Organized Christmas

Before The Season: Focus On Holiday Values

   October 30, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

What do you really want for Christmas? Our ideas may differ in the details, but most of us want much the same thing: a seasonal celebration focused on faith, family and friends.

We want the excitement of the season without the disruption that too often comes with it. We want to draw closer to those around us, not to be thrust apart by hectic schedules. We want to enjoy as well as to prepare, and to keep the Christmas season in a manner that is joyous and spiritually centered.

Problem is, it’s easy to get caught up in the seasonal whirlwind! Tradition, the media, family expectations and the economy lean on our decision-making, each with a different agenda. Unconscious forces can distort our celebration for reasons that have nothing to do with what we truly want from the holiday.

Christmas Countdown Day 9: Set a Holiday Budget!

   October 30, 2017 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.

Time for a reality check ... because holiday debt is nobody's idea of a Christmas gift!

Christmas Countdown Day 8: Reality Check Week!

   October 29, 2017 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.

Time for a Reality Check! During Reality Check Week, we take aim at holiday illusions that stand between us and the Christmas of our dreams. What are the ideas, preconceptions, and habits that drain the joy from your family's holidays?

House & Holidays Plan Week 9: Public Space Week

   October 29, 2017 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.

Holiday House Fever? Cure It With A Home Spruce Up Exercise

   October 28, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

This weekend's furniture ads are hard to avoid when you browse the Sunday paper--and they're symptoms of a serious holiday disorder: Holiday House Fever!

Look around the house. Does your temperature rise when you see stained carpets, smudged switch plates and faded window coverings? Gotcha!

With Christmas on the horizon, it's tempting to dive right in to a long list of home improvements. Stop! Wait! Biting off more than you can chew on the home front is a sure-fire recipe for holiday stress.

Christmas Countdown Day 7: Holiday Home Spruce-Up

   October 28, 2017 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.

Easy Craft Gift: Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Toppers

   October 27, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

It's a craft gift that's hot, fresh and easy to make: customized "popcorn topper" labels for pop-in-pan popcorn.

Better known as Jiffy Pop®, this perennial kids' treat is even more fun when spiffed up with a cheerful message and given as a gift for holidays, seasons or special occasions.

Free printable templates make it easy to make and give Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Toppers for holiday gifts throughout the year.

Use them for teacher gifts, secret sister exchanges or home teaching presents--and they're simple enough for children to make.

Make a Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper for Halloween

   October 27, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

It's ghoulish-good fun: a printable Halloween topper for Jiffy Pop® popcorn!

Add our free printable template to a package of Jiffy Pop® brand pop-in-pan popcorn for an inexpensive "popcorn topper" craft gift just right for the spooks and goblins on your gift list.

Paired with Witches Brew Halloween mix, it's perfect for Halloween BOO-ing, co-workers or classmate gifts.

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

   October 27, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

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?

Christmas Countdown Day 6: Start A Christmas Card List!

   October 27, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Will you send holiday greetings to friends and family this year?

Lovely as the tradition can be, it takes more time than you think to select, address and send holiday cards or Christmas letters--and a haphazard approach to season’s greetings is a recipe for Christmas-card chaos.

Remind yourself of last year. Was the job of writing and addressing holiday greetings meaningful--or manic?

Between procrastination and failure to plan, too many of us find ourselves scrawling signatures late into the night, in a frantic dash to beat the postman to the mailbox. Next day, our eyes blur as we sort the incoming mail: did we remember to send a card to Aunt Kaye?

Not this year! Take charge of sending holiday cards and letters with a Christmas card list. Properly pruned, it'll let you home in on holiday greetings without the chaos.

Christmas Countdown Day 5: Start a Master Gift List!

   October 26, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Ready to "Think Christmas"? For most of us, those thoughts are likely turn to gifts and giving!

Who doesn't love the holiday custom of giving and receiving gifts? But holiday gift-giving also comes with a sting in the tail. Much as we love the custom, we also find it stressful!

A recent poll at our site showed that gift-buying topped our list as the "biggest holiday organization challenge". Whether it's anxiety over choosing the right gift, worries about staying within budget, or simple resentment of the time required to find, buy, wrap and deliver holiday gifts, the downside of holiday giving is enough to bring out the Scrooge in any of us.

How to speed the chore--and keep the joy in the giving? Today, we'll begin a Master Gift List: a decision-making platform for holiday gifts and giving.

Christmas Countdown Day 4: Connect With Holiday Values!

   October 25, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

What do you really want for Christmas?

For most of us, our dreams center around family, faith and friends: a celebration of our deepest joys.

Yet too often, those dreams go by the wayside as the holidays take on a life of their own. What can cause this distortion of what we truly want?

The season brings many pressures to bear on our celebration. Holiday commercials raise their voice to an unavoidable shriek during this time of year. Lavish television programs showcase food and décor standards out of all reality. A trip to the mall can bring a quick end to a wish for a homemade holiday; all that glitz can be seductive!

Halloween Treat: Haunted Gingerbread House

   October 24, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Gingerbread houses aren't just for Christmas anymore! Use our easy-build methods to create a Halloween Gingerbread House to brighten your autumn home or workplace.

Using melted bark coating or candy melts makes this craft simple enough for kids.

A black cat peeps from piles of pumpkins. Orange and black gumdrops light the path on Halloween night. Spiders creep and bats flap.

Don't miss our friendly ghosts!

Christmas Countdown Day 3: Set Up a Holiday Calendar!

   October 24, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

What's the number-one way to cut Christmas stress? Keep a careful eye on the calendar!

No doubt about it, December days can be busy. Keeping track of commitments, events and activities keeps the season real. If you know where the family must go, it's easier to get there--and to say "No!" to too many obligations.

Does a family calendar guide your holiday plans? It should ... if the goal is an organized Christmas!

Get Organized: Create A Christmas Planning Center

   October 23, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

When planning for the holiday season, why try to wing it, on the fly?

Making lists on the go often finds them scattered in your wake, never to be found again.

To stay centered as you plan the holidays and get into the seasonal swing in comfort, find a place in your home to create an activity center devoted to Christmas planning.

A dedicated spot to make gift lists lists and track menus keeps holiday planning on track.

Christmas Countdown Day 2: Make A Christmas Planner!

   October 23, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Today in the Christmas Countdown, we introduce the tool of choice for organized holidays: a Christmas planner.

Whether you're new to the concept, or have been using one for years, your Christmas planner is about to become your new best friend in the days and weeks to come.

Your planner will be home to lists, notes, ideas, recipes, decor inspiration, receipts, menus, inventories and journal pages. It's your personal record of the planning, deciding and doing that goes into creating the Christmas of your dreams.

Christmas Countdown Day 1: Get Organized!

   October 22, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Are you ready to get organized for Christmas? Will it surprise you if I say, "Me, either!"?

Welcome to the Christmas Countdown! I'm Cynthia Ewer, author of this six-week Christmas organizing plan--and like most of us, I come careening in to Day 1 of the Countdown firmly in denial about the passage of time.

Today's reading assignment pretty much sums up how I'm feeling: it can't possibly be time to start preparing for the holidays!

But time waits for no man ... or woman! The Countdown is here, and it's time to get ready for an organized Christmas.

Ready or not, what I can tell you is this: the Countdown works.

House & Holidays Plan Week 8: Family Space Week

   October 22, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Christmas is a time for family, so center the season around a clean and organized family space. This week in the House & Holidays Plan, we take aim on the family room, playroom or family area.

In holiday prep, the family room theme continues as we decorate for Halloween, review holiday movies and music, and craft a holiday housework plan.

Mailing deadline: mail overseas gifts this week!

Ready for Christmas: Countdown Daily Messages Index

   October 21, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Will you follow the Christmas Countdown to prepare for Christmas?

Beginning October 22, we'll count down to an organized Christmas together. Bookmark this page to follow the 2017 daily messages day-by-day. Get ready for a great holidays!

Santa Savings: Make A Holiday Budget

   October 18, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

For many families, Christmas comes not once a year, but lingers on for months! Credit card bills arrive shortly after season’s end, not to be paid off until the following summer. Nearly two-thirds of American families don't know the true cost of their own Christmas celebration--and if they did, they'd be shocked. That much ... for a single day?

Fight the seasonal spending spree with the financial tool of choice: a Christmas budget. Try these ideas to create--and keep!--a holiday budget to save money on Christmas.

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