Organized Christmas

House and Holidays Plan Week 13: Entry Space

This week, America is thankful! Celebrated with family and friends, Thanksgiving Day marks the opening of the holiday season. It’s a week for food, family and fun.

In the Houseworks Holiday Plan, we’ll clean, declutter and prepare the entryway for holiday guests. Holiday prep centers on the Thanksgiving celebration: we’ll plan and prepare Thanksgiving dinner, shop for holiday gifts at the Black Friday sales, and begin to decorate for the holiday season.

It’s time to open the door to the holiday season!

Entry Space Week Assignments

Holiday Grand Plan Week 13: Dining Room

Deadline week! Week Thirteen, Dining Room Week, sees us move into the holiday season, and it's time for a reality check.

Thanksgiving Day falls on Thursday for our American friends and ushers in the holiday season, so this week's cleaning and organizing focus is the dining room. Holiday prep chores center on Thanksgiving and turn to planning the celebration ahead.

Ready? Let's get organized with Dining Room Week in the Holiday Grand Plan!

Dining Room Week at the Holiday Grand Plan

Mason Jar Recipes: Holiday Ideas for Gifts In A Jar

Gifts in a jar! These frugal consumable gifts feature bath salts, cookie ingredients, holiday beverage mixes, baking mixes or bean soup fixings layered in a glass canning jar, or Mason jar.

Mason jar recipes make easy homemade Christmas gifts. Topped with a colorful fabric circle and a free printable gift tag, they're a welcome holiday treat.

We've got all you need to know to make gifts in a jar. Get started with our instructions, tips and mason jar recipes for holiday giving. Printable gift tags make it easy to craft a special holiday gift!

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Save Time With Holiday Baking: Make It A Specialty!

Food and the holidays go hand-in-hand! Holiday cooking magazines are among the first signs of an approaching holiday season.

Sumptuous desserts, winsome cookies, glowing turkeys warm our images of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.

But oh! My aching feet! Even those of us who lead a Little Debbie life from January to November succumb to holiday baking madness. Cookies. Breads. Pies. Candy. It wouldn't be the holidays without them--but isn't there any way around the baking chores?

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Holiday Survival Kit: Six Last-Minutes Additions For Your Shopping List

The holidays are here, with wall-to-wall shoppers at the supermarket. Who wants to have to join them?

Instead, assemble a holiday survival kit. Before you shop for the holiday meal, check supplies of these often-forgotten items for your holiday gathering.

Pencil these items into your regular shopping list--and save a last-minute trip. They'll keep the fun in the festivities!

  • Automatic Dishwasher Detergent. Hosting a holiday gathering means lots (and lots and LOTS) of dirty dishes. If you use an automatic dishwasher, be sure it's stocked and ready to roll!
  • Club Soda. It's the non-caloric drink of choice with a squeeze of lime ... but an extra bottle can be a cleaning lifesaver when applied to the inevitable spilled food. Use it to blot fresh wine, gravy or pie stains for tablecloth or carpet first aid.
  • Paper Towels. Unfamiliar cooking routines, helpers washing their hands and little-kid clean-ups can burn through a roll of paper towels in record time. Keep a backup waiting!
  • Toilet Paper. If it's "just us chickens", a missing roll is no big problem. Not so when you've got a house full. Avoid red faces with a fresh supply!
  • Camera Batteries. Don't make the family wait to dive into the feast (while the cameraman raids the childrens' toys for fresh batteries). Stock up or charge rechargeables now.
  • Sandwich Bread. What's the number-one reason for a Black Friday trip to the supermarket? "We're out of bread!" Grab a loaf today, and be ready for turkey sandwiches (and no cooking!) on Friday.

Turkey Talk Hotlines: Call, Click or Tweet for Holiday Meal Help!

Has the upcoming Thanksgiving meal created chaos in the holiday kitchen? This year, get help--online, by phone or through Twitter--with all your Thanksgiving turkey problems!

Whether you need to know about thawing times, stuffing recommendations, cooking methods or problem solving, try these resources for holiday cooking questions:

By Phone:

  • The Foster Farms Turkey Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day through November 30. Call with your questions at 800-255-7227.
  • Get turkey cooking tips and solutions from the Butterball Hot Line at 800-288-8372. Staffers answer the phone from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through December.
  • The Honeysuckle White Consumer Affairs Office offers turkey assistance weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST at 800-532-5756. Office will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
  • Find answers to food safety questions at the U.S.D.A. Meat and Poultry Hotline, open 8 a.m to 2 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving Day, 888-674-6854

Online:

  • Check Butterball.com's Holiday Planning Guide for a wide range of cooking helps. Includes portion planners, shopping lists, cooking guidelines and leftover suggestions.
  • Get everything you need to know about your holiday turkey at Honeysuckle White's Turkey Basics site. Tips, frequently asked questions and food safety pointers.
  • Bring a gleaming bird to the table with Foster Farms Turkey Tips. Includes advice for cooking methods, carving and serving the holiday turkey.

Via Social Networking:

Save on Thanksgiving Dinner? Beat The Holiday Grocery Game

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.

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Give Thanks: Last Minute Thanksgiving Craft Ideas

American families will gather this week to celebrate Thanksgiving. Spark your holiday with these last-minute gift and craft ideas!

With free printable gift tags and bag toppers, these Thanksgiving snack mix gifts are easy to make.

Share them with guests, bring them to the workplace, or use as table favors:

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

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!

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Blessings Mix Tutorial: Make Seasonal Gift Mix Treats

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.

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Whose House for the Holidays?

Judging from my e-mail, what's the single biggest holiday family conundrum? "Whose house for the holidays?" wins, hands down.

It's a universal dilemma for young parents. It's a universal dilemma for their own parents. Where will the "children" spend the holidays?

Shiny new parents of a baby or two yearn to create their own at-home holiday. Their own parents struggle to keep the family together, and preferably at their house.

My own chair sits smack dab in the middle. My children are grown, and I'm a grandmother of a young grandsons.

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Sew Simple Gift: Make a Hanging Potholder Dishtowel

Craft a pretty kitchen towel for all seasons with this sew simple craft: a hanging potholder dishtowel. Designed to button around an oven handle or towel bar, it's a useful, festive gift.

Using coordinated kitchen linens for this project, you'll need only a potholder, a kitchen towel, a button and some basic sewing skills to create this colorful holiday gift.

With materials for each towel priced at just over $1.50 at the dollar store, you'll bless your budget. Better, each towel takes 15 minutes or less to craft, so it's perfect for busy schedules.

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Simplify Season's Greetings: Using Computers To Send Christmas Cards

As an online old-timer, I can attest to this fact: few subjects stir as much controversy as computers and Christmas cards.

The questions come year after year. Should we use the computer to address the cards? Write a Christmas letter on inkjet letterhead?

What about pre-printed signatures? Is it okay to use e-mail to send holiday greetings?

What's the right-and-wrong of harnessing computer technology to make it easier to send Christmas cards and holiday letters?

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Frugal Feasts: Save Money on Holiday Meals

"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:

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

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.

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House and Holidays Plan Week 12: Dining Space

America celebrates Thanksgiving next week, gathering family and friends around the dining table. This week in the House and Holidays Plan, we’ll see to it that the celebration takes place in a clean and organized dining area.

Holiday prep focuses on preparing the kitchen for Thanksgiving—and the holiday meals to come. We’ll shop for bargains on freezer and pantry staples. Thinking ahead to December’s busy nights, we’ll stockpile freezer meals for use later in the season.

Finally, this is the week we plan holiday entertaining, so put on a festive mood as we follow the House and Holidays Plan.

Dining Space Week Assignments

Make a Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper for Thanksgiving

Blessings are popping up all over for Thanksgiving? Celebrate them with this free printable Thanksgiving topper for Jiffy Pop® popcorn!

Add our free printable template to a package of Jiffy Pop® brand pop-in-pan popcorn for an easy "popcorn topper" craft gift.

Shared with family, friends or co-workers, it's an inexpensive way to share the blessings of the Thanksgiving season.

How To Make Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Toppers

Thanksgiving Jiffy Pop Popcorn Topper Template

Clutter-Free Gift Solution: Think Consumable!

Gift-giving. Seldom do we engage in an activity that invokes so many conflicting values.

On the one hand, we hope our gift will entertain, educate, and amuse.

We dream of seeing our special gift proudly displayed in the home of the recipient.

We hunt and search and shop, trying to find just the right gift to stand for the relationship we're celebrating.

On the other hand, gift-buying brings us up against our limitations. While our emotions urge extravagance, our wallets counsel frugality.

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