Tips + Tricks


It’s no secret that we love Christmas around here. Last year, we even built a huge Christmas vintage TV for the front yard – which we won’t be doing again. Ever. But yeah, we’re that kind of crazy about Christmas. We typically start putting out Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. A day filled with hot chocolate, tree decorating, internet shopping and pajamas followed by a night filled with Christmas movies is our kind of Black Friday. While it’s not time to start decking the halls just yet, it is time to start thinking about it.

November To-Do List //

Being a fan of lists – I’ve even been known to make lists of lists – the other day, I put together our to do list for the month of November (some house-related, some not). Things are bound to get hectic once Thanksgiving rolls around and it will be here before we know it. As Christmas is getting closer and closer, I really want to get our proverbial ducks in a row enough to really enjoy the Christmas season and breeeeeeathe. Sure, we’re still going to have house projects to work on and work stuff to finish up before the new year, but having a few things out of the way will help turn the crazy into, well, not so crazy. Here’s what’s on our list of to-dos…

01 // Deep clean the entire house. We like to give the house a really deep clean every few months or so. Doing it in November, before the Thanksgiving prep begins, is (in our books) key to a peaceful and clean holiday season. If we spend a day (or two, or three) giving everything and every room in the house a good and deep scrub down, that will make regular house cleaning a lot easier and faster during the busy season.

02 // Clean the windows. Around our neck of the woods, Fall is a great time to clean exterior windows because the bugs are dying and pollen season is over. Yeah, it’s not fun, but once it’s done, it’s really nice to start off a new season of snow weather with sparkly clean windows. Speaking of window cleaning, click on over here to win a Professional Fish Window Cleaning Kit.

03 // Schedule our get-togethers. This year, we’re headed to Florida for Christmas to hang out with my side of the family. Since we’ll be out of town, we’re going to schedule other times to exchange gifts and do the Christmas thing with Greg’s family. Needless to say, everyone’s holiday calendars tend to fill up fast. In that case, even though we’re weeks away, we’re currently tossing around a few dates to set in stone on the calendar – which will make this the first thing we’ll be knocking off our to-do list.

04 // Design, Print, Address + Stamp Christmas Cards. Last year… let’s just say we were a “little” late when it came to sending out our Christmas cards. So late in fact that we didn’t even send them. So, I was left with three sheets of custom-printed mailing stamps with Bentley’s photo and “2012”. Yeah, go me. Lesson learned. This year! I’m going to be on the ball and get these little suckers designed, printed, addressed and stamped before Thanksgiving. I know that seems super early, but once Thanksgiving has come and gone, all I have to do is pop the cards in the mail and I will have conquered the world. Okay, not really. But you know what I mean.

05 // Stock the pantry with baking essentials. Something about the smell of something yummy baking in the oven gets you in the holiday sprit, right? I’m not really an avid baker throughout the year, but I like baking with my family around the holidays. Since I’m pretty sure we don’t have confectioners sugar in the pantry already, I’m going to go ahead and start stocking up on the essentials. On that note, one year, every single area grocery store in our area was sold out of canned pumpkin. Seriously. So, I’m going to be sure to pick up a few cans just in case.

06 // Hang the Christmas lights on the house. Last year, we had to decorate the outside of the house the week before Halloween because we were taking part in a “holiday style challenge” for Home Depot. We definitely had a few weird looks from people driving down the road, but it had to be done. This year, we’re still planning on hanging the icicle lights on the house early, but not until about the third week of November. That way, the weather won’t be unbearably cold yet. We won’t turn them on until Thanksgiving night (that’s kind of a tradition around our area of town).

07 // DIY an Advent Calendar. I’ve wanted to do this for a while now, but when I think about it, it’s always too late. This year, I’m determined to get that baby done before the first. Now, let me pause while I go put numerous reminders in my iPhone.

08 // Start (or finish) buying Christmas gifts. I’m one of those people who think about gift ideas for people in our life year-around. I’ve found that a private Pinterest board is the best way for me to keep track of them without running the risk of someone seeing it. So around this time, I have a pretty good idea of who’s getting what from Greg and me. In that case, now is the time to start buying gifts. That way, we don’t end up spending a lot of money at one time and it’s all pretty spaced out and we can save money of expedited shipping. I keep all of the gifts we buy on the top shelf of the guest room closet (we actually already have a few gifts stashed away in there). So, when it’s time to start wrapping, I know where everything is.

09 // Make a Christmas activity to-do list. If you live in Richmond, you’re well aware of the awesome Christmas lights downtown. They have the entire James Center Plaza decorated with gobs and gobs of deer with little white lights. If you search long enough, you can find Rudolph! Our wedding reception was at the Bull & Bear Club, which is on the top floor of the James Center. Since we got married right after Christmas (on the 29th), all of the lights were still lit. For that reason, it’s always a special thing for us to go downtown to see the lights. Since we got married, Greg and I have wanted to go to the Grand Illumination that takes place the first week of December, but it’s always too late to schedule it in our calendar once the ads start popping up on the local news. Which is why, a to-do list for Christmas activities is a must. If we schedule things far enough in advance, we’ll hopefully be able to get around to everything Christmas-y we’ve been wanting to do.

10 // Break out the Christmas music. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”. As far as the Christmas music is concerned, I actually started listening to it a few weeks ago. Yeah, I told you we were crazy. Our cable company has a group of music channels that are actually pretty good. We like having it on the “Singers and Swing” channel throughout the year, but when Thanksgiving gets closer, they break out the Christmas music on the “Sounds of the Season” channel. As the music is paling, the screen displays Christmas photos and fun Christmas trivia. They have a great mix of mostly old classics (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, etc) mixed in with new classics (Mariah Carey, Lady Antebellum, etc).

That about wraps up the gist of our To D0’s. We’re hoping by slaying this list over the next few weeks, our holidays may be a bit merrier and brighter. How about you, do you have any November to-do’s to add to the list? When do you start decorating for Christmas? My BFF is married to “Mr Christmas”. After agreeing that if he got 100 likes on his Facebook status, she’d let him put up the Christmas tree. Well, after nearly 200 likes, they now have two Christmas trees up in their house. At least we’re not that crazy ; )

Altered image from here.

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  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I have the same problem with the Advent Calendar…it’s always too late by the time I think about it. I AM DOING IT THIS YEAR. And love the idea of a secret Pinerest board! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Oh my god this post makes me so giddy and excited!!! I have been listening to Christmas music for about a week now and just CANNOT wait for Halloween to be over, because that means full out Christmas mode for the next two months (I’m Canadian, so we had Thanksgiving a couple weeks ago).
    I’m so happy to know I’m not the only Christmas nerd around!

  • Reply
    Lori H
    October 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for this list, Ashley! I am such a list person and was thinking about starting one. Now I can start with yours! We have a big Christmas party every year and I want us to get organized for that and make a playlist of both holiday and non-holiday tunes. I have also wimped out on Christmas cards for TWO years so it’s time to let people know we are still alive 🙂 Although with Facebook there aren’t too many friends left in the dark!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Great November to-do list! I really hope you get the advent calendar completed early enough that you can post it early enough! I always want to do an advent calendar but never think of it on time as well!

  • Reply
    Kristin Q
    October 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    This list gives me so many great ideas to get started on planning for the upcoming Holiday season 🙂

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    i have a secret pinterest board for gifts. makes things much easier.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Just found your blog a couple of months ago. LOVE it! Checked out your TV from last Christmas and OMG. It is to die for. Wish I lived nearby and could have seen it in real life. Will you put it out again this year? I could see doing a different holiday movie each year. How fun.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Thank you! We actually retired the gigantic Christmas TV last year. It was a short run, but it was fun while it lasted, haha.

  • Reply
    Madeline @ Create . Bake . Celebrate
    October 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    My aunt was in charge of the lights at the James Center for a LONG time! She still goes to the Grand Illumination. She always loves to hear stories of why the lights are special to people- I will pass this one along!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Aw, that’s so neat! We love that place!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I love this list! And pretty much have all of those things on my to do list, also! This is our first year as home owners (yay!), and I love your idea to hang the lights early and just wait to turn them on! Thanks for that tip!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Congrats on your first home! The holidays are so much fun, and one of our favorite things about being home owners : )

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    I’ve been trying to find the time to iron out my to do list. As a teacher at a Christian school, I have to essentially plan two Christmases–one at home and one at school! The time between my birthday (Nov. 25) and New Year’s is my favorite time of year!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Perfect time for a birthday!! : )

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I go crazy for to-do lists, as I read yours I quickly made myself a November Goals list to motivate throughout the month! So excited for Christmas, already bought my first gift.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I love this list!!! So, you deep clean every few months? Want to expand on that for the rest of us? 🙂 I’ve got 2 dogs and 2 little boys, so I’m pretty sure my house could always use a deep cleaning. hah!

    • Reply
      October 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      Haha! I was actually thinking about doing a “What’s in our cleaning bucket” post for next week. I guess I’ll put it on the calendar : )

  • Reply
    October 31, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I’m with you, Ashley. The day after Thanksgiving – decorating with Christmas music playing in the background and hot chocolate close at hand (even if it’s still warm here in Richmond). And watching It’s a Wonderful Life and Home Alone. So much nicer than fighting the crowds. Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    It sounds like you are going to have a busy November. 🙂 I hope that you are able to get everything complete, and I agree that decorating for Christmas is hard when the weather isn’t Christmasy…or wintery.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    This post made me so excited!!

  • Reply
    Diane J. Eck
    November 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I know what an advent Calendar is, but is there something special about the one you’re talking about??!

    • Reply
      November 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      There are a ton of DIY advent calendars out there on Pinterest I’ve seen and loved, but I don’t have an idea for ours quite yet.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Hi, Ashley-

    I just love your post and look forward to it each week. I, too, have a huge love for all things Christmas! I love, love, love Christmas music, and have been secretly playing it in my car through Pandora whenever I’m alone for the past few weeks. However, everyone knows that Nov. 1 is officially Christimas kickoff for me, (and they stop riding in the car with me!) ; )
    I also love Christmas movies, which is why I was in complete HEAVEN this weekend with Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas movie weekend, which now plays everyday. Sigh. Such a happy time! I even enjoy the junk mail, catalogues, and email ads because everything is about Christmas shopping, of which I consider myself a pro. Do you go out on Black Friday? It is a huge tradition for the girls in my family. As soon as we clear the Thanksgiving dinner dishes, we spread out all of the ads ( hubbies join us in this part!) and we start officially strategizing before heading out in the wee hours. I do hate, though, that it starts on TG evening now. I wish everyone were closed and home with their families for the day. Unfortunately, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, so I will be out at 8 pm on TG night. Is that a bad thing? ?
    Enjoy this holiday season of majgic, family, and happiness. I look forward to all of your holiday posts!

    • Reply
      November 5, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Aw, your comment made me smile! That sounds like so much fun! Our tradition is to do a little shopping on Black Friday then cap off the night with a Christmas movie night for two – well, two and a half if you count Bentley : )

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