Organized Christmas

We are Thankful: Thanksgiving Blessings Mix Recipe

   November 3, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Set a pretty holiday table, or share with friends with these small Thanksgiving favors!

Easy to make and fun to eat, Thankgiving Blessing Mix is a simple snack mix favor to remind us of our nation's blessings. Get the how-tos with our Blessings Mix Tutorial.

Bagged in favor-sized gift bags and decorated with a harvest poem, Thanksgiving Blessings Mix brings a festive touch to your Thanksgiving table.    Read More >>

Whose House for the Holidays?

   November 3, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

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.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 14: Decor Declutter!

   November 3, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Who doesn't love the parade of autumn decorations?

From the first fallen leaves in September, through Halloween's jack o'lanterns, and on into Thanksgiving's cornucopia displays, it's glorious fun to mark the progress of the fall season with special decor items for our home.

But somebody better tell the retailers! This year marks the almost-complete extinction of Thanksgiving from the autumn progress.

At stores in my area, Halloween items were on clearance by mid-October and replaced with Christmas displays the weekend before Halloween. I stood in the decor aisles, shook my head and blinked rapidly as I realized that "Christmas creep" has finally overtaken Thanksgiving and eradicated it completely.

Not in my house! Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday, valued all the more because it's relatively isolated from commercial pressures. Yes, our family will roast a turkey, ice cut-out cookies in the shape of leaves and pumpkins, and display our cherished Turkey Toodles and Calico Cornucopia decorations.

Best of all? Our family will gather together to give thanks for our many, many blessings. And if that's not worth celebrating, I don't know what is!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 13: Holiday Wardrobe Check!

   November 2, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Caution: holiday parties ahead! What's the state of your family's wardrobe?

Even if you trend to the casual the other months of the year, chances are, you'll get gussied up at some point during the holiday season.

Posing for holiday photos, attending special worship services, or partying away December's Saturday nights, the Christmas season makes a special claim on the family wardrobe.

Will you be ready? The time to check closets for holiday outfits ... is now!    Read More >>

Handle With Care: The Secret Life of Christmas Magazines

   November 1, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

They're here! Surrounding supermarket check stands, elbowing aside House Beautiful at the bookstore, popping up in fabric stores--even lurking quietly in your mailbox: Christmas magazines!

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Christmas magazines. I buy Christmas magazines. I read Christmas magazines!

As a source for recipes, ideas, decorating schemes, gifts, crafts and all-round Christmas cheer, there's nothing like a good Christmas magazine. Don't even think of trying to pry my collection of Better Homes and Gardens' "Holiday Cookies" out of my clutches!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 12: Magazine Reality Check!

   November 1, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

When I visit the supermarket during the holiday season (which starts earlier and earlier each year), I don't hum along with the Muzak carols. The old tune "Secret Agent Man" runs through my head as I survey the front-line agents of Christmas Excess: Christmas magazines. They sneak into the racks in September, and by November, they're everywhere. Oh, the glowing turkeys and lavish gift wraps! Who can resist the cheery covers, the promised joys?

You can, that's who. Today, we take aim on the secret agents of Christmas overkill: Christmas magazines. Read them without a giant helping of skepticism, and you're well on the road to a chaotic, over-booked holiday season. Will you allow them to inflate your holiday expectations out of proportion? It's time for a reality check!    Read More >>

One Right Way to Celebrate? Wrong!

   October 31, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

We don't know where we get it, we don't know where it comes from, but lots of us will stumble over this holiday illusion: "There is one right way to celebrate the holiday season!"

This one's sneaky. It comes to us through images, songs and Christmas cards. It rears up between newly married couples, as they try to blend his way and her way and make their own way in the face of competing in-laws.

You'll see it working in tear-in-eye TV commercials: a happy multi-generational family (all in attractive, color-coordinated sweaters) gathers round a flickering fire.    Read More >>

Create a Holiday Housework Plan

   October 31, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

For many families, the Christmas season causes more than usual chaos on the home front.

Do you shove stacks of mail and magazines into dark closets to hide them from drop-in visitors? Does your dinnertime schedule fall off the rails when faced with multiple evening rehearsals?

Does Mount Washmore raise itself to new heights in the laundry room, only to be scaled in panic an hour before the Nativity play?

Forewarned is forearmed! A simple housework plan--and family cooperation--will keep things humming at home, holiday or not!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 11: Holiday Housework Plan!

   October 31, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Where did the holiday stocking pinch your household last year?

Chances are, a large percentage of seasonal stress arose out of disrupted household routines. Think back to the times that household routines fell apart on you. What was the state of your house?

Frantic clean-up sessions before guests arrive. Late afternoon trips to the supermarket to find something, anything to cook for dinner--and fast! The desperate search for clean sheets to bed down surprise houseguests. Six dozen cookies stalled for want of a stick of butter.

Fight back! The busy Christmas season is no time to play housework catch-up. Keeping on top of household routines--shopping, cleaning, meal preparation--provides a welcome ballast to the seasonal swing.

Time to draft a Holiday Housework Plan: a bare-minimum checklist of household chores, posted publicly to encourage family cooperation.    Read More >>

Christmas Creep: The Selling of the Holiday Season

   October 30, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Are you suffering from "Christmas creep"? If you've been shopping lately, you know the symptoms!

Do you cower under trailing tinsel at the supermarket check-stand, trapped between two glossy ranks of Christmas magazines--in September? Do your teeth clench when you must push aside boxes of holiday gift wrap and Christmas ornaments to find school supplies and Halloween treats at your local drugstore? Does your mailbox groan under a daily dose of mail order catalogs, each admonishing you to "order early for Christmas delivery"?    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 10: Schedule Self-Care for Healthy Holidays

   October 30, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

What's the secret to cutting holiday stress? Stay healthy!

On December 26th, ask any wife and mother how she's feeling. If she's honest, she'll probably say, "Tired!" Along with the excitement and bustle of the holidays comes another factor: stress and fatigue.

Parties, events, and too many late nights cooking, making and wrapping can take a toll on even the healthiest. Add seasonal stressors like rich foods, alcohol, family gatherings and winter travel, and you've got a recipe for post-Christmas depression.

Solution? Before the height of the season, reinforce good health habits and schedule self-care for healthy holidays ... and beyond.    Read More >>

Freezer-Friendly Holiday Recipe: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

   October 29, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

A little-known trick to calm holiday cooking stress? Make-ahead dishes for the freezer. Cooked and stored ahead of time, freezer side dishes free up time for the holiday cook.

But can you get perfect creamy texture ... from frozen potatoes? Potatoes look watery before freezing, but the water will be absorbed as they bake.

While it is possible to substitute russet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes yield a more flavorful dish.

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Christmas Countdown Day 9: Set a Holiday Budget!

   October 29, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Do you know the cost of Christmas?

It's safe to say that most of us do not--and so we find ourselves blind-sided by the Financial Ghost of Christmas Past well into the new year.

When cash runs dry, we turn to plastic. Result? Credit card statements crowd the mailbox and burden the budget long after the tree and tinsel have been sent packing.

A head-in-the-snowdrift approach to holiday spending may feel good at the outset, but it's a sure recipe for financial disaster.    Read More >>

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

   October 28, 2018 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.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 8: Reality Check Week!

   October 28, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Halloween is here, November on the horizon--and the holidays won't be far behind! Furniture ads weigh down the Sunday paper, and in the shops, retailers are busy sweeping the remnants of harvest merchandise away before the tide of red-spangled Christmas promotions.

It's the quiet week before the rising tide of holiday season to come.    Read More >>

House & Holidays Plan Week 9: Public Space Week

   October 28, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Halloween is coming ... and November lies ahead! Along with the trick-or-treaters comes a new pace to the season. Thanksgiving is on the horizon, so it's time to turn our attention to the public space in our home: the living room or great room.

In holiday prep, we'll prepare for Halloween celebrations. We'll complete Christmas cards and buy holiday stamps, and start saving mailing boxes so that we can recycle them to send gifts.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown: Reality Check Week

   October 28, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Warning! Holiday reality check ahead!

It's week two of the Christmas Countdown, and time to consider the darker side of the holiday season. Though we may not be conscious of them, hidden holiday forces work to over-run our budgets and distort our decision-making.

Not to worry! Coming face to face with the reality of outside pressures will make us stronger--and we'll be empowered to bring our celebrations within the circle of our own values. We'll do less ... and enjoy it more!

Ready? Let's get organized!    Read More >>

Candy Overload? Repurpose, Recycle and Reduce the Trick-or-Treat Haul!

   October 27, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Halloween has come and gone ... and now its the morning of November 1st! For parents, that's the time when the excitement of Trick-or-Treat night gives way to post-Halloween reality: what to do with all that Halloween candy?

Whether they're worried about tooth decay and nutrition, or simply want to avoid the stress of a week of candy-fueled behavior from the little ones, smart parents put strategies in place to handle the Trick-or-Treat haul.

Here are some of our favorite ideas to repurpose, recycle and reduce the amount of Halloween candy in your organized home.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 7: Holiday Home Spruce-Up

   October 27, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

There's nothing like the approach of the holiday season to make our hearts turn toward home--and home improvement projects!

Simply thinking about the holidays ahead can sharpen our vision when it comes to the condition of the house. Suddenly, we notice ... everything!

It's only natural to want to celebrate Christmas in the home of our dreams. Problem is, our eyes can be bigger than our calendars (and wallets and time and energies) when it comes to preparing the house for the holidays.

How do we keep the pre-Christmas fix-up list within the realm of reason at this time of year?

Answer: we get grounded with a Holiday Home Spruce-Up exercise.    Read More >>

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