Time to Spring Forward as Daylight Saving Time brings an extra hour of evening sunlight. This weekend, we'll set our clocks forward one hour as most of the U.S. adopts Daylight Saving Time.
Celebrate the seasonal change with a household safety checklist from sister site Organized Home. With links to safety resources and free printables, it'll see your household into the summer months, safely:
By Cynthia Ewer, Editor
Welcome to the Rudolph Club: your once-a-month meeting to simplify your holidays and get organized for Christmas!
At Organized Christmas, we know that the holiday season can be fast and furious. Solution? Take a day once each month throughout the year to plan and prepare for a more-organized holiday season.
On the 25th of each month, we'll bring simple assignments and easy tips to try now for a simpler, more joyous holiday season. Over the year, you'll tackle planning and preparations to make the season lighter, brighter and less stressful come December.February Assignment: Begin A Holiday Letter!
Even the best writers among us can suffer from writer's block in November, when it's time to tackle an annual holiday letter or Christmas newsletter. Coming up with a good review of an entire year can be quite a chore, especially when so many other activities and tasks compete for attention during the busy pre-holiday season.
Solution: begin your holiday letter now. Open a file in any word processing program or mobile text app. Each Rudolph Day, jot down notes about the high points and special moments of the last month. Don't worry about editing or polishing these Rudolph Club entries: the goal is to gather the raw material for an annual review while it's still fresh and memorable.
If you include photos in in your annual newsletter, take a second prep step: designate a computer folder or photo box for special photos you may wish to include with your holiday letter. Tuck any promising photos away as you draft your "this month" letter entries. Come November, it will be easy to edit the whole into a sparkling holiday letter--and no writer's block!Make a Plan for Christmas Cash
Extra cash is never more welcome than during the holiday season. Now's the time to begin to squirrel away a few extra dollars for December's Christmas cheer.
Check with your local bank; many financial institutions offer "Christmas Club" accounts that make saving easier. If not, begin your own Christmas Club by writing a check, however small, to yourself on the 25th of each month. Deducted from the running balance in your checking account, but not cashed, this practice can help create a welcome cash cushion for holiday expenses.Keep Up With The Gift Closet
In January's meeting, we dedicated a "gift closet"--a closet shelf, deep drawer, or an under bed storage box designated to hold bought-ahead holiday gifts.
Time for a quick inventory check! Have you added gifts this month? Record them on the free printable Gift Closet Inventory Form. Your Gift Closet Inventory Form is a one-page reminder of what's tucked away for Christmas.Frugal Finds: Valentine's Day Stocking Stuffers
Dentist-approved non-candy Valentine's Day treats have hit the clearance tables in the last ten days. Look sharp! "I Love You" goodies, stuffed animals, socks, hair ornaments and jewelry make great holiday stocking stuffers, classroom treats or items for "holiday" gift baskets.
Stock up now for the best prices--and record your treasures on the free printable Stocking Stuffer Form. Keeping notes in your Christmas holiday notebook keeps track of your growing stash of low-cost stocking stuffers!Get Ready for St. Patrick's Day
Faith and begorrah: St. Patrick's Day is on the way! Celebrate with quick and easy printable crafts from Organized Christmas.
Popping to have a great St. Patrick's Day? Give family and friends a "poppin' good" welcome with a St, Patrick's Day Jiffy Pop Popcorn Topper gift.
Using our directions and printable St. Patrick's Day popcorn topper template, you can create an easy, inexpensive gift ... in a jiffy!
Looking for a silly gift? Try your hand at Leprechaun Poop. Our recipe use green jelly beans, Lucky Charms-brand cereal, or candy mints and free printable gift tags. It's an easy school or office gift:Rudolph Club
Tender cookie "nests" are an Easter favorite in the Ewer house!
Tangy dough is rolled in tinted coconut to form pretty nest-shaped treats.
Use seasonal chocolate-covered almond candies to decorate these pretty Easter cookies.Ingredients 2 cups flour, all-purpose 1 tablespoon baking powder 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 3⁄4 cups butter 1 cup sugar, granulated 3⁄4 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups coconut, flaked 2 drops food coloring, red 2 cups food coloring, yellow 1 8-ounce package cream cheese 1 12-ounce bag candy-coated chocolate almond candiesInstructions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, then gradually beat in the dry ingredients.
Divide the coconut into three separate containers. Color one portion red, one yellow, and leave one plain. Toss the colored coconut together with the plain.
Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls, roll the balls in the coconut mixture, then place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Press 1 candy into the center of each cookie.
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove from the oven and press 2 more candies into the center of each cookie. Return to the oven to continue baking for another 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.Cynthia's Cookie CollectionCookie RecipesEaster Gifts & Crafts
Valentine tricksters, take note ... it's Cupid Poop! Surprise your Valentine with this easy gag gift.
Making Cupid Poop is as easy as placing a handful of candy hearts, seasonal marshmallows, or red jelly beans in a small zipper food storage bag.
Seal and label with a free printable Cupid Poop gift tag or bag topper, or handwrite a tag using the poem below.Cupid Poop Poem
I couldn't send you flowers
And candy wouldn't do.
Romantic cards just didn't say
The things I wanted to.
I got you something special
And here's the inside scoop.
It's very rare and magical:
A bag of Cupid Poop!
By Cynthia Ewer, Editor
Welcome to the Rudolph Club: your once-a-month meeting for an organized Christmas!
At Organized Christmas, we know that the holiday season can be fast and furious. Solution? Take a day once each month throughout the year to plan and prepare for a more-organized holiday season.
On the 25th of each month, we'll bring simple assignments and easy tips to try now for a simpler, more joyous holiday season.
Over the year, you'll tackle planning and preparations to make the season lighter, brighter and less stressful come December.January Assignment: Tie Up Loose Ends!
Even deep in January, the Ghost of Christmas Past can still be spotted here and there about the house. Rudolph Day is a good time to take stock and tuck away the last remaining loose ends.
Check for truant decorations! While most of us have returned holiday decor items to storage by January 25, (And if you haven't? Here you go: an official assignment. Put away holiday decorations!), a few categories of Holiday Foo-Foo often slip through the cracks. Goal: to round them up, store them in a central location, and remind yourself, come October, where you stashed them.
What to look for? Inspect the laundry room for Christmas napkins, tablecloths, or guest towels. When laundry gets behind, it's easy to lose track of holiday linens. Dig any stragglers out from under Mt. Washmore, run them through the wash, and place them in a good-sized storage box. Mark the box "Holiday Stragglers" so you can find it again next fall.
Head to the kitchen. Are you still serving coffee in Santa-themed mugs? Tuck them into your box, and scour the kitchen for the rest of the holiday serving dishes, cheese spreaders, swizzle sticks and wine charms.
While in the kitchen, make another resolution: to use or toss the last few packets from holiday food baskets. Add nuts to baked goods, use smoked salmon in salads, and set out the tiny jars of mustard with the sandwich makings. Get the last drop of holiday enjoyment from your gifts!
Next stop? Poke around in drawers for holiday hardware. Tiny replacement light bulbs, special green extension cords, and hanging hardware for window lights can all be overlooked when packing away holiday decor . Place anything you find in a zipper food storage bag, and add to the storage box, along with the linens.
Clearance cuties next! Did you shop the day-after-Christmas sales or January holiday clear-away at the craft store? Gather all your special finds from the top of the refrigerator, the back of the linen closet, or the trunk of the car. If it's holiday-themed paper, decor or craft items, add them to the storage box.
Last call! With your box, circle the house and collect any remaining holiday items. The repaired ornament from the workbench, the tucked-aside box of extra tree lights, the holiday-gift kitchen towels, the last few Christmas cards--add them all to your Loose Ends storage box.
Take the box to your holiday storage area, cover and store. Just to be safe, open your Christmas planner, turn your calendar to October, and write yourself a note: "Look for extra replacement bulbs, new gift wrap, craft supplies and 2 boxes Christmas Cards in the Stragglers box--it's packed with the holiday decorations!"
Next year? One look at the calendar will remind you of those great craft-store finds at 90% off--and save time, money and stress.Gifting Solution: Set Up A Gift Closet
If you've begun to gather gifts for the coming year, it's time to establish a gift closet.
Don't let the word "closet" lead you astray; a gift closet can be any dedicated storage space, including a closet shelf, a deep drawer, or an under bed storage box. Because you'll want to add to your gift closet throughout the year, it should be accessible for additions and inventory.
To keep tabs on gift closet additions throughout the year. print a Gift Closet Inventory Form. It's a one-page reminder of what's there. File it away for year-round reference in your Christmas planner.Frugal Finds: Tightwad Treats and Socks Saver Gift
Did you pick up a few bags of red-and-green Hershey's-brand Chocolate Kisses at the after-Christmas clearance at the grocery store? Smart shoppers know that a little sorting makes great savings for upcoming holidays.
Sort the stash into red kisses and green kisses, and divide the silver candies between both piles. Scoop each into a zipper food storage bag and freeze for instant Valentines Day and St. Patrick's Day candies--at a bargain price!
Socks alert! An organized frugal shopper can assemble a unique gift for little girls (of all ages!) at clearance prices on after-holiday socks sales throughout the year.
In your calendar, home management binder or Christmas planner, add a reminder to check department store clearance sections for holiday-themed socks after each upcoming holiday--Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, July 4th and Halloween. Usually, they're marked down dramatically. Buy several pair in sizes to fit your favorite girls.
Come Christmas, your frugal "Holiday Socks Assortment" will be enjoyed throughout the coming year--and at a price tag to make you smile!Great Idea: Make A Rudy Day Tote
Ready to celebrate Rudolph Day on the 25th of each month? The great holiday minds at Magical Holiday Home jumpstart seasonal spirits with a Rudy Day tote.
A simple bag, box or container, the Tote contains items selected to make Rudolph Day special. Depending on your preferences, a Tote might contain holiday CDs or movies, seasonal coffee mixes or a special mug or bowl--whatever puts you in the mood for holiday planning.Creative Crafts for Valentine's Day
Finally, look ahead to next month's happy holiday: Valentine's Day! Share the love with these easy craft gifts:
Christmas has come and gone ... or has it?
Lights are stored, the tree is down, and holiday decor rests in boxes in the storage area, waiting for next year.
Then you turn the corner and spot an overlooked Santa, shining on top of the piano.
In the refrigerator, the holiday butter dish hides the last remnants of a stick of butter. Holiday linens, napkins and kitchen towels pop up in the laundry area this week, next week and the week after.
And the stores! Wrapping paper and replacement light strands at 90% off full retail are too enticing to pass up, so you add them to your shopping cart.
Result: a house haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
What to do with all these holiday hold-overs? Plan for them, by setting aside a Holiday Stragglers box.
Even after the decorations are packed away, these floating reminders of the season will be circling the home for the next few weeks--and the danger is, they may wind up in out-of-the-way places where they can't be found next year.
The simplest way to corral them is to designate an empty storage box to hold them: a Holiday Stragglers box. Use a lidded cardboard box or plastic storage container to make a home for floating holiday items.
If possible, place the Holiday Stragglers box nearest the door of your storage area. When you find the missing Santa's Magic Elf, or need to set aside that great buy from the clearance aisle, toss them in the box.
With a dedicated place to live, the Stragglers will be out of your space and off your mind. Best of all, they'll be the first things you find next year, when you're ready to kick off the season's planning.
Knowing that you're stocked with clearance-sale gift wrap, ribbons and bows means never paying full price--so be sure you can find them again with a Holiday Stragglers Box!Get Organized
It's a cheery gift for a dreary day: a Winter Warmer Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper!
Add our free printable template to a package of Jiffy Pop® brand pop-in-pan popcorn for an inexpensive "popcorn topper" craft gift.
Paired with Snowman Soup, you'll bring warmth and fun to a wintry day!Winter Gifts & CraftsPopcorn Toppers
It's over for another year!
Wild and woolly or sane and sedate, we've passed through the holiday season and into a new year. Breath caught, it's time to debrief.
You know debriefing, right? The astronauts do it, spies do it, pilots do it: a measured after-the fact evaluation of the mission or flight.
Smart holiday planners should do it, too--because taking time now to note what worked, what didn't will be a road map to a more organized Christmas next year.
Find a quiet spot sometime within the next week. Play that new educational video for the kiddies, and pour a hot cup of tea. Grab your Christmas notebook and a copy of our debriefing worksheet to record your thoughts.
Then address these questions:
1. What worked this holiday season?
Start with your strengths--it'll give you the motivation to tackle your weaknesses. Large or small, list the things that went right this year.
Was this the first year your family broke away from Christmas-at-Grandma's (complete with cranky kidlets and a 6-hour drive on icy road)--and you loved it, intergenerational flak notwithstanding? Did you buy a new gift wrap organizer that made wrapping a breeze? Was your freezer stocked with easy-prep meals, making the evening crush much calmer?
Whatever worked for you, write it down. It'll remind you of what went right when next year's holiday madness approaches.
2. What was the worst aspect of holiday prep this year? How can you avoid the trap in the future?
Were you wrapping gifts at 3 a.m.? Baking while watching the 11 p.m. news? Were the ornaments buried in a dark attic, or were they all but destroyed by a lousy packing job?
Pick the worst element of your holiday planning, and decide how to lick the problem next year. Write it down for future reference.
3. Were you satisfied with your level of giving? What did you give: time, money, self, talents? Did you include your children in giving?
Perhaps it's having lived with a Rocket Scientist child with an infallible Do-As-I-Say detector, but I don't think it's possible to teach children about giving if it doesn't start with you. All that women's magazine nicey-nice tradition stuff won't dent those little psyches unless you are on board--so were you?
Think about bringing some of that Christmas spirit into the other eleven months of the year. Evaluate your level and kind of giving, and make notes
4. How well did your household run this holiday season? Were you calm and cozy or stressed and strung out? What one improvement could you make in your planning for next year?
Whether it's wardrobe or food prep, shopping or storage, zero in on your holiday systems, and look for ways to improve. Write 'em down.
5. Honesty time. How did your holiday go? Not the children, not the spouse, not the extended family members or the church or the shelter--you.
Yes, you. Did you experience the expectancy, the magic, the sparkle of this season?
Great holiday? Write down the grace notes that got you in the ho-ho-holiday mood and kept you there. Did you play more Christmas music or spend special time with each loved one? Remind yourself--and write it down.
Nobody wants to admit it out loud, but many of us felt a little bit flat at one time or another this year. Spare a thought to the reasons--because they'll point the way to needed changes next year.
Were you worn out from all the brou-ha-ha-ha? Too many parties, with an overload of that jolly old depressant, Demon Alcohol? Groaning under the load of Christmas Tradition--and shouldering that burden alone?
Home managers deserve a holiday, too! If the season got to you this year, figure out one or two things to do differently. Perhaps you'll ask the family for help, or pare down outgrown traditions. Maybe you'll plan to make quiet, reflective time a priority during these hectic weeks. Record your conclusions; they'll guide you next year.
For home managers, the holiday season represents a hefty amount of time, energy and money, and we deserve to treat that expenditure seriously. Yes, we love the holidays. Yes, we enjoy most of the tasks necessary to bring them to birth, but don't let sentiment blind you to the real work involved. Like all work, this too has dignity, and deserves efficiency and respect.
Don't let this holiday season slip into the photo album until you've made a record of the triumphs and the trying times. Slip into something comfortable, put on a pot of tea, and think like an astronaut.
Finished? Take your written record and file it in the Christmas planner. Next year, it'll be the first reminder you see--and will be your guide to a more organized, more joyous holiday season.Get Organized
New Year's Eve ... a festive beginning to a new year. It's a good time to take stock and decide to move toward a happier, more organized life.
But too often, what looks so easy as the minute hand approaches midnight falls away in the cold light of January days.
For most of us, New Year's resolutions die a slow and quiet death. They're tossed aside, along with the party hats and noisemakers.
As January winds down, so does motivation, energy and desire for change.
New Year's resolutions wither along with the Christmas poinsettias because they lack strong roots in real life. It's not the resolution that's at fault--it's the follow-through! New Year's resolutions are easy to make, but much harder to make real in the noisy bustle of everyday chores and concerns.
Stop! Don't let those resolutions slip away so quickly! Each one represents a longing of the heart, a reach toward better health, happiness, knowledge or wisdom. Try these concepts to revive and strengthen your New Year's resolutions.Resolve Globally, Act Locally
This familiar slogan tells a truth about personal change: however lofty the goal, the engine for making changes comes from small, daily steps. Translate each resolution ( I will lose 15 pounds this year, I will teach myself machine knitting.) into specific daily and weekly actions toward the goal.
Those who wish to lose weight? Resolve to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, and attend three aerobics classes each week. The would-be machine knitter will spend one-half hour each day working on the lessons in the machine manual, and take a Saturday seminar twice a month. Both have worked out their resolutions into concrete, specific steps toward a larger goal.
Distinguish between your goal and the acts necessary to reach the goal. It's the step-by-step changes each day, each week, that carry a New Year's resolution to fruition.Add, Don't Subtract
Humans being what they are, it's far easier to add new behaviors than to subtract old, established habits. As you put your resolutions into action, frame them in terms of positive changes, not negative ones.
Our dieter, who will eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, isn't going to tangle with her passion for chocolate--not just yet. Instead, she'll focus on the good, new added resolution instead of grappling with the old bad habits of a chocoholic. The added fiber and nutrition will go a long way toward reducing hunger, and as her tastes change, she will find the chocolate habit weakened. Only then will she move against the Chocolate Beast, buoyed up by her success.
And even if she never slays the Beast? She's fed her body the good stuff first!Write It Down
Often, New Year's resolutions evaporate because they're never written down or shared with an accountability partner. Talk's cheap--and never cheaper than when one is fantasizing about change. Too often, the desire to improve fades away with the sound of the conversation.
Put your resolutions on a body-building plan!
First, harness the power of the pen (or computer or smartphone!). Write out each resolution: the goal, reasons for aspiring to the goal, and the individual steps--daily, weekly, monthly--that you'll use to reach the goal. Putting a resolution in writing lets you refer to it often, and gives the plan a substance and validity that will help create motivation.
Print a free New Year's Resolutions form to track your progress!
Planner users review their resolution plan during each day's planning session. Posting the resolution on the refrigerator door reminds a dieter of his or her goal.Become Accountable
Best of all, find an accountability partner: a trusted friend, family member or support group who is invested in the success of your resolution. Share your resolution with your accountability partner, and work out a check-in system at least once a week. An accountability partner can celebrate successes, help analyze failures, and provide a hefty dose of motivation on a regular basis.Tap Tech Support
Online support groups offer instant accountability and support, and can be great motivators as you put New Year's resolutions into practice. Only one clutterholic can truly understand another clutterholic's euphoria at clearing a shelf or decluttering a drawer. Best, online groups are available 24 hours a day to listen, advise and share.
Web sites and mobile apps can help bolster New Year's resolutions with resources and inspiration. Whether it's tracking exercise and diet, keeping a gratitude list, or working on your reading list, check out tech helpers to promote healthy change.Get Back Up On The Horse
Don't let New Year's resolutions fall victim to the first little slip! Those who study successful self-change know that one indicator for eventual success at changing habits is previous unsuccessful attempts at change.
When you do fall off the plan sit back and figure out why--then work to solve the problem standing between you and your goal. Is that resolution to exercise falling by the wayside in a busy life? Sit down and schedule the gym first each day. Was the new diet sabotaged by fast-food lunches? Decide to set aside an hour each Sunday to assemble a healthier substitute for the week's lunches.
Then try again! Don't let a small stumble stand in the way. Learn from each setback, and keep moving forward.
The new year is only just begun. Don't count those New Year's resolutions out--just yet! Breath new life into them, and move toward a more organized, healthier, happier life in your organized home. Be it resolved!Celebrate
Sunday sees the arrival of Christmas Day. In the coming week, we’ll tie up the season’s loose ends, make New Year’s resolutions, prepare to store holiday decor, and set the stage for next year’s celebration.
It's the day after Christmas, and every year at this time, the e-mails in my inbox tell the story: "I wish I'd found this site earlier!"
Each year, I hear from scores of readers who came looking for holiday help at the height of the celebration-and faced with the reality of Christmas chaos.
Stumbling over our site, they see that it's possible to be organized--and joyous--during the holidays. They just wish they'd found us earlier!
So say you're starting now, the day after Christmas. What's the secret to a stress-free season? Plan ahead!
Try these five tips to get ready for next year.Debrief
With memories of the holidays fresh in our minds, there's no better time to create a simple record of what worked--and what didn't--this holiday season. Answering a few simple questions in writing preserves the actual state of your household's holiday--and gives you the information you need to craft a better plan for next year.
Print a copy of our debriefing worksheet, and take a few minutes to answer the questions it poses. Next year when you begin planning for the holidays, you'll be able to avoid the seasonal potholes and repeat the year's successes.Take notes
A few quick notes now can solve many problems next December. While decorations, gift wrap and recipes are still around you from this year's celebration, take inventory to avoid surprises next year.
Whether you'll replace burned-out light strings, replenish gift wrap supplies or recreate that great dessert recipe, a few notes now will set a straight course for next year. Better, post-holiday clearance sales mean you'll save money!
Using our decorations inventory, eyeball your decorations and note any needed replacement decor items. Check gift wrap, ribbons and tags before you tuck the snowman paper into a storage box, and hit the sales to stock up for next year. Tear tried-and-true recipes from seasonal magazines, and tuck them into a page protector for future reference.
And since a picture is worth a thousand words, circle the house now with a camera, and photograph holiday decorations. Use these photos as a guide for next year--and to remind yourself of what's tucked away in storage.
Note it now, and you'll know it later!Start a gift list
Just after the celebration, it's easy to remember which gifts were a hit--or a miss. Was a nephew unexpectedly delighted with a copy of the latest "Harry Potter" book? Start a gift list now, and you'll remember to add "Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans" candy to his stocking next year.
A printable Christmas gift list form helps corral all those fleeting, "Oh, wouldn't he love a ...." thoughts, and gives you the jump on next year's gift list. Print one now to hold these last-minute gift possibilities; you'll have a head-start when you start next year's holiday shopping.Make a Christmas planner
Notes, checklists and planner forms will help you get organized--but only if you can find them! Solution? A simple three-ring binder creates a Christmas planner, a one-stop planning tool that will track and record holiday prep around the year.
New Years' sales at the office supply store make it easy to set up a simple notebook as your Christmas planner. Click a set of dividers and a handful of page protectors into a good-sized binder. Add filled-in forms and lists, and as you see recipes, craft ideas, or decor inspiration, tear and tuck torn pages into page protectors.
For the ambitious, we've got a complete set of holiday calendars, forms and checklists free for the printing--but even a modest start on assembling a Christmas planner will help anyone have a simpler, more organized celebration next year.Choose an organizing plan
Here at OrganizedChristmas.com, we know there's no "one right way" to get organized for next year's holiday season. Some folks love to "think Christmas" all year round, while others must be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the season late in the autumn. That's why we offer different organizing plans to help everyone achieve the serene and stress-free holiday of their dreams. Which one is right for you?
Rudolph Club: Okay, you want to do a better job, but who wants to be thinking about Christmas for weeks on end? We've got a short and sweet solution: the Rudolph Club. On the 25th of every month, the Rudolph Club meets to assign short, simple tasks to help prepare for the holidays. Over the year, you'll assemble information for holiday letters, set up a gift closet, organize crafts projects and do basic holiday planning a bit at a time.
By breaking the job down into tiny monthly bites, the Rudolph Club conquers Christmas chaos a bit at a time--and without having to "think Christmas" the whole year through. Visit our site on the 25th of every month to join the Club.
Christmas Countdown: Don't want to be bothered until next year? The Christmas Countdown is the plan for you. Starting on the last Sunday in October, the Countdown breaks down holiday prep into an easy, six-week process that will finish preparations in good time for the season.
Working with friends, we'll prepare for the holiday season together--so mark your calendar and visit us next October to count down to an organized holiday season!
Holiday Grand Plan Ready for the big guns? Try the Holiday Grand Plan. It's not for the faint of heart, but is designed to help you clean, declutter and organize the entire home in time for the holiday season.
Working room by room and week by week, you'll declutter, clean and organize your home while planning and preparing for the coming holiday season. With a kick-off date in late summer, the Holiday Grand Plan will see you through to the celebration--and the home--of your dreams.
Ready? It's time to get organized for Christmas ... next year!Get Organized
Ready to start the New Year from a clean and clutter-free home? Try these post-Christmas clean-up tips from sister site, Organized Home.
These simple, do-it-now strategies can reduce clutter and conquer Christmas chaos. We like this one:
Sort Before You Stow
Once the New Year arrives, most families take down holiday decorations and store them for the following year--but too often, there's a sense of "sling it in there and worry about it later" when it comes to putting away Christmas ornaments, holiday linens and outdoor lighting.
This year, pay it forward: sort and declutter holiday decorations, linens and specialty cooking items as you store them. Cut the non-working, the tattered, and the tired from the herd as you put away holiday decorations. Has-been decor items can be recycled or donated; stained linens can be repurposed as cleaning cloths.
Streamline holiday decorating next year: sort before you stow!Get Organized
He's sweet, sassy, and easy enough for children to make: a Candy Cane Reindeer!
Our little Candy Cane Reindeer makes a great craft project for school, scouts, church groups or Secret Santa gifts.
Using candy canes, chenille stems and google eyes from the craft store, Candy Cane Reindeer make great stocking stuffers--or add them to holiday gift wrap for a sweet touch!Materials
For each reindeer, you'll need:
- candy cane
- small pompon for nose
- two "google" eyes
- brown chenille stem for antlers
- green chenille stem for bow-tie
- small jingle bell
- non-toxic craft glue
Leave the wrapper on the candy cane.
Wrap the brown chenille stem around the top of the candy cane and twist. Separate the ends and twist into antler shapes. [Hint: the letter "W" makes a great model for an antler!]
Thread the "jingle bell" onto the green chenille stem. Twist the green chenille stem around the body of the candy cane with the bell in the center. Fold back the stem ends to resemble a bow or a bow-tie.
Place small dots of glue on google eyes, and apply them to the front of the candy cane.
Place a larger dot of glue on the pompom, and apply it to the front of the candy cane to form the reindeer's nose.
Candy Cane Reindeer may be used to decorate gift packages, as party favors, or hung on a Christmas tree as ornaments.Christmas Gifts & CraftsStocking Stuffers
Ready to give a Christmas spin to a seasonal favorite, Snowman Soup?
Try Candy Cane Soup, layered hot chocolate in a cone!
A larger gift than single-packet Snowman Soup, Candy Cane Soup layers three or four servings of hot chocolate mix, fixings and a candy cane packaged in cone-shaped treat bags or disposable cake decorating bags.
Package this family-sized stocking stuffer in gift bags, add to movie gift baskets, or pair with a plate of Christmas cookies for an easy seasonal gift.
Choose your favorite printable gift tag to makes your handmade holiday gift sparkle!Ingredients
For each Candy Cane Soup cone treat, you'll need:
- 2 cone-shaped treat bags or disposable cake decorating bags
- 1/2 cup instant hot chocolate mix
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips or candy-coated chocolate candies in seasonal colors
- 1/4 cup mini marshmallows
- twist tie to secure hot chocolate mix bag
- candy cane or peppermint stick candy
- a chenille stem, pipe cleaner or ribbon to secure cone bag
- printable Candy Cane Soup gift tag
Each packet of Candy Cane Soup will make approximately 4 8-ounce cups of hot chocolate.Instructions
1. Package hot chocolate mix. To make it easier to fill and package cone bags, insert them inside a tall, narrow drinking glass, votive or vase. Fold the cuff of the bag down over the lip of the glass,
Add hot chocolate mix to bag:
Remove cone bag containing hot chocolate mix, and secure with twist tie. This bag will be placed inside the second bag to hold the hot chocolate mix securely. Trim ends of bag to 1 inch:
2. Package candy treats and marshmallows. Place the second cone bag inside the glass, and fold down the top around the glass rim.
Place the sealed bag of hot chocolate mix inside the second bag, then layer chocolate chips or candies over the top, followed by marshmallows:
3. Secure cone and decorate. Remove the filled bag from the glass, and use the chenille stem to secure the cone around the contents. Twist ends of chenille stem around a candy cane or peppermint stick:
Add a Candy Cane Soup gift tag, if desired. Tie, twirl or spiral ends of chenille stems for a decorative effect.Printable Candy Cane Soup Gift Tags Christmas Gifts & CraftsStocking Stuffers
This last week before Christmas, only minimum maintenance is needed in the house.
Holiday prep centers on those few chores needed to make a smooth move between Christmas and the New Year. Season's greetings!
Ready to ring in a fresh new year? It's New Year's week at the Holiday Grand Plan!
We'll record Christmas memories, prepare for New Year's celebrations, and begin to look ahead to a new start in the new year.
Ready to share Yuletide greetings ... with a clever twist? This "We Whisk You A Merry Kissmas" stocking stuffer is a sweet surprise for the chocolate lover in your life!
A homemade Christmas gift, a "Kissmas Whisk" is easy enough for children to make and give--and with ingredients from the dollar store, it's inexpensive to make.
Makes a great teacher gift, stocking stuffer or office Secret Santa present.Materials
- Small kitchen whisk
- Chocolate kiss candies
- Plastic food storage wrap
- Printable gift tag
To make your "Kissmas Whisk", place a handful of foil-wrapped chocolate kiss candies between the tines of a new kitchen whisk.
To secure the candies, wrap whisk bottom with plastic food storage wrap and tape the wrap to the whisk handle.
Add a pretty bow or ribbon, and attach a free printable "Kissmas Whisk" for a simple stocking stuffer or 12 Days of Christmas gift!Printable Kissmas Whisk Gift Tags Christmas Gifts & CraftsStocking Stuffers
Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice, so what does he leave for naughty little girls and boys? Reindeer Poop!
A silly stocking stuffer (of dubious taste!), Reindeer Poop is easy to make with this simple recipe, Reindeer Poop poem, and free printable Reindeer Poop gift tags.
Mix up a batch today to get a seasonal giggle from coworkers or family members.Instructions
To make Reindeer Poop, place a handful of malted milk balls or chocolate-covered raisins in a zipper food storage bag or decorated treat bag.
Seal bag and label with the printable Reindeer Poop gift tag of your choice.
Pre-printed with the Reindeer Poop poem, the tags below will give a professional flair to your handmade holiday gift. Or hand-write the Reindeer Poop poem below and attach.Reindeer Poop Poem
I woke up with such a scare when I heard Santa call...
"Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
I ran to the lawn, and in the snowy white drifts,
those nasty reindeer had left "little gifts".
I got an old shovel and started to scoop
Neat little piles of "reindeer poop."
but to throw them away seemed such a waste,
So I saved them, thinking you might like a taste!
As I finished my task, which took quite a while,
Old Santa passed by and he sheepishly smiled.
And I heard him exclaim as he rose to the sky~~~
"Well, they're not potty trained, but at least they can fly!"
Count your blessings with Christmas Blessings Mix! Small bags of snack mix, each ingredient reminds us of a holiday blessing.
Bagged in favor-sized gift bags and decorated with a holiday poem, Christmas Blessings Mix brings a festive touch to your Christmas celebrations.
Share them with church friends, co-workers or family for a meaningful gift.
We make it easy to create Christmas Blessings Mix with a Blessing Mix tutorial and free printable Christmas Blessings Mix gift tags and bag toppers containing with the Christmas Blessing Mix poem.
- 2 cups Bugles brand corn snacks
- 2 cups small pretzels
- 1 cup cinnamon imperials candy ("red hots")
- 1 cup dried fruit bits or raisins
- 1 cup peanuts or sunflower seeds
- 1 cup M&Ms-brand chocolate candy
- 16 Hershey's-brand chocolate kisses
- printable gift tags
In a large bowl, gently mix all ingredients except Hershey's Kisses.
Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup Christmas Blessings Mix in small cellophane treat bags or zipper food storage bags. Add one Hershey's Kiss to each bag. Seal bag or fold down top to seal.
Attach your choice of free printable Christmas Blessings Mix gift tags or bag toppers, or hand-write your own tags with the wording below.
Makes 16 Christmas Blessing Mix gift bags.Christmas Blessings Mix Poem
Bugles: Bring us the joyful message of the Heavenly Host, announcing peace on earth, good will to men.
Pretzels: Symbol of a mother's loving arms; as Mary wrapped her Son in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.
Red Hots: Red berries that decorate the holly plant, a reminder of eternal life and Christ's redemption.
Nuts or seeds: Promise of a a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.
Dried fruits: Remind us of the rich gifts brought by the Wise Men.
M&Ms: Memories of those who came before us to guide us to a blessed future.
Hershey's Kiss: The love of family and friends that sweetens our lives.
Will you visit family or take a Christmas holiday?
Between tight security, cramped airports and busy highways, holiday-season travel can be a big source of Christmas stress.
Whether you're flying or driving, being prepared means you'll be better able to roll with the inevitable punches.
Try these tips to keep the “happy” in holiday travel:Be An Early Bird
Make travel plans early. Particularly during the busy Christmas season, early birds have more choice of transportation options, and usually pay a better price than the holdouts.Fly Flexible
Can you be flexible about seasonal travel plans? During a holiday period, the best day to fly may be on the holiday itself, when traffic is light. Busiest days are generally the day before Thanksgiving, the Sunday before Christmas, and Christmas Eve.Stay Informed
Bad weather, oversold flights or highway closures can all wreak havoc on carefully-laid travel plans. Fight back by staying informed of travel conditions. Check online travel sites or install smartphone apps to alert you to changes in travel arrangements. The earlier you know about travel issues, the easier it will be to find alternatives.Packing Checklist
The distractions of the season can get in the way of efficient packing. To stay focused, create a packing checklist for each family member, noting all items of clothing and personal care needed for travel.
Airline security checkpoints are no place to try to re-wrap a Christmas gift. If you must fly with presents, wait until your destination to wrap them, or place gifts in easy-to-inspect gift bags. Better: ship gifts ahead of time, or arrange for direct delivery to your final destination.Celebrate