Winter is a time when the earth is in hibernation. The chi rests. Plants rest, trees rest and of course we rest and try to take it easy. The weather gets colder and snow blankets the earth and all looks peaceful and beautiful from the inside of our home. It’s a lovely time of the year.
We may have time to read that book that has been sitting on the shelf for a few months because we were so busy with our autumn yard clean up, etc., and never got around to doing what we wanted to do. It’s a time to sit home and watch TV or have fun with the family. Adult education classes are over until February, so this is a time to decorate the house, enjoy your family, read, play board games, write holiday shopping lists, battle the crowds in the stores for holiday shopping and generally enjoying the indoors.
As winter progresses, it’s a time to make sure your car is in good working condition as well as your tires. You want to be safe in the snow and ice filled streets. Be sure to get that oil change to make sure the engine runs smoothly too.
Here are a few ways to bring in positive (chi) energy into your yard and home for the holidays.
HOLIDAY FENG SHUI TIPS:
Have holiday lights on if it is appropriate to your holiday. Nothing brings guests better than a light display during the holidays. Put lights on timers so that you don’t have to be home to have your lights come on. This also lets others think you are home when you may be off holiday shopping or visiting family, friends or neighbors. (As an aside, I also have motion lights on my house to cover the whole yard, driveway and front walkway for the same reason).
If you are a baker, bake all the great cookies and breads you usually do for the holidays. Nothing invites family, friends and neighbors in general to come into your home more than freshly baked items with those wonderful aromas filling your home and seeping through your doors or windows. Do you need to bake so many cookies? How many can we eat? After the holidays, I get to throw a good deal of them out to my squirrels which live on my property and they say thank you.
Have all of your shopping and wrapping done early. You can buy presents all year long and wait until after Thanksgiving for larger items or items that you want to make sure you can return.
Decorate the house at different times. You can put up the tree one night and then put up window and yard decorations over the next few days. Be sure the children are home, so that they can assist in making your home look beautiful for the holidays. Even though I’m sure they’ll complain at having to work and do something as lame as put up Christmas or holiday decorations, it will be good to show the children that these holidays are for families and families work together.
Write holiday cards when you have a few spare minutes throughout the fall. Many people put names and addresses on computer labels and I must admit I did that for many years. I have learned that they are very impersonal and it’s just like you are saying that you wanted to get that chore out of the way as quickly as possible and had no regard for the person it was being sent to. I hand write all my envelopes and messages inside each card rather than writing a longer typed Christmas-gram. It’s more personal and it’s very rare, so your card will stand out. I have received many comments on my original notes and how refreshing they were.
When getting ready to have a holiday party at your home, here are some tips: clean the house one day, set up the tables and cooking/serving dishes and glasses you will need another day (pop them in the dishwasher if they haven’t been used since the last big holiday), do the food shopping and preparing what you can ahead of time and on the day of the party, you can relax, get ready in a stress free environment and have fun! Clean up can be done tomorrow or after your guests have gone. Some people actually pitch in and clean up as they go. If this is all right with you, by all means, accept the help. You’ve worked hard!
Or throw a load of dishes and glasses in the dishwasher, go to bed and rest so you can face the mess ahead of you in the light of day with a strong cup of coffee or tea in your hand!
Do simple things to help your party run smoother. Prepare the coffee ahead of time so that when it is time for your guests to have coffee (or tea), all you have to do is plug the pot in.
Put your milk pitcher in the refrigerator filled with cold water so it will be kept colder for a longer period of time after serving.
Make sure your table linens are clean. Check them at least a week before your party and clean what needs to be washed or sent to the dry cleaners.
Have holiday music playing in the background, but be sure it is calming music and not blaring to disturb your guests. The idea is to let everyone enjoy themselves which includes chatting to one another to catch up on their lives with soft music playing in the background so you can hear one another.
Be careful about mistletoe. Many guests are shy so if they do not kiss the person they find under it, you may kid them about it once, but then let it go.
If this is a pot luck dinner, prepare a menu so you can tell everyone what they could bring to your home. If it’s not a pot luck dinner but others ask what they may bring, you can always suggest gourmet dips, crackers, breads, wine, sparkling apple cider, eggnog, a bottle of liquor or any dessert a dessert of their choice. Tell them how many guests you are expecting.
You do not need to put out every holiday decoration you have. As the children leave the nest, you can put up a modest yet tasteful display of decorations. The holidays are for us to relax and enjoy the season, not stress over all the decorations, where to move the furniture until after the holidays and rush out to buy the biggest live Christmas tree you can find. I find live trees dangerous, messy (I found pine needles the next July stuck in my rug and eventually my feet!). They need constant water and they seem to dry up quickly. Be careful.
Is an artificial tree out of the question? There are so many kinds of artificial trees that are pre-lit (a gift from Heaven) and in so many shapes and sizes, do we really have to spend a lot of money year after year and have yet another beautiful part of nature being cut down, destroyed and then burned when they are not sold? An artificial tree can be purchased after the holidays for very reasonable prices and they look good for at least ten years if cared for properly.
WINTER QUICK TIPS:
Be sure the furnace is in perfect operating condition so your heating bills will be reasonable and your family will be safe.
If you have a fireplace, be sure to have enough wood stored in a dry space so it can be used whenever you need a fire. Be sure the fireplace has been cleaned, if needed. Every other year would be a good starting point to know when you should have it checked.
Put light timers on in several rooms so that they come on automatically when you are not home. The darkness of night comes quickly in the winter time, so make sure it looks as if someone is home.
Place your heat on a timer too so that you are not wasting precious fuel when it is not needed. There are many thermostats with timers built in and if you don’t have one, they are not outrageously priced.
Are all the window and door seals tight so that you don’t lose precious heating in the winter?
Is your roof in need of repair? It would be worse if your roof was in need of repair and you found out while ice was melting and found its way through your attic and into one of your room’s ceilings.
Keep an extra entrance way runner handy so that excess mud, water or snow can be wiped off easily from shoes or boots before coming into your home.
If it works for you, do shopping in bulk so that you have fewer trips to the store and have plenty of items on hand in case of an unexpected snow storm. I live alone and shop in bulk. I give half of the quantity of the items in each package to my parents that I purchase and keep the rest for myself. I even buy cat and dog food in bulk and never run out, especially in inclement weather. With gas prices, it’s yet another way of saving a few more dollars each month.
This is a great time to clean out attics and basements during the bad weather. Until the weather breaks, you might as well be productive.
Clean out closets and/or draws one a day until you are finished.
Go through your clothes, towels, bed linens and tablecloths and see which ones you no longer need, like or use.
You can put them in a big bag or box for a springtime garage sale or you can simply donate them to your church or synagogue. My local animal shelter recently advertised that they needed these items for bedding for their animals so I brought bags of things I would no longer use to them.
Clean out your makeup drawer! If you haven’t used something in a year, toss it or give it to someone who may want or need it, if it is still good. Once mascara is opened, it can only be used for three months until bacteria forms inside the tube. If creams smell bad, toss them. There is a certain shelf life on cosmetics, so check them carefully. Otherwise, you are storing items that are unusable or bad.
When putting away holiday decorations, do one area of your home at a time. Pack things carefully so you won’t find them broken next year. Put tree decorations together, the manger and figurines in another box and all of your window and room decorations in another. Label each box with a big black magic marker or Sharpie pen. Rubbermaid makes lovely large containers which seal out moisture, so perhaps investing in a few of them will help make the storing of your decorations easier. You can color code the boxes for certain items.
Read; there is no time like winter to curl up in front of a fireplace or in a cozy chair and read. You can see TV all year long. At this time, there are mostly holiday specials on or repeats. Holiday specials are great, but they tend to play them over and over again.
Spend more time with family and friends. Have a few cocktail parties or get-togethers with finger foods. I was recently introduced to a fun game called “Apples to Apples.” I don’t like games but my sister-in-law said, “You don’t have to know anything or do anything that is hard,” so I gave it a try. We played for hours and had fun – both with the kids and adults. It also got us talking a lot more to each other and laughing way too much!
Catch up on recorded shows that you didn’t have time to see.
Catch up on sewing, crocheting or knitting projects while watching TV or listening to the radio or CD.
Sell your old treasures on eBay. There is nothing like the winter months to get you looking through your stuff to see that you don’t need a lot of things any longer. Get some money for them by selling them. It’s easy to sell on eBay if you have never done so before. Just read through the site and you will see how easy it truly is. If I can do it, so can you.
These are some of the suggestions I have for the winter season.
Good luck and enjoy the snow!
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