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5 Things To Do This Week In Preparation For Winter Holidays And None Of Them Even Smell Like Gift Shopping


Last week I was walking through a shopping center in search of Teavana’s Dragonwell, when I spotted, not one, but three “holiday” stores. They sprout up now like little redwood seedlings in the mall-forests of California. I sighed.  Ah, well, no point wasting exasperation on things ignorable, is there?

On the other hand, a few other errands last week reminded me that there are a few tasks you might take on, even though Christmas  – my winter holiday of origin – is a ways off. Have no fear – I would not think of exhorting you to start gift-shopping. I never finish fortifications until the week of, and feel that December 22nd is a great day to slap down that credit card one last time.

But how about completing needed repairs? Stocking up on festive goods? Now seems good. For example:

  1. Buy lots of new candles. You might order a bunch of beeswax tapers from Glacier Mountain Honey, because it’s really nice to support small family businesses, to say nothing of  the great state of Montana, and beeswax smells gorgeous.
  2. Check your lights to make sure they all work, untangling as you go just in case you threw them in the box impatiently last January. Maybe buy new strands in fancy shapes like candles and grapes. Definitely a few packs of gutter hooks.
  3. Get wrapping supplies before all that’s left in stores is paper that erupts in glitter every time you touch it. I am a sucker for Paper Source.
  4. Take your party clothes to the tailor. I have needed these J. Crew cropped silk pants altered for 11.5 months. I’ll pick them up next week.
  5. Bring home a new Christmas object. When my kids were little, by tradition we acquired a few new ornaments every year. I don’t have big trees any more, and find we don’t even have room to hang what we have. However, there’s still space on tables and counters. Past finds included these elf houses, groovy glass trees from Target, and a set of little wooden carol singers that were souvenirs from a trip to Switzerland. This year I’m thinking kitsch. Look at these china figurines from Royal Doulton. Come on, admit it, fun.

By the way, alterations prepare you for many festivities. And candles, (here for Diwali – starts Thursday! or here for Chanukkah), illuminate winter without reference to creed. But no pressure. You owe neither tastefully wrapped presents, nor plush tables, to anyone. It’s just that taking care of a la few things now now does give you time to choose in something like peace.

In the meantime, if you don’t feel like carving pumpkins, here’s my lazy woman’s guide to jack o’ lanterns. Got your back coming and going, oh yes we do.

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23 Responses

  1. I love #5. I have sweet memories of making charming, little kid Christmas crafts with my older kids. I am blessed to do it all over again with my 5 year-old. A very inexpensive favorite was having them paint papier mache ornaments from the craft store. For me, nothing beats the Styrofoam snowman made by my grown son when he was three. I still display it every year.

  2. Unignorable, though, is the overly cheery Holiday music that you hear in every department store. My daughter was down at the beach in her bikini just over a week ago! And I’m on the East coast! I refuse to give in to their pressure. I’ll shop when I’m ready, and not a minute sooner. (Now excuse me, please. I’m off to peruse sweaters on my iPad…)

  3. I sort of decorated my front porch with pumpkins of various varieties and put up an autumn wreath – all in the blazing sun, in hopes that some feeling of fall would soon make it’s way here. Also, did my menu and marketing list for Thanksgiving dinner. I love the beeswax candles and may be ordering those, thanks for the link.

    1. @kathy, I admire you – pumpkins in this drought/heat. And the menu for Thanksgiving – already! I’m passing it off to Grown Daughter:). And you’re welcome on the candle link, I need to take care of that myself too.

  4. I began Christmas shopping this year the minute the new Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments for 2014 debuted; I buy one for each of the children every year, even as adults. I’m also giving many handmade gifts this year, so the creation of those has also already begun.

    There may be space on your tables and shelves, but mine are almost completely covered with Santas and snowmen when the decorations come out, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Although, that does remind me, I haven’t bought the obligatory item in each category yet this year…if Beloved allows it. LOL

  5. This weekend, while picking up I thumbed through the copy of GQ that son brought with him and left here when he visited this summer.

    Multiple Christmas gift ideas popped off the pages. Those pages have been ripped out and filed.

  6. I’m the official Scrooge here. I’m a Christian but I no longer celebrate the commercial version of Christmas. No one in my circle needs anything and I’m trying to get rid of stuff, not accumulate more of it. I tell my family and friends to give to the charity of their choice. There are so many needy people and so many worthy causes. I can tolerate Thanksgiving because it’s really about family and gratitude (and pie) but I swear, once my parents are gone, I’m volunteering at a homeless shelter.

  7. Like you, Lisa, I try to add one new little thing to the decor every year. My tree in Arabia is decorated exclusively with camel ornaments, which have been fun to scour for around the globe.
    I am also following your cue on the beeswax candles, which I will carry back by the suitcase full.

    1. @Margaret Goodhouse, Oh gosh that is so wonderful. Camel ornaments. I can just see it. Every time you pop up in the comment feed, I’m always so awestruck by the size of our world these days. Both big and small at once.

  8. Autumn wreath on my front door and a couple of pumpkins flank the porch, hoping they will encourage cooler weather. All of your suggestions are excellent! I snapped up some wrapping paper and gift tags this week, just found my source for great chicken soup, now sorting through the wool blankets and flannel sheets, and looking for gloves. I’m hearing we should have a wetter winter than last!

  9. re wrapping supplies, our family no longer use paper, only gift bags we can recycle. We sound unnaturally virtuous- which we are not and here’s proof: buy all the holiday aperitifs (Lillet rouge, your favourite bubbly) before they sell out!

  10. Yikes – those Royal Doulton figurines are…well….too much kitsch for me. And of course, I’ll love them in someone else’s home.
    I”m pretty minimalist in my decor – and i do collect handblown glass ornaments – mostly pears (and the requisite partridge), and i love to hang them with some old vintage beads from my Mom. I also have a collection of penguins I bring out to decorate a shelf at Christmas.

    Wrapping – not too much. We have a family charity we support in memory of our parents. When I do wrap, I use brown Kraft paper and really lovely natural accents and beautiful ribbon.

    A Christmas tradition I cherish is going with a group of women to a concert in a beautiful old church and then out for a cozy winter dinner.

    And those candles are going in my shopping cart now!

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