I mentioned in my last post The Magic of Christmas-the Living Room, that I have a strategic plan each year to prepare for the Holidays. I did touch on this a little, back in October, but lets get into a little more detail, so that if you want to come along for the ride, we can do it together.

I believe and practice the notion that there is something you could be doing to prepare for next Christmas, every single month of the year. Lets dig in and take a closer look.

January is a no-brainer, get yourself a good old fashioned planner from Target for $10. This will serve you well to organize any thoughts you have throughout the year. Maybe a Pinterest picture you come across, that you will build your entire Christmas around, or maybe just a bunch of small details. Sure you Pin the Picture, but do you ever really go back and look at the pictures. If I find something truly inspiring, I get my planner out and write it down. I have a page for each room in the house, and I jot down the inspiration on the page, for that room where I intend to execute the inspiration. For example a pictures of a Hot Chocolate Station I came across, how sweet. I don’t plan to do one, but there was a $10 jar from Walmart filled with Candy Canes, and tied with a piece of fresh greens, it inspired me to pick up several and use them on my hutch filled with Christmas candy. So this would go on two list. I would jot it down under KITCHEN IDEAS, and additionally on a list titled, THINGS TO PURCHASE.

My lists include the following, but yours may be a little different.




-trees ?





-mantle ideas



-my bedroom

-any extra bedrooms ?











And so on, and so on. Over the next few months I am searching for inspiration and coming up with my take on it. Then adding it to the appropriate lists.

By July its time to start separating the THINGS TO PURCHASE, list onto the MONTHS TO PURCHASE LIST. Of course if you come across a deal before that, jump on it. For instance I could pick up one of those $10 jars at Walmart, once a month in January, February, and March, and use them in another way in the meantime.

Now I take an evening to move the THINGS TO PURCHASE  to the MONTHS TO PURCHASE LIST.

Mine went something like this, this year.

Starting JANUARY-DECEMBER, we scour Flea Markets, Antique Stores, and Junk Shops galore for any Vintage Christmas Balls or cute must have Vintage Finds. now is the time to start ordering Flameless Candles, if you sign up for Pottery Barn emails, you will receive a 20% off one item, coupon, at least once a month, order a $25 or $30 candle every month, you need more than you think. Additionally, I recommend that you switch to Feather Pillow Inserts, so you can have a larger selection of covers, stored folded in a drawer, for a quick change with every season. These forms are another great thing to pick up from Pottery Barn with that monthly coupon. Try to stick with the standard size of 20″, but add in a little variation. Additionally, you can find a 20″ Feather Pillow insert at IKEA for about $6.99, but any other size you will need to find else where.

January-JuneStock up on everything White, Vintage or New. Pick up white tablecloths, napkins, even Linen, Cotton, or White Velvet curtains. White, Silver and Gold pillow covers, by purchasing pillow forms and I suggest feather, you can change out the covers easily and have a larger selection. Stock up on dishes, white is the best base set, then everything else can be layered on top. But mix and match and have some fun. Try collecting a few Vintage Ironstone Pieces, even an old Soup Tureen with a missing lid, makes the perfect vessel for a tiny tree, and/or potted paper-whites.

By  JULY, is when Christmas hits the Hallmark stores and the first thing to go on SALE Boxed Christmas Cards, Wrapping Paper, and paper products, so stock up. Here is a Tip-COUNTER CARDS never go on sale, they get packed up for the following year, so don’t wait. Even the day after, when everything is 50% off, COUNTER CARDS, will not be included, the only exception, Boxed Cards. Now is also a good time to order your Paper-whites, if you place your order through a catalog or on-line for Fall delivery.

In August, is your last opportunity to order any large pieces of furniture of large chandeliers or mirrors, they can end up on back order and sometimes take up to 12 weeks to arrive, so you need to be ready.

In September, Around September 10th-15th in PA, it is time to cut your Hydrangeas to bring indoors for Fall decorating, however, when Fall is over and its time to get rid of them, Tip-save them in the basement or garage at this point, I’ll tell you why in November. Now is the time to stock up on candles of all kinds, if you haven’t been already, some Flameless, some Real flame Pillars, Votives, Tapers, and Jar Candles. Remember, as far as Flameless Candles go, I like to purchase, top of the line, I’ve learned the hard way, its money well spent, however. Sign up for that Pottery Barn emails, you will get a coupon at least once a month for 20% off 1 item, order a $25 or $30 candle every time, and in several sizes. You need more than you think. Tip-plan to change your batteries twice a year at daylight saving time, along with your smoke detectors.

TIP-January is my chill month after packing all of the Christmas up and away. Its time to relax, re-boot, re-organize and re-energize, and get my creative juices flowing again. Any and all Home Projects, remodeling, painting, demo, anything like that, is started in February, and the goal is to wrap it all up by October 1. No projects, not even a small one after that. A craft project would be acceptable, but that is it.

October is here, its time to wash the curtains and any slip covers, and get them pressed and steamed.

Mid October, I start setting the stage for my Christmas decor, yes, even while my Fall decor is out. I don’t bring it out just yet, but I set in place those pieces I plan to use with my Christmas decor. Multiples of candles, and mirrors, I get furniture in place, to make room for the tree. I usually need something moved to the basement or garage for the Holiday months. You just never know what I might be planning. This is the time to check your list of “Things to Purchase”, and see if there is anything left, you need to pick up.

Come late October, Christmas hits the Catalogs and begins to trickle into the shops. Additionally there are SALE items you can pick up, an example would be a pure white linen table cloth, you might even find this in the middle of the Summer, and you could simply add some Christmas Napkins to it, to make it Holiday ready. I have found over the years that the Holiday Linens sell out quickly, and Napkin Rings are nearly impossible to find enough of, closer to the Holidays, so grab them as soon as they hit the shops. If you have a Holiday Party, Work Party, or Neighborhood extravaganza, now is the time to begin the search for the Dress, shoes and accessories. TIP-remember if you are invited to dinner, or a party, take a hostess gift.

If you use artificial Trees, Garlands, or Wreaths, they are on SALE now. Order right away, for first dibs. If you prefer a lightbulb of a specific color, or a hard to find color, one they don’t carry much of, get it now, like green. Maybe you have a vintage silver tinsel tree, try Amazon for the obscure, silver cord with white lights. You can try to find your PaperWhite bulbs now at your local Garden Center, but some years they don’t show up in store until November.


Now its November, the first week is the best week to put up any outdoor lights, before it gets to cold, you don’t need to turn them on yet, but if you live anywhere that is cold, get them up now. If you are planning even a small get together at your home, plan to have all or even part of it catered, and get your order in NOW. I have done this in the past, I catered out all the main meats, so I only had to worry about side dishes. It was a much more enjoyable party, and not very expensive. If you add ribbon, tags, or sprigs of greenery to your packages, pick them up before Thanksgiving for the best selection. Soon it will be slim pickings.

This is the time to place your order for any fresh greenery you want delivered in early December, and you can even visit your local Tree Farm and pre-select your Live Christmas Tree, they will tag it with your name, for when its time for cutting. And get your order in for next year now, if you want a specialty tree, like one dyed Rose Gold or Pink one, or freshly Flocked. I pick up bundles of cut branches as soon as the tree farms open for large outdoor urns, its very important to get them in place before the first freeze. And remember those dried Hydrangeas you saved from Fall, tuck them between your branches of pine, to soften the look. Remember, if you didn’t get your Paper white Bulbs, get them early November, they sell out fast.

If you want to send a Fruit Basket, or even crates of fruit, Candy, nuts and dried fruit Towers, or Meat and Cheese Platters, order now so you have the first pick of the week you prefer delivery, you can even order Fresh Flower Bouquets at this point, for the week of Christmas delivery.

If you spend Black Friday shopping on-line like I do, this is the perfect day, to start writing out your Christmas Cards, and when you head to the Post Office to buy your stamps-remember to ask for the Christmas ones.

Now its December, you are all done right, no, finish up that shopping, the wrapping, baking, and meal planning. Remember to stop by Hallmark again, you need some special cards, for your Postman, Trash man, Hairdresser, anyone that does a service for you. Take time to visit someone in the Hospital, Nursing Home, or just an elderly neighbor. When my girls were still home we baked cookies and the girls delivered then to each of the older neighbors, they are all gone now. Its time for Caroling, Pumpkin Pies and Cookies. I like to sit in the evening and work on a craft, like a POM-POM Wreath-its really the only time of year I feel crafty. This is also the time for sitting back, lighting a fire, and enjoying all your hard work, who am I kidding, this isn’t hard work, I love every single minute of it all.

And………. its time to start your list for next year, and start looking for inspiration, so you can do it all again.

TIP-Okay, okay, I have some decorating secrets I will share soon. My process.

I hope this was a blessing to even one, it is a tried and true plan that truly works.

Thanks for Stoping by The Blog

Merry Christmas

Tammy Damore

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