99 ways to get ready for the holidays
1 Swap lighter throws and cushion covers for cozier winter versions in velvet, chenille, cashmere and faux fur.
2 Re-pot a trio of baby evergreens into terra cotta pots and use them to decorate the mantel in a simply elegant eco vein.
3 Save energy and renew the room with draft-containing and chic velvet curtains.
4 Add an area rug for warm underfoot.
5 Load up on votives.
6 Reduce clutter on tabletops. Put away some photos to make room for glasses when guests visit.
7 If your living room light isn’t on a dimmer switch, install one now.
8 Buy an eco-friendly, essential-oil based room spray to quickly refresh the air just before guests arrive.
9 Put up your Christmas tree. Leave it undecorated for a couple days if your kids will let you!
10 Tree decorating party! (En famille or avec your buddies.)
11 Run some garland along the mantel.
12 Water your Christmas tree daily!
13 Hang out your stockings!
14 Display your holiday cards. Clip them to a ribbon clothesline along the mantel, or just stand them up on the sofa table. (You’ve already sent yours out, right?)
15 Wrap gifts and put them under the tree.
16 Stuff those stockings!
17 Keep stylish photographic magazines (decorating, travel, music) on hand for guests to flip through and/or talk about.
Need more than 99 ways to get ready for the holidays? Check out our exclusive holiday site for more ideas!DINING ROOM
18 Display a pillar candle on top of a bed of cranberries or chestnuts inside a hurricane lantern. Duplicate or triplicate as desired.
19 Bedeck the dining table with a seasonal runner.
20 Condition and protect your wood dining table.
21 If you have upholstered seats, now’s the time to renew their Scotchguard protection.
22 Stock up on wine. The dining room has a steadier ambient temp than the kitchen and is a better place to stash a few bottles.
23 Create a long-lasting and eco-friendly tabletop arrangement with tiny vases, teapots, recycled bottles or other vessels filled with sprigs of fresh ever-greenery from your yard.
24 Hang a swag of ribbon – wired taffeta or sheer organza both work particularly well – from the bottom of your chandelier. (Keep it clear of light bulbs.)
25 Set up your menorah.
26 Force an amaryllis bulb. (Buy extras at the shop to give out as hostess gifts.)
27 Decorate the table with edibles such as a bowl of nuts with decorative nutcracker or bevy of clementines or petite lady apples.
28 Make sure your music system is good to go for any type of holiday get-together, from impromptu drinks to all-night parties. Have your CD collection at the ready, as well as your iPod or laptop playlists.
29 Stock up on place setting cards – if that’s how you roll!
30 Buy or make Christmas crackers.
31 Check on your linen napkins: make sure they’re ironed and good to go.
32 Iron your tablecloth.
33 Polish the good silver.
34 Refresh any of the arrangements you may have set out earlier (i.e. evergreen arrangements, bowls of fruit or nuts, forced bulbs etc.).
35 Get a jump-start on New Year’s resolutions by clearing out your kitchen junk drawer.
36 Clean your neglected stainless steel surfaces.
37 Condition your wooden butcher-block surfaces with nut-free, food-grade wood oil.
38 Pull paper clutter off the side of your fridge to make room for holiday cards, snapshots or other mementoes.
39 Got plenty of plates? If not, stock up on plain white ceramic side plates from the dollar store or über-affordable Kitchen Stuff Plus, so you’re never caught short when guests arrive. (Stash them in a “Party Box” and break ‘em out for every shindig: less stress each time.)
40 Ditto for glasses. The easy choice is IKEA red wine glasses. They’re suitable for practically everything.
41 Purge your fridge. Pickled fiddleheads? Ancient mustard? Old miso paste? Clear it out to make room for platters of party trays and leftovers.
42 Replace the baking soda box in your fridge. Who wants onion-scented petit fours?
43 Buy extra coffee beans so you’re never caught short. Stash the extra bag in your freezer.
44 Stock your pantry with bottled bubbly mineral water.
45 Stock up on frozen heat-and-serve appetizers and hors d’oeuvres if you’re not a from-scratch kind of guy or gal!
46 Make sure you’re stocked up on napkins, chopsticks and paper towels.
47 Sharpen your knives. You want to carve the bird like a Food Network pro!
48 Keep kitchen order even if you’re normally a clean-once-a-week kind of person. That way if guests drop in all you need to do is a fast tidy-up.
49 Check your fire extinguisher.
50 Clean the microwave: it takes a beating this time of year!
51 Be prepared with dog treats for furry guests. Also have an emergency kit of rags, newspapers and spot remover on hand in case of any accidents.
52 Keep some kid-friendly snacks in your freezer in case small fry visit unexpectedly. Mini frozen pizzas, waffles, and fluffy sliced bread (even if you normally eat multigrain!) are very useful.
53 Brie, manchego, smoked cheddar or Edam cheese, along with a reliable not-so-perishable counterpart like apricot or fig jelly: Have them in your fridge at all times!
54 Ditto the crackers. Always have some on hand, no excuses!
55 Bake up a storm one Sunday and freeze the results so you’re all set for any school parties, office cookie exchanges, coffee ‘n’ cookie potlucks and so on.
56 Plan your holiday meal menu.
57 Put together your ingredient-shopping list, breaking it into fresh, last minute ingredients and non-perishable ingredients that can be purchased in advance.
58 Put out bowls of nuts or fruit – they look festive and are a healthy snack too.
59 Keep a bottle (or three!) of bubbly in the fridge: Champagne, cava, Prosecco or brut – it’s all good!
60 Assess what clothes can be donated to charity (only the best), recycled into cleaning rags (the rest), or thrown out.
61 Assess your bed linens. Donate good-condition pieces to a homeless shelter. Frayed or stained sheets and blankets can go to an animal shelter.
62 Vacuum all the hard-to-reach places.
63 Dust the light shades and covers.
64 Potted plants can grow mold, so avoid them in the bedroom, but a simple evergreen sprig or orchid in a bud vase adds a pretty touch to any bedside.
65 Stock the guest bedroom wiith extra blankets in case your overnight guests like to really pile on the covers!
66 Fold bath and hand towels and guest robes at the foot of the bed in the guest room. Place a packaged toothbrush on top. Guest slippers are another nice touch. Troll your city’s Chinatown for cheap-chic woven-grass and faux-silk styles.
67 Offer recent magazines on the guest room nightstand.
68 Surprise out-of-country guests with a new little souvenir per day on their nightstand! Mini bottles of Quebec maple syrup, locally made soap, craft-fair holiday ornaments ...
69 Test your smoke and CO detectors. There should be one on each floor. Between Christmas lights, candles and non-stop appliance use, you want to make sure they’re in working order!BATHROOMS AND POWDER ROOMS
70 Clean the light shades and covers.
71 Deep-clean tile so overnight guests aren’t freaked out by grimy grout!
72 Clutter bust inside cabinets and drawers.
73 Introduce a wintery scented candle or reed diffuser set. Spice, berry blends and evergreen scents are always winteriffic.
74 Ditto for hand soap. ‘Tis the season!
75 Swap your regular hand towels for seasonal ones.
76 Keep hand cream out for you and for guests. Winter is drying on skin!
77 Keep extra fingertip towels out during parties. If you only have a one-towel ring in your powder room, leave a small pile of extra towels or change the one towel frequently so it’s not damp.
78 Force a small vase of narcissus or paper white bulbs, or a single hyacinth.
79 If your bath or powder room light isn’t on a dimmer switch, make the trade now – it’s a fast one-hour fix that saves energy and adds ambience.
80 Don’t forget to remove bath mats and hide ’em out of site when dinner guests visit. And stick to use-once-and-wash hotel-style towel mats when guests stay over.
81 If you have pets, keep over-the-counter anti-histamines on hand in case a guest turns out to be allergic.
82 Light a votive or refresh a reed diffuser air freshener pre-party.FRONT ENTRANCE
83 Hide sidewalk salt in a minimalist container so tattered bags aren’t on display on your porch.
84 Update front porch urns with a winter display of birch logs, evergreen branches, pinecones and brightly coloured oranges, pomegranates, apples or other fruit.
85 Buy a fresh evergreen wreath as soon as they hit the market. Just add a wide ribbon bow – no fuss, no glitz.
86 Put out a fresh new coconut-fibre doormat, possibly with a festive design.
87 String twinkle lights outside your home. Want low-effort, city-chic results? Just stick with your porch and deciduous (non-evergreen) trees and avoid “net lights.”
88 Keep on top of family gear. Provide baskets for kids and move outerwear to the hall closet on an ongoing basis.
89 A bottle of hand sanitizer is essential this season. Keep it out, front and centre – better safe than swine-flu-sorry!
90 Catch drafts by putting a mat or runner right by the front door.
91 Polish your hallway table so it gleams. Keep a welcoming scented candle on standby.
92 Run a garland along your exterior porch rail or around the front door.
93 Run another garland down the interior stairs.
94 Party night? Light the way up your front walk or porch with candles set inside DIY ice votives. (Google “ice luminaries” for a how-to.)
95 Keep extra boot trays on hand for party nights. Also keep a comfy seat nearby where guests can change to indoor shoes.
96 Keep the cordless phone and list of taxi companies right on the console table by the door to make getting home a breeze.
97 A bowl of mints is a nice touch. Who doesn’t need a fast pick-me-up for the road?
98 Place a tiny arrangement of blooms on your hall table.
99 Shovel the back porch or deck for guests who smoke. Put out clean ashtrays and illuminate the space with pretty lanterns or hurricanes.