Best of the Web: Holiday Planning Tips to Simplify Your To-Do List

From full remodeling jobs, to repainting, to decking the walls for the holidays, this week’s blog collection features details on transforming your home. Decluttering, cleaning and organizing well before guests arrive for a Christmas party or holiday dinner will give you time to enjoy the festivities with friends and family instead of racing to get everything finished. With expert advice on planning, decorating and home staging for the season, these bloggers cover everything you need to know.

How to Clean Pans

Baking cookies is a holiday tradition in many households, but those cookies can take their toll on baking sheets. As part of her “Simplify the Season” series, Becky of CleanMama has a solution for getting cookie sheets made of aluminum, stainless steel and other metals sparkling. Her kitchen trick takes only four ingredients: paper towels, aluminum foil, a heavy-duty dry cleanser and enough water to make a paste. Restaurant workers have long known about the cleaning power of foil, but Becky’s brought it out of the professional kitchen and into the home. With pictures showcasing the results and easy instructions, this tip is a must-read for anyone who plans to do plenty of baking for the holidays or who has extra kitchenware that’s destined for storage.

Snowman Collection

Tammy at Ambrosia’s Attic also plans to simplify her life for the holidays. She’s combined Christmas giving with streamlining her home by sharing her extensive collection of snowmen with her students. She placed some of the smaller snowmen from her collection in gift bags and let each child choose a bag at random during a musical chairs game. The snowmen had their own stories, and passing them along to the children was Tammy’s way of adding a new chapter to those tales as the kids brought them home and made them part of their own holiday celebrations. It’s a beautiful way to share the joy of the season and build on family traditions without accumulating heaps of items that contribute to clutter after the holidays.

Home Staging Colors

Whether you’re staging your home or preparing it for guests, choosing the right color palette creates a warm and welcoming space. Debra Gould with Staging Diva has some excellent suggestions for choosing paint colors to express individuality while enhancing your home’s appeal to visitors. From tranquil neutrals and pastels that evoke a restful spa atmosphere to bright hues that add excitement in kitchens and kids’ rooms, Debra suggests color schemes that turn a house into a home. As a home-staging expert, she also has cogent suggestions for color combinations to use with caution to avoid creating a dark or dated look. She points out that even challenging colors can look fresh when used in unexpected ways, so let her suggestions inspire you to use unusual hues in your decor.

Organizing Label

Labeling is for more than just Christmas presents, and at Unclutterer, Jacki Hollywood Brown offers a comprehensive look at labeling solutions for getting and staying organized. She details the different uses of permanent labels, removable tags, self-adhesive stickers and specialty labels for home, garden and office use. Everything from potted plants to party drinks can benefit from the right label, and Jacki has suggestions for all of them. Her post is a must-read for anyone who is trying to get organized, maintain order in a busy home or transform a cluttered space into a neat storage area.

Holiday Checklist

While some organizing experts swear by labels, others would be lost without their checklists. Susan at Achieving Creative Order relies on her December cleaning and organizing checklist to stay on top of a busy holiday season. By setting aside space on her checklist for them, she is able to prioritize seasonal tasks such as baking homemade gifts and wrapping presents. It’s easier to remember to address and mail out holiday cards when they’re on the list, but her organizational calendar also includes setting aside time to enjoy the holidays with her family. In the whirl of holiday preparations, it’s important to allocate time for family traditions and a few personal indulgences too.

Holiday Binder

Jen at IHeart Organizing takes the concept of a holiday to-do list a few steps further with her holiday binder. Illustrated with images of her own binder, the post also details how you can put your own seasonal binder together and keep everything from Santa letters to family recipes in one easy-to-use book. She’s even done some of the work of creating a binder for her readers by offering print-ready pages for holiday travel organization, gift-giving notes and a party planning to-do checklist. By building a holiday organizer today, you keep future celebrations more organized too; just store it with the decorations, and every year, you'll have everything together for holiday festivities.

Holiday Decoration Ideas

Not every aspect of your holiday has to be perfectly planned. Courtney at French Country Cottage is a fan of adding holiday spirit in a hurry, and her chic and simple ideas are wonderfully welcoming. Visit her blog to find out how to add instant Christmas cheer with fresh wreaths and garlands, make a beautiful front door display and decorate with living trees. When guests leave, they can take home a potted tree, making these beautiful accents memorable gifts as well as decorative elements. For homeowners who prefer the sophistication of simplicity and have limited time to decorate, these suggestions are the answer.

Eclectic Christmas Decorations

For those who have amassed a trove of holiday treasures over years or even decades of collecting, Eclectically Vintage offers suggestions for showcasing your favorite pieces. Kelly’s decorations combine a few new touches with charming vintage ornaments and accessories for a unique look that will captivate friends and family. Lavishly illustrated and beautifully photographed, her blog post is one of the stops on an extensive holiday house tour, but her designs stand out for their variety. Every corner of her home is filled with Christmas cheer, and she details how to create many of these looks for your own memorable holiday setting.

Holiday Pillow

The tree may be the centerpiece of your holiday decor, but Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick has an easy suggestion for making every room merry. She finds and recycles holiday-themed fabric place mats, creating colorful throw pillows and adding them to easy chairs, sofas and day beds to create a holiday atmosphere throughout her home. The double-sided mats only need to be opened, stuffed and stitched shut to create a new design for the holidays. Sarah suggests shopping clearance racks and garage sales for place mats to turn into pillows. Christmas-themed cushions may only grace your furniture for a few weeks each year before going back into storage, but this thrifty craft idea could work as well for any season or theme.

Whether you’re a meticulous holiday planner or a last-minute decorator, this week’s collection of blog posts puts the focus on a stress-free Christmas. Welcome your guests into a peaceful home for the holidays when you have everything in order and don’t have to rush.

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