By November 1st, if you haven’t already done so, send out Thanksgiving dinner invitations. Design your own, or search online for customizable options -- including e-mail invites.
It's not too early to start planning Christmas present ideas and budgets. Check online for sales, and consider time-saving options such as gift cards and magazine subscriptions.
Preserve fruits and vegetables at the peak of freshness to enjoy later or give as gifts. Seek out unique recipes such as pickled green beans or cinnamon-ginger pears.
As the weather cools, take stock of winter clothing. Donate outgrown garments, discard stained items and mismatched mittens and socks, and organize the rest neatly in closets and bureaus.
Flickering candles set the scene for cozy evenings during the holidays. Set out a variety of styles around your home, such as on mantels and side tables, to instantly impart warmth and light.
Decorate your home for the harvest season with all-natural elements. Set out a dish brimming with pinecones, berries, and moss, or fill a vase with twigs and dried flowers.
’Tis the season to cook holiday feasts and bake endless treats. Ease the process by organizing kitchen items -- including baking trays, utensils, and dishes -- to keep what you need at hand.
Let the autumn sun shine in. Wipe all your windows thoroughly with a natural cleanser or with vinegar. Then, dust your blinds and shades, and launder your curtains.
Welcome holiday visitors with an organized entry. Incorporate a bench for guests to sit on while removing shoes, a table for dropping off belongings, and extra hooks for coats and wraps.
Do you miss summer gardening? Plant a variety of potted herbs indoors. You can use these fragrant beauties in holiday recipes or as drink garnishes, as well as in crafts and centerpieces.
It's time to plan your Thanksgiving menu. Consider guests' dietary needs or allergies, balance heavier fare with fresh vegetables, and don't be afraid to ask family and friends to bring a dish.
Reorganize your living room furniture for the holidays. Arrange chairs in a circle to encourage conversation among guests, and carve out a special space for your Christmas tree.
Spend a day or two preparing and freezing some of your family's favorite meals. During the holiday rush, you can pop a casserole in the oven rather than cook dinner from scratch.
Dress up your powder room for holiday visitors. Set out pretty hand towels in harvest colors, a variety of scented soaps, and fragrant candles or potpourri.
Don't wait until Thanksgiving Day to discover that last year's tablecloth has a gravy stain! Take inventory of your tablecloths, napkins, and napkin rings, and replace items as needed.
If you're short on space and hosting a large gathering, take heart. Covered with a pretty cloth, any furniture with a flat surface (such as a desk) can double as a bar area or serving buffet.
Set up a kids-only table for Thanksgiving. Spread a white paper table covering with plenty of crayons, set out unbreakable tableware, and add a special edible centerpiece and party favors.
Create a showstopping centerpiece for Thanksgiving. Go for a harvest theme with colorful produce, arrange several flickering candles, or set out an armful of colorful flowers.
Before you cook the turkey and bake the pies, you should thoroughly clean the kitchen. Clear off the countertops, and carefully wipe down all prep areas to ensure optimal food safety.
Once your guests leave, make life easier with a quick post-Thanksgiving cleanup. Toss tablecloths and napkins in the washer before stains set, soak cookware, and load the dishwasher.
Banish wardrobe mishaps this holiday season by compiling a clothing emergency kit to keep in the closet. Include a lint roller, scissors, safety pins, wrinkle-release spray, needles, and thread.
That's A Wrap
Set up a gift-wrapping station in your home office or craft area. Stock up on Christmas as well as generic paper, or try your hand at creating your own designs with stencils and embellishments.
Achieve a warm and festive feel instantly by adding red slipcovers to chairs or sofas. You can pull out the covers again for Valentine’s Day parties and 4th of July celebrations.
Spend time as a family trimming the tree. Consider unique adornments, such as all-natural materials, homemade ornaments, or old costume jewelry and mismatched earrings.
Add holiday pizzazz to your home’s exterior by stringing up lights and decorating existing elements such as trees, bird baths, and window boxes. Finish off with a lighted window display.
Stock up on simple gifts for party hosts or unexpected guests. Pick up items with universal appeal, such as a nice bottle of olive oil, a pretty candle, or a small tin of holiday treats.
Create holiday artwork to hang on the wall without spending much time or money. Simply frame pretty wrapping paper or greeting cards, and hang in attractive groupings throughout the house.
Gather the kids and their friends to make a delicious decoration. Build a traditional gingerbread house, make an eye-catching cookie tree, or simply adorn sugar cookies with icing and candies
Enjoy the beauty of nature with a touch of glitz. Spray-paint pine cones and evergreen branches in shimmery red, silver, or gold, and arrange them in a bowl or vase.
Delight all the senses by imbuing your home with a delightful holiday aroma. Simmer mulled apple cider and cinnamon sticks, burn scented candles, or heat essential oils in a diffuser.
Made With Love
You have lots of recipients on your gift list. Keep costs down, and make homemade gifts for teachers, neighbors, and acquaintances. Consider spiced nuts, handmade ornaments, or cookies
If you'll be hosting holiday visitors, prepare your guest room. Incorporate special touches to help them feel at home, such as fresh flowers, snacks and beverages, and fluffy towels and robes.
Food for Thought
Christmas dinner's coming soon! If your oven will be full, consider cooking the turkey outdoors on the grill or in the smoker or fryer. Also, test your small appliances to be sure they're in tiptop shape.
When you're decking the halls, don't forget the guest bath or powder room. Add Christmas cheer with red or green towels, a bowl of sparkling ornaments, or holiday soaps.
Before the big day, remove condiments and beverages from the refrigerator, and place them in an ice-filled cooler. This will free up space for the turkey, as well as other dishes and goodies.
When setting the table for Christmas, incorporate whimsy and creativity. Mix and match dishes, add fun place cards, and use holiday-shaped cookie cutters or bright ribbons as napkin rings.
Minimize after-dinner cleanup with one simple step: Fill your largest sink, bowl, or cooler with soapy water, and add pots, pans, cutlery, and dishes as they are emptied.
New Year's Buffett
Keep costs down and guests mingling by setting up a New Year's buffet in favor of a sit-down meal. Use cake stands and tiered trays to elevate foods at varying heights for an appealing visual.
Send New Year's Eve guests home with a unique party favor. Some fun ideas include a lottery ticket with special numbers selected, a mixed CD, or personalized cookies or candies.
Whatever the size of your New Year's celebration: break the ice with a game. Have each guest write down a fact about himself and play guess who, or lead a rousing round of charades.