Christmas is a mere month away. Though it may seem like you have all the time in the world, the coming weeks are sure to go by quickly. Here’s a list of things to check off your to-do list so you can cut down on last-minute tasks.
At six weeks out, we should have done the following:
• Think about your holiday decor and write down everything you need
• Take inventory of what decorations are left over from last year and determine if you need to buy anything
• Keep an eye out for sales on decorations and gifts
• Determine who you want to entertain at Christmas and send out invitations
• Make an appointment with your hairdresser or beautician
At five weeks out, did you do these:
Though you may not be hosting guests for a few weeks, it’s never too early to get the following tasks checked off your list:
• Shop for decorations
• Create a gift list for loved ones
• Buy everything you need to wrap presents, including bows and tags
• Sort through toys, clothes, and other items you no longer use and donate them to a good cause
• Organize a gift exchange
Now it’s just four weeks before Christmas
Christmas is just a short month away, and the magic of the holiday season is in the air. Get in the spirit of things by completing the following tasks:
• Decorate your home while listening to Christmas carols
• On a nice day, set up your outdoor decorations
• Start your advent calendar
• Shop for gifts you still need for friends and loved ones
• Reserve key items like a turkey or Christmas cake
• Help your children write letters to Santa
Three weeks before Christmas
There are only three short weeks until Christmas. Make your
life easier by completing the below tasks:
• Plan your Christmas meals
• Finish buying all your gifts, especially those that require delivery
• Confirm who will be attending your Christmas party
• Make sure you have enough chairs, tables, and dishes for your guests
• Plan the entertainment for your holiday get-together
Two weeks before Christmas
Christmas is fast approaching, but there are still 14 days left before the big day. If you’re wondering what to do this week, use the following list as a guide:
• Write and mail your Christmas cards to ensure they arrive on time.
• Cook foods that freeze well, like meat pies and casseroles.
• Finish your gift shopping before the stores become too crowded. Make sure to purchase one or two extra gifts in case you receive an unexpected guest.
• Wrap your gifts or have them wrapped by a local non-profit. Hide them from your children or place them directly under the tree.
• Finalize your Christmas menu while considering the dietary needs of your guests.
One week before Christmas
Time flies in December! Now, there’s only one week left before Christmas. Even if you’ve been preparing for a while, here are a few things you may still need to do in the coming days:
• Make desserts to serve at your party or enjoy in the coming days
• Clean and organize your home, so it’s ready for entertaining
• Go to the grocery store to buy fresh and perishable foods
• Take a moment for yourself to enjoy this festive and joyous time
Four considerations for an online Christmas party
If you can’t visit your loved ones during the holiday season, consider getting together with them online. A virtual celebration is an alternative option that simply requires a bit of preparation. Here’s what you’ll need to think about.
When picking a date and time for your online event, consider everyone’s availability. Don’t forget to factor in time zone differences, if applicable.
There are several online applications you can use to host your virtual get-together. Select the most appropriate one based on how many people will be attending as well as their computer skills and available internet access. Some platforms also allow guests to join by telephone.
Plan a few activities to make the event more fun. For example, arrange for everyone to eat a similar meal or drink the same cocktail. You can also play games that work well remotely, like trivia challenges and bingo.
Set up your computer in an appropriate location, and if you need a table or room to move around, prepare accordingly. Then, add some festive decorations to your background. Consider wearing a headset for superior sound quality.
If you’re giving gifts to your loved ones, mail them ahead of time so they can unwrap them online during the celebration.
De-Grinching Christmas by fighting inflation
Maybe the Grinch isn’t real, but as inflation continues unabated, it could feel like your Christmas has been stolen.
Happily, there are still ways to save some money.
First, it’s smart to put your holiday gift list together earlier rather than later. This way, you’ll have more time to watch for great deals and won’t make last-minute purchases in a panic. You can also use tools like CamelCamelCamel.com that will track price drops and alert you if items on your list go on sale. You can also use services like Rakuten that provide rewards and cash back when you make purchases.
And who to buy gifts for? With inflation at historic levels, you can’t really blame folks for buying gifts only for immediate family members. The fact is, pretty much everyone is being forced to tighten their belts right now. Inevitably, there are people you feel obligated to purchase for. Try buying small boxes of candy. Or bake holiday cookies or cakes to give away. A half-dozen cookies in a bright wrapper can be very welcome and festive.
Rather than super-sizing your Christmas meal this year, make only what you can eat at one meal (and maybe enough for sandwiches the next day). It’s estimated that roughly 40 percent of food ends up in the trash — and that’s like burning cash. Rather than picking up a 20-pound turkey for a six-person Christmas party, downsize to 13 pounds. Instead of pouring eggnog into a punch bowl, make a small pitcher for the fridge. There will be less waste.
Also, folks typically want brand-new products, but you can often save a ton of cash buying refurbished goods. It’s not uncommon to find refurbished gadgets on eBay and elsewhere that are selling at a steep discount and come with a warranty. And if you’re buying any gifts for yourself, consider waiting until the New Year, as many retailers will hold generous after-holiday sales to clear out stock and holiday returns.
At Thanksgiving dinner: Who will say grace?
Being chosen to say grace at a big family dinner is always an honor. Often, however, no one is chosen, though all expect and anticipate the prayer. A Thanksgiving meal prayer makes the occasion special and makes your friends and family feel blessed.
When the question is asked, “Who will say grace?” you can volunteer, even though you may not be the most “religious” person in the family (the one who is will be pleased to have you step forward).
The best prayers are those that come from the heart rather than from a prayer book. A prayer could begin with something as simple as, “For all our family and friends, we thank you, Lord.” Or “We pray your blessings on our family and friends and on those who could not be here today. We thank you for our many blessings and for this opportunity to be together. Bless this food and those who prepared it. Amen.”
A few tips: Keep it short, so the food doesn’t get cold. Keep it simple. Avoid any further philosophizing, and don’t use it as an opportunity to ask God to correct anyone’s faults. Be humble.
If it is a buffet-style dinner, offer the prayer while everyone is ready to go through the line. If it is a sit-down dinner, asking everyone to hold hands is a nice touch.
Recognizing the Plymouth Thanksgiving: How the Pilgrims became America’s forefathers
The town of Plymouth in Massachusetts has not always been well-known. The town and the Pilgrims who created it were largely forgotten for 200 years until December 22, 1820.
On that day, the great orator Daniel Webster traveled to Plymouth from Boston to take part in the bicentennial celebration of the Pilgrims’ landing. So great was his speech that it became known as the “Plymouth oration.”
Before 1,500 people seated themselves on wooden benches in the meetinghouse, he said, in part:
“We have come to this Rock to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labors, our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety, and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty…
“We listen to the chiefs in council … We are filled with reverence and admiration for the mild dignity of Carver and Bradford, the decisive military air of Standish, the devout Brewster, the enterprising Allerton…”
Webster’s oration started the Pilgrims’ elevation to their status as forefathers of the nation. At that time, the recently independent America needed an event and a place that rooted the country to its founding history.
They needed a founding location. Jamestown in Virginia was a candidate, as was Plymouth in Massachusetts. Jamestown had an advantage because it was founded 13 years before the Pilgrims landed. But Plymouth offered a moral authority, thanks to the words of Daniel Webster.
Though the great Thanksgiving feast occurred 401 years ago, in November of 1621, we still follow the Pilgrims’ lead in being thankful for our blessings on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving fun facts
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the U.S. In a letter to his daughter, he said the bald eagle had a bad moral character.
- Minnesota produces most of the 46 million turkeys prepared at Thanksgiving in the U.S. every year.
- Green bean casserole, invented by the Campbell Soup Company, is served in 30 million households, but 24 percent of diners hate it.
- Breaking the wishbone originated with the Estruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. Birds were thought to be able to predict the future. They actually kept the bones intact to use the birds’ powers for more wishes.
The history behind Taps: the bugle call played on Veterans Day
Taps is a 24-note bugle call played at American military funerals, wreath-laying ceremonies, and memorial services like Veterans Day.
In 1862, Major General Daniel Adams Butterfield adopted a French bugle call believed to be written in 1809 to signify the day’s end to soldiers. It was used as a signal to communicate troops should extinguish all lights and go to bed.
Butterfield also used Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia. The call soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was even used by the Confederates.
As for the name Taps, it most likely comes from the fact that prior to Butterfield’s bugle call, the “Extinguish Lights” call was issued by three drumbeats colloquially referred to by troops as taps. When Butterfield’s call replaced the drumbeats, soldiers continued to refer to the end-of-day signal in this manner.
By 1891, Taps became a standard component of military funerals and in 2012, Congress recognized it as the National Song of Remembrance.
5 interesting facts about Veterans Day
Every year, Americans celebrate Veterans Day on November 11 to honor the country’s veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. Here are five facts you may not know about this important day.
1. Veterans Day was initially called Armistice Day
Armistice Day began as a celebration recognizing the victory of the allied forces during World War I. It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and is now dedicated to veterans of all wars.
2. There’s no apostrophe in Veterans Day
The lack of an apostrophe in “Veterans Day” implies that the occasion doesn’t belong to veterans. Rather, it’s a day that honors all soldiers who once served their country, both dead and alive.
3. Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day
Memorial Day explicitly honors military members who’ve lost their lives while serving.
4. Other countries celebrate Veterans Day
On November 11, several other commonwealth countries, including Canada and Australia, also honor soldiers who lost their lives in wars. However, in these countries, the occasion is called Remembrance Day instead of Veterans Day.
5. Veterans Day was briefly celebrated in October
In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed, which moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975, President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11 due to the important historical significance of the date.
This year, consider making time to honor the veterans in your community by attending a local Veterans Day event.