Countdown Daily Messages

Christmas Countdown Day 22: Get Cooking Week!

ready for holiday cooking

Visited the supermarket recently? It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

With Thanksgiving Day coming soon in the USA, there's no better time to organize holiday meals, menus and baking. Welcome to Get Cooking week!

Assignments center on all things food at the Christmas Countdown this week. We'll clean and prepare food storage areas for the days ahead, plan holiday menus, stock the freezer and get organized for holiday baking.

Along the way, we'll learn ways to save on holiday meals and develop a baking specialty to save time in the holiday kitchen.

Tighten your corsets! We're going to Get Cooking ... for the most delicious holiday season ever!

Christmas Countdown Day 21: Give ... to Make a Difference!

Give to Make a Difference

Is your holiday giving only about "stuff"--or is it a reflection of your heart? To express your deepest holiday values, plan to make a gift of yourself this holiday season!

This week in the Christmas Countdown, we've focused on gifts and giving. 99% of the time, we've seen this effort in terms of "things." Stuff. Boxes and parcels and bags. Stocking stuffers. But have we considered making a true gift: a gift of ourselves?

In the days to come, we'll begin planning the American Thanksgiving holiday. Will we also begin to ponder those things for which we are thankful? Out of gratitude comes grace, and from abundance comes true giving. How will we reflect this gift?

Christmas Countdown Day 20: Status Check!

Check progress today

Nearly half-way there: time to do a little status check on the progress of the Christmas Countdown.

I hope that most of us feel a bit more prepared, a bit better organized. We've met together for three weeks, and we've covered a lot of ground.

Still, it's natural to feel a bit of panic today. From here on out, time will fly with a vengeance. Rehearsals, parties, holiday activities will rain down upon us.

During the next three weeks, the Countdown slows the pace to match the season. Because we're doing more in other areas of our life, the Countdown will lighten the load.

Ahead lies Get Cooking Week, appropriately so as America begins to prepare for Thanksgiving Day. Beyond that, we'll Decorate, then prepare to Celebrate ... an organized Christmas.

Get ready to settle into a slower rhythm! Because ready or not, the holidays are nearly here. This year, though, we are riding relaxed and in control, prepared and ready for the best holiday season ever!

Christmas Countdown Day 19: Simplify Handmade Gifts!

Simplify Handmade Gifts

Ask any wife and mother what she needs most during the holiday season, and she'll tell you, "More time!"

Yet this same busy lady will fill her Christmas gift list with elaborate hand-crafted gifts, requiring substantial outlays of cash, time and skill.

Result? She careens into mid-December either (1) working nightly until 1 a.m. to finish the lot or (2) substituting last minute purchases for the unfinished gifts.

How to take charge of out-of-control crafting? Apply the Rule of Four!

Christmas Countdown Day 18: Set Up a Wrap and Mail Center!

A wrap and mail center speeds gift-wrapping chores.

Wrapping holiday gifts can be one of the most-overlooked chores of the Christmas season. Too often, it takes "hind place" on the to-do list.

Then suddenly, it's Christmas Eve ... and there's a long evening ahead among the ribbons, gift tags and scissors. Assuming you can find them!

Not this year! To make it easier to wrap as we go, it's time to set up a wrap and mail center: a dedicated space to wrap gifts and prepare them for mailing.

With tools and supplies at hand, finding your "center" speeds the job--and keeps the joy!

Christmas Countdown Day 17: Organize Online Shopping

Shop Online and Catalogs

Ready to shop for Christmas gifts? Between mall madness, high gas prices and lack of time, it can be the holiday season's greatest source of stress.

There's got to be an easier way!

Organized gift shoppers know there's an alternative to crowded malls and long lines at the checkstand: shop online or from catalogs!

We'll make it easy with online/catalog shopping tips and a printable order tracker to organize purchases.

Will you do this year's Christmas shopping from your easy chair? It's time to begin shopping catalogs and the Internet!

Christmas Countdown Day 16: Renegotiate Gift Exchanges!

Renegotiate gift exchanges

Time, finances, or changing family circumstances sometimes require adjustments to the holiday gift list. Will this be the year you renegotiate gift exchanges?

Where has your gift-giving overstepped the bounds? Has an exchange with a friend or neighbor grown too expensive and elaborate over the years?

Perhaps it's over-elaborate expectations for adult family gifts, or an outgrown exchange with old school friends. Office gifts and "Secret Santa" exchanges can mushroom into an onerous obligation after a few years.

Will you be the brave soul who calls a halt?

Christmas Countdown Day 15: Gifts and Giving Week!

Christmas gifts

For many families, gift-giving is among the most stressful aspects of preparing for the holiday season. Wonderful as the tradition can be, it has another side: where the rubber of our budget meets the road of our expectations.

Anxieties abound! Will our gifts be enough? Will we send the right message? Can we afford them? Will we find the year's hot toy ... or should we even try to look for it?

There's another, brighter side to gift-giving. Reading assignments this week will help us draw closer to the true meaning of the holiday season. Today's essay, In Praise of Simple Gifts, is intended to get us off to a good start, reminding us that holiday gifts and holiday giving are only pale reflections of the true gift of the season.

Ready? It's time to take on the gift list and get ready for Christmas with Gifts and Giving Week!

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!

Christmas Countdown Day 13: Holiday Wardrobe Check!

Caution: holiday parties ahead! What's the state of your family's wardrobe?

Even if you trend to the casual the other months of the year, chances are, you'll get gussied up at some point during the holiday season.

Posing for holiday photos, attending special worship services, or partying away December's Saturday nights, the Christmas season makes a special claim on the family wardrobe.

Will you be ready? The time to check closets for holiday outfits ... is now!


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