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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... but first...

I have to say that this is my most FAVORITE time of the year. I love how warm and cozy the house feels with the tree up, the white lights, all the holiday decorations about the house and sending & receiving holiday cards. However... how nice would it be if it all just magically came together?!

So it's Thanksgiving night and I was all ready to adorn the banister with lighted garland. I head to the bonus room to pull it all out... never even thought to check the lights before painstakingly attaching it to the railing. Heck, they worked last year, why wouldn't they work now? They are only on season two. I have it all perfectly in place, plug it in - and only one strand is working?! What the _________!

And so it begins... one step forward, two steps back.

Does anyone really attempt to find that one bulb that is preventing the entire strand of lights from working? I have ZERO patience for that. I am pretty certain there is some sort of little tool that makes that relatively easy, even so, no thanks. I decided that the working portion of the garland would look perfect by our television. As for the stairway, that would have to wait until new garland is purchased.

Then it was on to smaller holiday decorations: the nativity scene, wreaths and more. It's funny how you can remember all the decorations, yet when you go to find them it's "I could have sworn that I put it in this tote..." or "I know it was in that closet..." WRONG. Even the Professional Organizer seems to have problems remembering where she put things away. {after all, we're human, too.} And then I remembered, the dresser, there were a bunch of items stowed away in the dresser in our bonus room. Why not, there is nothing else in it... but how does one remember that next year?

Holiday Decorations

Friday was for assembling the first Christmas tree and purchasing new garland for the stairway. We are an artificial tree family because of our pellet stove. We'd rather not have our tree go up in flames the day after putting it up. I have to admit that I miss the fresh evergreen smell, however, safety first. And alas, the downstairs is complete. Did I mention there is another tree for our bonus room? And another set of holiday decorations for that room as well?

Sighhhh... however, we all know that really is just the beginning of the holiday season. There are so many other details we have to consider like holiday parties; deciding on a holiday card, purchasing & sending {for us it's two sets of cards, one for friends/family and a second for Ben's customers}; making a list for all the gift giving {our own kids, nieces & nephews, our parents... we skip each other as there is nothing we really need/want}; holiday shopping; wrapping; baking {I only pretend like I bake, we really leave that up to my parents & we help decorate}; the holiday concerts for the kiddies; holiday meal planning; house guests; etc.

The key, my friends... buy lots of wine.

Just kidding, well, kind of, the key is to PLAN and start NOW! Below are some helpful tips & links that if used accordingly will allow you to enjoy the holidays a little more {or at least I am hoping so!}.


Some Other Helpful Holiday

Tips & Links

Holiday Schedule: Look & plan ahead - mark your calendar. Any holiday parties, holiday concerts for the kiddies, etc.


Then take it a step further, have little kiddies that may need sitters for some of the newly scheduled dates? BOOK A SITTER NOW - the holidays are a busy time and sitters book up quickly.

As for concerts or shows for the kiddies - is there special attire required? Find out & plan ahead. Nothing like shopping for that white top/black bottoms five minutes before the concert at Walmart.

Holiday parties? No one wants to walk in empty handed. Think host/hostess gifts now & stock up. A bottle of wine, a holiday CD, whatever it may be, be ready.

Storage of Holiday Decor: Select the same bins for all your holiday decor and be sure to label what is inside the bins. When pulling out the decor this year, are there things you no longer use? Donate or purge those items.

Holiday Cards: First it's getting that perfect holiday photo... Then once you've decided on the photo, it's time to find the perfect card to go with it. After placing your card order, print address labels, as well as return address labels so you will be ready to stuff & send as soon as they arrive in your mailbox. Be sure to update your address list with any address changes that may have occurred since last year. {I love to handwrite our envelopes, however, I do keep the addresses saved as labels on our computer for easy access.} A Word template for Avery 5160 labels is the perfect solution if you prefer to print your labels.

Family Photo

Savings? Yes, please!! Never pay full price for your holiday cards - be sure to Google coupon codes if using a site like Snapfish or Shutterfly. I purchased our holiday cards using Ebates & Snapfish - not only did I earn cash back through Ebates, I also received 60% off my order with the Snapfish promotion.

Not familiar with Ebates? Check it out here

Gift (Receiving/Giving): For the little people... have them make their list. {We use the Four Gift Rule for our kids, you can read what that's all about here.}

And for the grown-ups/gift givers - make a list for all those you have to buy for, including: person; gift idea(s); colors/sizes; and costs. Then happy shopping!

Gift Wrapping

Gift Wrapping: Be sure to have all the fixings to wrap all those gifts! Whatever that may include for you - the wrapping paper; clothing boxes; bags; ribbons & bows; & gift tags. Oh, and don't forget the scissors & tape!

{I always buy gift wrapping items the day after Christmas for the following year - huge SAVINGS!!}

Holiday Baking: I am no expert when it comes to this, however, my parents have mentioned that they start buying all the necessary ingredients well before baking day arrives. Obviously, right?! My biggest worry is marking "Cookie Day" on our calendar & showing up to help decorate the cookies.

Meal Planning: Again... my biggest concern always seems to be what appetizer or dessert are we bringing along. If you aren't as lucky... start thinking ahead, what are you making, how many guests, etc. and plan accordingly.

Happiest Holidays to You & Yours!

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