Christie's Collage * Holiday Countdown
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Countdown to Christmas

This planner will help you get everything done with time to spare.  I pulled it out of a Woman's Day magazine years ago, and it's never let me down.  The countdown starts eight weeks before Christmas -- around Halloween.

This planner is comprehensive and exhaustive so it will cover all holiday events.  Pick from it what is appropriate for your situation and ambition level.

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Week 8

TO DO

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.

TO BUY

If you plan to give holiday plants as gifts, buy the bulbs now. 
Buy cards, stamps, wrappings.

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Week 7

TO DO

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.

TO BUY

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.

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Week 6

TO DO

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.

TO BUY

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.

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Week 5

TO DO

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.

TO BUY

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

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Week 4

TO DO

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.

TO BUY

An Advent Calendar to start using on December 1.
Additional string of lights for the tree and for outside.

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Week 3

TO DO

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.

TO BUY

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.

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Week 2

TO DO

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.)

TO BUY

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.

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Week 1

TO DO

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.

TO BUY

Perishable groceries.
Rent or buy videos to watch on Christmas Eve or Day.

CHRISTMAS EVE

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.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Last updated Friday, September 24, 2004