Christmas Organizing

Easter Bunny S'Mores in a Jar: Make an Easter Treat!

Organized Christmas - April 21, 2014 - 08:58
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on April 21, 2014

Look what's hoppin'! It's Easter Bunny S'Mores in a Jar!

Add Peeps-brand Easter Bunny marshmallow candies to our S'Mores In A Jar recipe for a sweet Easter treat that's fun to make, fun to give.

Layering graham cracker crumbs, Peeps-brand candies, brown sugar and chocolate chips, it's easy to create this Spring gift in a jar.

Printable egg-shaped gift tags with recipe instructions make a pretty seasonal craft.

Easter Gifts & Crafts
Categories: Christmas Organizing

Easter Nest Cookies: Recipe for a Hoppy Easter Treat!

Organized Christmas - March 31, 2014 - 16:49
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on March 31, 2014

Tender cookie "nests" are an Easter favorite in the Ewer house!

Tangy dough is rolled in tinted coconut to form pretty nest-shaped treats.

Use seasonal chocolate-covered almond candies to decorate these pretty Easter cookies.

Ingredients 2 cups flour, all-purpose 1 tablespoon baking powder 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 3⁄4 cups butter 1 cup sugar, granulated 3⁄4 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups coconut, flaked 2 drops food coloring, red 2 cups food coloring, yellow 1   8-ounce package cream cheese 1   12-ounce bag candy-coated chocolate almond candiesInstructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, then gradually beat in the dry ingredients.

Divide the coconut into three separate containers. Color one portion red, one yellow, and leave one plain. Toss the colored coconut together with the plain.

Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls, roll the balls in the coconut mixture, then place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Press 1 candy into the center of each cookie.

Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove from the oven and press 2 more candies into the center of each cookie. Return to the oven to continue baking for another 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cynthia's Cookie CollectionCookie RecipesEaster Gifts & Crafts
Categories: Christmas Organizing

Celebrate Time Change Sunday with a Home Safety Checklist

Organized Christmas - March 7, 2014 - 07:10
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on March 7, 2014

Time to Spring Forward as Daylight Saving Time brings an extra hour of evening sunlight. This weekend, we'll set our clocks forward one hour as most of the U.S. adopts Daylight Saving Time.

Celebrate the seasonal change with a household safety checklist from sister site Organized Home. With links to safety resources and free printables, it'll see your household into the summer months, safely:

Spring Safety Checklist for Time Change Sunday

Categories: Christmas Organizing

Make A Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper for St. Patrick's Day

Organized Christmas - March 3, 2014 - 09:08
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on March 3, 2014

Bring a tasty touch to the Wearin' O' The Green: a St. Patrick's Day Jiffy Pop Popcorn Topper!

Add our free printable template to a package of Jiffy Pop® brand pop-in-pan popcorn for an inexpensive "popcorn topper" craft gift. Your wee leprechaun will pop for joy!

How To Make Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Toppers

Printable St. Patrick's Day Popcorn Topper Template

St. Patrick's Gifts & CraftsPopcorn Toppers
Categories: Christmas Organizing

Leprechaun Poop: St. Patricks Day Gag Gift

Organized Christmas - February 26, 2014 - 08:18
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on February 26, 2014

Faith and begorrah! What's the greenest gag gift for St.Patrick's Day? Leprechaun Poop!

Inexpensive and easy to make, Leprechaun Poop is a great gift for workplace friends, neighbors or youth groups.

To make Leprechaun Poop, place a handful of Lucky Charms brand cereal, green jelly beans or candy mints in a small zipper food storage bag.

Seal the bag and add a printable gift tag or add a hand-written tag using the poem below.

Leprechaun Poop Poem

I spied a little leprechaun
Outside upon the lawn.
I hurried out to catch him
for I knew he'd soon be gone.

I tiptoed very quietly
Sprang toward him with a swoop.
He shook his fist and disappeared,
All but this pile of poop!

St. Patrick's Gifts & Crafts"Poop" Gifts
Categories: Christmas Organizing

February Rudolph Club Meeting

Organized Christmas - February 25, 2014 - 07:41
Begin a Holiday Letter!Posted by Cynthia Ewer on February 25, 2014

Welcome to the Rudolph Club: your once-a-month meeting to simplify your holidays and get organized for Christmas!

At Organized Christmas, we know that the holiday season can be fast and furious. Solution? Take a day once each month throughout the year to plan and prepare for a more-organized holiday season.

On the 25th of each month, we'll bring simple assignments and easy tips to try now for a simpler, more joyous holiday season. Over the year, you'll tackle planning and preparations to make the season lighter, brighter and less stressful come December.

February Assignment: Begin A Holiday Letter!

Even the best writers among us can suffer from writer's block in November, when it's time to tackle an annual holiday letter or Christmas newsletter. Coming up with a good review of an entire year can be quite a chore, especially when so many other activities and tasks compete for attention during the busy pre-holiday season.

Solution: begin your holiday letter now. Open a file in any word processing program or mobile text app. Each Rudolph Day, jot down notes about the high points and special moments of the last month. Don't worry about editing or polishing these Rudolph Club entries: the goal is to gather the raw material for an annual review while it's still fresh and memorable.

If you include photos in in your annual newsletter, take a second prep step: designate a computer folder or photo box for special photos you may wish to include with your holiday letter. Tuck any promising photos away as you draft your "this month" letter entries. Come November, it will be easy to edit the whole into a sparkling holiday letter--and no writer's block!

Make a Plan for Christmas Cash

Extra cash is never more welcome than during the holiday season. Now's the time to begin to squirrel away a few extra dollars for December's Christmas cheer.

Check with your local bank; many financial institutions offer "Christmas Club" accounts that make saving easier. If not, begin your own Christmas Club by writing a check, however small, to yourself on the 25th of each month. Deducted from the running balance in your checking account, but not cashed, this practice can help create a welcome cash cushion for holiday expenses.

Keep Up With The Gift Closet

In January's meeting, we dedicated a "gift closet"--a closet shelf, deep drawer, or an under bed storage box designated to hold bought-ahead holiday gifts.

Time for a quick inventory check! Have you added gifts this month? Record them on the free printable Gift Closet Inventory Form. Your Gift Closet Inventory Form is a one-page reminder of what's tucked away for Christmas.

Frugal Finds: Valentine's Day Stocking Stuffers

Dentist-approved non-candy Valentine's Day treats have hit the clearance tables in the last ten days. Look sharp! "I Love You" goodies, stuffed animals, socks, hair ornaments and jewelry make great holiday stocking stuffers, classroom treats or items for "holiday" gift baskets.

Stock up now for the best prices--and record your treasures on the free printable Stocking Stuffer Form. Keeping notes in your Christmas holiday notebook keeps track of your growing stash of low-cost stocking stuffers!

Get Ready for St. Patrick's Day

Faith and begorrah: St. Patrick's Day is on the way! Celebrate with quick and easy printable crafts from Organized Christmas.

Popping to have a great St. Patrick's Day? Give family and friends a "poppin' good" welcome with a St, Patrick's Day Jiffy Pop Popcorn Topper gift.

Using our directions and printable St. Patrick's Day popcorn topper template, you can create an easy, inexpensive gift ... in a jiffy!

Looking for a silly gift? Try your hand at Leprechaun Poop. Our recipe use green jelly beans, Lucky Charms-brand cereal, or candy mints and free printable gift tags. It's an easy school or office gift:

How To Make A Jiffy Pop ® Popcorn Topper

How To Make Leprechaun Poop

Categories: Christmas Organizing

Make A Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper for Valentine's Day

Organized Christmas - February 10, 2014 - 08:17
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on February 10, 2014

Who needs flowers or chocolates when there's ... popcorn?

Create a Valentine of a different kind with our Valentine's Day Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper.

Based on the fun-to-make kid's treat, our popping-good Valentine features a free printable label template to create this gift in a jiffy!

New to Popcorn Toppers? Learn how to create these easy craft gifts with this photo tutorial:

How To Make Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Toppers

Printable Valentine's Day Popcorn Topper Template

Valentine's Day Gifts & CraftsPopcorn Toppers
Categories: Christmas Organizing

Cupid Poop: Valentines Day Gag Gift

Organized Christmas - February 4, 2014 - 08:24
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on February 4, 2014

Valentine tricksters, take note ... it's Cupid Poop! Surprise your Valentine with this easy gag gift.

Making Cupid Poop is as easy as placing a handful of candy hearts, seasonal marshmallows, or red jelly beans in a small zipper food storage bag.

Seal and label with a free printable Cupid Poop gift tag or bag topper, or handwrite a tag using the poem below.

Cupid Poop Poem

I couldn't send you flowers
And candy wouldn't do.
Romantic cards just didn't say
The things I wanted to.

I got you something special
And here's the inside scoop.
It's very rare and magical:
A bag of Cupid Poop!

Valentine's Day Gifts & Crafts"Poop" Gifts
Categories: Christmas Organizing

January Rudolph Club Meeting

Organized Christmas - January 25, 2014 - 05:00
Bury the Ghost of Christmas Past!Posted by Cynthia Ewer on January 25, 2014

Welcome to the Rudolph Club: your once-a-month meeting for an organized Christmas!

At Organized Christmas, we know that the holiday season can be fast and furious. Solution? Take a day once each month throughout the year to plan and prepare for a more-organized holiday season.

On the 25th of each month, we'll bring simple assignments and easy tips to try now for a simpler, more joyous holiday season.

Over the year, you'll tackle planning and preparations to make the season lighter, brighter and less stressful come December.

January Assignment: Tie Up Loose Ends!

Even deep in January, the Ghost of Christmas Past can still be spotted here and there about the house. Rudolph Day is a good time to take stock and tuck away the last remaining loose ends.

Check for truant decorations! While most of us have returned holiday decor items to storage by January 25, (And if you haven't? Here you go: an official assignment. Put away holiday decorations!), a few categories of Holiday Foo-Foo often slip through the cracks. Goal: to round them up, store them in a central location, and remind yourself, come October, where you stashed them.

What to look for? Inspect the laundry room for Christmas napkins, tablecloths, or guest towels. When laundry gets behind, it's easy to lose track of holiday linens. Dig any stragglers out from under Mt. Washmore, run them through the wash, and place them in a good-sized storage box. Mark the box "Holiday Stragglers" so you can find it again next fall.

Seasonal Solution: Make a Holiday Stragglers Box

Head to the kitchen. Are you still serving coffee in Santa-themed mugs? Tuck them into your box, and scour the kitchen for the rest of the holiday serving dishes, cheese spreaders, swizzle sticks and wine charms.

While in the kitchen, make another resolution: to use or toss the last few packets from holiday food baskets. Add nuts to baked goods, use smoked salmon in salads, and set out the tiny jars of mustard with the sandwich makings. Get the last drop of holiday enjoyment from your gifts!

Next stop? Poke around in drawers for holiday hardware. Tiny replacement light bulbs, special green extension cords, and hanging hardware for window lights can all be overlooked when packing away holiday decor . Place anything you find in a zipper food storage bag, and add to the storage box, along with the linens.

Clearance cuties next! Did you shop the day-after-Christmas sales or January holiday clear-away at the craft store? Gather all your special finds from the top of the refrigerator, the back of the linen closet, or the trunk of the car. If it's holiday-themed paper, decor or craft items, add them to the storage box.

Last call! With your box, circle the house and collect any remaining holiday items. The repaired ornament from the workbench, the tucked-aside box of extra tree lights, the holiday-gift kitchen towels, the last few Christmas cards--add them all to your Loose Ends storage box.

Take the box to your holiday storage area, cover and store. Just to be safe, open your Christmas planner, turn your calendar to October, and write yourself a note: "Look for extra replacement bulbs, new gift wrap, craft supplies and 2 boxes Christmas Cards in the Stragglers box--it's packed with the holiday decorations!"

Next year? One look at the calendar will remind you of those great craft-store finds at 90% off--and save time, money and stress.

Gifting Solution: Set Up A Gift Closet

If you've begun to gather gifts for the coming year, it's time to establish a gift closet.

Don't let the word "closet" lead you astray; a gift closet can be any dedicated storage space, including a closet shelf, a deep drawer, or an under bed storage box. Because you'll want to add to your gift closet throughout the year, it should be accessible for additions and inventory.

To keep tabs on gift closet additions throughout the year. print a Gift Closet Inventory Form. It's a one-page reminder of what's there. File it away for year-round reference in your Christmas planner.

Frugal Finds: Tightwad Treats and Socks Saver Gift

Did you pick up a few bags of red-and-green Hershey's-brand Chocolate Kisses at the after-Christmas clearance at the grocery store? Smart shoppers know that a little sorting makes great savings for upcoming holidays.

Sort the stash into red kisses and green kisses, and divide the silver candies between both piles. Scoop each into a zipper food storage bag and freeze for instant Valentines Day and St. Patrick's Day candies--at a bargain price!

Socks alert! An organized frugal shopper can assemble a unique gift for little girls (of all ages!) at clearance prices on after-holiday socks sales throughout the year.

In your calendar, home management binder or Christmas planner, add a reminder to check department store clearance sections for holiday-themed socks after each upcoming holiday--Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, July 4th and Halloween. Usually, they're marked down dramatically. Buy several pair in sizes to fit your favorite girls.

Come Christmas, your frugal "Holiday Socks Assortment" will be enjoyed throughout the coming year--and at a price tag to make you smile!

Great Idea: Make A Rudy Day Tote

Ready to celebrate Rudolph Day on the 25th of each month? The great holiday minds at Magical Holiday Home jumpstart seasonal spirits with a Rudy Day tote.

A simple bag, box or container, the Tote contains items selected to make Rudolph Day special. Depending on your preferences, a Tote might contain holiday CDs or movies, seasonal coffee mixes or a special mug or bowl--whatever puts you in the mood for holiday planning.

Creative Crafts for Valentine's Day

Finally, look ahead to next month's happy holiday: Valentine's Day! Share the love with these easy craft gifts:

Categories: Christmas Organizing

Seasonal Storage Tip: Make a Holiday Stragglers Box

Organized Christmas - January 3, 2014 - 09:45
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on January 3, 2014

Christmas has come and gone ... or has it?

Lights are stored, the tree is down, and holiday decor rests in boxes in the storage area, waiting for next year.

Then you turn the corner and spot an overlooked Santa, shining on top of the piano.

In the refrigerator, the holiday butter dish hides the last remnants of a stick of butter. Holiday linens, napkins and kitchen towels pop up in the laundry area this week, next week and the week after.

And the stores! Wrapping paper and replacement light strands at 90% off full retail are too enticing to pass up, so you add them to your shopping cart.

Result: a house haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Past.

What to do with all these holiday hold-overs? Plan for them, by setting aside a Holiday Stragglers box.

Even after the decorations are packed away, these floating reminders of the season will be circling the home for the next few weeks--and the danger is, they may wind up in out-of-the-way places where they can't be found next year.

The simplest way to corral them is to designate an empty storage box to hold them: a Holiday Stragglers box. Use a lidded cardboard box or plastic storage container to make a home for floating holiday items.

If possible, place the Holiday Stragglers box nearest the door of your storage area. When you find the missing Santa's Magic Elf, or need to set aside that great buy from the clearance aisle, toss them in the box.

With a dedicated place to live, the Stragglers will be out of your space and off your mind. Best of all, they'll be the first things you find next year, when you're ready to kick off the season's planning.

Knowing that you're stocked with clearance-sale gift wrap, ribbons and bows means never paying full price--so be sure you can find them again with a Holiday Stragglers Box!

Get Organized
Categories: Christmas Organizing

Post-Holiday Debriefing: Get Organized for Next Christmas

Organized Christmas - January 2, 2014 - 10:45
Posted by Cynthia Ewer on January 2, 2014

It's over for another year!

Wild and woolly or sane and sedate, we've passed through the holiday season and into a new year. Breath caught, it's time to debrief.

You know debriefing, right? The astronauts do it, spies do it, pilots do it: a measured after-the fact evaluation of the mission or flight.

Smart holiday planners should do it, too--because taking time now to note what worked, what didn't will be a road map to a more organized Christmas next year.

Find a quiet spot sometime within the next week. Play that new educational video for the kiddies, and pour a hot cup of tea. Grab your Christmas notebook and a copy of our debriefing worksheet to record your thoughts.

Then address these questions:

1. What worked this holiday season?

Start with your strengths--it'll give you the motivation to tackle your weaknesses. Large or small, list the things that went right this year.

Was this the first year your family broke away from Christmas-at-Grandma's (complete with cranky kidlets and a 6-hour drive on icy road)--and you loved it, intergenerational flak notwithstanding? Did you buy a new gift wrap organizer that made wrapping a breeze? Was your freezer stocked with easy-prep meals, making the evening crush much calmer?

Whatever worked for you, write it down. It'll remind you of what went right when next year's holiday madness approaches.

2. What was the worst aspect of holiday prep this year? How can you avoid the trap in the future?

Were you wrapping gifts at 3 a.m.? Baking while watching the 11 p.m. news? Were the ornaments buried in a dark attic, or were they all but destroyed by a lousy packing job?

Pick the worst element of your holiday planning, and decide how to lick the problem next year. Write it down for future reference.

3. Were you satisfied with your level of giving? What did you give: time, money, self, talents? Did you include your children in giving?

Perhaps it's having lived with a Rocket Scientist child with an infallible Do-As-I-Say detector, but I don't think it's possible to teach children about giving if it doesn't start with you. All that women's magazine nicey-nice tradition stuff won't dent those little psyches unless you are on board--so were you?

Think about bringing some of that Christmas spirit into the other eleven months of the year. Evaluate your level and kind of giving, and make notes

4. How well did your household run this holiday season? Were you calm and cozy or stressed and strung out? What one improvement could you make in your planning for next year?

Whether it's wardrobe or food prep, shopping or storage, zero in on your holiday systems, and look for ways to improve. Write 'em down.

5. Honesty time. How did your holiday go? Not the children, not the spouse, not the extended family members or the church or the shelter--you.

Yes, you. Did you experience the expectancy, the magic, the sparkle of this season?

Great holiday? Write down the grace notes that got you in the ho-ho-holiday mood and kept you there. Did you play more Christmas music or spend special time with each loved one? Remind yourself--and write it down.

Nobody wants to admit it out loud, but many of us felt a little bit flat at one time or another this year. Spare a thought to the reasons--because they'll point the way to needed changes next year.

Were you worn out from all the brou-ha-ha-ha? Too many parties, with an overload of that jolly old depressant, Demon Alcohol? Groaning under the load of Christmas Tradition--and shouldering that burden alone?

Home managers deserve a holiday, too! If the season got to you this year, figure out one or two things to do differently. Perhaps you'll ask the family for help, or pare down outgrown traditions. Maybe you'll plan to make quiet, reflective time a priority during these hectic weeks. Record your conclusions; they'll guide you next year.

For home managers, the holiday season represents a hefty amount of time, energy and money, and we deserve to treat that expenditure seriously. Yes, we love the holidays. Yes, we enjoy most of the tasks necessary to bring them to birth, but don't let sentiment blind you to the real work involved. Like all work, this too has dignity, and deserves efficiency and respect.

Don't let this holiday season slip into the photo album until you've made a record of the triumphs and the trying times. Slip into something comfortable, put on a pot of tea, and think like an astronaut.

Finished? Take your written record and file it in the Christmas planner. Next year, it'll be the first reminder you see--and will be your guide to a more organized, more joyous holiday season.

Get Organized
Categories: Christmas Organizing