Happy Homemade Holidays

For those who have made the mistake of asking me in the last five days, “What are you going to do next?” — a post, in detail.

Recipe note cards

I know I’ve reached a level of complete and total craziness after reading the November issue of Martha Stewart Living and agreeing with many of the items on her otherwise highly-annoying “gentle reminders” column.
This month’s reminders include: cleaning out the pantry, planning holiday menus, sending save-the-date cards for holiday parties you want to throw, purchasing wine and liquor for your parties, saving plastic containers to send home full of left-overs with guests, etc. Granted, I don’t have any China to set out, or silver to polish, but I am in charge of Christmas dinner this year and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t already been preparing.
Get to feed my family? Get to use all my cooking, organizational and prep skills at once? Get to wear an apron, swig wine and give gifts? I live for this stuff — the full Monica Geller mode. I’m considering having a dinner party at the beginning of the month to try out the menu and perfect any kinks. Want to come?
In the meantime, a holiday checklist for anyone interested in getting a jump start with me on Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year:


Thanksgiving Apron #2

Week 1: Holiday inventory — go through gifts you’ve purchased while gallivanting in the developing world (or the GAP) and make a list of who you’ve already got covered. Pat yourself on the back for thinking ahead. Before you get too carried away with the congratulatory margaritas, make a holiday budget. Focus on buying locally, in season and handmade.

Week 2: Address holiday card envelopes and hit the post office for stamps. Put out any Thanksgiving decorations and pay no attention to your messy patio. Leaves are so this season.

Week 3: Eat, drink, be merry! Make annual gratitude list. (I’ll be enjoying my turkey dinner beach side in Costa Rica. Along with several friends, I’ll be trading in my turkey for bikinis and kayaks.)

Week 4: Send holiday cards. Get supplies for homemade gifts and supplies for gift tags and wrapping. Will your knitting needles to obtain Go Go Gadget powers. Fire up the Singer and get your sewing projects started. Remember to enjoy these tasks. If you are stressed or annoyed or to worried you won’t finish it all — step away. Take a deep breath and a step outside on the patio to revel in Fall. Then sit your butt back down and get to work.


Ho Ho Ho Y'all

Week 1: Pull down Thanksgiving decorations and put up holiday decor. Basic craft week: make gift tags, stamp tissue paper for wrapping paper, buy wrapping supplies — or better yet, reuse fabric, brown paper bags, tissue paper or newspaper. Make baking list for neighbors, coworkers and friends. Shop for remaining gifts. Host test dinner party for a few friends.

Week 2: Wrap. Make thank you cards. Shop for Christmas dinner ingredients that won’t spoil in the next two weeks (booze, baking staples, etc.) Don’t beat yourself up for having chocolate and wine for lunch. Run off those calories and your stress after dinner.

double chocolate brownies

Week 3: Bake! Pies, breads, cookies. Use gift tags, baking twine and a bit of creativity to wrap up a few sweets to send holiday cheer. Hand deliver — a perfect way to introduce yourself to new neighbors, or reintroduce yourself to those you haven’t spoken to since pie delivery last year. Also great holiday gifts for those service people you adore: the pedicure lady, the bagel man, the postal worker who lugged all those Mozambique goody bags for months, etc. Avoid enjoying these baked goodies by imagining the cute new dress you’ll rock come New Years. Go shop for the dress and resist urge to buy a size smaller “because you know you can lose that extra five pounds this month.” {Note to self: that never works and returns this time of year are a time hemorrhage.} Clean and prepare for company. Organize/borrow all serving platters you’ll need for Christmas dinner. Create a cooking schedule, giving yourself time to prepare some foods the day before so you aren’t in the kitchen all day when company is visiting. Order flowers for out-of-state relatives.

Grumpy Papi

Week 4: Eat, drink, worship and be merry! Take photos of your family half-awake Christmas morning and watch them threaten to pour that coffee on you “merrily” if you don’t step off. (Hi Dad!) Enjoy the time with family, relax, take lots of post-feast walks. Find yourself some mistletoe and a great set of lips to kiss when the ball drops.

Week 1: Send thank you notes. Celebrate another great holiday season pulled off without a hitch! Find a great yoga studio. Relax.

Three cheers to enjoying this holiday season and avoiding the stressful pitfalls that bring feelings of inadequacy. Instead, let’s celebrate what we can do!

27 Replies to “Happy Homemade Holidays”

  1. Ex-cell-ent list! I’m so happy to see someone excited about holiday crafting-cooking-giving and not being all cranky about it.

    Costa Rica for Thanksgiving??!! LUCKY!! Since returning from there in July boyfriend and I have seriously considered dropping everything and sneaking back there, even if for a weekend. It’s the BEST! Have fun!

  2. Awesome list! I have already been planning and plotting for Christmas cards and such. However, I am not nearly as on top of it as you seem to be. And how fun that you get to spend Thanksgiving on a beach. Sounds divine!

  3. Quite impressive! And inspirational, too! Perhpas I’ll dig out my stamp collection and make some crafty gift tages.

    Another item for January: Shop for next year’s Holiday Cards. I’m such a sucker for the good deals that I’ve probably got 3 years worth.

  4. Wow, I got exhausted just reading your list. There was a time in my life when I could have done all that, not now…maybe you just better invite me and I won’t have to do a thing…ciao:)

  5. What an excellent post with so many helpful ideas and appropriate times for getting things done to minimize stress. Thank you, Kelli!

  6. What a great post and what a great list!!! You are so on the ball! This weekend is my organize and get ready weekend as we head into the holidays! Thanks for some inspiration!

  7. Really great list Kelli! Ive been doing lots of planning here as well. But you’ve got some great ideas I will be incorporating for sure. And a belated congrats on your race!!! You are my hero!

  8. This list does look super fun, and I also wonder how you’ll find the time. Part of me feels like it’s way too early to be planning the holidays, but another part of me has been too burned by high-priced airfares, crowded markets and half-baked gift ideas caused by a long history of last-minute rushing.

    I just solidified holiday plans with my family this past week (reservations at Yosemite; for sleigh rides, massages, Christmas dinner, the works) and got all my mom’s prezzies this morning at the flea market and I can’t begin to tell you how smug I feel about it.

  9. And my friends always joke on me about my planning everything weeks ahead! I’m very glad I’m not the only one. You might be happy to knoe I’ve already planned my Christmas menu, and bought many Christmas gifts. Have already bought cards and stamps, and planned decorations for my home and my tree!

  10. Love the nod to buying locally and in season. With that list, I’m sure you’ll have a lovely, stress-free holiday season.

    Merry, Merry

  11. Love the plan! It’s really similar to the one I’ve been using for years. But thanks for the reminder that it’s time to start planning and crafting nice and early! My goal this year is to finish all my gift shopping by Thanksgiving.

    By the way, I think I would have to take time off work during December week 3 just to get that whole list done! πŸ˜€

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