Happy Holidays! This month there are three major ones to plan for, not to mention gearing up for 2008 afterwards. Here are a few tips and reminders to get you through December. Please feel free to add to them by posting yours in the comments!
- Hanukah begins Wednesday, Dec. 5. Do you celebrate? Make sure you've got everything you need for the festival of lights.
- No, it's not deja vu: Just as you did in November, if you're going out of town for the holidays, you may need to make your travel reservations early.
- Shop early, shop often, and consider shopping online -- the stores will get your gifts where they need to go with a minimum of stress. If you're bringing presents home with you, wrapping (and tagging!) them as you buy them will make things easier as the big day draws near.
- Stock up on fuel for your wood-burning stove or fireplace. There's nothing like a warm fire, a mug of hot chocolate, and a cozy blanket for relaxing on a cold winter's night. And don't forget the marshmallows for the kids! (They can roast them over the coals using un-bent wire coat hangers, which are easy to clean and won't catch fire.)
- Ratchet down the holiday-card writing angst by signing a few cards every night for the next several days. They'll be done before you know it.
- If you celebrate Christmas, pick out a tree now. Fresh trees often need a few days to acclimate to the indoors. Have a fake family favorite up in the attic? Get it down and make sure all of the branches are intact.
- While the tree is resting (or being put together), pull out those twinkly lights and make sure they're in proper working order. Consider replacing old or fraying strings with energy-efficient LED bulbs.
- Your Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced food coma should have passed by now. The people at Bon Appetite and Gourmet magazines have some fantastic recipes up at www.epicurious.com, and they even offer menus organized by holiday. Pick one and make it your own.
- Decking the halls? Keep things simple: An evergreen garland looks lovely on its own, and a single (electric) candle at each window has a warm and welcoming effect without a lot of effort.
- It may seem like a stretch, but any work-related projects that you can finish up before the holidays could mean more time for you and your family during the holidays. What can you cross off your to-do list early?
- Lay in a supply of bubbly with which to toast the New Year -- and don't forget the sparkling cider or grape juice for those who don't get a kick from Champagne.
- Christmas is the 25th! Charge up the digital camera the day before and put it near the tree so you don't miss a moment of happy fun.
- Kwanzaa starts on December 26. Do you have everything you need? Want to learn more? Check out www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org.
- And, last but not least, take a deep breath and remember those who are no longer with us as we cross over from the old year into the new. Count your blessings. And have a fabulous New Year!