Organized Christmas

The Secret Life of Christmas Magazines

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!

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State of the Closet: Pre-Holiday Wardrobe Check

We’ve all experienced this seasonal panic: it's the night of the office holiday party and a spouse’s good white shirt has gone missing!

Calm the chaos with a pre-holiday wardrobe check!

Assessing the State of the Closet for all family members before the holiday begins means never having to say, "It's in the wash!"

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Cranberry Hootycreeks Cookies In A Jar

Pretty, festive and easy to make, Cranberry Hootycreeks make a welcome holiday cookie-in-a-jar gift.

Dried cranberries and white chocolate chips give a seasonal spin to these chunky oatmeal cookies.

To make, you'll layer flour mix with oats, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips and chopped nuts for a pretty jar gift; we make it easy with a free printable gift tag!

Turkey Poop: Silly Thanksgiving Gag Gift

Looking for a silly treat for Thanksgiving? it's Turkey Poop!

Just right for a gag gift--or even Thanksgiving Day place cards--Turkey Poop is easy to make.

Place a handful of Milk Duds-brand candy, chocolate-covered raisins, or brown jelly beans in a small zipper food storage bag or seasonal cellophane gift bag.

Label with the Turkey Poop poem below or a free printable Turkey Poop gift tag or bag topper:

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Create a Holiday Housework Plan

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!

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One Right Way to Celebrate? Wrong!

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.

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Christmas Creep: The Selling of the Holiday Season

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"?

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We are Thankful: Thanksgiving Blessings Mix Recipe

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.

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Santa Savings: Make A Holiday Budget

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.

Grocery budgets groan under the burden of holiday meals and baking supplies.

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?

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

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.

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Fall Back: Home Preparedness Checklist for Time Change Sunday

Spring forward, Fall back: Time Change Sunday is on the way!

On Sunday, November 2, we come to the end of Daylight Saving Time in most of the United States. With an extra hour in the day--and winter on the way--it's time for a seasonal safety check!

As you circle the house, resetting clocks to Standard Time, make time for this short safety checklist from sister site, Organized Home. It'll see you into the winter from a safe--and organized--home:

Fall Back: Home Preparedness Checklist for Time Change Sunday

House and Holidays Plan Week 10: Cooking Space

November’s here, and it’s time to clear the decks in the kitchen: holiday meals ahead! In the next two weeks, we’ll declutter, organize and clean cooking spaces and food storage areas.

This week, it’s the kitchen; we’ll leave food storage spaces—refrigerator, freezer and pantry—for next week.

Holiday prep chores focus on the tastes of the season. We’ll dig out our holiday recipes, plan menus and baking, and do a tabletop check to prepare for the festivities.

Cooking Space Week Assignments

Welcome Home ... for the Holidays!

The approach of the holidays! There's nothing quite like it to turn our hearts toward home.

Literally. The first week in December could be termed "Housing Dissatisfaction Week."

It's a little-known seasonal indicator of the coming of winter--and it afflicts most of us as we plan Christmas celebrations.

Look around. What do you see? Dirty carpets. Furniture that's seen better days. Mismatched china, cluttered kitchens, drab and bedraggled window coverings.

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

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.

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Making a Christmas Planner? Get Inspired!

Will you be joining one of our holiday plans to prepare for the coming Christmas season? Get ready! Long-time readers know that creating a planner for Christmas organizing is the first step to an organized holiday season.

We've got help! Check our focus site, ChristmasPlanner.com!

To make easy to create and use your Christmas organizing power tool, check the site's Make It! Christmas planner section, which offers a complete guide to making a Christmas planner notebook. You'll find how-to articles and supply lists and divider ideas.

To help you fill your Christmas notebook, we're gathering the Web's best free printables and resources in our new Print It! section.

Don't miss our growing list of Christmas checklists. Our Plan It! feature is designed to be a quick and easy guideline for holiday planning.

Most of all, this site showcases you: the Web's best and most creative Christmas organizers. In the Tour It! section, you'll find planner tours and tutorials from the Web. Whether it's a simple Christmas notebook or creative holiday planner printables, you'll find inspiration to guide you as you make your own holiday planner.

Welcome! It's time to get organized for the holiday season ... with a Christmas planner!

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Recycle Halloween Candy: Harvest S'Mores In A Jar!

Making seasonal S'Mores In A Jar for any holiday is easy--if Peeps ® brand Marshmallow Candies are available for the celebration of your choice. Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Valentines Day are on the list, but so far, Thanksgiving Day is not.

Until JustBorn, manufacturer of Marshmallow Peeps, gets with the harvest holiday, we have a work-around for you!

Better yet, it's a frugal way to repurpose extra Jack O'Lantern Peeps left over from Halloween.

These Harvest S'Mores In A Jar are created using the back side of Halloween Pumpkin Peeps. Pointing the Jack O'Lantern faces to the inside of the jar creates a pretty harvest jar gift.

Better still, with Halloween Peeps on sale at clearance prices after October 31, it's a frugal and festive way to say "Happy Thanksgiving!"

To make it easy, our printable gift tag includes the S'mores in a Jar recipe.

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

Halloween is coming ... and so is 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.

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Master Gift List: A Holiday Shopper's Best Friend

Every family has one: a gift-giver of extraordinary flair and creativity. Year after year, this paragon finds just the right gift, large or small, for every friend and relation, and all without breaking the bank.

Her “just because” offerings are tiny jewels, she’s hip to the latest teen trends—and she never, ever hears the double-barbed response, “Oh, you shouldn't have--you really shouldn’t have!”

What’s her secret? A master gift list.

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Make a Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper for Halloween

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.

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Before The Season: Focus On Holiday Values

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.

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