1. Start earlier than you think
As we mentioned in the introduction, the holidays have a tendency to sneak up on you. For this reason, it’s much better to start preparing early on. This means buying and packing gifts as soon as they arrive, deep cleaning, tidying up the less frequently used areas of the house (like any guest rooms or guest bathrooms), or starting to decorate the home as early as now.
This is also the time to make festive dinner plans. You can start calling all potential guests ahead of time, which will help you understand what and how much to cook for the holidays.
2. Organize the pantry
Is the flour you bought a few months back riddled with pests? Is the vanilla extract expired? Are you out of cinnamon? It would be a real shame if you only found out about mishaps like these a few days before Christmas. This is why we highly recommend taking the time to clean and organize your pantry at the beginning of December.
Take inventory of all the ingredients you’ll need for the festive dinner, wipe down the shelves, and arrange all the ingredients you’ll need so that they’re readily available. Ideally, do this before your weekly grocery shopping trip because chances are that you’ll have a few items to add to your shopping list. But even if you’re well-stocked, a little bit of decluttering and organizing makes baking and cooking for the holidays much easier and faster!
3. Clean the fridge
In my home, cleaning the fridge is the yearly prelude to Christmas, so much so that we started associating it with the holidays season. So turn on some festive tunes and give your fridge a thorough clean. Cleaning the fridge and the freezer has many functions. First and foremost, it will give you an idea of what food is missing and should be topped off, especially frozen foods and non-perishables like salad dressing or jam.
Furthermore, turkey, desserts, and casseroles are quite cumbersome, so you’ll probably need a bit more fridge space than usual around the holidays, so decluttering it is really helpful.
And last but definitely not least, it’s also about being a good host. Your guests won’t need to rummage through all the clutter and look at your dirty fridge as they put away the food or drinks they brought.
4. Introduce festive scents
Humans are a lot more receptive to smells than we often think. One of the best ways to give your home a festive atmosphere is by infusing the air with wintry and festive scents like cinnamon, pine, spiced orange, ginger, and our favorite - freshly baked cookies. But don’t think that you need to buy expensive aroma candles to achieve this cozy Christmas ambiance in your home. You can make your own festive potpourri out of foods and spices.
Using natural elements in holiday decor is super trendy right now. Luckily, it’s also free. Collect some pine cones, cut some fresh pine branches and arrange them in the middle of the dinner table to give your home a wintry feel, or make a bouquet of them by placing the branches in a vase filled with water. The video tutorial below gives you a few simple ideas on how to turn pine cones into home decor.
If you have a bit more time to spare and you’re in the mood for crafts, you can make your own dried orange or ginger slices. Here’s how:
1. Preheat the oven to 175°F (80°C).
2. Slice oranges and ginger crossways into around ⅛-inch thick (3 mm) slices.
3. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet in a single layer so that there’s no overlap.
4. Bake for 4-6 hours until completely dry. Let cool before using.
These orange and ginger slices don’t just smell divine, they also look very nice in a decorative bowl, especially if mixed with cinnamon sticks, star anise, or whole cloves.
5. Examine your decorations and ornaments
No matter how meticulously you pack, some tree ornaments, lights, and other decorations may not survive a whole year in storage. For this reason, it’s extremely important to unbox Christmas decorations early on, so that you’re able to compensate for any losses before all shops close or run out of stock. But even if you’re not planning on spending extra money on missing decorations this year, knowing what you have can help you find creative solutions to missing decorations.
For one, you could replace missing ornaments with pine cones or dried orange slices on a string or make your own Christmas wreaths from items you already have at home by looking through our post about 25 Unique Christmas Wreaths. If you’re missing some Christmas ornaments and feel like doing some simple crafts, check out this video tutorial that explains how to use string and glue to make beautiful star ornaments.
6. Check the electric system in your home
All the lights, cooking, cleaning, and blow-up Christmas displays can be too much for the electric system of your home. Christmas and New Year’s are also one of the peak times for electrical fires, so it’s very important to pay extra attention to your electric outlets before the holidays. We recommend that you use smart extension cords that start beeping when you’re overloading them to protect your electric system. Also, make sure that your Christmas tress has plenty of water to prevent a tree fire. The base of the trunk should be covered in water, and the tree should be placed away from direct sunlight and other heat sources.
Here are a few other expert tips on how to prevent problems with electricity during the holidays by Docia Boylen from the Handyman Connection: “Spread out your lights throughout the home to prevent overloading a circuit and blowing a fuse. Light timers are also a great way to regulate your total circuit usage.” Additionally, void using indoor extension cords outside. These cords are not equipped to withstand the elements and could lead to fires, sparking, and shock.
7. Pick up the essentials ahead of time
The last thing you want is to run out of toilet paper or dish detergent right before the holidays. This isn’t only stressful, but it’s also extremely time-consuming and could mess up your entire cooking schedule. Instead, stock up on commonly-used home items like paper towels, toilet paper, house cleaners, toothpaste, shampoo, and other essential supplies before shops get super busy. Early December is a perfect time to get all of this done.
8. Make sure that your Christmas decor is safe for kids and pets
Tree ornaments can be dangerous for children and pets. Mesmerized by the sparkling decorations, children may be tempted to pull, break or eat them. Cats can play with ornaments or climb on the tree, and dogs can knock over ornaments or the entire tree with their wagging tails.
Broken ornaments can cut, so it’s best to hang shatterproof ornaments within the reach of babies and pets. Tinsel, string lights, and ribbons are also quite dangerous - they can be a choking hazard for both cats and little children - so it’s best to keep those away from little hands and paws. Read more on how to pet-proof your Christmas tree here: How to Keep Your Pets Away From the Christmas Tree.
9. Get creative instead of buying expensive wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is certainly fun, but it also happens to be exorbitantly priced. If you don’t want to spend all that extra money on wrapping paper, know that you have many alternatives: craft paper, fabric, and even maps. We have a whole article on fun and creative gift wrapping alternatives to wrapping paper titled 15 DIY Ways to Wrap Gifts and Add Some Personal Touches! you can check out.
If you want to try something fun and new while wrapping gifts this year, we have a very cool step-by-step tutorial featuring a unique gift-wrapping technique that looks rather fancy. Watch this video to try this creative technique and surprise your loved ones with your impressive gift wrapping skills:
10. Dust off special occasion tableware
Do you have a fancy set of tableware, silverware, china, or crystal for special occasions? If so, now is a great time to unpack your stash and go through all those special drinking and eating utensils. After all, they tend to accumulate quite a bit of dust as they sit on a high shelf or in a kitchen cabinet. Give each piece a quick rinse and let them dry on a clean cloth. This way, your prized pieces shine at their brightest on the holiday table.
Share this information with everyone who celebrates this season!