Top 10 Ways to Get Ready for the Holidays

1. Make a List - and Check it Twice

You can always count on feeling more organized when you have a well-thought out list to work from. Make lists for everything:
    • Grocery lists
    • Gift recipients
    • Party invites
    • To-do's for the house

2. Walk the Halls

Take a moment to walk the halls before you "deck the halls." Look at everything that guests will see when they walk through your home. Put away items that clutter, make room for holiday decorations by temporarily removing everyday items such as photos, year-round accessories, plants, toys, pet accessories. Replace these items with holiday décor that makes sense for each room without overcrowding the space.

3. Make Room for Guests

Take stock of the guest room. Make room in the closet for hanging clothes and suitcases. Remove any "stored items" that don't belong in that room. Keep it well decorated, but sparse so guests have room to put their things. Make sure bedding is freshly washed and sheets are in good condition. Add a throw blanket to the end of the bed for extra warmth, and store an extra pillow or two in the closet. An alarm clock on the bedside is a nice added touch.

4. Stock Up on the Basics

Take advantage of sale items at the grocery store. This is the season for staple items to go on sale, so stock up and never run out while baking or cooking. Items such as flour, sugar, butter, canned broths, eggs, shortening and spices store well and are always needed.

5. Decide on a Theme

One way to really amp up your holiday look is to decide on a theme. Whether it is a color theme, a character theme such as snowmen, Santa or The Nutcracker, keeping a consistent theme throughout the house makes it look like you hired a decorator. Continue that theme to your gift wrapping as well.

6. Wrap Early

Not only does it take the guesswork out of where you hid all the gifts, but wrapped gifts look beautiful loaded under the tree and in every room. Arrange hostess gifts by the front door, friends and family gifts in guest rooms and living areas, kids gifts loaded under the tree. It will make the magic of the season electric in the air!

7. Illuminate

I add white lights to everything while decorating for the holidays. In wreaths, around stairs, outside trees and bushes, inside the Christmas tree. White lights add sparkle and a warm glow to everything. Even if decorating with colored lights, adding white lights brightens the glow and adds impact.

8. Smells of Home

I can't say enough about the inviting smell of citrus, cloves and cinnamon gently simmering on the stove at all times. There's no fear of allergies to sensitive noses and the all-natural scent compliments everything you bake or cook. Just turn off the stove burner at night and turn back on in the morning, adding water and replacing ingredients as necessary. Guests will ask "what smells so good?"

9. Warm Wraps

Keep the thermostat low but pile on the blankets and throws. Tis the season to cuddle under soft throw blankets draped over every sofa and chair. You will feel healthier without too much artificial heat, and your heating bill will stay healthier too. Soft warm throw blankets are available everywhere at low prices this time of year, so you can even afford to buy holiday themed blankets to coordinate with your decorating theme.

10. Take Time for Joy

Make a point now to take time to relax and enjoy. Things get crazy with long to-do lists, constant shopping, cooking and parties to attend. You and your family are what matter most during the holidays so promise yourself to take a step back, relax, rest and reserve time to feel the joy of the season.

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