By Susan "Honey" Good
I don't want to alarm you, dear readers, but as of today there are just 49 days until Christmas and 50 days until Hanukkah, which begins Saturday, December 24 this year. Planning is the key to enjoying all of the festivities that the holidays have to offer without feeling frenzied. Here's what to do now...
Stock up on essentials: Around the holidays people will oftentimes drop by unexpectedly, or one is invited to a holiday gathering at the last moment. Stock up on necessities so you don't have to scramble to enjoy the season!
Here's my suggestion: If people tend to stop by your home this time of year, keep the ingredients for a quick appetizer and cocktails on hand at all times. Think non-perishable such as a cheese tray with dried apricots, nuts and honey. (Gourmet cheeses, thanks to aging, tend to have very long shelf lives.) Red wine is optimally served at about 60 to 65 degrees, but it's certainly acceptable to serve red wine at room temperature, making it an easy libation to have on hand. Finally, keep one or two wrapped hostess gifts tucked away. Trust me, these ready-to-go gifts will be a life saver at least once this holiday season!
Store extra gifts: Have you ever been caught off guard when someone you know gives you a gift unexpectedly? I certainly have! Stock up on some universal gifts -- luscious candles are always divine. At the end of the season, you can always return what you don’t end up giving away or simply save it for an upcoming birthday.
Here's an idea: Decorate before the chaos begins: Putting up decorations can be very time consuming. Some balk at the idea of having holiday decorations up before Thanksgiving. Not I! Trimming the tree or adorning your home for the holidays the weekend before Thanksgiving ensures that when the rush of the holiday season hits, you aren’t scrambling to put up your decorations.
Finish your shopping early: When you are out rushing around to pick up last minute gifts, you don’t have the chance to truly enjoy the holidays. if you typically ask for a wish list from family members, get it early. If you hand-select gifts that you think will delight, as I do, starting early make the experience all the more magical.
Send cards out early, too! Holiday cards can be a huge time consuming task. Thank goodness for technology. Thanks to sites like Postable.com, which mails real paper cards to everyone on your list, this task can be made stunningly simple.
Remember, dear readers, to prioritize! The most meaningful aspect of the holidays is spending time with the people you cherish. You can’t attend every party or volunteer at every charity event and still stay sane. Prioritize your commitments and your celebrations and always, always embrace the moments that come your way with joy and love.