Saturday, December 14, 2013

Week 15

Congratulations!  You have made it through to the end of the journey.  Hopefully, you have been successful and have learned some things along the way.  Make note of things that worked for you and any goals you may have for next year.  In a few months, you'll forget all about them.  Write them down while they are fresh so you can implement them next year.  As for our "to do" list for the week, it is simple.

  • Mail packages and cards
  • Wrap and label any remaining gifts
  • Prepare teacher gifts
  • Enjoy the fruits of your labor- drive around looking at Christmas lights, plan an evening out with friends, find a sitter and enjoy a much needed date night, read a book by the Christmas tree, make a cup of tea and snuggle in front of the fireplace. Savor the season!
  • Above all, have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Week 14

I certainly hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and found that it was much more relaxing than it may have been in years past.  If you're like me, you have spent the last few days eating and shopping until you're ready to drop.  What a fantastic way to kick of the Christmas season.  For those of us who have been chomping at the bit to put up our Christmas trees but couldn't bear to do so before Thanksgiving, our time has come!

Let's begin!

  • Decorate your house and yard
  • Finish the last of your shopping and wrapping
  • Prepare all packages for mailing.  Be sure to utilize if possible to buy postage and arrange for pick up of your packages.
  • Mail overseas cards
  • Plan caroling or a family movie night.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Week 13

Happy week of Thanksgiving!  We are really getting down to the wire.  In just a couple of weeks, we will be finished and relishing in the Christmas season.  This is, by far, my favorite week of the year.  There is so much to look forward to.  I can't wait to get started!

This week:
  • Get everything out for Thanksgiving.
  • Double check your shopping list and pick up any remaining items as soon as possible.  Do not wait until Wednesday!
  • Prepare what can be done ahead of time
  • Stock bathrooms- have extra toilet paper and hand soap on hand.  Also remember to check your first aid kid and band aid supply if you are expecting additional children to visit this week.
  • It's deadline week- If homemade gifts/crafts are not completed, put them away until next year and buy gifts in their place.  Be realistic and let yourself off the hook.
  • Wednesday- Use a freezer meal, buy a bagged salad if necessary

Enjoy your week and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week 12

Is November really half over? *sheds tear* I just cannot believe it.  Each month seems to come and go faster than the one before.  But, every time I turn the page on the calendar, I am more and more grateful that I have been preparing step by step for the last few months.  Thanksgiving is next week and, instead of that thought throwing me into complete panic, I am actually looking forward to it.  There is a busy week of preparations ahead, so let's get started!

  • Make a batch of holiday goodies.  This will be your last baking week, so make sure to squeeze in the one treat your family cannot live without.  Grocery store shelves are well stocked with all kinds of Christmas sprinkles, fruits, and nuts.  If you already have enough goodies in your freezer, consider making a batch of sugar cookies to decorate with your kids closer to Christmas.  You can freeze those as well and pull them out for a party or fun afternoon later.
  • Make a freezer meal.  If you have run out of ideas, consider running to  your local warehouse club and buying a frozen entrée to keep on hand.  You can never have too many ready-made meals so don't skip this step.  You can always use those remaining meals the week after Christmas too.  I mean, who wants to cook then?
  • Buy at least one gift
  • Wrap and label packages
  • Work on homemade crafts or gifts
  • Make place cards for Thanksgiving
  • Clean serving dishes.  If they are like mine, they have collected a half inch of dust in the last few months.
  • Borrow any additional pieces.  Don't be afraid to ask family, friends, and neighbors.  Do not add to the expense of the holiday purchasing serving pieces right now.  Keep a list of what you don't have on hand and snatch them up during Black Friday sales or in January when retailers are clearing their inventory.
  • Check, clean, and iron your linens.
  • Work on centerpiece.  Check your candles and clean any silk flowers you may be planning to use.
  • Make a 3x5 card for each serving dish and tape it to the dish itself.  Include what goes in it, when it can be filled, and silverware needed for serving. This is invaluable when your kitchen is filled with family and friends all asking what they can do to help.  Plus, it makes your meal preparation a no-brainer and keeps you from scrambling in the heat of the moment.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Week 11

It's about this time every year that I wish time would slow down.  The holidays are rapidly approaching and I don't want them to pass too quickly.  I hope you are finding time to savor the season and enjoy your preparations.  If you can, light a candle and turn on some Christmas music (you won't find any judgment here) while you work.

Here goes:

  • Make a batch of holiday goodies
  • Make one freezer meal.  We are nearing the end of our baking and freezer meal preparation. If you need to double up on a few extra meals this week, do it.  Next week we will finish up.
  • Buy at least one gift.  Yesterday, I purchased my children's ornaments.  It felt a little odd considering it was 86 degrees outside.  But, I sure was nice that everything was in stock!  Take advantage while store shelves are full.  They won't be much longer!
  • Wrap and label packages.  Wrapping paper, gift bags, and tags are now readily available in practically every major retailer.  Save yourself some time by buying them now and getting your presents wrapped.  The amount of money you may save waiting for sales won't be worth the time you will end up spending if you save all your wrapping for the last minute.  Time will be at a premium soon.  Wrap as much as you can now.
  • Work on homemade gifts/crafts
  • Review and revise your Thanksgiving menu.
  • Plan table setting
  • Plan centerpiece
  • Reserve items that need to be borrowed- serving dishes, linens, chairs, etc.
  • Purchase, clean, and iron holiday clothing
  • Send invites for Thanksgiving
  • Address Christmas cards

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Week 10

As I clear away our Halloween decorations, I can't help but think about how much I LOVE this time of year.  There's something about the cooler air and the anticipation of Christmas that I love almost as much as the holiday itself.  Now that the rest of the world is catching up to us, it really begins to feel good to have such a handle on our holiday planning.

Now it's time for some confessions.  Confession #1- I have some catching up to do.  Life has been particularly busy this year, for some reason I can't explain, so I have a couple meals and baked goods to knock out.  Confession #2- I cannot bring myself to put up my Christmas tree. *hangs head in shame*  I know so many people who have jumped into the Christmas season with both feet and I'm so proud of them for deciding to enjoy it as long as possible.  I really do wish it was longer than a month.  But there is just something about the experience of putting it up, that I just can't let go of. 

One of my favorite holiday memories is watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and seeing Christmas commercials air for the first time all year.  Those days are long gone, but the kid in me still revels in the fact that Santa's arrival in Herald Square ushers in the Christmas season.  Then and only then can the Christmas music play and the tree go up.  It's tradition.

Until then, I'll enjoy the sights and sounds that are already all around me and enjoy the anticipation.  In the meantime, let's not forget Thanksgiving!  It is a major production for those of us hosting, so don't let it fall through the cracks.  Retailers may not realize there's a holiday in between Halloween and Christmas, but there is and it is one of the BEST!

Here is our list to tackle this week.  Let's hit it!

  • Make a batch of holiday goodies (or two, if you're like me this year)
  • Make one freezer meal (or...well, you know)
  • Buy at least one gift. We are getting down to crunch time.  If you can knock out more than one, go for it.  Store's are well stocked right now, but won't be for long.  You don't have to wait until Black Friday to get a good deal.  Check your paper and the web.  Take advantage of coupons while you can and while stores have inventory.  Beat everyone to the punch!
  • Wrap and label your packages.  Wrapping paper is readily available.  If you haven't had any hanging around from last Christmas, head out a.s.a.p. and grab some rolls.  Wrapping gifts is the thing that sneaks up on us.  Just remember, even when you've finished your shopping, each of those gifts need to be wrapped.  Don't save it all for the last week before Christmas!
  • Work on homemade crafts or gifts
  • Polish silver and clean your glassware. 
  • Clear out your Halloween décor
  • Put up Thanksgiving décor if you have any.  If you want to put your tree up and your husband won't shame you (LOL) then GO FOR IT!
  • Clear out your hall closet and make room for guests coats (unless you live where we do and your Thanksgiving temperatures are generally in the 80s). 
*Special note- Do NOT shampoo your carpets.  It is common this time of year to want to have a spotless house for guests.  But consider all the foot traffic your carpet will see over the next two months.  Your newly cleaned carpet won't last long.  Instead, get a good spray cleaner from the store and spot clean your carpet.  Save the expense of having it professionally cleaned until the holidays are over. 

I found a recipe on Pinterest for homemade carpet cleaner and it is, by far, the best one I've ever used.  Incidentally, it also cleans upholstery beautifully and has effectively pre-treated laundry stains for me.  Here is the recipe:

1 tsp clear dish soap
1 C warm water
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
Mix the dish soap with the warm water first, so that it dissolves better.  Then add the rest of the ingredients and pour into a spray bottle.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Week 9

We are well past the half way mark!  It's hard to believe November is around the corner.  Be proud of yourself for making it this far and making so much progress.  Keep up the great work!
  • Make a batch of holiday goodies
  • Make a freezer meal- running out of ideas?  Try this:
  • Buy canned food- if you have already purchased all necessary items from your long-term shopping list.  Grab a can or two to donate.
  • Buy at least one gift.  Wrap and label it.
  • Work on homemade gifts.
  • Start addressing Christmas cards
  • Buy stamps.
  • Check your candy inventory for trick-or-treaters.  Stock up if you need more!
  • Send invites for Thanksgiving.  These do not need to be formal.  Feel free to email, text, or call friends and family to give them a heads up on your plans or to coordinate schedules.
  • Buy extra batteries for gifts and décor.  There is nothing worse than unpacking holiday decorations only to find their batteries are dead.
  • Purchase your Turkey- if they are available in your area.  They might not be the most inexpensive, but the benefit of purchasing early is that you are guaranteed the size that you want.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've been left with 20+ lb turkeys to feed our small family.