Christmas Countdown Day 14: Decor Declutter!

Who doesn't love the parade of autumn decorations?

From the first fallen leaves in September, through Halloween's jack o'lanterns, and on into Thanksgiving's cornucopia displays, it's glorious fun to mark the progress of the fall season with special decor items for our home.

But somebody better tell the retailers! This year marks the almost-complete extinction of Thanksgiving from the autumn progress.

At stores in my area, Halloween items were on clearance by mid-October and replaced with Christmas displays the weekend before Halloween. I stood in the decor aisles, shook my head and blinked rapidly as I realized that "Christmas creep" has finally overtaken Thanksgiving and eradicated it completely.

Not in my house! Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday, valued all the more because it's relatively isolated from commercial pressures. Yes, our family will roast a turkey, ice cut-out cookies in the shape of leaves and pumpkins, and display our cherished Turkey Toodles and Calico Cornucopia decorations.

Best of all? Our family will gather together three generations (and four dogs!) to give thanks for our many, many blessings. And if that's not worth celebrating, I don't know what is!

To Do Today

Declutter before you decorate

The decoration tide sweeps in with September's falling leaves, breaks against Halloween's ghosts and goblins, and is streaming full-force by Thanksgiving's turkeys and pilgrims. Come Christmas, the average home is drowning in tinsel.

Do your visual field a favor: declutter tables, counters, mantels, shelves and the entire surface of your refrigerator before you decorate.

Using a sturdy box, corral all knick-knacks, photos, decorative items and mismatched socks, and stow the box in a dark closet. Don't even bother to sort your stuff--you'll do that when you return the items after the holidays.

Clear surfaces make a house look clean, and your decorations will shine in solitary splendor when they don't have to compete with ashtrays in the shape of armadillos.

Do your eyes a favor and store those knick-knacks . . . and get ready for Christmas!

Tabletop check

Perform a tabletop check. Inventory serving pieces, table linens, china and flatware. Print a free printable holiday tabletop checklist to make sure you're ready to set a pretty holiday table.

Scheduling appointments

Schedule family hair appointments, and review the calendar. Will all your loose ends be tied up in good time?

Inventory wrap and mail supplies

Today, cast a quick eye over the household's supplies of gift wrap, ribbon, bows, tape and postal supplies. Use a Wrap and Mail Checklist to be sure you're ready to dive in to gift wrapping chores. Add any needed items to the shopping list, to get organized for wrapping and mailing holiday gifts.

To Read Today

Family ties! The holidays can strain them to the breaking point. Judging from my e-mail, what's the single biggest holiday family conundrum? "Whose home for the holidays?" wins, hands down.

How do you negotiate the "whose house?" dilemma? It's vexing enough for new young families with a child or two; add effects of divorce and remarriage and the debate can come to resemble the floor of the United Nations!

Whether you long to stay home with your babies, or gather all your children and grandchildren under one roof, we've got help:

Whose House For The Holidays?

Today's Recipe

pumpkin bread recipePumpkin-Nut Bread captures the taste of the season.

This generous recipe makes three large loaves or 6 to 9 smaller ones, suitable for holiday giving.

Wrapped in food storage wrap and placed in a freezer food storage bag, this recipe will keep in the freezer for 6 to 8 weeks. Make ahead and freeze for a quick kitchen gift!

Pumpkin-Nut Bread

To Print Today

Wrap and Mail Checklist

Holiday Tabletop Checklist

Wrap and Mail Checklist
Holiday Tabletop Checklist

Holiday Plans: