Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holidays, managed (part 2)

A little bit of work in the beginning of the season can make it go much more smoothly. Three simple shopping trips can leave you well prepared for the round of parties and entertaining. And I promise you won't have to set foot in a mall.

champagne toast
{impromptu champagne toast}

1. Wine store - pick up a case of decent wine and a few bottles of champagne. Sparkling cider is a good bet as well. When you're running out to door to a party or dinner, you can grab a bottle to take with you.

2. Thrift store - look for vases. Pretty much every thrift store has a decent collection of simple vases. I keep about five at all times. If you want to bring the host flowers, having those thrift store vases on hand makes a difference. Bringing flowers is great, but bringing flowers already arranged in a vase (that doesn't have to be returned) is thoughtful, and it won't send your host scurrying to the kitchen to try to scrounge up something that will hold flowers.

3. Office supply store - get some little hanging tags (usually called merchandise tags) and some twine or string. The tags are great for everything, because they can make simple, unwrapped items feel like gifts. Think about it - handing over a pound of coffee is nice, but if you've tied a bit of twine around it and added a gift tag with a note, it looks about a million times more personal.

Non-shopping related prep - I make a huge batch of this cookie dough to store in the freezer. It means I can have cookies ready in under 15 minutes, for impromptu occasions.

Any of you clever readers have holiday prep tips to share? I'm always looking for simple things I can do ahead of time.

32 comments:

  1. perfect tips. will be making those cookies!

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  2. I always keep tapers bundled and tied with a bit of twine for gifts - easy peasy. for nibbles i always keep goat cheese (or cream cheese - depends on my mood) and a bit of pepper jelly for a quick bite. plop the cheese on a plate, cover with some jelly and serve with crackers.

    i heard the flower trick you gave on martha stewart - now i know as i've been so guilty of arriving with just supermarket flowers.

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  3. Brilliant tips. I like to buy nuts in bulk so that I can whip these up in half an hour: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/12/sugar-and-spice-candied-nuts/

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  4. I try TRY try to have all my xmas bought by thanksgiving! This year I am slacking...I still need 3 gifts...may do it today! XO.
    amy

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  5. love the tips! I buy cute little ornaments and tie them to the ribbons on wrapped presents for a little extra touch.

    xoxo

    www.iplayinla.com

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  6. These are really great tips - I love hearing what you have to say about this topic! Keep it up :)

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  7. those are brilliant! Im totally doing ALL of them! Thank you!!!!

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  8. great advice.

    also non-shopping, and i'm not in the sixth grade, but i like having a couple of options in my mind for what to wear for holiday occasions. sometimes that is the forgotten item that can add unnecessary stress for me.

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  9. i made some gingerbread biscuits yesterday and froze half the dough. freezing uniced cupcakes also works really well! i also try to wrap presents up as a i buy them, rather than in one big go.

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  10. Fantastic tips! I just picked up a package of those flat, plastic vases that take shape when filled with water. I think I'll be splitting them up as gifts :)

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  11. Perfect Ideas! especially the cookie dough :D

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  12. Great tips! I keep all the supplies for mulled cider (apple juice, cinnamon sticks, oranges, cloves) stashed in the house for unplanned get-togethers. It's just so cozy and it makes the house smell *wonderful*. It's also a nice option when you need an alcoholic and non-alcoholic option for the same party. Just put out the libations for people to add to their cider at will.

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  13. Love the tips! I also like to freeze cookies in dozens, so that you can just yank them out whenever you need them!

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  14. these are SUCH great tips and i couldn't agree more about having extra vases lying around. it adds such a personal touch to a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a lot less work for the hostess.

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  15. great ways to be prepared! i also like to get a few little boxes of chocolates & some small gift cards (like $5 & $10 starbucks cards) for impromptu gifts for people like teachers/neighbors/mailmen(women) that you don't necessarily think about when you're shopping but who you may encounter during the season and you want to make them feel special. keeping some yummy cheeses & crackers around for drop-in guests is always a good plan too.
    xo meg

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  16. at the beginning of the season, i spend a few hours with old choppable magazines and make a mess of lacy paper snowflakes; like your merch tags, they can elevate a gift in a snap (i usually tuck one into each holiday card we send out, as well). i think my favorite gift wrap of all time is still brown kraft paper sprinkled with snowflakes.

    tip 2 has totally validated my vase-hoarding - love it!

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  17. loving this series. I agree about having some wine always on hand, plus an easy appetizer. I also like gathering up fun wrapping supplies for cookies (and all other gifts). If I have really cute stuff (tags, string, cello bags, balsam-wood boxes, recycled shredded filler, plus trinkets from the Japanese 99c store) on hand, the packaging-up part of gifting is my favorite part.

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  18. Love it. Here's another one: stock up on thank-you notes so you can write as you receive.

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  19. I cut out heaps of snowflakes and make sure I have everything on-hand to wrap as I find gifts.

    And keeping wine on-hand really.does.help.

    Good on you, lovely R!

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  20. Wonderful tips, Rachel!

    I've been remembering a tip you already gave... do not be idle in the kitchen. I think that helps make everything smoother, especially around the holidays, when I focus on multi-tasking in the kitchen while things are cooking/baking. Then I can enjoy family, friends, and kitchen cleanliness!

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  21. These are great tips! I haven't heard the one about the vase before and think it's an awsome idea :) So much nicer than giving just the flowers. I will have to remember that one! Works for other occasions too not just Christmas.

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  22. All of these are great tips!
    I love the one in the comments about having extra thank you cards on hand.

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  23. Amazing! I've been stocking up on wine and gift tag supplied too. I usually keep a few little Etsy purchases floating around as impromptu gifts (when that person you left off your list shows up with something!) I love the letterpress calendars for this especially.

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  24. You are a genius! I really appreciate this series more than I can tell you. I am printing it out and putting it in my holiday folder-as a yearly reminder! I hope you have a really wonderful thanksgiving Rachel.

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  25. I've learned so much from your blog with creative ideas and tips. And this, although simple, is another great one.

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  26. I really like the tip about the vases and will definitely look out on my next thrifting trip.

    I get a lot of gifts in the mail -- notebooks, handkerchiefs, etc. -- from Japan, and as much as I love them, I don't quite *need* all of them. So I keep a *pay it forward* stash on hand for host/hostess gifts and the like. (Hope that doesn't sound ungrateful!)

    Here's to happy holidays for all!

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  27. This is not just for the holidays, but I like to shop year-round for sort of seasonless, nonspecific gifts--like hand soaps and candles when they go on sale.

    This usually happens at places like Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works because they're crowd pleasers and pretty good quality. Then, as you said, just throw a tag on there, and voila! Instant thoughtfulness!

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  28. Love these tips! I think blizzard comes from the fact that they're freezable and therefore cold...? They look deLISH and I plan to make them this week!

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  29. genius! i am going to live by these tips this holiday season. i especially love the impromptu champagne toast.

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  30. What a great list of ideas! Thanks so much!

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