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.
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8 terrific travel gifts for your favourite jet-setter
The travel enthusiast on your shopping list is sure to love any of these great gift ideas.
Shopping for someone who loves to travel this holiday season? Look no further for inspired gift ideas we’re sure they will love! From bags that’ll help them travel in style to essential tech gadgets they’ll never want to leave home without, these gifts are sure to be a hit this Christmas!
1 iPhone 7 Plus: No traveler leaves home without a camera and these days, all they really need is their smartphone! The brand new iPhone 7 Plus delivers its best camera ever with some seriously awesome new features, which make it a must-have for the shutterbug on your Christmas list. The improved camera means significantly better photos in low-light and more vibrant, colour-rich photos in regular light. The camera can take ‘portrait mode’ photos (blurring out the background and giving a bokeh effect like a fancy SLR camera) and has an optical zoom. Plus, it’s now splash- and water-resistant… hello, beach! iPhone 7, Apple, $899.
2 Jenni Saddle Bag: Ask any seasoned traveler and she’ll tell you that a small cross-body bag is a travel essential … and we just can’t get enough of the ‘Jenni’ saddle bag from Gigi New York. The sultry saddle shape combined with a luxe pebble grain leather make this bag a stylish addition to any outfit. With an adjustable strap and detachable tassel, this stunning bag is a winner! Jenni Saddle Bag, Gigi New York, $345.
3 Clarity Clutch + Coin Pouch: Looking for a gift for the stylish travelista on your shopping list this Christmas? This transparent clutch and coin pouch duo is just what you’re looking for! Both items are ideal for keeping travel necessities like a passport, boarding pass and money close at hand. Or use it to store makeup and toiletries. Either way, the clutch and the pouch will make it so much easier to find things that easily get lost at the bottom of a handbag! Clarity Clutch + Coin Pouch, Truffle, $60.
4 Kindle Paperwhite: The traveler who can’t live without her books will be truly thrilled to find the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader under the Christmas tree this year. Now available in black and white, the Kindle Paperwhite offers readers a high-resolution display with a built-in adjustable light. The screen has no glare so it simulates reading an actual paper book. Its compact size makes it perfectly portable, ideal for the travel lover on your shopping list this season! Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon, $119.99.
5 Beach Tray: In this acrylic tray, Gray Malin marries the stunning aerial photography he’s known for with a striking home decor accent piece. Suitable for a myriad of uses (serving tray, office catch-all or simply a beautiful objet d’art to be displayed and admired), this tray is sure to delight the traveler on your list. This particular tray, part of Gray Malin’s newly launched home collection, features an overhead shot of beach umbrellas in Lisbon. Beach Tray, Gray Malin, $295.
6 The Beaches Tote Bag: Every traveler needs a good, multi-purpose tote bag that can easily fit in their luggage and be pulled out at a moment’s notice. This canvas tote is the perfect bag for shopping at a local market, taking to the beach or for using as an extra carry-on bag to bring home shopping that won’t fit in the suitcase! The Beaches Tote Bag, Main and Local, $19.99.
7 The Bigger Carry-On: A suitcase that charges your phone? A suitcase that has an unbreakable, scratch-resistant exterior shell? A suitcase that is guaranteed for life? That’s the kind of suitcase every traveler dreams of. Away has reimagined the suitcase and the result is a modern piece of luggage that easily and effortlessly meets the needs of today’s traveler. This is a super chic gift for the super chic traveler. The Bigger Carry-On, Away, $245.
8 Men in Red Limited Edition Art Print: Inspire a travel-lover’s sense of adventure with a gorgeous piece of artwork that will not only look fabulous gracing the walls of their home, but will remind them of a favourite vacation (or motivate them to visit some place they’ve never been!) To make this gift extra special, choose the perfect frame from a number of options. Men in Red Limited Edition Art Print, Minted, starting at $21.
Learn the tips & tricks to make the most of your small space.
Make your small space work harder with smart solutions for making it look and feel larger than it actually is.
“Every room has eight corners. Don’t forget that.”
I first heard that from my mom when I was a kid. Whenever we moved, about every other year, I’d hear her mutter those words when she thought she was alone. Standing with hands on hips, she’d stare into the ceiling of our latest apartment, surrounded by boxes and wondering how we’d organize all the books and plants and knick-knacks this time around.
My mom had a point (and she made our space look cosy and organized and funky no matter the size), but she was no design expert. So I found two pros to provide some insight on how to make the most of tight spots in your home.
Meet the experts
Lynda Felton is stylist in Toronto who’s created living spaces for magazines and books.
Kyla Rozman, along with her business partner Pamela Ferrari, runs Vancouver-based In Order To Succeed Professional Organizing.
THE FUNDAMENTALS FOR ANY SMALL SPACE
1 Remember: A tiny room doesn’t have to hold only tiny furniture.
Sometimes with a small space, people avoid large furniture thinking it will dominate the room. Not true. A large sectional can often be better than a small sofa and chair. Lynda
2 Combine like objects and purge.
Don’t purchase any organizing supplies until you know precisely what needs to be stored. Kyla
3 Use mirrors and glass to create reflections and bounce light around.
Making a small space seem grand depends on maximizing light. You can do that with a glass coffee table, rather than a wood or opaque one. You can do it by tucking mirrors into corners, and by hanging art in glass frames, which create reflections. Lynda
4 Ensure that window coverings don’t cut off light when they’re open.
Hang curtains so that when they’re open, the entire pane is clear; open curtains should fall beside the window and not obscure any of it. Don’t hang curtains inside the window frame. Consider hanging curtains from the ceiling, rather than from the top of the window, which will add height (and some drama) to the space. Lynda
5 Think vertically.
Whether you’re hanging art or shelves, or placing furniture, don’t let vertical space go to waste. Using it is practical, providing a display space for art, for example, and it also draws the eye up, making a space feel more expansive than it actually is. LyndaROOM-BY-ROOM SPECIFICS
In the kitchen
6 Install to-the-ceiling cabinets.
Light-coloured cabinets, open shelves and glass-front doors will help to lighten a space. Too many cabinets, especially made of dark materials, will give the impression that the room is much smaller than it actually is. Lynda
7 Increase accessibility and capacity.
You can do this by adding pullout shelves, rotating inserts and tilt-out bins. Kyla
8 Use cork and magnetic boards.
If new or more cabinets aren’t in your future or your budget, remember that canisters on the counter take up valuable real estate. So cast your eye up to see where you can hang utensils, pots and pans on previously unused space. Lynda
9 Buy wire shelves.
They’re a must in a small space and in the kitchen they can almost double a cupboard’s capacity. Kyla
10 Use the inside of cupboard doors.
If covered with magnetic paint, they can accommodate papers and notes that might get knocked off a fridge in a small space. Lynda
11 Fill a cleaning caddy with supplies that can be stored in the kitchen, but transported around the house. This eliminates the need for cleaning supplies in multiple rooms, like the basement and bathroom, saving space in each. KylaIn the home office
12 Use a wall file system to organize documents.
This will get them off your work surface, but keep them visible and handy. Kyla
13 Consider redesigned wall bed/shelf/desk combinations.
The bed and desk fold into the wall leaving the room clear when you need the space. They also work well in a spare bedroom. Kyla
14 Move all CDs and DVDs into books with sleeves.
I love the faux leather ones at Staples. Then you can dispose of the space-consuming plastic jewel cases. Kyla
15 Don’t throw your coins in a jar.
Buy plastic coin holders that lay open and drop your coins into the appropriate sleeve. You’ll save hours because you’ll never have to sort again. Kyla
16 Get a paper shredder.
And in a small space, make it a habit to shred as soon as mail comes in. That way, there’s no backlog. KylaIn the living room
17 Watch your furniture scale.
You can make a compact room feel much bigger by choosing a few large, bold pieces rather than several smaller ones. And keep the main furnishings in proportion to each other. Lynda
18 Avoid bold patterns or overstuffed furniture with thick arms.
Streamlined pieces, such as armless Parson chairs, are beautiful space savers. Lynda
19 Hang your flat screen TV on a flexible arm.
This eliminates the need for a TV stand or entertainment unit. KylaIn the bathroom
20 Get rid of any visual obstructions.
Trade a frosted-glass bath or shower door for a clear glass one. Better yet, eliminate the door altogether and hang a shower curtain that can be pushed to one side when not in use. Lynda
21 Use pullout drawers in the cupboard below your sink.
These ones from Lee Valley are designed to accommodate plumbing. Kyla
22 Hang shelves above the toilet.
Use decorative boxes on the shelves to contain/hide the clutter. Label the boxes so that everything is easy to find, or so that everyone in the household can have their own box. Kyla
In the hallway and closet
23 Wallpaper isn’t just on-trend. It’s practical, too.
In narrow hallways, wallpaper can draw the eye away from the length of the space and create the illusion of width. Just remember: a small space isn't a place for high-contrast colour or patterns. Go for tone-on-tone papers. Lynda
24 Work the lateral space.
By adding a second rod inside a closet, you can double your hanging space. Hanging cubby shelves attached to the rod can add space for sweaters, shoes and hats. Lynda
25 Go custom.
Made-to-measure closet systems can be affordable. And systems from Storables or the Container Store can be dismantled if you want to take them with you when you move. Kyla