For years, my children could make me shutter just by announcing how many days were left before Christmas, or Thanksgiving for that matter. The impending holidays crouched over me like an invisible abominable snowman–ready to smother me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not because I don’t enjoy the holidays. I really do. It’s because they would always sneak up on me. 

There are two types of homemakers in this world. The type that begins Christmas shopping in January and those  who cringe at the thought.

Because we shop the week before Christmas, we get some great bargains. However, it really does kick the fun out of the holidays.

This year I’ve vowed to start off the holiday season stress free. Granted it’s too late to transform myself into a January Christmas shopper, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for the onslaught of holiday activities and guests.

Over the years there have been a few things I’ve stumbled upon that make the transition from one holiday to the next go a bit more smoothly. With 27 grandchildren, and eight families that come to visit with little notice, it pays to be prepared.

Decorate for the holidays in layers.

  • Begin with fall. Now is the time to get in the mood. Or at least get your home in the mood. No, it’s not time to replace all the furniture, or buy new carpet. Fall cleaning, is better than spring cleaning. However, you can start by just getting some fall candles. Preferably ones that smell like you’ve been baking sugar cookies all day. That’s my kickstarter. Starting with makeing the house smell wonderful, makes me want to make it as visiually beauitful.
  • First layer. Wreaths are always a great choice. Bring out wreaths, and centerpieces that have the fall theme colors. Also its not too early to add pine cones. A basket of pine cones next to a pumpkin says, October. If you live in an area where your trees turn beautiful colors, gather some leaves. I’ve been known to scatter them on my mantle. They will set your color scheme. Avoid going dark. As in too deep into Halloween. Unless of course you just go all out for each holiday. Then, in that case, layering is of no help to you.
  • Second layer. At the beginning of November, begin adding the darker fall colors of red. Now is the time to bring out the naked garland. However, you have to be careful here. Christmas garland won’t do. Go for some more realistic bare garland that has pine cones attached. It might feel a bit early, but the closer you get to Thanksgiving, the more thankful you will be that you have it up. Now replace that cookie candle for the real thing. Take your favorite cookie dough recipe and start making several batches. Don’t bake yet. Instead, roll into logs, wrap in wax paper, and place in freezer bags. 
  • Final layer. After Thanksgiving, it’s time to add Christmas. Now you can bring out the last of your decorations. Fill the garland with red berries, holly, and bows. Bring out the tree and you’re ready for the holidays. 

Sit back and enjoy. Now you are ready to host any weary travelers, and feed them fresh baked cookies when they arrive. Now you are free to spend the entire week before Christmas shopping.


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