Holiday Housekeeping

October 25, 2011

“Happy Holidays!”

Doesn’t that sound weird? And a little premature? It does to me, but I was reminded yesterday that Thanksgiving is four weeks away, and Christmas is eight weeks away, which is just a little frightening. 

Isn’t it crazy how the time between Halloween and New Years Eve goes by in the blink of an eye. Cah-ray-zee! I love this season more than any other but it always seems so rushed unless I make serious efforts to plan ahead. I wrote an article on holiday housekeeping last year as a reminder that I need to start pacing myself in October and get to planning.  I revisited the topic again over coffee this morning and thought I’d share.  Here is a condensed version of last year’s article with a few tips for holiday housekeeping:  

I was at Michaels today and noticed already Halloween is on clearance and the flashy Christmas decorations are all on display. And it’s still October. This is no surprise, it happens earlier every year, but there’s still that moment of “O.M.GEE, it’s almost Christmas!" that makes my head spin. I’ll look on the bright side and interpret all those sparkly ornaments as a nudging reminder that the holiday season is about to descend with all of its magic and mayhem.   

In the last few years, I’ve learned (the hard way) that this season is far more joyous the better prepared I am, so I’m taking some steps in the next two weeks to brace prepare myself for the frenzy:  

1. Swap out the Wardrobe.  I still need to put all the summer attire away in baskets and clear out the shelves of any summer footwear (me thinks it’s this weekend’s project…)  I find having a closet consisting of only cold weather clothing helps me keep it cleaner and more organized.  As the temperatures drop, the entire family will be needing to keep their toes warm.  Matching up all the lonely socks is a laborious task that I would gladly trade with anyone who needs something painted.  Any takers?  :Dwinter sweaters country living

 


I typically store my summer clothes up high in baskets on a shelf, but my mom swears by those vacuum bags, the ones where you suck all the air out and you can get ten sweaters to reduce to the size of one.  I haven’t bought any yet because they’re pricey, but as I understand they’re worth if for the closet real estate they provide. 

2. Prepare for Overnight Guests.   We’ve had guests every weekend since September and there will still be many more. It’s great to open up our home to friends and family, but this means they all need pillows to sleep on and blankets to keep them warm.  It’s time to take inventory of our linen closet to make sure there is enough clean and comfy bedding for colder winter nights. 

country living guests linens

3. Stock the Pantry and Freezer.  We cook a lot, we bake a lot, and we drink a lot of wine, amen.  Stocking up now on staples now like sugar, flour, pumpkin pie mix, spices, and even garbage bags will help to avoid those holiday crowds at Costco that I dread. It’s also time to clean out our freezer in anticipation of buying bulk items to store from poultry and pot roast for colder evening meals.   

pantry country living

4. Winterize the House.  Around here, we get a lot of rain, which means it’s time to clean gutters and make sure downspouts that are directed away from house to avoid flooding the foundation.  Ah the joys of home ownership, right?  So much darn work!  We also need to weatherize a drafty door, check the furnace and change the filter, turn off the sprinklers, and cover the patio furniture. 

5. Inventory the Winter Outerwear.  With growing children, we’re always in need of new coats, boots, hats, etc.  Thankfully, we have friends who often donate jackets or rain boots to us when their kids outgrow them cause winter wear gets costly quickly. What’s your favorite source for quality affordable winter gear for kids?  I’ve shopped Lands End in the past, are there any other great sources?  Also, anyone know of a clever way to ‘label’ your kids outerwear, other than a Sharpie? 

winter garments country living

6. Make a Holiday Budget and Stick to It. This is the most important thing of all, and admittedly the one I struggle with the most.  (Especially when I spied some “must have” sunburst mirror mini ornaments at a local Christmas shop, I die!) But since I dread a big credit card statement in January showing all those little extras that I failed to account for with poor planning. I’m convinced with a budget in place, I’m less likely to spend carelessly and more likely to be smart with my money. 

7. Get Ready to Gift Wrap. One of the reasons I built a gift wrap organizer was because of the disorganization I felt with all that gift wrap! With a small zone dedicated to a few rolls of wrap with ribbon, tape and scissors there is far less stress and having all the wrap ready to go is a huge time saver.

gift wrap country living

8. Start to Gather Gifts Now.  I think it’s smart to start shopping for Christmas gifts in October, and the purchases are made easier when I keep a small list in your purse or wallet of all the people you need to buy for.  If the plan is to make homemade gifts, oh boy, I’ll need to budget even more time to gather supplies and dedicate those few hours to crafting with enjoyment rather than under pressure. 

There is always the benefit to getting the shopping done early by avoiding the crowds and impulse buys, but then again those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals get better every year!  Which do you prefer, Black Friday or Cyber Monday?  Me thinks I prefer the latter since it can be done in my pajamas. 

9. Decorate With What Exists.  Isn’t it true how tempting all of those brand new holiday decorations can be?  It’s all so sparkly and pretty and wonderful, however I think it’s important to inventory what already exists in your stash and try to make it work somehow.  If the budget permits, then by all means, supplement with some new seasonal finds, ornaments, and accessories.

pumpkins on table country living

10. Prepare for Hours Spent Indoors, but…  Colder weather always makes entertainment challenging, especially with daytime hours spent indoors so having plenty of games, books, and art supplies around keeps boredom at bay. 

country living games and soup

However, when the kids start climbing the walls, I’m one of those parents that dresses them warmly then pushes points them outside to the puddles or piles of snow. My parents made us do it, so it’s the least I can do to pay it forward. The reward for all that outdoor play is soup and hot chocolate all around which is one of the very best things about winter, right? 

All images via Country Living

Hey busy ladies, how do you prepare the looming holiday season?  Do you take it one holiday at a time, or are you already planning ahead for them all?  What’s your best kept secret for surviving this fast approaching holiday season?

 

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96 Responses to “Holiday Housekeeping”

  1. Lisa says:

    Love your site!

  2. Carol N. in Alabama says:

    Great post, Kate! I’m one of those people who is finished with her Christmas shopping in October. When I was in high school and college I worked at a department store and the first year I wrapped gifts. This was back when they would wrap anything for free. That one year taught me two things: (1) I did not want to work retail the rest of my life and (2) do your Christmas shopping early! Right now I am in the process of wrapping them all so that the day after Thanksgiving I can put up the tree and put all the gifts underneath it and really enjoy the rest of the season. I also bake cookies early and freeze some since it seems there is always somewhere you need to take food and you have no notice. So our freezer is cleaned out too and I have extra cookies and a couple of casseroles in there for when we don’t want to cook or need to take something. Then it is a matter of swapping out the clothes and getting the puzzles ready to put together. I was all ready to swap out clothes but we have had two days of 90+ degrees this week so that needs to wait a little while.

  3. Brandi says:

    Hi Kate! Thanks for another helpful post :) I too, cannot believe it when I go in the stores and they’re already trying to push the fall stuff out the door to make room for Christmas. I’m not ready yet!! Anyway, just wanted to check and see if you got my emails about my kitchen? My hubby keeps asking me if I’ve made the final decisions yet so we can move forward, and I keep telling him “I can’t do anything until I hear from Kate!!”…lol! You’ve become a household name around here :) If you could offer me any suggestions or things I can/can’t live without in my new space, I would really, really appreciate it!!

    Thanks,
    Brandi (momto4boys)

  4. Alessandra says:

    Great post! Great way to get organized during the holiday season!! I think it is always great to prepare ahead of time this way you don’t get in the big crowds rushing to buy items last minute. Then when it gets closer to the holiday times, you don’t have to worry about forgetting this & that & you can relax more knowing that you have everything & that you are prepared.

  5. MostlySunny says:

    Baking…pre-baking….freezing.
    And while I am trying to go with a more minimalist holiday this year, I am handmaking gifts and pre wrapping and labeling things as they are done!

    I loved your photos on this post!! It makes me excited–yes, and a bit nervous that I won’t have time!!

  6. Layla says:

    No time to prepare!
    Kev and I were just talking about this yesterday.
    Seems like right when we lift our heads up from whatever it is we’re doing, the season is over! LOL!

    Sure wish the years wouldn’t fly by so quickly.
    Remember when Summer vacation seemed to last FOREVER?
    (But it still wasn’t long enough?) :-)

    Layla

  7. Jenna says:

    I get all of my shopping done on Black Friday. It’s my most favorite day of the year! All the people, the hustle and bustle, plus it marks the start of the holiday season. I break out my Christmas socks, bundle up, and hit the stores. Getting it all done in one day can be challenging, but it means that I can relax and enjoy the rest of the season without worrying about finding the perfect gift. I sit down on Thanksgiving night and make out my list, noting potential items for each person and which store is having the best sale on them. Then all that’s left to do is get in line Friday morning and pick everything up. I usually make a few gifts each season, and I start on those as soon as the idea pops in my head… I have a few floating around in there now that I will probably start on in the next few weeks.

  8. Kim V says:

    It is upon us and I’ve already started preparing. I started swapping the wardrobe yesterday, almost done. The felt for a few projects has arrived. The gifts are accumulating in the corners of my bedroom. Still so much to do! Have fun getting ready!

  9. Andrea says:

    That picture with all the glass jars? My goal. I’ve been hitting the Goodwill and TJMaxx Homegoods looking for inexpensive ones. LOVE the way that looks! So glad you posted it!

  10. love this!! reading your post makes me want to go home and start to get organized. it’s daunting but oh so satisfying and worth it when you prepare ahead of time. i want to try to make one of those wrapping paper holders – have always wanted the pb one but why buy when you can make! :)

    i’m with you on the pre-buying gifts. i also do a lot of shopping online pre-holiday season since there are usually sales/free shipping and it leaves plenty of time for the items to arrive. i’ve already started with a few etsy purchases! :)

    thanks again for another great post!

  11. Wow! for someone who is not ‘organized’ you look like you are VERY organized! Great ideas! Thanks for sharing:)
    @Jenna, I also LOVE shopping on black Friday and get a lot of my shopping done on that day as well. I love being out in the crowds of people.

  12. Cass says:

    Fantastic post! You covered everything and all the tips are super helpful. I am a definite planner and I have menu lists made, lists of items to buy and/or replace this year, lists of items to donate…you name the list and I probably have it. Right now we are focused on getting our house winterized; I unfortunately had to scrape my car windows this morning-Brrr! I love your ideas about bringing out books and games and also having a “gift wrap” center. Both of these are going on the lists. :) Have a terrific day!

  13. Dominique says:

    I’ve never experienced black friday (we don’t have that in Canada, since thanksgiving was Sunday) but I will this year! I’m excited!

    I was wondering where those cute yellow wellies were from? I’m looking for those in adult size!
    Thanks

  14. ButterYum says:

    Soup and dvds. We love to nest on those cold wintery days.

    :)
    ButterYum

  15. Honestly? I pull out Christmas decor Dec 1 and put up the tree. (and a little decor elsewhere in the house but not by much) The end. :)

    For (Canadian) Thanksgiving, we went out to eat. And will no doubt do the same for Christmas. The local diner makes a lovely turkey dinner. LOL

    I’ve perfected the art of ‘no big deal’ it seems!

    Donna

  16. Great post…now I feel like I’m already behind! :) The weather is so finicky here that it makes it difficult to prepare for fall. It’s still 80-degrees in October, so no closet changing/winterizing yet. I’ll probably have to turn the a/c on when decorating the Christmas tree!!

    I have started bookmarking craft ideas for gifts and hope to start soon. And good idea to stock the pantry…pumpkin seems to sell out when you need it most.

  17. Love this post. It looks so cozy that I want to come stay at your house. And as for the soup, you must stop by my blog today to see what I cooked up in my kitchen. The BEST soup ever.

  18. cheryl says:

    Love this post.
    I had to chuckle when you referred to “the call” about who is going where for Thanksgiving. I just got “the call” last week.
    I totally agree that organization and planning ahead is the key to a stress-free (is that possible?) holiday season.
    Buying teacher/coach/piano teacher/etc. presents has always been a hard one for me. I used to get everyone different things. Now, when I see something cute and inexpensive – like $5 – (even if it is in the summer) I buy about 20 of them. That way when Christmas comes around, I pull out my bag of gifts and wrap them up all nice and pretty. (because presentation is 90% of the gift, right?)

  19. Great post Kate! I must admit, I am so not ready for the holiday season…it’s hard to be when it is still 85+ degrees outside. Bring on the cool crisp fall air already!! Each year I say, “this is the year I WILL be organized and ready to face the holidays” and each year…I’m not! We always seem to end up in the midst of a huge project (not always by choice…take the shower leaking!). I can dream…

  20. lili says:

    i love this post!

    my # 1 must-do for the impending holidays ~ creating a list and sticking to it! LOL. im scattered brain and i tend to get lost in the midst of the holiday spirit and always forget gifts (or ingredients!) LOL

  21. Soup and games sound good to me :)

  22. Joanna says:

    Love your blog – I check it in between my computer programming, and iphone app development, and as I began reading this post, I kept reading I.T. (as in information technology) and needless to say I was very confused! Thanks for all you do.

    Blessings,

  23. Amen! I started Christmas shopping in early September. It’s SO much easier to get it all done now, because then you have time to wrap and mail anything that’s going somewhere else. I waited until the week before Christmas last year to mail a box to California and the post office was NOT a fun place to be.

  24. What an excellent post, all wonderful tips. What I do during all these activities is simplify. Get rid of decorations I don’t use, clean out the gift wrap, it’s a great time to pair down and clean up too.

  25. Julia E. says:

    Thanks for the seasonal reminders. I have many of the same on my list of “Honey-Do’s” for both the Mister & I.
    I’m just wondering with this most recent heatwave we’re having how you’re able to stock away your summer wardrobe? All of my summer’s best is still front and center! My sandals were literally melting to the asphalt at a local car show this past weekend. Yowza!

  26. Debbie says:

    Kate, thanks for a great post (as usual)! I plan to use this as my checklist for the holidays, esp the part about budgeting for each one and planning ahead. By the way, I love the idea of creating a wall organizer for wrapping paper!

  27. Wow, your posts are so thoughtful, thorough and helpful! Love this. Last Christmas I swore I would get my shopping done early because I was so incredibly miserable facing the NYC crowds in stores. I still haven’t begun, but really want to soon. What I’m trying to do is find decorative items that can be used for all the holidays–I was tempted to paint my 18-pack of taper candles black for Halloween, but kept them white so they can be used again for upcoming winter holidays and I’m not buying more and more. Great list!!

  28. Shoppin4Sophia says:

    Thanks for the inspiration with the gift wrap. I was cleaning out my spare bedroom’s closet and noticed all of my gift wrap, ribbon and gift bags all in a jumbled mess. I think there is a project in my very near future!!!!

  29. I always shop early for gifts to avoid the “rush”, but stocking up on pantry staples is an excellent idea! thanks for all the fun tips!

  30. CentsationalGirl says:

    Cheryl ~ you are so smart and prepared! I love that idea, and yes, presentation is a such a big part!
    Kate

  31. Lori H says:

    Kate, thanks for this post. It is going to be very helpful. I tend to plan a little ahead, one holiday at a time, with birthday celebrations thrown in… Thanksgiving (always somewhere else, so easy!), we give 2-3 Christmas parties (to keep them a reasonable size), then my daughter’s bday on 12/23, Christmas, husband’s birthday 12/29 and New Year’s. The latest issue of Woman’s Day has a 10-week planning guide that I am going to try to use so I won’t be so last-minute. Your suggestions will be folded right into the planning! Would love to hear more of your holiday details (food, menus, gifts, etc) as they come up.

  32. Sherry says:

    ONCE AGAIN, GREAT INSPRIATIONAL PHOTOS AND THANKS FOR THE REMINDER! THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE! ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOURS!

  33. jes says:

    You and I are on the same page with pretty much everything holiday related. My toddler “discovered” Christmas while at the mall last week, which has kicked the holiday planning into high-gear. I can appreciate your wrapping station.. My problem is that I have soooo much leftover holiday wrapping paper. Each year I find something too cute to resist, or I have a color scheme or whatever. My goal this year is to use up all my leftover wrap from Christmases past. I’ll have to find new ways of presentation to fall in love with it again.. But I am determined. Just-need-willpower.

  34. Awesome tips, every single one! I am trying soooo hard to pick up gifts here and there, but the ones I want to make are the real hang-ups. I need to get my supplies together and start some sort of a schedule to get things cranked out. I do NOT want a repeat of last year’s travesty where I was sewing my SIL’s apron gift on December 23rd!!!

    I’m one of those who doesn’t like to bust out holiday decor before the previous holiday has been celebrated, so I get kind of nervous when I see all the Christmas stuff out…like maybe I should already be making a wreath or baking cookies or something. :s

    There used to be some kind of neat free Holiday Count-down cleaning/organizing system calendar that you could find online. It wasn’t feasible for me back then b/c I worked full-time, but I may need to hunt it down.

    Thanks so much for the linky love, girl! :)

  35. I always put away my summer clothes, but never thought to put away sandals, too – what a great idea! I also make a Christmas present budget and have been doing that for years, and keep a spreadsheet of what I buy for each person so I don’t accidentally purchase repeat gifts. Total sanity saver!

    Have you looked at LL Bean for outdoor clothes? Their kid stuff is super cute and the quality is excellent. It’s the only place New Englanders shop for winter gear!

  36. Sandy says:

    Love the post Kate! I also got “the call” the other night, so I’ve been gearing up around here as well (except switching out the wardrobe — it’s still too hot in Texas to put away the summer clothes!) I shop year-round for Christmas gifts so I can grab bargains and take my time — I had a post last year about keeping my shopping & gifts organized (http://www.modern-simplicity.com/2009/11/my-holiday-shopping-plan.html).

    My two additional “holiday prep” chores: making sure we have plenty of popping corn and homemade hot cocoa mix!!!

  37. CourtneyM. in Minot ND says:

    Kate
    WOW! It is funny I know the holidays are coming but I have never been able to prepare due to working full time until this year that I have been blessed to be a mother and a wife. Starting with swapping our family closets should be my first step.
    We do live in a place where there is lots of snow and I have not idea how to protect my floors from becoming covered with mud any advice from anyone is welcomed.
    Thank you :)
    Courtney

  38. It is going to freeze here in the weekend (only mildly but still), so I am taking it as my cue to start the Fall/winter prep for real. So the winter blankets and pillow covers will come out, summer clothes put away, last flowers cut from the yard. So I am going to get ready for the season!

  39. I couldn’t agree more with the idea of using what you have. I’ve been collecting milk glass pieces all year and can see them filled with holiday ornaments, peppermints, Christmas blooms, etc…

  40. Lisa says:

    what can I say, love your blog! info-shared wealth-pictures (although I can NEVER get my sheets to look like that!!!!)

  41. Struggler says:

    I beg to differ – you can’t possibly write a post like this and then say you lack organization skills!
    Personally, I prefer my holiday season to start on Black Friday, not Halloween. But it’s easier for me, not having kids :)

  42. rachel hood says:

    i just saw some ski bibs on walmart online…might be worth a try since shipping and returns are so cheap and easy… the kids outgrow their stuff so quickly!

  43. Laura says:

    I already have most of my Christmas shopping done and already have a decor plan too. But I have a bit of an excuse- I am pregnant and will be almost ready to deliver around the holiday season so I want to have everything done by Thanksgiving.

  44. kate says:

    First off, for quality childrens winter gear, try Target. Especially if it doesn’t snow. Recently purchased wind + water proof super warm coat (19.99) + snow pants (16.99) that even my 8 year old deemed “super cool Mom”. Surviving the holidays, eh? I am in the midst of a huge decluttering. If it’s not tied down, it’s getting thrown out. Maybe an exaggeration, but it certainly helps to have less toys/clothes/stuff to pick up/clean/what not. Surely the toys + clothes will be replaced by Santa, but that’s fine. We will run through this again next October;)

  45. Melesa says:

    UGH! The holidays are upon us again? I’m sorry, but I haven’t even felt any fall yet, haven’t used our new chiminea or anything and you are telling me it’s time to get ready? UGH again! Lol

    Thanks for the count down…I will try to get this thing going ;)

  46. Jill says:

    Great post! My husband always give me such a hard time when I buy gifts throughout the year. But buying so early not only saves money, but then I can go out and enjoy Black Friday and just get a couple things here and there. The hardest thing is to resist the urge to buy more, so thanks for the reminder about budgets……

  47. D@nielle says:

    Great post, thanks so much fot the tips !

  48. Di Cornwell says:

    Love the post Kate. Thanks for the motivation to get things prepared for Christmas. You know I always struggle with the Christmas decorating. I seem to forget what I have packed away. Then I start to panic before I get the boxes down that there isn’t anything good in there. I buy things I don’t need. I buy things that I have nowhere to put. How do you remember what decorations you have and how good it will look?
    I wish I was putting away my summer clothes. I love winter. But I live in Australia so obviously I am doing the opposite to you. Do you know of ay good blogs (like yours) written by Aussies? I can never seem to fund any and just thought it would help with my planning and motivation to hear someone talk about the same weather as I am experiencing. Lol
    Also whats “black friday?”
    And the photos you put up, are the from your house? If so you do you ge a linen closet that looks that tidy?
    Thanks for sharing
    Di

  49. I live in Colorado and for buying cold weather gear I recommend trying Sierra Trading Post (http://www.sierratradingpost.com/), Department of Goods (http://www.departmentofgoods.com/), and REI Outlet (http://www.rei.com/outlet). Also, Lands End Overstocks and Patagonia (http://www.patagonia.com/us/home).

  50. Elaine says:

    85 degrees here in Nor Cal today. Air conditioning and fans are running and I’m sitting here in shorts and flip flops. I look forward to sweaters and Uggs weather and all the cozy winter things you mentioned. It almost makes it feel cooler here!

  51. This time of year I think about food. I know I am going to be making large portions of soup to keep around for the cold weather, and right now is the perfect time to stock up on soup greens and fall veggies.

    I love Fall. I really do.

  52. Samantha says:

    I got the call this past week too about who is going to host what for the holidays. I have Thanksgiving!

    I’m a southern girl, but we recently spent 3 years in Wisconsin. The first winter, I took everyone to the Land’s End Inlet and suited them up for winter. But the second and third year, I just took the kids to Target and got the snow bibs and boots and gloves and they liked them as much or more than the Land’s End and they were a lot cheaper. I think that Target is definitely the way to go, especially if you just need them for vacation and not full-time. We always got everything in black or navy so they could be handed down from brother to sister and everything would be unisex. The coats were a little more colorful or we got colorful accessories–hats, scarves, etc. So check out Target!

  53. Joanne says:

    This is an amazing post – truly! I consider myself pretty organized – but the way you categorized items above is a great to-do list starter. Bring on the holidays! : )

  54. Sue says:

    My favorite of your tips…soup! I could eat homemade soup every day from now until June!

  55. Vicki K says:

    Your timing is really great with this reminder – early enough to not feel panicky when I read it!

    You are right about not shopping at Costco during major holidays. The same goes for The Mall too – it takes 20 minutes just to find a parking space.

  56. Not sure if this post inspires or depresses me! Can’t believe it’s so close; makes me tired just thinking about all the stuff I have to do in the next 2 months . . . Thanks alot, Kate :)

  57. mydesignchic says:

    Great tips for a busy holiday season…thrilled to have found your blog this evening – it’s wonderful!

  58. I got “the call” this week too!! One of the first things I do to prepare for the holidays is make a list of those I’d like to give gifts to and start brainstorming gift ideas for each person and set a budget. I keep all my previous lists too so I know what I did in years past. I try to keep my eyes (and ears) open throughout the year so that when it comes time to buy, I’m ready.

  59. Tara says:

    This is the most awesome list! I can attest to one of these in particular… I found the perfect necklace online the other day and bought it for my mom for Christmas. I’ve thought about it a few times since then and smile each time, knowing she’s getting a gift she’ll love and it’s crossed off my list and not causing me any stress! =)

  60. Good tips – we just finalized all of our holiday plans and I am cooking Thanksgiving this year! Time to prep! (Oh and I will finally have pics to share with you of that yummy Chocolate Pecan Pie!) :)

  61. Tys says:

    Gosh I just don’t know. First we were newlyweds, then parents of a new babe around family, then parents of 2 babes, then a family that moved cross country away from everyone and we traveled. This will be our first holiday season by ourselves (in a warm climate too!). So to answer your question, every single year has been different, so there’s no set routine… I would love to have one though… does that count?

  62. Allison says:

    I read your post this morning and sat down to read it again tonight and comment. Your post was just what I needed today and gave me the inspiration to get going on my holiday housekeeping. I have been busy the whole day cleaning, organizing and starting my lists! I’ve gotten a good start! So, thank you, Kate!

  63. Awesome post. I need to start getting ready for my visit home – this was a good reminder to keep my eyes open for special gifts.

  64. Lindy says:

    This was a brilliant post! Thank you so much for sharing your tips. I, too, have been trying to avoid having to embrace the approaching holiday season, but now with your advice I’m excited that I hopefully will do more enjoying rather than stressing this year!

  65. Danielle says:

    Great tips (and motivation for me to start my own preholiday preparations), thanks! I don’t have space in my home for a designated wrapping center, so I keep all my wrapping paper, ribbon, tissue paper, etc. with scissors & tape in one of those long “under the bed” plastic containers. Can easily pull it out when needed, and stores out of sight & out of mind!

    As for winter coats – being from Maine, I would highly recommend the Maine based company, LL Bean. They guarantee all of their items for life and have very cute kid designs.

    Good luck surviving the holidays & thanks again.

  66. L.Duncan says:

    I have done a few of these already, but your list is a whole lot better than the rest of the things I had planned to do! I may have refer back here in the next few weeks! This really is a great post!

    Oh, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who still sends my kids out to play in the cooler months;-)

  67. Shelley Davis says:

    I love, love your blog. I read it and feel quite inadequate. Do you ever rest? I just can’t stay on top of things like you do. You inspire me to try harder. Thank you.

  68. Corinna says:

    I used your french onion soup recipe last year…. and plan to use it again! do you have any other great ones- maybe something with a touch of a spicy kick to really warm us up?

  69. Alyssa says:

    Thanks for the list! I should absolutely stock up on vanilla before the season gets under way. Plus my girl’s birthday is also in November, so I really have to get on the stick with the whole gift list thing.

  70. You are so right- preparing way in advance is the only strategy ( or you’ll go crazy!! ) .My tip would be to buy presents throughout the year if you come across something which is just perfect for someone- and keep it in a “Christmas present drawer”.
    To get great new Christmas decorations for the next year- just wait till the Sales after Christmas!!!!!!

  71. Lisha Lupher says:

    I LOVED this post and it was just the kick I needed to stop saying “oh the holidays are sooo far away…” We live in Texas so it doesn’t get too cold. My daughter is only 18 months old and is growing like a weed so we will be hitting up the resale shops for some heavy duty winter gear for a few trips up north.

  72. you are amazing! i’m sure i’m at least 15 years older than you,
    but you have such a better grasp of you home than i ever have.

    how in the world? well, the good news is i can learn from you
    even now.

    thank you so much.

  73. Joanne says:

    Love this post – so many great ideas! I’ll be linking over to you in my “Week in Review” post on Saturday!

  74. I’m planning to cook a lot this coming Christmas season and I have scoured the internet for likely recipes that will grace our table this coming Christmas eve. Most of them will be the kind that you can prepare days ahead so that you will not get overwhelmed on the day itself. Otherwise, I’ll get crazy and burn everything. How come its always during the holidays that you get overwhelmed and stressed out when its supposed to be a joyous occasion?!

  75. Andrea says:

    I’m definately a plan ahead kinda gal. Gift buying in Oct and Nov (happy to report that I have most of it done already), wrapping, house decorating and baking in Nov, and sit back and enjoy the season in Dec. My favorite time of the year!

  76. barb~ says:

    I began looking for new, never used items, with tags still on at the Goodwill since the summer. So far I’ve picked up a new Crate & Barrel ceramic loaf dish-in red and white for 99 cents, two new gorgeous guest towels from BB & B 49 cents each, a beautiful pink cashmere scarf (in the box!) for 1.99, lots of candles, and a set of 8 crystal goblets (VERY cool!) for 1.99, along with a number of other waaaay cool NEW items. I haven’t even spent $20.00 yet. I’m feeling pretty frugal and proud of my efforts so far:)

  77. Wow…can I come stay for a weekend? Your home looks so inviting and you sound so very organized. Are you able to stick to your plans? As for decorating with what you have around the house…I bought a large roll of brown butchers paper years ago at a yard sale, and I use it for everything…party decorations, drop cloths and Christmas wrap. It’s always fun to figure out how I can jazz it up differently every year. The brown works as a great neutral for bright ribbons and such. Have a great holiday season….sounds like you’re ready. Treasure even the hectic times with your little ones…they make the season worth everything.

  78. Janet says:

    Coats for everyone…. Sierra Tradingpost .com!

  79. I missed this post yesterday! I remember it from last year, but so many great reminders. I can’t believe the holidays are almost upon us…a good thing I’m heading to the outlets next weekend to get a little shopping done! I like to focus on Thanksgiving first, but we won’t be in town this year, so I don’t have a lot to do other than pack. :s Christmas is a whole different story!

  80. Tara G. says:

    My husband and I were not excited about unsolicited wish lists we received from adult family members early in our marriage, and we made a commitment to put forth the effort needed to maintain and deepen those relationships so that we would not really need a list (in theory, this works great- we still get stuck on a couple!). I shop all year round for Christmas gifts (and birthdays); I keep a sheet in my binder that I can record what I’ve purchased and for whom and I consult that before I know I’ll be somewhere I may want to shop (I was in Venice this weekend and found some great jewelry, for example). Most of the time, my shopping is done and shipped out before Thanksgiving and I can just soak up the holiday fun.

  81. Kasey March says:

    You’ve just given me the reality check that I need. It is time to get my holiday craft plan in order if I am going to give handmade gifts this year.

    I like the idea of keeping a small notebook in my purse for my holiday budget and gift (supply) buys. I try to be frugal so small tips like these are always appreciated!

  82. annie says:

    I love this time of the year and embrace very single holiday! This post is a perfect reminder to begin the preparations. I embrace your idea on “decorating with what exists.”

  83. Allison H. says:

    As Janet, said Sierra Trading Post is the best place to get winter gear. It is brand name, deeply discounted, and if you get on their email list you can save an additional 15-35% depending on what special they are currently running. We order stuff from there all the time. Last year I got the kids Columbia fleece jackets for $7 on sale and with a coupon!!

  84. shawn says:

    I’m all about using the things you already have to decorate! I’ve had the same basic decorations for the past12 years, but no one has noticed. My basic decorations are in the palette of my house, which is rust, orange, amber and gold.( I also have traditional ornaments that go on the tree every year.) Over the years I’ve bought accent color items after christmas, different jewel tones, lime green, ruby red, purple, hot pink and gold. I never buy anything but plain ornaments,with different sized balls you can change up the look every year. Last year I used all the colors as accents, it was awesome! this year I’ll use just the red and purple, next year, maybe very sophisticated and only use the gold. Color can really change a look!

  85. Autumn M says:

    Name Bubbles are wonderful for labelling kids stuff, they look cute and really stay put. I have no affiliation, just have personally used them and think they are the best. I usually order the bitty bubbles and just put our last name and phone number on them so I don’t have to change them for hand me downs between the kids. Even though they are for laundry they do last through the dishwasher too and I use them on the kids sippies and lunch containers.

  86. This couldn’t have come at a better time Kate. Thank you so much for posting this. This is reminding me that I want to start things earlier this year, get things in order and not the week before Christmas. We only have company over for Christmas, so that is all that I have to focus on each year. But this post was a good reminder to start earlier and to make sure everything is in order.

    I’ll gladly pair up your socks if you come over and paint my Great Room! ;)

    I do enjoy having some new decorations each year, but I usually Goodwill or Garage Sale something older that I don’t use anymore, so it pays off in the end for me. But I do not go overboard at all.

  87. CentsationalGirl says:

    I agree Jen, the Goodwill is a great souce! And how close are you? Maybe we could work out a trade !!! :D
    Kate

  88. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thanks for the hint to use Name Bubbles Autumn, I’ll check it out!
    Kate

  89. This is a great list (now I won’t have to make my own). I’m going to start it TOMORROW. Thanks. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  90. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Shawn, I love that idea to easily change up the look every year, you’re right, sounds so sophisticated!
    xo
    Kate

  91. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thank you so much Janet and Allison, I’ve subscribed to the Sierra Trading Post emails to get the coupons!
    xo
    Kate

  92. CentsationalGirl says:

    I love your approach to “soaking up the holiday fun” Tara!

  93. KJ says:

    Do a lot of adults still exchange Christmas presents??? I have everything I need, and if I see something I want I’ll buy it. Presents all around for the kids of course (and lots of them!), but adult exchanges are silly. Don’t I sound like a Scrooge? But I’m not, I love the holidays. I just don’t need any more candles, bath salts, scarves, jewelry, knick knacks or fattening food!

  94. OMgosh! I thought all those images were your house!! I was like….holy macral is this chick organized down to the matching rain boot!!! Then I saw the “country living” :) I actually try to have all my decorating done for christmas the weekend after thanksgiving! We head to the tree farm, make our wreaths & I pray they last through the new year :) Thanksgiving weekend is a big weekend to get in the christmas mood around here :) Thanks for sharing!

  95. lynn664 says:

    to identify who’s jacket is who’s try sewing a button of a different color inside the jacket or coat for each kid. when it gets passed to the next kid just switch out the button. or u can use a thread color and just stitch a x on inside lapel or inside sleeve cuff.

  96. Anna S says:

    Speaking of labeling, I’ve been using Stuck On You products since my daughter was a baby. They work really well, and have a variety of options.

    Here’s a link to their US website: https://www.stuckonyou.biz/usa/index.asp

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