As you purchase a gift, update your list and place a sticky note on the item with the recipient's name. Don't assume you'll remember who it's for. You have enough to think about!