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Six tips to help prepare for winter, holidays

The cold weather has arrived. Thanksgiving is Nov. 23 - coming up fast.

We won’t give you the countdown to Christmas quite yet, but we will offer six tips to help you prepare for winter and the busy holiday season ahead.

1. Evaluate outerwear: You're probably already wearing a warm coat, but by now we should have pulled together all of our cold-weather garb. Of course the warmer-than-usual October made many of us forget to do that. Wait no longer to check winter coats and jackets for stains, rips and loose or missing buttons. Gather hats, gloves and scarves and put all your winter gear right where you can find it.  Care for your boots, following manufacturer's instructions. Shop for whatever you may need.

It’s also smart, as you put together your winter emergency kit for your car (you’re doing that, too, right?), to include old winter boots, hats, socks, jacket, etc. as well as blankets and other items. ( is one source to help you put together emergency supply kits for home and vehicle.)

2. Avoid tabletop troubles: Hosting Thanksgiving? Now’s the time to get this task out of the way: Make sure you have the right tablecloth (or cloths for multiple tables). Then make sure it’s laundered and pressed, if necessary.

It doesn’t have to be a traditional cloth, either. An entertaining expert in a Washington Post story that ran in last Sunday’s Home & Style section suggested using metallic, netted placemats that can be rinsed off afterward. Or picture plaid placemats at Christmas.

Whatever you choose, remember that setting the table the night before any holiday is a smart move because it leaves you more time to prep the meal. We’ve said it before: Thanksgiving morning is not the time to be dragging out table leaves from the basement and ironing table linens.

3. Book salon now: Make appointments early because openings can fill up fast during the holidays. Perhaps you want to schedule a haircut with the stylist you trust the day of a dressy social event. Or you hope to book your favorite groomer so the dog looks spiffy for the holidays. Schedule now. And, remember, it’s never too early to book a reliable baby sitter for weekend nights and New Year’s Eve.

4. Prepare the guest room. Whether it’s an inflatable mattress in the den or a down-comforter covered bed in a spare bedroom, prepare for any overnight guests you are expecting. Clear the clutter; clean the space ahead of time. Pull together your nicest towels and sheets. Buy fresh soap and consider placing toiletries, possibly travel-size, in a basket in the bathroom they will be using – especially if they are the forgetful type.

And make sure there’s a spot for placing luggage and hanging clothes. An over-the-door rack and several sturdy hangers will work.

5. Stage a holding zone. Whether we're talking framed photographs, books, a couple vases or even the toaster, things often need to be removed and stashed during the holiday season to make room for decorations, party prep and houseguests. Finding a temporary, central place to put things ensures nothing gets misplaced. It can be a safe spot in the basement, a closet or a seldom-used bedroom. Corral and know things are right where you can find them when life returns to normal.

6. Plan your party garb. Holiday events come up fast and not knowing what in the world to wear at the eleventh hour is not a good strategy. Even if you plan to fall back on your reliable black dress or Santa necktie, what about the rest of the outfit? Do you have the right hosiery, handbag and lipstick for that black dress? Are the party pants you plan to wear with that ho-ho-ho tie showing a little too much wear – or feeling a little snug around the waistline?

Take a few minutes to assess the situation and fill in the gaps now. Then prepare to have a good time.

These are just some of our favorites. Any other tips you want to share?


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