26 Days to Christmas! Plan Advent Observances

The liturgical season of Advent begins on Sunday, December 3. Will your family observe this time of preparation? Time to plan Advent observances!

For many families, the holidays present a challenge of values. How do you focus on the season's meaning when the celebration provides so many distractions?

Too often, the excitement seems to boil down to a round of gifts and goodies, with little thought to the deeper values underlying the fun.

One way to keep the reason in the season: Advent observances. Whether it's a customs like an Advent wreath, daily Scripture readings, or attendance at worship, plan Advent activities now. Entered in your calendar, they'll help your family keep the focus while enjoying the celebration.

27 Days to Christmas! Schedule Self-Care

If my mail as editor of Organized Christmas is any guide, there are a lot of tired holiday planners come December 26! Between holiday prep and the excitement of the Christmas season, self-care can go missing for many of us.

Fight back! Plan personal pampering sessions now, and add them to the holiday calendar.

"If Mama's not happy, nobody's happy"; your mood affects the whole family. If you find the season stressful, plan now for some personal pampering sessions during the coming weeks. A massage, a retreat, or even a gathering with girlfriends can be a welcome break during the season.

Better: look for ways to lighten the holiday load while you relax. Example: plan a gift-wrap party with friends. Setting aside an afternoon for cookies and coffee while you wrap gifts together converts a chore into fellowship and fun.

28 Days to Christmas! Clean The Entryway

Whether it's the front porch or foyer, apartment door or entryway, the holiday season will bring new scrutiny to the entry area of your home.

Remove clutter, clean and organize the portal to your household today. Check the front door, cleaning and polishing knob, knocker and any windows. Check the state of the welcome mat; is it time for cleaning or replacement? Check outdoor lights and replace any burned-out bulbs.

Declutter doorway storage areas so outdoor shoes, umbrellas or keys find an efficient, attractive home.

Hang a wreath for a seasonal touch. Be ready to open the door to a wonderful holiday season!

29 Days to Christmas! Plan Holiday Parties

Will you entertain during the Christmas season? Whether it's a simple potluck gathering, formal dinner party or all-out bash, planning pays.

Get a grip on any holiday parties now, before the December rush begins. Sending invitations early makes it more likely guests will be able to attend; having shopping and supply lists ready cuts down on party-day trips to the store.

Try these free printables to plan holiday entertaining:

Party Planner

Party Guest List

Party Budget

Send Invitations Early

December weekends fill quickly, as office parties, church events and social functions pile up on the calendar.

If you're hosting a holiday party, send invitations early. You'll help guests plan--and increase the chances that they'll be available for your event.

30 Days to Christmas! Schedule Child Care

December blows in with a flurry of holiday invitations. If you're a parent of young children, don't miss out: arrange for child care early. Babysitters' schedules fill up early, too, so book your favorite caregivers soon.

Alternatives to traditional in-home babysitting include swapping child care with another family, or encouraging neighborhood sitters to host "sleep-over"parties for children from several families.

Look into holiday sleepovers, too: many churches, dance studios and youth organiziations host holiday weekend events designed to entertain children and give Mom and Dad an evening out.

32 Days to Christmas! Inventory Holiday Decorations

The weekend after Thanksgiving is a time when many families begin decorating for the Christmas season. Will you bring out the holiday decor today?

Decorating for the holidays can be a lot of fun--unless you must dig them out from under last year's storage chaos. Burned-out lights, broken ornaments, and scattered packaging can dampen anyone's decor spirit.

This year, lay a good foundation for years to come. As you open stored decorations, assess the state of holiday decor. Will you need to replace lights, candles or garlands? Add the new items to a shopping list for post-season clearance sales, and make notes of any items that will be retired this year.

As you unpack, take a look at decor storage containers. Have they held up to the job? Are they easy to stack? If new storage boxes are in order, begin looking out for them as you shop for the season.

Are new decorations in order? Check out these tips to decorate for the season ... frugally:

Frugal Holiday Decorating Tips

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