4 Ways to Make the Countdown to Christmas Really Count!

Christmas is coming with its flurry of festivities. I develop an annual plan to pull it all off with ease — and with time built in to spend with my family and friends.

I’d love for you to have that kind of plan, too. After all, your undistracted presence with those you love is the best present to give. Make time to really be with them by doing holiday tasks in advance. Enjoy all the hustle and bustle ahead of time so you can visit with the ones you love in the den when the holiday arrives.

For your countdown-to-Christmas game plan, think of holiday prep the same way you think of steps in a recipe. Break down to-dos into easy tasks managed bit by bit until the big day. Heaven knows, when I was busy building Sister Schubert’s® homemade rolls from a home-based business 25 years ago into what’s now a nationally known brand, I got pretty good at planning ahead to make the holidays special for my family. Here are four ideas to get you started.

Personalize and pre-sort stocking stuffers. My grown children tell me they still enjoy peeking inside their stockings even more than opening packages wrapped under the tree. That’s because I love to personalize items that I slip inside each one.

Show the people you love that you really know them and you’ll make their Christmas special. Ballet performance tickets for the ballerina in your life. A favorite team logo on a kick-off tee for your Pee Wee league kicker. The gold-plated locket you told your tween you wouldn’t buy last July. That favorite brand of chocolate for your spouse. Such tokens are a lot more meaningful than candy purchased during a late-night run to the corner drug store. Mark this task off in early December. And go ahead and sort each family members’ stocking stuff in individual boxes or zip-top bags so all you have to do on Christmas Eve is make the transfer.

Forget the fancy cookies for Santa. OK, if it’s your ritual to make artfully iced sugar cookies for Santa, have fun! But one of my biggest Christmas Eve timesavers is to heat some Sister Schubert’s Cinnamon Rolls in the oven instead! I leave out a couple for Santa with a glass of milk. If you buy them now and keep them in the freezer, you’ll be all set to feed St. Nick (or your spouse, once the kids are down!) Plus, you can reheat the leftovers the next morning while opening gifts.

Plan your holiday table and buffet in advance. In the days leading up to our big Christmas dinner, my family eats elsewhere in the house, leaving the dining room table free and clear. I polish up any silver pieces, iron the table linens, and set the table. I even select platters, dishes, and serving pieces for my menu. That way, they’re sorted from their storage spots early, and I can envision the buffet. I use sticky notes to label each one with the names of the delicious recipes I will place inside. Of course, this step requires that you plan your menu early, too. Here’s hoping it includes Sister Schubert’s Parker House Style Yeast Rolls. It warms my heart to hear so many of you vow that you can’t have the holidays without them!

Keep wrapped holiday treats on-hand for drop-in visitors who come bearing gifts. That way you won’t panic when the doorbell rings and it’s the new neighbor down the street with a poinsettia in hand. Maybe pick up a few $5 holiday CDs on special, perhaps a favorite scented candle. Or try my personal favorite go-to gifts: pans of Sister Schubert’s rolls tied with big, red bows. Buy several varieties — Cinnamon Rolls, Parker House Style Yeast Rolls, and Sausage Rolls, then go ahead and tie the bows, and store them in the freezer, ready to retrieve. The gift will help others get through the holiday cooking season as much as they help you!

So if you’re looking at your holiday calendar with a wary eye, wondering how you’ll get it all done, I hope these simple ideas will help. I’m sure you have some fabulous time-saving tips of your own, and I’d absolutely love to know them! Leave your best ideas in the comments section, below, and I’ll be sure to take a look!

My hope is that your December will be blessed — and easy. As simple, in fact, as popping a pan of Sister Schubert’s frozen yeast rolls into the oven to give your family homemade taste in minutes!

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