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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