By Tammy Smith
Suddenly, the holiday season is at hand. While it’s always helpful to plan, it’s especially important this year to not find yourself scrambling at the last minute. Because of projected shortages and delays, gifts and items we often wait to get may not be available.
Here’s a handy checklist to help you prepare for 2021’s holiday season.
Transition: Use harvest-related and non-scary Halloween decorations as part of your Thanksgiving scheme. You can even use elements like simple pinecones to further transition to a Christmas theme.
Get Christmas decorations ready to go by mid-November: Check the tree lights to make sure they all work, and look through ornaments for broken pieces. If you use an artificial tree, see if any parts are missing.
Pare down: While you’re looking through those decorations, see if there’s anything that needs to be thrown away or that you haven’t used in several years. Instead of packing useful but unused items away for another year, donate them to charity. This will help minimize the chore of storing.
Clean: If you are big on entertaining during the holiday season, do a deep clean just before the start of the parties and maintain throughout the season.
Budget: Be realistic and stick to it.
Shop ASAP: If there’s a toy or other item you know will be popular this year, get it or order it now — like right now. Be aware that some items may have a long wait list this year. Availability can be complicated; sometimes one component affects an entire assembly line.
Assess priorities: Could this be the year that an experience would be a greater gift than a thing? How about swimming lessons or trips to special places here on the Coast?
Make a list, check it twice – or more: Keep the list with you so that if you happen to come across a potential gift, you know who would appreciate it best.
Schedule pictures: If an annual Christmas photo is part of your family’s cards, schedule the shoot as soon as possible – no later than November.
Set mail deadline: When do you plan to take the cards to the post office? Determine that date, then count backward to determine when you need to have them signed and envelopes filled out.
Get your supplies: Buy cards and stamps early, and have them ready to go.
Plan: Do you get confused or overwhelmed when trying to plan a meal for a certain number of people? Websites such as the Omni Thanksgiving Calculator (https://www.omnicalculator. com/food/thanksgiving) and other party calculators help you determine how much you need.
Know what’s popular: Don’t wait until the day before Thanksgiving to get cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and canned pumpkin; your store may be out. Buy these as early as possible and keep them handy. For perishables, buy these about three or four days before the event.
Make ahead and freeze: If there’s anything you can make and freeze for the celebration day, do it. That might include side dishes, casseroles and desserts.