•Take a good look at the calendar, marking off parties, school concerts, exams and hockey games.
• Try to get gift shopping out of the way early. Set up a wrapping station in a spare room or home office and keep a list of what you've bought so you don't overdo it.
• Draw up a Christmas card list. A few friends and family like to see a casual photo of the kids; everyone else gets a simple greeting card.
• Set aside a day for some family baking. Our youngest son, Craig, loves to make gingerbread houses so we always make at least one. We inevitably eat some of our creations as we go – the rest go into the freezer.
• Move a few accessories into storage to make room for Christmas decorations like a tabletop tree.
• Buy some beautiful ribbons to hang boxwood wreaths from the family room windows.
• String some clear mini-lights around the potted evergreens on the front porch.
• Buy traditional Advent calendars – the kids still love them.