12 days of Christmas organizing
• Clean out the fridge and freezer to free up space.
• Gather your holiday recipes and cross-reference the ingredients you have with the ones you'll need to buy.
• Check your inventory of cookware, serving pieces, and food storage containers to see what’s missing. If you're in need of something, contact a family member or friend to see if you can borrow or share items.
• Shop for groceries and pick up everything you'll need to complete your holiday recipes. If it can be baked or cooked ahead of time, buy the ingredients now.
• Be sure to purchase plenty of frozen hors d'oeuvres and finger foods - they're a lifesaver when guests drop by unexpectedly.
• If you have kids at home, hire a babysitter rather than taking them with you. Shopping alone will help you stay focused.
• Cook any dishes ahead of time that you can. Casseroles, appetizers and desserts can be frozen, thus saving you time on the big day.
• Before starting your cooking and baking, lay out all the ingredients and baking supplies you'll need. Try to clean as you go, minimizing the mess.
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• Go gift shopping and try to cross off everyone on your list. Pick up a few small extras for last minute hostess gifts and unexpected visitors.
• Remember to include the people who make your life easier all year: the mailman, paperboy, or anyone else you can think of. Give them each a small gift and have it delivered right away in case they take time off over the holidays.
• Check and see if you need to stock up on any wrapping materials. Make sure there's enough paper, ribbon, gift tags, and the one thing everyone always runs out of – tape!
• Have a tree trimming or decorating party. Pull some hors d'oeuvres out of the freezer or serve hot chocolate and sweet treats. Have holiday music on hand and make it a fun occasion for everyone. Having friends and family over to help you decorate will save you time and help you relax.
• Run errands and pick up any extras you may have overlooked on your last shopping trip. Think about things like logs for the fireplace, batteries for toys and gadget gifts, ornament hooks, club soda for spills, extra ice, matches to light candles, and replacement bulbs for strings of lights.
• Hire a babysitter to watch the kids and devote some time to wrapping gifts. Make it enjoyable by listening to Christmas carols or watching your favorite holiday film while you do it.
• If you're heading out to holiday parties over the next few days, print out the directions now. Put them all together and leave them by the front door.
• Check all the linens you'll be using such as tablecloths, placemats, and napkins, and make sure they're clean and not musty. Give them a wash and iron or treat yourself to a professional dry cleaning.
• Pull out the special guest towels and decorative soaps and place them in the powder room.
• Clean out the foyer closet and free up space for guests’ coats and boots.
• Go to the grocery store and stock up on anything you may have run out of or missed on your last trip. Pick up perishables like fresh vegetables and dairy products.
• Purchase any flowers you might want for holiday centerpieces and displays. It's just enough time for them to open up and settle so they'll look perfect for the big day.
• Enlist the help of every member of the household and give the house a good spot cleaning. Dust, vacuum, and tidy up so you don't have to worry about it at the last minute.
• Take the turkey out of the freezer and put in the fridge.
• Set the holiday table and get candles, flower arrangements and music ready. Prepare everything you can so you can relax on the big day.
• Order takeout or pull a stress-free meal out of the freezer. Give the oven -- and yourself! -- a break and rest up for the following day.
• Pat yourself on the back as you enjoy a relaxing holiday with those you love the most!