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Guest Post >> Holiday Organizing Made Simple

The holiday season is here and to be honest it sort of crept up on me this year. It is the first week of December, but I’m already feeling behind.I found some great tips from the blog of professional organizer and lifestyle concierge Karen Allbright of Calm Order. She was kind enough to let me share her advice for getting organized to create a stress-free holiday season.Here are her suggestions for managing the Christmas rush with style._____________________Christmas is only a short time away. Christmas dinner is a big event and we need to plan. Where does one start we often ask? There are many things to think about. If we leave it to the last minute we encounter stress on top of the already busy stressful shopping and entertaining events that happen over the holiday season.Ways to combat stress and get organized for you Christmas day.

  1. Make lists
  2. Establish time lines and stick to them

 Home Decorations – Put them out the first week in December.Christmas Shopping – I recommend to shop for stocking stuffers all through the year. Boxing week sales are the time to stock up and find incredible deals. I pick up things like nail files, manicure kits, grooming kits, bubble bath, candles, Christmas PJs. They are usually all half price or more. I store them in one location for next year.Dinner Menu Plan – We need to think about who is coming and do they have any special dietary needs. Do you need to make some vegetarian dishes for them and what are the things we can make ahead and freeze or even make a couple days ahead of time. I particularly like a mash potato bake recipe that I can make a few days ahead. On Christmas day they get popped in the oven and there is no mashing and no mess. I’ll post that recipe in the coming weeks ahead.Think Color! Nothing worse than sitting down to a dinner of brown. Brown gravy, brown stuffing, white potatoes. Vegetables are wonderful and colorful.  If you have Brussel spouts, don’t also pick broccoli. Liven up the dinner plate as if it were a canvas of colour. Think about green beans with almonds, carrots and parsnip medley and colorful roasted peppers. We have greens, oranges, yellows, and reds.Plan what oven space you will need, I often pick vegetable dishes I can make ahead and “heat up” at the last minute in the microwave. An example is carrots. If you steam or boil them, take them out a little early, run under cold water and set aside. Doing this helps keep their vibrant colors. Have your sauce, i.e. brandied carrots, butter, marmalade, what ever you choose, ready to go.  Minutes before you’re ready to eat you stir in your sauce, microwave on high to heat. Presto!! You have an excellent vegetable dish that did not take oven or stove top space.If you want to try a new recipe, give it a test run weeks before the big day.Cooking what you can beforehand allows you to have a clean kitchen and limited dishes to wash. Less mess and less stress.Cut your carrots the day before, put them in some water so they don’t dry out. All you need to do the day of is cook them! Saves considerable time.Wash and dry your salad greens the day before. One of my favourite salads at Christmas is one of pomegranate, candied pecans, feta cheese with a maple dressing. Colorful and beautiful taste combination.Pull out your table linens. Ensure they are washed, clean and fresh and ironed. If you have china, pull it out, wash it if need. Set it aside.Table Setting – If you are lucky enough to have a separate dining table set it early. The day before is best as your time and energy is devoted to the Christmas meal.Choose your wines early, have then chilled and ready to go.Christmas day you can get the turkey in the oven and relax. If you have planned, prepared and shopped early you will enjoy it so much more.Restore the calm and order to your life! You will be grateful you planned ahead.