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Holiday Preparedness Check List - Part III
December, 2004 - Issue #3
Feeling calm, cool and collected? Good - neither are we. In the impractical pursuit for Martha Stewart-esque perfection (without the jail time, of course) we've now moved on to Holiday Preparedness Check List - Part III. Procrastinators that we are, there are a few tasks we've yet to scratch off our personal lists, but we're well on our way to the least-stressful holiday season ever. Why don't you join us?

Part I Recap:
• Schedule carpet and upholstery cleaning
• Contract with a caterer for holiday parties
• Order or create custom cards
• Purchase "must-have" holiday decor and gifts

Part II Recap:
• Send "I'm thankful for you..." cards in November
• Plan your menu, then have someone else make (some of) it
• Start stockpiling generic gifts
• Take your vitamins, then go to sleep

And This Month:

Weed Through Existing Decor

Skip "The Breakfast Club" reruns on cable and start sorting through your ornaments, lights and garland from last year. Figure out what's in good enough condition to make another holiday appearance and what's due for retirement. The night before the big family meal is not the time to realize that your nativity set is now missing the baby Jesus or that you only have seven candles for the menorah. Keep a list of all items you'll need to buy and stash it in your purse or wallet - there's little worse than the "I know I need something from this store but I have no recollection of what that may be" thought. Replace what needs replacing in one grand swoop or pick bits and pieces up while running other errands. To make the task easier next year, do your sorting of what stays and goes as you pack things away.

Start Planning the Details

Have high expectations for the season? Covet the title of "Best Host" or "Most Perfect Present Picker?" Of course you do. And nobody else will be able to walk away with your "best of" sash if you put your thinking cap on now before every ounce of creativity is sapped from your "I stood in line for two hours" body. Order custom cookies from Merci Beaucoup (294-9222) to use as name cards for the dinner table. Hire high school choir students to sing carols at your party. Rent a Santa suit and let the kids "catch" you filling their stockings. Whatever you do, put your plan in motion now before your idea has to be filed away for next year.

Send Out Invitations

Ideally, holiday party invitations should be sent four to six weeks before the event. It's a busy time of year for many folks, so you'll want to give them ample opportunity to schedule time to celebrate with you. And don't disregard the invitation if you're hosting the traditional family get-together. A festive invite can drum-up excitement for a planned event and prevent those last minute "What time is dinner again?" phone calls.

Create a Holiday Card System

Address book? Check. Stamps? Check. Holiday cards? Check. Metallic pen? Check. Good - now put all of your supplies in a portable container and stow it in your car. Now you'll have something to do while waiting for your kid after soccer practice. Keeping the cards in the car has several advantages. First, you and your car are always in pretty close proximity of each other, so if you find extra time on your lunch break or on the weekend, you won't struggle with the "I left my cards at home/work" blues. Second, keeping your cards in the car mean that you always have them with you during your jaunts to the post office. And lastly, keeping anything in one consistent place reduces your likelihood of misplacing it. Losing your mind is a given during the season, but we think you'll manage to avoid losing your car.

Stash the Necessities

It seems that every year you're running to the store for last-minute items. Batteries, butter and stuffing are our habitual "I can't believe I forgot that!" products, and we're sure you have your own list, too. Do your shopping a few days before the big meal; you'll miss out on the 30-minute checkout lines at the grocery store and give yourself plenty of time to make the "Whoops!" list you'll send with your spouse on their trip to the local supermarket.

Enjoy Yourself

Not everything will get done. You'll forget something important. Oh well. No one's perfect. Smile, laugh, enjoy yourself and be in the moment. Eat too many cookies. Have another glass of eggnog. Play with your kid's new toys. Kiss someone under the mistletoe. There's always next year!
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