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1: Organize Your Bedsheets into Sets
My linen closet looks like someone set off a bomb inside it. Which means that Im always scrambling to find the right size sheet for the right size bed. You can avoid this by assembling little bed kits — get your flat sheet and fitted sheet and place them inside a pillowcase. Then, when you have to make up the beds for the holiday guests, it will be streamlined and simple.
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2: Keep a Running How Can I
Isnt it the strangest phenomenon that our to-do lists can be long, but when people offer to help out, its hard to come up with an assignment for them? Keep a list somewhere in the kitchen of all the things that might qualify for this question. Here are a few to get you started: Pick up some finger foods and starters (cheese, crackers, fruit); figure out an activity for the kids (scavenger hunt?) and organize; bring referee whistle to preside over fights
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3: Make a Batch of Icebox Cookies
This is just a fancy way of saying, make cookie dough, then roll the dough into a log shape and freeze it. This way you will always be a slice and bake away from warm cookies for the bake sale, the hostess gift, or the potluck. Wrap cookies in wax paper or plastic wrap and place in a tall drinking glass that has been turned on its side. This helps preserve the round shape of the dough — otherwise, one end will wind up flattening out.
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4: Prep Your Cooking Equipment
Make sure you have all your cooking equipment for the big-ticket dishes in order: roasting pans, meat thermometer, roasting rack, baster, carving board, carving knife. If youre trying a new fancy torte, look at the equipment requirements to make sure you dont need an extra
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5: Wrap Gifts Ahead of Time
Wrap presents as they come in so you dont have a mountain to wrap the night before. Unless you are one of those families who sits under the tree on Christmas Eve after the kids go to bed, listening to Christmas carols, drinking hot toddies while wrapping the loot and reflecting on the years events and how fortunate you are. That sounds a lot better than my Type-A suggestion.
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6: Buy Disposable Roasting Pans
Stock up on disposable aluminum roasting pans… but not for roasting. They mold to whatever it is you are storing in them, which can come in handy when your holiday fridge
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7: Set the Table
If your dining room table is not used every day, lay out everything you need so you can do a real-life inventory. Will you need more forks? More serving platters? More votives? How about the chair situation? You dont want Uncle Hal sitting on the stool again this year. Laying things out where you can see them makes it easier to see whats missing.
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8: Pack in Advance
If youre traveling, pack the kids bags with clothes and toys they wont miss in their everyday wardrobe rotations. And do the same for yourself, if you dont wear the same thing everyday like me.
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9: Make a Huge Batch of Granola
I always find myself going to the last piano lesson before the holidays and wishing that I had thought to bring the teacher a small gift. (Sort of like the one she got my daughter.) If you have a batch of this on hand, as well as a 12-pack of Mason jars (easily procured at any hardware store for $10) you will never find yourself in this disgraceful position again.
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10: Prep, Prep, Prep
Finally, I have a guiding philosophy when it comes to planning ahead for the holidays: No matter how little the task, if it can be done in advance, do it in advance. When you are hosting guests, there ends up being about 2 million 30-second jobs. So order the ornament hooks, pack up a travel bag, get your cleaning supplies, wash your linens, order your wine — whatever crosses your mind, cross it off the list.
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