87 Days to Christmas! Get Ready for Houseguests

Will your family host houseguests during the holidays this year?

Overnight visitors can be a lot of fun--but hosting houseguests can also be stressful. Will you have sheets, blankets, towels or bedspace to welcome visitors?

Check with family, friends and calendars now to prepare for holiday overnighters. With plenty of time to prepare, your family will be warm and gracious hosts.

Assemble A Pamper Basket

To get a reputation as the "hostess with the mostest", assemble a pamper basket for houseguests--a courtesy doubly appreciated in this day of air travel restrictions.

Throughout the year, collect sample sizes of toiletries and personal care supplies. Clearance sales and dollar stores are a great source for bath puffs and loofahs, scented soaps and bath oil, toothbrushes and travel kits. Returning from a trip? Unopened travel bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel find a good home in the pamper basket.

Stored in a basket, box or drawer in the guest room, the "pamper basket" supplies houseguests with any personal care item they may have forgotten or been forced to relinquish at security checkpoints.

An organized-home bonus: check the pamper basket whenever the household suddenly runs out of toothpaste or hand lotion. The travel-sized version will tide you over until shopping day!

88 Days to Christmas! Plan Holiday Travel

First step to getting organized for Christmas with a holiday calendar? Decide where your family will spend the holiday season.

Will you visit family for Thanksgiving or take a Christmas holiday? Make travel plans now!

Booking airplane flights, hotels and rental cars early helps keep costs down, while advance planning ensures that you'll have your choice of seat assignments, routes and carriers.

Plan early for the smoothest trip--and try these tips to keep the “happy” in holiday travel:

Tips For Holiday Season Travel

89 Days to Christmas! Shop For Frugal Stocking Stuffers

"Stocking stuffers" are a favorite holiday tradition in many families--but wait until December to acquire them, and you'll pay full price!

To fill stockings like Santa (but spend like Scrooge!) start now to collect on-sale gifts suitable for stocking stuffers.

Great stuffer materials are all around you, if you only look: cereal box giveaways, mail-in prizes and free samples all find a welcome home as stocking stuffers.

While we're gearing up to collect stocking stuffers early, don't miss September's best source for good, cheap stocking gifts: back-to-school clearance sales.

Last month's collection of markers, crayons and stickers are now residing on clearance tables in discount, crafts and office supply stores.

Look sharp--and "think stuffers"--to fill holiday stockings frugally!

Print A Stocking Stuffers Tracker

90 Days to Christmas! Organize Holiday Crafts

When it comes to the holiday season, ask any wife and mother what she needs most, and she'll tell you, "More time!" Yet this same busy lady will fill her Christmas gift list with elaborate hand-crafted gifts, requiring substantial outlays of cash, time and skill.

Result? She careens into mid-December either (1) working nightly until 1 a.m. to finish the lot or (2) substituting hurry-up last minute purchases for the unfinished gifts.

Handmade is great ... if you don't bite off more than you can chew (or sew, stamp or knit)! To reduce holiday crafting stress, get organized--and get realistic--when it comes to holiday crafts. Try these tips for a reality check for handmade Christmas goals:

No More UFOs: Get-Em-Done Strategies for Holiday Crafts

91 Days to Christmas! Planning Handmade Gifts

Have you taken the "handmade holidays" pledge?

Handmade Christmas gifts add meaning and connection to holiday giving--while reducing commercialism, encouraging green giving and reducing packaging and clutter.

Going handmade does take some doing, however. You'll want to start early to complete handmade gifts in good time.

The simplest way to keep track of gifts-in-progress? Make and keep a Gifts To Make inventory list.

Whether you use our free printable form, or record projects on a simple notebook page, tracking projects means you're more likely to complete them.

Reviewed weekly, it'll remind you of planned homemade gifts.

Handmade is hot, so get crafting--and get organized!

Print a Gifts-to-Make List

92 Days to Christmas! Shop At Home, First

Friend Cindy, formerly of Flylady fame and now winging it at Kelly and Cindy on Facebook, has a great frugal saying that I've claimed for my own: "Shop at home first!"

Today, we'll do exactly that: check closets and drawers and boxes for holiday supplies, overlooked gifts, and all the holiday wrap-and-mail supplies we'll be needing in the weeks to come.

If we'll need it for Christmas, and we have it somewhere, today's the day we'll rout it all out and put it into the holiday lineup!

Gift items bought at the summer crafts fair. Stocking stuffers collected during the year. Gift wrap bought during last season's post-holiday clearance sales. Holiday cards or supplies for holiday letters. Stamps, mailing boxes, bubble wrap and packaging tape. Wherever they are, wherever they live, it's time to shop for them at home, first.

Use blank lined paper to note what you already have, and only then, add any missing items to the master shopping list. Shopping at home first pays off!

93 Days to Christmas! Set Up A Gift Closet

Do you keep a gift closet? To save money and cut gift-giving stress, you should!

A gift closet is a secret stash of gifts, ready for the giving. Think of it as a pantry for presents, a place to accumulate and store gifts bought year-round (and at attractive prices).

It doesn't have to be a dedicated closet; a gift closet can live in a covered box, an underbed storage unit, or a high shelf in a bedroom or den.

A well-seasoned gift closet is a giver's best friend. Find a great bargain at a clearance sale? Snap it up and entrust it to the gift closet for safe-keeping. Need a quick gift for an unexpected event? Shop the gift closet first!

An organized touch: print a free gift closet inventory form to keep track of stored gift items ... and get organized!

Gift Closet Guide: Get Organized for Frugal Gifts and Giving