Holiday gift wrapping essentials
If washi tape isn't already part of your gift wrapping essentials, consider adding it this year. Available in a variety of colours and patterns, it's perfect for decorating and personalizing presents of any size or shape. Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape, Staples, $2.94.
If you're planning on baking for this year's cookie exchange you'll want to stock up on decorative tins. No need to wrap, packaging delicious holiday treats takes no time at all. Vinterkul container set of 3, IKEA. $9.99.
Forget those flimsy plastic bows and top your perfectly wrapped presents with a festive felt bow. Red bow pack with white edge, Indigo, $4.50.
This year, add a fun and festive stamp to your holiday wrapping kit. It's a clever way to avoid the confusion when you're passing around presents. To-From Stamp, Crate and Barrel, $3.95.
Without a great pair of scissors, your pretty holiday wrapping paper is sure to suffer. Cut with ease and precision with these Nate Berkus stainless steel shears. Nate Berkus Gold Shears, Target, $16.99.
Do you ever buy gift tags only to forget where you've stored them? This year, why not purchase printable tags. They'll save you time, money, and best of all you can print as many as you need. Merry Christmas printable tags, MelimeBabyArt on Etsy, $5.22.
Uh oh, you've forgotten to wrap that Secret Santa gift before tonight's party. No need to worry, stock up on festive gift bags for quick wrapping-on-the-go. 'Tis The Season Gift Bags, Anthropologie, $9.
There's just something about great wrapping paper that make a gift eye-catching. Simple, yet stylish this cursive wrapping paper does just that. Great for adding some excitement under the tree, it'll also bring joy to those who like to save the paper (you know who you are!). Cursive wrapping paper, Anthropologie, $14.
It's always a great idea to stock up on the items you use the most when wrapping presents for the holidays. You can never have too many cards, especially when they're as cute and clever as these boxed holiday cards by PaperSocietyCo. Boxed holiday cards, PaperSocietyCo on Etsy, $19.95.
It's time to write your holiday cards or gift tags and you can't seem to find a working pen. Never have that problem again with The 7 Year Pen from Indigo. With a jumbo ink supply, you'll be able to use it year after year. The 7 Year Pen in Peacock, Indigo. $9.50.
A bright and welcoming sunroom is spruced up for the holidays.
With the holiday season is upon us, make the most of this month by tackling these tasks.
As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the year – and it only lasts a few weeks. Avoid seasonal stress by staying organized and having realistic expectations of what you can achieve. To help you make the most of the holiday season, here are 10 things to do this December.
1 Clean out the freezer
It's all too easy to let food accumulate in the freezer – and before long, not only is it too crowded to make room for more, but there are items in the back that should probably be thrown away. Set aside some time to organize your freezer – you may be amazed at what you'll find in there.
2 Make a wreath
Not only is a wreath on the front door inviting, but it really makes a house look like a home. If you've got the time, add a personal touch to your outdoor decor by making your own instead of buying one. And if you're really feeling inspired, make two and give the second to a friend as an early Christmas gift.
3 Get organized for gift wrapping
To save time during the hectic Christmas shopping season, set up a gift-wrapping station in an out-of-the-way spot in your home -- it will make it easy to wrap gifts as you buy them, and you won't be hunting around the house for the scissors, silver ribbon or gift tags. If you haven't got the space for a separate gift-wrapping table, put all your supplies in a couple of wicker baskets in the closet or under the bed for easy access.
4 Decorate the kitchen
Don't limit your holiday accents to the living room and entryway -- think about ways you can bring the spirit of the season into every room, including the kitchen. Try decorating the windowsill with candles and cedar boughs, putting a miniature Christmas tree on a shelf or draping doorways with garlands. For a finishing touch, simmer spices in water on the back of the stove to infuse your home with the comforting scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
5 Cook up some appetizers
Get ready for guests – whether expected or impromptu – by preparing a selection of appetizers ahead of time. Just pick recipes that can be made in advance and frozen, and you could have a season's worth of hors d'oeuvres ready in an afternoon.
6 Host a cookie exchange
Rather than devoting hours of free time to baking each of your favourite holiday treats, arrange an exchange with friends and family. Organize it so that each person bakes a different type of cookie, enough to share around with everyone in the group. Don't forget to make a few extras to serve while everyone's exchanging the goods!
7 Hang some mistletoe
The custom of kissing under the mistletoe is said to come from an ancient Scandinavian tradition that when enemies met in the forest under mistletoe, they were to lay down their arms and observe a truce for the following day. Continue the tradition by hanging mistletoe in your home during the holiday season – and spread peace and goodwill among your guests.
8 Donate to the food bank
During this season of feasting, remember those who are less fortunate by bringing non-perishable food items or a monetary donation to your local food bank. Consider offering your time, as well, to help sort donations or perform other necessary tasks.
9 Let in the fresh air
It may be getting chilly outside, but that's no reason to keep the windows locked tight. Shutting up the house lets indoor pollutants accumulate, especially if it's fairly new and therefore airtight. Let in the cool, crisp air of early winter by opening the windows for a few minutes daily – longer if the weather is cooperating – and enjoy the fresh scent of a well-aired home.
10 Make homemade eggnog
Eggnog is so rich and sinfully delicious, it's probably a good thing we don't drink it all year round. So don't settle for nog in a carton – it's easy to make your own, and the results are well worth the time spent.
Organizing 101: 30 holiday clutter busters
Get organized for the holidays (and throughout the year) with our clutter-busting, time-saving, space-maximizing tips.
Here are handy Christmas tips designed to make the festive season not only more enjoyable, but stress-free, too.
Instead of dismantling mantel arrangements and centrepieces after the holidays, simply store each as is in large clear plastic bags placed in labelled containers. Both decorating and cleanup will be so much easier. -- Jennifer Trussler, A Welcoming Home, Orillia, Ont.
When decorating for the holidays, remove everyday accessories and store them in your Christmas decoration box to reduce clutter and make your holiday decorations more noticeable. -- Kelly Brown, Tidy Trends.com, Stayner, Ont.
Store small, breakable decorations in labelled foam egg containers to eliminate the need to wrap each one. -- Duhita Speck, Your World In Order, Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Spend more time relaxing with family and friends by ordering a special holiday dinner. Many fine hotels offer delivery service. All you have to do is set the table! -- Andrea Hodgins, Organized Results, Vancouver
Hire someone to clean your house for the holidays. Consider it a gift to yourself and your family that reduces stress and increases the time you have for shared activities. -- Susan Yearwood, Yearwood Efficient Solutions, Ottawa
Carry a small notebook in your purse year-round. While shopping or looking through catalogues, write down gifts you see that would be perfect for someone. When Christmas arrives, your gift-shopping list will be complete. Use the book for birthdays and special events, too. Keep previous years' notebooks to avoid giving duplicate gifts. -- Jane Cownley, The Organizing Way, Milton, Ont.
If your stepchildren visit on weekends, help them properly schedule their time so they don't lose too much of their everyday routine. Plan for homework and chores, and make room for special parent-child quality time by organizing fun activities like tobogganing or festively decorating their bedroom for the holiday season. -- Clair Roxburgh-Giamprini, Roxburgh Organizing Solutions, Ajax, Ont.
Choose one behaviour you want to change, such as putting something back where it belongs after using it. Do it consistently for 30 days, rewarding yourself every five days. After 30 days, it will become automatic. -- Shari Puddicombe, 5-S Simple Organizing Solutions, Montreal
Edit your greeting cards after each occasion; keep only a few special cards from each person in your life. Store the keepers in a card box. -- Susannah Coneybeare, The Sorting House, Toronto
Divide light and dark laundry into designated baskets so you don't have to sort while loading the washer. Wash and dry socks in separate mesh bags filled by each family member to avoid the trouble of sorting later. -- Lina Phan, Organized by Design, Pointe Claire, Que.
Cover the inside of an armoire or closet door with bulletin-board cork and hang necklaces, bracelets and earrings on push-pins. Stick the brooches right into the cork. -- Carol Manuel, Everything In Its Place, Lower Sackville, N.S.
Have a mending bin to store clothing in need of repair, otherwise shirts without buttons and pants needing to be hemmed can become clutter at the bottom of the closet. -- Douha Al Sawan, Dives Solutions, Laval, Que.
Keep your rented videos and library books separate from your personal collections by storing them in a large basket in your family room. -- Faye Stone, Organizing Coach, Burlington, Ont.
If you see something out of place -- keys, mail, newspapers or toys -- and you're going in the direction where they're kept, pick them up and put them away. -- Jacqueline Donovan, Organizing Your Lives, Oshawa, Ont.
Organize tools in the garage or workshop in old heavy-duty steel filing cabinets outfitted with casters (label the drawers so the contents are easy to find). -- Sandra L. Sornberger, Absoluteorder.com, Dunsford, Ont.
Organizing your time is crucial for a more organized life. If you feel overwhelmed by too many things, decide on a maximum of five to seven key areas that are directly related to your happiness and success, and try to focus only on those areas. Make sure daily tasks are always related to the areas you've chosen and let the unimportant stuff go. -- Jane Veldhoven, Get Organized! Professional Services, Halifax
Turn crawl spaces into accessible storage areas with bins on wheels or build a plywood storage platform and attach casters and a rope handle. -- Judy Besserer, Homefree Organizational Service, Ottawa
Store gold and silver earrings separately if you own a lot. You'll save time finding a pair. -- Eileen Chong, Simple Organizing Services (S.O.S.), Thornhill, Ont.
Corkboards cause clutter! Instead, buy a mounting strip and hooks (like the kind for hanging kitchen utensils), mount the strip above the desk in your home office and hang big bull-nose clips from the hooks. The strip holds a ton. -- Marie Harrison, Be Organized -- Achieve More, Vancouver
Remove closet doors in children's bedrooms and store toys and clothes in closet organizers easily reachable by kids; hang a colourful curtain across the opening. -- Kimberly Lathigee, Organize This! Services, Richmond, B.C.
Give yourself a junk drawer. Many people can't live life defined by a label maker. If having a little bit of controlled chaos makes you happy and keeps you stress-free, go for it. -- Alex Fayle, FayleSafe Solutions, Toronto
Put all of your tried and tested recipes on four- by six-inch cards and place the cards in both sides of plastic sleeve pages in a stand-up photo album. -- Jacki Brown, Well Organized/Tout Bien Rangé, Quebec
Try the 10-Minute Toss. Each day, set aside 10 minutes to unclutter a drawer, cupboard, shelf or area that needs attention. Doing that daily keeps clutter under control. -- Katherine Gibson, author of Unclutter Your Life, Victoria
If you reuse zip-lock bags but find they clutter counters and dish racks while drying, hang them from mini clothes pegs on a retractable clothesline above the sink. -- Soraiya Kara, POSabilities Personal Organizing, Burnaby, B.C.
If you're building or renovating, work with a professional organizer before meeting with your interior designer or architect. An organizer will examine your lifestyle -- including your job, hobbies, sports, habits and more -- and detail how everything that supports your lifestyle will fit into your new space. -- Janis Nylund, Orderly Concepts & Solutions, South Surrey, B.C.
Fold linens and tablecloths and hang them on multipurpose skirt/pant hangers that have four to six rods. Also, hang a sheet of fabric softener with bedsheets for a fresh scent. -- Suzy Polanco, Organize It & Cleaning Co., Toronto
Keep a health history diary. Include dates and details of medical procedures, tests and results, past and present prescription medications, lists of alternative health treatments, notes on genetic medical conditions, and phone numbers for health-care professionals. That will save you hours when filling out medical forms -- Patricia Saya, The Organizing Goddess, Aurora, Ont.
Dedicate one clean kitchen counter strictly to cooking. Store your ingredients (spices, seasonings and so on) close by. That saves time because one counter will always be ready for you to work on, and you won't have to spend time running around gathering ingredients. -- Dolly Bhatia-Frolick, Organized Environments, Whitby, Ont.
Use simple, inexpensive utensil trays with square or rectangular compartments to organize small items in bathroom and home office drawers. -- Kathy Vincent, Organizing Solutions, Windsor, Ont.
Keep a small dish near every place you take off jewelry; for instance, beside the kitchen and bathroom sinks, sofa, bed. When you take your rings off, you'll have somewhere to put them so they don't get lost. -- Shelley Beaubien, Organized By Design, Edmonton
Get your home ready for the holiday season with these helpful tips & tricks.
The holiday hustle can make the season seem daunting. The Moody family has some tips on how to make it exciting once again.
When November hits, the pressure is on for any busy family. The real challenge, however, is keeping the holidays as fun and stress-free as possible. Despite hectic careers, hockey tournaments, theatre performances and family gatherings, Surrey, B.C., designer Lisa Moody of Grapevine Designs tackles this feat with panache, along with her husband, Ron, and their kids, Svea, 14, Eston, 12, and Eli, 9. Here, we get a glimpse into their stylish 6,900 sq. ft. home, plus a few of the festive traditions that make Christmas especially merry for the Moody clan.
Homeowner and designer Lisa Moody made this advent calendar garland 10 years ago by combining her kids’ stray socks with some Christmas-themed ones bought on sale after the holidays.
“There will be a day when I’ll have a formal Christmas tree,” says Lisa with a laugh. But when three kids are contributing to the scheme, bright, fun colours and childhood mementoes reign for now.
“We decorate our faux tree at the end of November. It’s nice to get the decorating done early so we can enjoy the season longer.”
The kids (from left), Svea, Eli and Eston, hang out with Lisa (far right) and enjoy Christmas treats in the dining area. The simple modern table and chairs are durable, practical choices for family mealtime.
Lisa packages presents using plain white kraft paper jazzed up with colourful and patterned ribbons as well as left over scraps of holiday gift wrap.
The fireplace, which has a soaring marble-clad surround, is a focal point for the family during the holidays. Can you spot the Elf on the Shelf? It sits in one of the the built-in maple cubbies and is the origin of many hilarious holiday shenanigans.
The Moody home is the place for family parties during the holidays, and the island in the kitchen, with its yellow wooden stools, is where everyone gathers.
“When a big dinner party seems too overwhelming, we’ll have friends over for cocktails and snacks by the fire.”
Lisa hosts a Christmas party for the kids and their friends. This year, they’re decorating gingerbread cookies and enjoying hot chocolate in festive mugs with marshmallows, candy canes and chocolate chips.