Holiday Crafts and Fun

Christmas Countdown Day 27: Plan Holiday Baking!

Organized Christmas -

   November 17, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Dreaming of holiday baking? For many of us, kitchen creations are integral to the holiday spirit.

We love the feeling of family connection as we tuck pie crust into grandmother's pie dish, or when we follow a candy recipe written in a great-grandmother's spidery hand.

But when is enough enough? It's too easy to take on more baking than we can handle!

Under the influence of Christmas magazines and over-the-top television cooking shows, grandmother's simple plate of pralines has exploded into six kinds of cookies, four kinds of candies and some powdered cocoa mix for good measure.

Holiday baking should be a pleasure, not a chore. Time to plan holiday baking with an eye to holiday simplicity! Can you shorten, simplify and de-stress the baking list without losing the joy?

You'll spare your teeth. You'll spare your waistline. Most of all, you'll give yourself the truest of all Christmas gifts: time and energy to experience the season without stress. Dare to downsize!

Christmas Calm: Ten Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Organized Christmas -

   November 16, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Sure, you love the holiday season--but just not so much of it! This year, you're hoping to cut the crazy out of Christmas: to trim the celebration back to one that is sustainable and calm.

Question is, just how do you do less--and enjoy it more--during the Christmas holiday season?

If you're aiming to simplify Christmas, take time to ponder ways to cut stress, save money and tame over-the-top traditions. Setting simplicity strategies in place early will keep you from being swept up in holiday madness.

Get armed! Try these ten simple strategies to calm holiday chaos and rein in the seasonal overkill this year.

Christmas Countdown Day 26: Clean Out the Refrigerator!

Organized Christmas -

   November 16, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Brace yourselves! Holiday cooking season is upon us.

From now until after the New Year, busy kitchens are the norm, like it or not.

What better time for a quick refrigerator declutter? Clearing the decks in the big cold box will make room for holiday dishes--and a clean and gleaming refrigerator will energize the holiday cook in the days ahead.

Spray bottles ready? It's time to clean out the refrigerator.

Finally, we'll organize our favorite holiday recipes, noting page numbers or location for any recipes we'll need next week. No more last-minute games of "hunt the recipe"!

Save on Thanksgiving Dinner: Beat The Holiday Grocery Game

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   November 15, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

During the holiday season, department stores, catalog retailers and online sellers aren't the only businesses anxiously queuing up for a slice of the fourth-quarter pie, i.e. your holiday wallet. Been grocery shopping lately?

What a difference a few days makes! By November, Halloween's candy displays have given way to a maze of buy-me buy-me holiday foodstuffs.

Christmas Countdown Day 25: Clean Out The Freezer!

Organized Christmas -

   November 15, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

The secret to a streamlined kitchen during the holiday season? A well-stocked, organized freezer!

Holding made-ahead entrees, side dishes, cookies and desserts, the freezer is a hard-working Santa's Elf for an organized Christmas.

Christmas cookie trays or gift baskets are easy to assemble from frozen assets, while stockpiled family dinners cut out straight to the "what's for dinner" chase during December's busy nights.

Today's the day to clean out the freezer in anticipation of holiday goodies and freezer meals to come.

A frugal bonus: eating from the freezer this week makes room in the food budget to stock up on low-priced holiday nonperishables.

Print, Cut, Celebrate: Cupcake Pan Advent Calendar

Organized Christmas -

   November 14, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Count down the days to Christmas with this easy printable craft: a cupcake pan Advent calendar!

Using a 24-count mini-cupcake pan as a base, colorful magnets printed on inkjet magnet sheets hide a treat for each December day before Christmas.

Best, free printable magnet designs make it easy to create this holiday craft project. Choose your favorite design to create a quick family tradition!

Our photo tutorial will have you crafting your cupcake pan advent calendar in record time. Print, cut and celebrate!

Christmas Countdown Day 24: Inventory the Pantry!

Organized Christmas -

   November 14, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Thanksgiving is coming: hold onto your wallet!

No question, holiday meals can put an unexpected burden on the budget. Solution? Get organized, and shop at home first!

This week at the Christmas Countdown, we'll inventory pantry areas, refrigerator and freezer before we begin shopping for holiday foods.

Knowing exactly what we have and what we need to buy prevents that fuzzy "Oh, just throw in another can of olives!" mentality from setting on us at the grocery story--and keeps us from tossing stale food items months down the road.

A bountiful meal with no waste makes the best use of our food dollars--and time and energy!

Similarly, we'll check the spice rack today, assessing the freshness of seasonal staples. Will we have enough sage for our dressing? Has the pumpkin pie spice lost it's savor? Time to find out, when replacements are offered at the year's lowest prices at the market this week.

Magic Elf Tradition: Will Santa's Magic Elf Visit Your Home?

Organized Christmas -

   November 13, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

What would happen if one of Santa's elves came to your house to visit?

He'd arrive sometime before the holidays began. Sent by Santa to check on good little girls and boys, he'd roam the house at night, popping up in the most unlikely places come morning.

Sometimes, elf mischief would take place--and he'd be caught red-handed! Finally, on Christmas Eve, he'd report to Santa and hitch a ride back to the North Pole ... until next year.

If you can imagine it, you can do it: meet Santa's Magic Elf!

Christmas Countdown Day 23: Plan Holiday Meals!

Organized Christmas -

   November 13, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Holidays ahead ... and that means the feast is on us! Will you be ready to make memorable holiday meals?

Even experienced cooks can quail at the idea of cooking a holiday meal. Who hasn't run out of butter, curdled the gravy, or found themselves holding back an entire meal while waiting for one last item to finish cooking?

Not this year! The secrets to stress-free holiday meal preparation? Planning--and sharing the work!

Today's the day we break out our printable holiday meal planner forms, and organize those big dinners and festive brunches. Better, we'll consider ways to delegate and simplify holiday meal preparation ... for an organized Christmas.

Blessings Mix Tutorial: Make Seasonal Gift Mix Treats

Organized Christmas -

   November 12, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Have you shared your blessings with a Blessings Mix?

Small bags of snack mix with a seasonal theme, each ingredient in Blessings Mix reminds us of our blessings.

Inexpensive and easy to make, holiday Blessings Mix gifts have graced dinner tables, classrooms and offices the world around.

Use them as table favors, workplace gifts or party treats at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or to celebrate American holidays such as Independence Day or Veterans Day--and bring home the values that underlie each occasion.

Frugal Feasts: Save Money on Holiday Meals

Organized Christmas -

   November 12, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

"Frugal" holiday meals? Something of a conundrum, isn't it? The very nature of holiday meals is to express the value of abundance. Finances, on the other hand, have definite limits--and never so much as during the holiday season.

Take heart! It's possible to serve bountiful--yet frugal--holiday meals with a bit of care and forethought. Consider these tips to plan holiday menus without breaking the bank:

Christmas Countdown Day 22: Get Cooking Week!

Organized Christmas -

   November 12, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Visited the supermarket recently? It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

With Thanksgiving Day coming soon in the USA, there's no better time to organize holiday meals, menus and baking. Welcome to Get Cooking week!

Assignments center on all things food at the Christmas Countdown this week. We'll clean and prepare food storage areas for the days ahead, plan holiday menus, stock the freezer and get organized for holiday baking.

Along the way, we'll learn ways to save on holiday meals and develop a baking specialty to save time in the holiday kitchen.

Tighten your corsets! We're going to Get Cooking ... for the most delicious holiday season ever!

You've Been Elf-ed! Start A Neighborhood Holiday Tradition

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   November 11, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Have you been Elf-ed? Join the fun with this Christmas version of the Halloween BOO game.

Sometimes called "You've Been Jingled", "You've Been Elf-ed!" is easy to play.

Sometime before Christmas, one neighbor starts the game, secretly leaving a basket of treats together with an Elf sign and Elf poem explaining how to play the game.

Ring the doorbell and run! It's the best part of You've Been Elf-ed!

Christmas Countdown Day 21: Give ... to Make a Difference!

Organized Christmas -

   November 11, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Is your holiday giving only about "stuff"--or is it a reflection of your heart? To express your deepest holiday values, plan to make a gift of yourself this holiday season!

This week in the Christmas Countdown, we've focused on gifts and giving. 99% of the time, we've seen this effort in terms of "things." Stuff. Boxes and parcels and bags. Stocking stuffers. But have we considered making a true gift: a gift of ourselves?

In the days to come, we'll begin planning the American Thanksgiving holiday. Will we also begin to ponder those things for which we are thankful? Out of gratitude comes grace, and from abundance comes true giving. How will we reflect this gift?

Cutting Costs? Try These Christmas Cheats For Frugal Gifts

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   November 10, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

If the local newscast (egged on by local retail merchants) tells me one more time exactly how many "shopping days" are left until Christmas, I'll scream! No matter what the count, there are never enough days to shop for/buy/craft/bake gifts for family and friends--and this year of all years, disposable income is in short supply.

Christmas Countdown Day 20: Status Check!

Organized Christmas -

   November 10, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Nearly half-way there: time to do a little status check on the progress of the Christmas Countdown.

I hope that most of us feel a bit more prepared, a bit better organized. We've met together for three weeks, and we've covered a lot of ground.

Still, it's natural to feel a bit of panic today. From here on out, time will fly with a vengeance. Rehearsals, parties, holiday activities will rain down upon us.

During the next three weeks, the Countdown slows the pace to match the season. Because we're doing more in other areas of our life, the Countdown will lighten the load.

Ahead lies Get Cooking Week, appropriately so as America begins to prepare for Thanksgiving Day. Beyond that, we'll Decorate, then prepare to Celebrate ... an organized Christmas.

Get ready to settle into a slower rhythm! Because ready or not, the holidays are nearly here. This year, though, we are riding relaxed and in control, prepared and ready for the best holiday season ever!

Gift Closet Guide: Get Organized for Frugal Gifts and Giving!

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   November 9, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

We should all have a friend like my friend Joyce. No matter what the occasion, she comes up with the perfect gift--even at short notice.

Her wrapped packages are lavish and lovely, her cards are sweet and well-chosen--and she does it on a budget and without last-minute dashes to the shopping mall. Her secret?

A gift closet.

It's a concept we love here at Organized Christmas: a dedicated space in the household to store gift items, gift wrap and cards. A gift closet holds a stockpile of gift items and everything needed to wrap and present them.

Christmas Countdown Day 19: Simplify Handmade Gifts!

Organized Christmas -

   November 9, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Ask any wife and mother what she needs most during the holiday season, 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 last minute purchases for the unfinished gifts.

How to take charge of out-of-control crafting? Apply the Rule of Four!

Set Up a Wrap and Mail Center

Organized Christmas -

   November 8, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Wrapping gifts for the holidays? Repeat after me: "This year, I won't be wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve!"

If there's a single most-underestimated holiday chore, it's gift wrapping.

Supplies lie scattered throughout the house, while space and privacy are hard to come by.

Translation: late-night Christmas Eve wrapping sessions, grumbling your way through the job.

Christmas Countdown Day 18: Set Up a Wrap and Mail Center!

Organized Christmas -

   November 8, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Wrapping holiday gifts can be one of the most-overlooked chores of the Christmas season. Too often, it takes "hind place" on the to-do list.

Then suddenly, it's Christmas Eve ... and there's a long evening ahead among the ribbons, gift tags and scissors. Assuming you can find them!

Not this year! To make it easier to wrap as we go, it's time to set up a wrap and mail center: a dedicated space to wrap gifts and prepare them for mailing.

With tools and supplies at hand, finding your "center" speeds the job--and keeps the joy!

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