LAURA LYNN | Holiday Hero Guide
Edmonton-based freelance graphic designer, writer, and illustrator. Also specializes in wayfinding and signage design, exhibit design, strategic planning consultations, and proposal writing.
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Holiday Hero Guide

*** The following was written by Laura Lynn for Cottswood Interiors’ blog. Read the full post here.***

For those charged with hosting family and friends during the festive season, it’s common to feel less than jolly by everything that needs to get done. It never hurts to be prepared, and now is the perfect time to get a head start on getting ready for “the big day”.

To help you get a handle on all tasks that need to be done, we’ve prepared this handy Holiday Hero Guide, broken down week-by-week, so you’ll have the tree trimmed and the halls deckedwith time to spare.


5 Weeks To Go

The heart of the home takes the brunt of the holiday barrage. Get your kitchen armed and ready  well before the big feast.

  1. Clean the oven, but don’t use the self-cleaning cycle. The self-cleaning cycle can be very stressful on the appliance and could cause it to fail right before you need it most. The safest bet is a little oven cleaner and a little (or a lot of) elbow grease.
  2. While you’re at it, check the oven temperature. Use an oven thermometer to check the appliance’s temperature and adjust accordingly. Sometimes, this can be as simple as adjusting the temperature dial so it points to the correct temperature. If a more substantial solution is required, use the adjustment instructions in the owner’s manual.
  3. If you use a drip coffeemaker, give it a good cleaning. Fill the coffee maker’s water chamber with equal parts white vinegar and water. Using an empty paper filter, allow the machine to “brew” until half the chamber is empty. Turn the coffee maker off, let it sit for 30 minutes, then finish brewing. Rinse the machine by brewing a pot of clear water through a new paper filter. If you use a pod-style coffee maker, run though the vinegar solution without a pod in, then repeat with plain water until the vinegar taste is gone.
  4. Make a point of sharpening knives. Sharp knives will not only provide the means to carve a turkey like a pro, they’re also safer. If sharpening them yourself seems intimidating, bring them to an expert.
  5. Do a full cabinet clean out. Clear everything out of your cabinets and drawers and wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth. Wash baking dishes and toss out any pantry provisions that have gone stale before putting things back. Take inventory and make a note to restock any basics you may need, like flour, sugar, coffee, and tea.


4 Weeks to Go

Time to start dreaming up your ideal holiday.

  1. Bring lights and decorations out of storage, or treat yourself to some new ones. (Check back next week for our 2017 Holiday Style Forecast).
  2. Take stock of paper goods. Pick up stamps, gift wrap, ribbons, bows, tags, and double-sided tape on your next errand run.
  3. Envision your ideal holiday dinner. Browse cookbooks and websites for new ideas or dig out recipes for tried and tested family favourites. If any new-to-you guests will be joining the party, check to see if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions so you can plan accordingly. Make a list of what you’ll need to pick up (and check it twice).
  4. Replace any burned out light bulbs. Pay close attention to lights that serve the front entrance, walkways, or other busy entrances.
  5. Keep it safe. Change smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries, ensure there is a fire extinguisher handy, and double-check your first aid kit to make sure there is burn cream, ice packs, and bandages.


3 Weeks to Go

Make some room for holiday spirit.

  1. Clean out the coat closet. Donate any outgrown winter garments and boots to charity (such as the Bissell Centre), discard stained items and mismatched mittens and socks, and organize the rest neatly in baskets. Invest in a few extra hangers for guests, if needed.
  2. Conceal your living room clutter. Put away things that you won’t need (or, if they don’t serve a purpose, consider getting rid of them altogether). Tuck anything you may still need close by in existing storage pieces: chests can hold throws and blankets, baskets corral stacks of magazines, and storage ottomans keep toys and books out of sight. (Still lacking storage? Browse some of our solutions.)
  3. Clean table linens, if you’ll be using them, such as your table cloth, runner, napkins, and placemats. Polish silver, if necessary. (Need a bigger table? Cottswood has plenty to choose from.)
  4. Bring in firewood. Leave a stack of logs to dry indoors for a few weeks so they’ll be ready in time for a holiday blaze. Test run gas fireplaces, especially if they haven’t been used since last winter. No fireplace? No problem.
  5. Prepare and send out your holiday cards and any packages. A customized return-address stamp can help make the task snappy, and we recommend a little eggnog to get you in the holiday spirit.


2 Weeks to Go

Drum up some early dinner necessities then please rest, ye merry gentleman/woman.

  1. If you’re going to make a special roast or fresh turkey, order it now. A frozen turkey can usually be ordered a week or more in advance. If you don’t have a preferred butcher, try Acme Meat Market, Fuge, or Rge Road.
  2. Order wine, liquor, and any other holiday libations you need to stay merry.
  3. If you like to bake, make and freeze holiday cookie dough and pie pastry in advance.
  4. Wrap presents, but only put out ones that won’t be prone to “peakers” or “shakers”.
  5. Schedule some “you time” to relax and regain energy. Make appointments with yourself for personal time, workouts, napping, reading, bubble baths, or a pedicure. You’ll want to be feeling your best to get the most enjoyment out of the festivities.


1 Week to Go

Joy to the world, it’s almost done!

  1. Skip the major last-minute grocery haul. Pull out that grocery list you made when you were planning your dinner and stock up on any items you can get in advance.
  2. Get spare rooms ready for guests, if any will be staying overnight. Clean bed linens and towels, and pick up a few extra bathroom essentials like soaps, toilet paper, and toothbrushes.
  3. Child-proof your home to protect little drummer boys and girls. Cover electrical outlets, move lamps and vases away from table edges (or put delicate decor away entirely), and make provisions to block stairways to prevent falls.
  4. Make a playlist of your favourite jams (classic jingles or otherwise) to set the mood.
  5. Order centrepieces, if you want some some fresh foliage on the table. We love Graham & Lane and The Artworks.


The Day Before the Big Day

(and the not so silent night).

    1. Bake desserts. Bring out that frozen pastry and cookie dough you so cleverly made in advance.
    2. Clean and prep vegetables for sides and salads.
    3. Prep some make-ahead breakfasts if you have family or guests spending the night. Just assemble, chill, and pop them in the oven in the morning.
    4. Set up your table and bar and bring out any necessary extra seating. (Short a few chairs? Check out these.)
    5. Enjoy some milk and cookies. You’ve earned it.



The Big Day

Be there with bells on!

  1. Ask for help and delegate tasks where possible, especially in the kitchen. Go tell it on the mountain, if you have to.
  2. Light some candles, just make sure they’re clear of fah-lah-lammable materials and not at risk of getting bumped by anyone who might be rockin’ around the Christmas tree.

Dress up in your festive best (not all heroes wear capes, afterall), pour a glass of whatever makes your spirit bright, and let the party begin!

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