3 Things to do in November To Prepare For Christmas ( Part 2)

December is just around the corner which means getting our Holiday game on high gear before Holiday madness kicks in. In Part two of this Holiday Planning Guide I’ll be sharing ideas on Holiday Family outfits, all things Christmas cards and some tips for baking your best Christmas cookies yet.

Getting organized this year has made all the difference for me. I think back to previous years when I would start my Holiday prep well into December and no wonder I associated the Holidays with a time of high anxiety! Whether you go all out for the Holidays or enjoy a more simple and minimalistic celebration, I’m sure you’ll find something useful in this guide.

{ 4 } PLAN FAMILY OUTFITS:

Look at the calendar and write out what every member of the family will need to wear for photos, parties, concerts, church, etc. Select a colour palette that works and keep up with online sales happening over Black Friday and Cyber Week. Take inventory and purchase what you need. I have created two different wardrobe ideas for you and your family with direct links to the items below.

Look 1 – Cozy in Plaid: 

  • This look will take you and your family from the Christmas Market right through to your Christmas card photo shoot.
  • Plaid always seems to be in our wardrobe rotation, especially during the Fall and Winter months.
    A fool-proof look is a plaid button-down shirt loosely tucked into a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans with booties.
  • When planning outfits for the whole family think of a colour theme and stick to one or two colours at most.
    I love mix -and- matching blue plaid and tartan with rich brown and mustard tones. But you can’t go wrong with traditional red plaid. For a festive vibe pair it with neutrals like grey and white. Don’t be afraid to experiment with plaid and dress it up or down.

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Look 2: Christmas Chic: 

  •  The Holidays are the one time of year where fabrics like velvet and sequins are appropriate and everything feels a little fancier.
  • This look is perfect for indoor family Christmas photos, formal Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve.
    While you can never go wrong with a classic little black dress, give this staple wardrobe item a refresh with some sequin and sheer detailing. Keep it simple with heels and a black clutch.
  • Sprinkle some reds for the rest of the family outfits to contrast the black and get playful with the textures, patterns, and layers.

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{5}.  PREPARE CHRISTMAS CARDS:

This year we are making our own Holiday cards for the first time! If you think about it, you’re already spending quite a bit of time and resources on getting unique gifts for family and friends. Might as well take it one extra step and personalize your cards instead of sending out generic ones. This could mean making it yourself or getting custom photo cards on Shutterfly.

  When To Order/Make Your Christmas Cards?

  • You should try to send out Christmas cards during the first full week of December to avoid sending your cards out too early or too late.
  • Family and friends are usually overloaded with cards and gifts the week of Christmas so it’s always a smart idea to avoid the “Christmas Card Rush.”
  • If you’re making your own cards take in to account the weight of your cards. Using special embellishments may require extra postage for sending.
  • A good tip is if you want to bypass the cost of rush shipping and potential delays, order your custom Christmas cards before Thanksgiving!

What To Write In A Christmas Card?

  • Start with a Christmas greeting. “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Holidays”
  • Write a personalized message. If I’m writing to a close family member I will write a heartfelt message letting them know how much they mean to me.
  • For friends and non-nuclear family, I prefer A “Classic Christmas” card message. These are universal and help spread the Holiday cheer perfectly.

Some Ideas For Classic Christmas Card Messages:

  • “The best present one can hope for this year is to spend time together.
  • “I can’t wait to celebrate the holidays with you.”
  • “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light.”
  • “May the spirit of Christmas be with you throughout the New Year.”
  • “Thinking warmly of each of you and wishing your family an extra measure of comfort, joy and hope this Christmas.”
  • “Here’s to a season filled with warmth, comfort and good cheer!”

A Few Words On Etiquette:

  • Use your own handwriting.
  • Use proper titles when addressing your Christmas cards. Of course, If you’re close with the recipient, you can address them without a title.
  • Always include a return address on your Christmas card.  This helps your friends and family have your address handy for when they want to send you their Christmas card.

 

{6}  BAKE HOLIDAY COOKIES:

Don’t get stuck with last-minute baking. Now is the perfect time to start. You can either freeze the dough or freeze your cookies in a sealed airtight container and they’ll be good to go. Baking holiday cookies is the perfect way to fill your home with cozy Holiday cheer, plus you’ll have delicious treats ready to go for drop-in company.

  • Here are some tips to help you get your cookies just right:

Soften the butter

  • The temperature of the butter is crucial in cookie dough. Butter that is too cold or warm leads to dense cookies. (tip: your finger should easily indent the butter.)
  • Plan ahead and bring your butter to room temperature before beginning to bake. Leave it out on the counter for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Last minute tip: Cut butter into small pieces and spread out evenly on a plate. Microwave in 15-second intervals, turning the pieces after each interval. (It should only take 2 to 3 intervals.)

 Cream butter with sugar

  • For lighter cookies, cream butter and sugar. This aerates the dough and helps it rise in the oven.
  • Using a hand beater or a stand mixer is essential. Tip: If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.
  • Beat until the butter and sugar are pale yellow and fluffy. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes.

Measure Flour Accurately:

  • Baking requires precision because even a small change in the recipe can impact the end result.
    Measure flour by scooping a spoonful from the flour container into a measuring cup, then leveling the top with a knife.

Always Use Parchment Paper:

  • Parchment paper prevents over-browning.
  • It also stops cookies from spreading too much (and merging into one giant cookie).
  • Makes clean up way easier and no need to grease the baking sheet. Tip: Don’t throw out used parchment. If its clean it can be reused again. Reynold’s is our go-to brand!

Use A Cooling Rack:

  • Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack with a spatula.
  • Transferring the cookies prevents over-baking and allows them to cool faster.

Tips for freezing cookies:

  • To freeze cookies, make sure your cookies have cooled to room temperature before packaging them.
  • Layer them in a freezer safe container, putting sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper in between the layers to prevent sticking.
  • Seal it tightly, then label it with the type of cookie and the date baked.
  • Pull them out of the freezer a few hours before needed and serve.
  • For storing dough,  you can make it and store the batter 2-3 days in the refrigerator, tightly covered.
  • If you’re not planning on freezing cookies, they’ll usually stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. (except for cookies with a cream or custard filling.)

Hope you find these tips helpful! Planning and organization are the core of a successful and stress- free Holiday Season. Let gratitude be your fuel as you take on your to-do list this month.  Good luck! The magic and spirit of Christmas are yours for the taking :) Happy Holidays!

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