Countdown to Christmas
- Make a master list of everything you have to do before the holidays: gift and grocery shopping, wrapping, cleaning and so on. Leave plenty of room so the list can be expanded as the holiday nears.
- If you haven't done so, decide where to spend Christmas
- Make or confirm any travel arrangements, including plane tickets, hotel reservations and car rentals.
- Decide which friends or relatives will be house guests for the holidays.
- Make gift list: Ask friends & family for suggestions
- Now is the time to start germinating amaryllis bulbs.
- If you plan to give holiday plants as gifts, buy the bulbs now.
- Buy cards, stamps, wrappings.
- Plan a budget for this year's entertaining and gift-giving.
- Start planning holiday parties.
- Make guest lists for parties as well as family get-togethers. Send invitations or start phoning people now.
- Reserve babysitters to be sure they'll be available.
- Decide which holiday meals you'd like to have at your house.
- Start making any projects you plan to give as gifts.
- Make arrangements for any holiday catering or equipment rental you may need.
- Put together a holiday calendar. Write down all important events, concerts, plays, nights out, kids' vacations, arrival and departure dates of houseguests. Post it in a central location.
- Start looking at magazines and holiday books for decorating and recipe ideas.
- Materials for homemade gifts.
- A file or notebook to keep track of holiday cards. ( I use a FileMaker Pro database instead.)
- Invitations for holiday parties.
- Devise a manageable plan for getting out the Christmas Cards.
- Divide the number of cards on your list by 14, then complete that number every night for the next two weeks.
- Or schedule a card party for the family. Set up an assembly line with Dad or older children addressing the cards, you signing them and younger kids sealing envelopes.
- Go through boxes of decorations and tree trimmings and see what you need to replenish.
- Inspect last year's Christmas lights and discard any that are frayed or have loose, cracked or broken sockets.
- Plan your Thanksgiving menu and make shopping list.
- Order fresh turkey, if it's on your Thanksgiving menu.
- Take out any linens, plates and glassware you plan to use during the holidays. If anything needs to be mended, polished or washed, do it now.
- Candles and holders.
- Any additional napkins, glassware or linens for entertaining.
- Pantry staples for Thanksgiving.
- Buy frozen turkey, if it's on your Thanksgiving menu.
- Give the house a preholiday cleaning if you're hosting Thanksgiving.
- Decorate your front door.
- Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and make sure everyone helps with cleanup.
- When you see family and friends at Thanksgiving, ask for gift suggestions.
- Firm up your gift list. Check storage areas for anything you might have bought during the year but have since forgotten about. (I made a FileMaker Pro file to keep track of, hidden among other things, where gifts are -- password protected, of course.)
- If you're ordering gifts from catalogs, do it now for best selection.
- Start filing holiday cards. Write down any changed addresses in your notebook or file, and toss the return envelopes.
- Holiday wreath for the front door.
- Anything remaining on your Christmas gift list.
- A small supply of generic gifts to keep on hand for emergencies
- Plan all holiday dinner menus. Make a list of perishable and nonperishable items, plus any necessary supplies such as paper products, napkins, liquor, etc.
- Make a "Holiday Helpers" chart and divide chores among family members.
- Decide who's bringing what to potluck dinners so guests can plan their shopping in advance.
- Clean out the freezer to make space for holiday cookies and the makings for last-minute hors d'oeuvres.
- An Advent Calendar to start using on December 1.
- Additional string of lights for the tree and for outside.
- Set up a gift-wrapping corner with gifts, tissue, paper, fabric, ribbons, scissors, tape and tags. Try to wrap a few gifts each day, and have kids wrap smaller ones.
- Plan special shopping days when Mom takes the kids to buy Dad's present, and Dad takes them to buy Mom's gift.
- Start decorating the inside of the house. Let kids hang a decoration on their bedroom doors.
- Get family members to give holiday outfits a once-over. See what has to be mended or cleaned.
- Trim an outdoor tree with goodies for the birds.
- Empty tins and containers for giving holiday baked goods.
- Christmas tree and garlands. Cut off about 1/4 inch of the tree stump and place in a bucket of water in the garage. (The tree absorbs about a gallon of water the first day, so keep the water level up.)
- Place order for fresh turkey or any special roast.
- Finalize the Christmas menu.
- Take the family on a drive at night to view the Christmas lights.
- Record a special holiday message on your answering machine.
- Schedule a family baking day. Be sure to select some simple recipes that kids can mix and decorate.
- Put up the tree. (Be sure to keep the tree stand full of water.)
- Have a family tree-trimming party
- Cook special dishes for big dinners, place in containers, label and freeze.
- Give any special holiday tips to babysitters, housekeepers, etc. (I put cookies in our mailbox for our mail carrier.)
- Buy and pick up frozen turkey.
- Nonperishable groceries, and any ingredients for dishes you plan to make ahead and freeze.
- Stock the pantry with snack supplies for unexpected guests or impromptu get-togethers.
- Film and any necessary batteries. Don't forget film for the kids' cameras.
- Finish wrapping family gifts and put them under the tree.
- Check the guest room. Make the beds and put clean towels in the room along with a basket of soap, extra shampoo, magazines.
- Do a final check on table linens, china and glasses.
- Clear space in the refrigerator for leftovers and extra food.
- Put together any unassembled presents and store them in an out-of-the-way (and locked) place.
- Give the house a final cleanup.
- Take time to destress. Go to a movie, have your nails done, take a hot bath.
- Perishable groceries.
- Rent or buy videos to watch on Christmas Eve or Day.
- Remove any frozen dishes from the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator.
- Prepare cold dishes and refrigerate.
- Set the dinner table, put out extra chairs.