Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Planning for Christmas 2017

I am sure that my age has something to do with it but it seems to me that Christmas gets here faster and faster every year! Many bloggers start publishing Christmas posts around the beginning of November. By Thanksgiving, all of their decorations have been complete for a few weeks and they can’t wait for Christmas to get here so that they can take them down. I would not be numbered among those bloggers, not that anything is wrong with that. I am probably the very last one to the Christmas party in blogland every year. Because I have some paid commercial decorating jobs I complete those first before I do anything in my home. Then I make a special effort to savor the season regardless of how long it takes me to get the decortions up. Because I am expecting to pick up another one of those decorating jobs for 2017 I am doing some preliminary planning to get as much done early as possible!

foyer tree and garland

A major task that I just finished was going through all of my Christmas decoration bins! I purged and donated some things that haven’t been used in more than 15 years! I also discarded some items that were broken, faded, or just out of date.

labeled Christmas storage boxes

While I keep just a very few items in their original cardboard boxes, almost everything is kept in a plastic bin. All of the bins are labeled and I try to stack together as they are used together. For example, both of the bins above are for the “nutcracker tree” so they would be stacked together. Note to self: identical boxes stack together better than a variety of shapes and sizes.

Dorothy nutcracker w broken arm

Obviously, before packing up, I gave everything a quick wipe down and made any needed repairs. Dorothy has had her arm reattached!

foyer tree and garland

I made a few notes of changes and additions to make before next year. I had already made new bows for the foyer garland but I decided to add one more color to them so I have already ordered additional ribbon and made changes to the bows so that they are ready to go up. Putting up the garland along the stairs is somewhat time consuming because every year I have to figure out the spacing! This year I put a very small piece of ribbon at each spot where the garland is attached to the rail and counted the stair spindles and marked the ribbons. I also put a few notes in the bin with the garland to remind me of the plan. For example, on the second bow in the photo above, there is a tiny ribbon stapled to the garland with “5” written on it. That means that I count 5 spindles up and attach it to the rail there using a zip tie.

tree storage 1

I have to share one of my biggest time savers for Christmas. At home and for the commercial jobs I use a rolling tree stand with an attached storage bag. It keeps the tree upright and helps protect the lights.

tree storage 2

The zippers go all the way to the bottom and there are handles on the outside that can be used to pull the bag. At home I pull the bags to the garage and put them in a storage area there.

plastic wrapped tree

The photo above is not of good quality because I snapped it quickly with my phone but I think you can get the idea. Last year before zipping up the storage bag I wrapped the tree, decorations and all in plastic wrap. This was a two person job! The plastic wrap held all of the decorations in place and not a single one was broken. I did not do this at home with my collection of costly and sentimental ornaments because the doorways are very tight when taking the trees through the house.

firepit filled with gifts

My daughter has a knack for coming up with thoughtful gifts. She got this fire pit and filled it with fun things like Smores ingredients, hot chocolate mix, marshmallow roasting forks, firestarters and blankets for her brother and his wife to enjoy at their new home. Since that is not my knack, I have taken a different approach.

gift box 1

I try to keep a list of gift ideas in my phone but most of my gifts to extended family are either gift cards or cash since everyone I know has so many “things.” A few years ago I started using these Chinese takeout boxes for the gift cards and cash. I use my Cricut to cut a simple tree from pretty paper and glue it to the plain white boxes.

small chocolate bar

So that the box doesn’t get mistaken as “empty” like one of the gift bags did once, I use ribbon to tie the gift card or cash to a chocolate Santa and put it in the box with the crinkled paper filler. That creates a little weight so that you know something is in it!

gift box 2

The feedback from those gifts has been nothing but positive! My plan is to go ahead and get the boxes ready for next Christmas!

mass cake baking

Another project that I do every year is baking a small chocolate pound cake for my husband’s coworkers. I can’t find a picture of the finished product but I put them on a Christmas theme paper plate, wrap them in plastic wrap and tie a pretty bow. This past Christmas I baked 50 cakes. I am asked over and over how I have time to bake so many. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. I use a tried and true recipe. I use 6 cup bundt pans so that one recipe makes 2 cakes. I double the recipe when I mix them so in effect I am mixing 4 mini cakes at one time.

baking 12 cakes at one time

Because my oven has 3 racks, I can bake a dozen small cakes at one time. It does take me all day to mix, bake, and wrap but I can do it in one day with concentrated effort.

Amazon bundt pan 6 cup

I use this bundt pan and will be replacing some that have lost their nonstick coating after many years of use! I also use the pans throughtout the year because unless we have company it’s hard for us to eat an entire full recipe cake while it is still fresh. If I use the small pans, we can eat one cake and I can give one away.

Have a great week!

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