Easy ways to enjoy the month and ease yourself into the holiday spirit.
November is here, the leaves are falling and winter is just around the corner. Make the most of the last month of autumn -- and the peace before holiday-season craziness -- with this list of 10 things to do in November.
1 Check your gutters
Clean your gutters regularly during the fall to make sure they're not blocked with fallen leaves and other debris. Also check that they're solidly attached to the house and draining properly.
2 Try some new cheeses
A creative and delicious cheese plate anchors any selection of appetizers. Take the time now to visit your cheese store and test-taste the offerings so you can wow your guests when the party season arrives.
3 Get out your knitting basket
Nothing's cosier than a hand-knitted gift, whether it be a simple scarf mittens or an item for the home. Get started on small handmade gifts for your loved ones now -- you'll have time to make something special for yourself, too. New to knitting? Pick up a beginners' book such as Knitting Pretty by Kris Percival, or sign up for a knitting class at your local yarn store (LYS, in knitters' lingo).
4 Stock up on wine
Whether it's for serving to your guests or bringing to parties, you're sure to go through lots of wine this holiday season. Make a serious trip to the liquor store now and you won't have to go again until the New Year.
5 Add flowers to your decor
Forced bulbs are a wonderful way to brighten up a colourless winter vista -- not only do they look beautiful on the windowsill, but the lower temperatures near the glass will help them stay in bloom longer. To make things easier, you can buy pretreated bulbs that don't require special treatment -- just pot them up, water and wait for them to grow.
6 Bake cookies
The most wonderful thing about cookies -- aside from how delicious they are, of course -- is how easy it is to make them ahead and freeze them for later. Get started on your holiday baking now, and you'll have plenty of treats ready for impromptu guests and gifts later.
7 Organize your office
It's all too easy to get behind on paperwork and e-mail, no matter how efficient your organizational system. Set aside an evening or two to get on top of things. Pay any lingering bills, reply to those e-mail messages from three months ago, and send any thank-you cards you've been putting off. Finish up by dusting your office area for the ultimate sense of accomplishment.
8 Get started on greeting cards
If, like many Canadians, you have friends or relatives abroad, it's likely you need to start mailing cards at the beginning of December to guarantee that they'll make it to their destination by Christmas. Make things easy by purchasing cards and stamps and organizing your list of recipients ahead of time. Address and stamp all your envelopes first, so you can whip off a card in any spare moment.
9 Brighten up your bathroom
It's been half a year since spring-cleaning season, so it shouldn't be surprising if your bathroom seems a little dull. Why not give it a mini makeover? First, clear everything out and scrub from top to bottom. Consider whether it needs a new coat of paint -- if not, just make sure to wash down the walls. Think about other small improvements you could make, like a new faucet, mirror or towel racks. You may also want to replace the shower curtain or pick up some new towels. When the job's all done, have a bath by candlelight -- you deserve it.
10 Get a head start on gift shopping
Spend an afternoon shopping online now and you may be able to avoid the holiday rush in the malls come December. First, organize your gift list, and make sure to think of a few ideas for generic gifts you'll need at the last minute. Then visit your favourite shopping websites and get ordering -- the least stressful way to shop is also the most efficient, so don't be surprised if you get half your shopping done in one go.
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn.