Read Connie’s earlier installments: Chapter 1: Lessons from a former hoarder, Chapter 2: Time to start, Chapter 3: Plateau? Fight It!, Chapter 4: Kitchen Klues, Chapter 5: Nudist Colony?, Chapter 6: Rest? What rest?
Along with the changing of the weather, autumn prompts the ever-revolving changing ‘pretty much everything in the house’ until Valentine’s Day. Summer decorations are replaced with corn stalks and pumpkins, then Christmas trees and holiday party hats to Valentines. How do you keep your sanity with no time, money, or creativity? Truth is, you’ve ALREADY got it all…all right there, within you!
You don’t need ‘more.’ You just need better planning.
It IS possible to bring new life to the same schedule, the same menu, the same decorations, with a few quick tweaks. Realizing that takes all the pressure off, and you can finally enjoy the holidays! After all, same friends, same family, same food, so WRITE IT DOWN. Truer words were never written. I’ve heard Mary Kay Ash say, “The faintest ink is better than the most retentive memory.” You’ve done this a million times. It’s repetition that keeps the line moving and you KNOW the drill, so let’s start with the menu.
I’ve noticed most families serve the same side dishes on holidays, but the main course changes. Write down the menu, the recipes, and grocery list, and put it all in a folder for each season. Now a couple weeks before, take the folder out, review the schedule, make and SAVE the grocery list, and BAM! you’re ready to go! Do the shopping the week or so before, and all pressure off! Even better, put your grocery list in aisle order. No, it’s not that ridiculous, it’s TIME MANAGEMENT. You’ll be amazed how quick your shopping goes!
Whether it’s a birthday party, football game, impromptu get-together, or Thanksgiving dinner, KEEP IT SIMPLE and STAY ON SCHEDULE. Don’t wait for the last minute and make yourself (and everyone else) crazy. Have the plates, cups, (marker to write on cups), napkins, tablecloths, water, cooler, TP, menu, grocery list, shopping all done the week before.
Each holiday has its own decorations and traditions as well. Don’t miss out. Write Them Down so if you can’t be there, someone can look in your infamous folders and carry on. Share and remind your family of ‘Gramma’s Potato Bowl, Auntie’s serving dish from Sweden, Great Grandma’s wine glasses,’ etc., so the younger generations KNOW and appreciate their heritage.
An easy way to mix it up, for ANY event, is a signature mocktail or cocktail. It’s an inexpensive way to make things special. It’s amazing what you can do with lemonade, ginger ale, limes, cherries, strawberries, fresh spearmint, oranges, lemons, fancy straws and cool glassware. If you don’t have any, resale shops like New 2 You are loaded with unique sets for a couple bucks, and you won’t be sad if they get broken. Don’t forget the fun-shaped ice cubes! You can use a drop of food coloring for colors, and freeze some fruit in the ice cubes — or a jello-mold ice ring too! Very impressive with little work and hardly any cost.
Another easy way to shake things up is to have a designated theme: favorite jersey, all black and white, Gatsby, red carpet, jammies, 70s, crazy hair, costume of choice. It doesn’t have to cost anything to shake things up, just USE WHAT YOU HAVE. Your closet is full of inspiration, so look with a creative spirit.
Now, on to decorations: Get a storage container and take down the current seasonal decorations. Write the season on the container. Be smart in how you stack and pack to optimize the space inside the container — henceforth, fewer containers in the attic. Put smaller items with the big items and tuck the little ones inside and under the big ones as well. DO NOT bring out the new until the old is put away! Always get the same size and kind of container so they stack neatly.
As for the house: Instead of running yourself ragged cleaning every nook and cranny before a party, just stick to the basics. Beds made, clothes put away, and of course, kitchen and bath. Be sure the stove and counters are clean, and clear off the excess stuff. Make sure the fridge has room for ‘extras,’ and quick wipe it out with a hot cloth/paper towel.
After cleaning the washroom, be very sure to have extra TP within reach, along with a plunger, poo pourri, paper towels in the closet, and wipes, just in case! Move the hamper out and put up clean towels.
Focus on areas where people will be congregating, and make sure there are places to put their drinks. Dust and vacuum the day before, and keep the shoes out of the doorway. Pull out the card tables and chairs, wipe them down, and put them in place. Make sure there are extra garbage cans, and put new bags in the bottom so they are right inside when someone takes out the trash. Get the cooler wiped out, and put the drinks in to get a-chillin’ — especially water. It’s the preferred drink these days.
The truth is, all parties are the same, you just change the theme and food. It makes it much easier knowing you’ve done this, and you don’t have to make it a big deal. It’s really the same old drill. Now, relax, enjoy your guests, and DON’T FORGET THE ICE!
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