Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Holiday Prep – Already?!? October 31, 2009

Serving Hot CocoaBy Julia Pantoga

Don’t come complaining to me about those crowded mall parking lots in December. I’ll be home drinking hot chocolate or cranberry vodka with friends. You can be there too, with a little advance planning.

Last year I went all out to give you timely holiday prep tips and I have little to add this year, so here’s a list of all the holiday prep articles from last year:

holiday cookiesGiving Away Baked Goods

Holiday Roll-out Cookies – Part One
Holiday Roll-out Cookies – Part Two
Holiday Roll-out Cookies – Part Three

Packing for Holiday Travel

Holiday Entertaining Made Easy

Great Baking Gift Recipes

Decorating Your Home

Handmade Gift Ideas

Super Yummy Fast Fast Party Snacks

In order to kick back in December, here’s a list of things to start this week:
1. If you are going to give away baked goods:

             a. Decide what you are going to make (last year I gave away little gingerbread cakes, this year is all cookies, I’ll share my recipes with you in a few weeks.)
             b. Start collecting containers for putting the baked goods in (see photo below)
             c. Keep your eye out for sales on specialty ingredients (If you are using commercial candy in your holiday baking, you will probably find it on sale on Sunday, November 1, the day after Halloween)

gift containers

Containers I have accumulated so far, for less than $30

     2. If you are going to make decorated holiday sugar cookies, make the dough and freeze it now.

     3. If you are going to send holiday cards:
              a. Go through your list to make sure you have complete addresses for the entire list.
              b. Pick out the holiday cards you are going to use (I KNOW you have them because you bought them right after the holidays last year like I told you, right?) Put the card box next to where you sit to watch TV. Put a pen in the box and print out a list of everyone you will be sending cards to. During commercials, address the envelopes. Be sure to put the pen back in the box. I have learned over the years that addressing the envelopes is a big job and there is no reason you can’t do it in advance and make writing cards that much more pleasant.

Finally, it is never too early to begin making bags of Super Yummy Fast Fast Party Snacks and start storing them in your freezer to grab on your way to a party!


Holiday Prep: Decorating Your Home Simply and Sensibly November 27, 2008

Filed under: Domestic Goddess — rebmas03 @ 5:42 am
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christmas-treesBy Julia Pantoga

Christmas Trees
I love Christmas trees. I own all the accoutrements: tree stands, tree aprons, tree toppers, lots and lots of lights, garland, and, of course, boxes of ornaments. BUT, I have also lived in many different places, many of which cannot accommodate a full-size tree. In fact as of the writing of this article, this is the third year in a row I haven’t had the space for a full-size Christmas tree.

One alternative I have for a full-size Christmas tree is to display several small trees. You can either group several together (as I have for the photo) or spread them strategically throughout the house. Either way, I would choose a theme for my trees, such as gold trees, ceramic trees or frosted trees.  You will not be able to use your store of Christmas tree trimmings, but you will certainly be able to give your home a festive flair that you can easily move and set out of reach of pets. This is also a good option for the person that will be traveling through the holidays.

decorate-everythingDecorate Everything

Save any pretty cloth ribbon you find, and pack it in your Christmas box. Actually, I keep a separate Christmas box just for ribbon and bows, so I can get to it easily. Collect your ribbons, then go around the house and decorate everything. Pay attention to what you are doing, so you don’t tie your CD player shut. If you don’t have a collection of ribbons, you can buy ribbons and bows quite inexpensively and in bulk at discount stores, at fabric stores, or at hobby stores.

floating-candlesFloating Candles

I discovered floating candles several years ago when I was getting ready for a party. I float my candles in festive green bowls, but you could float them in any container that will hold water, including an unused sink or an outdoor fountain. Light your floating candles while they are still dry–i.e. before you float them in water! Any water on the wick will extinguish your match.

hoiday-shelf-displaySet Up One Special Display

If you can’t have a tree, clear off one or two shelves of a bookcase and set up a special holiday display. This will give you the opportunity to display your favorite holiday decorations. With Christmas trees scattered around the house, ribbons on everything, candles floating around and your special shelf, your home will look quite festive.

Think ahead

On December 26, go shopping for Christmas decorations that you will use next year. Look in places that you already are, like the grocery store, at the post-Christmas sales – you will be surprised at what you find. I have been doing this for twenty years now, and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had to shop for wrapping paper, ribbons, or household decorations before Christmas. Shopping before Christmas for Christmas decorations and supplies can be awful: there are too many cars in the parking lot, the check out lines are too long, there are so many people in the Christmas aisles that you can hardly browse, etc. You can avoid that next year. If you mostly give away baked goods, as I do, wrapping paper will last for years.