Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Countdown to an Organized Christmas - Day 18 - Set Up a Wrap and Mail Center

Article and Photo Courtesy of Organized Christmas

Wrapping holiday gifts can be one of the most-overlooked chores of the Christmas season. Too often, it takes "hind place" on the to-do list.

Then suddenly, it's Christmas Eve ... and there's a long evening ahead among the ribbons, gift tags and scissors. Assuming you can find them!

Not this year! To make it easier to wrap as we go, it's time to set up a wrap and mail center: a dedicated space to wrap gifts and prepare them for mailing.

With tools and supplies at hand, finding your "center" speeds the job--and keeps the joy!

To Do Today

Print the 2 forms:

Set up a wrap and mail center

Wrapping gifts at the last minute is no way to celebrate the holiday season, so today, we'll take the sting out of the chore by setting up a wrap and mail center.

Last week, we inventoried wrap and mail supplies with a wrap and mailchecklist

This week, it's time to find a dedicated area for this activity.

With all supplies and tools at the ready, a wrap and mail center converts chore to celebration. Simplify your holidays!

Organize holiday swaps

Swapping with friends is a great way to share holiday gifts, crafts and decor. Will you swap with other members of online communities? Track swaps with free printable swaps directory and swaps tracker forms for your Christmas planner.

Simplify Gift Wrapping with a Wrap and Mail Center

Wrapping gifts for the holidays? Repeat after me: "This year, I won't be wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve!"

If there's a single most-underestimated holiday chore, it's gift wrapping.

Supplies lie scattered throughout the house, while space and privacy are hard to come by.

Translation: late-night Christmas Eve wrapping sessions, grumbling your way through the job.

Not this year! To lick the wrapping problem at the outset, set up a wrap and mail activity center: a dedicated space for wrapping gifts and preparing packages for mailing. With workspace, tools and supplies at hand, it’s easy to wrap as you go—and enjoy the task, without grump, grumble or hurry.

Having all gift wrap, tools and supplies in one place speeds gift wrapping and makes mailing easy. Follow these steps to set up a Gift Wrap and Mail Center:

Shop At Home, First!
First, find last year’s gift wrap. Did you stock up on half-price wrap, bows and ribbons in last January’s post-holiday sales? Wonderful--but you lose all your Good Consumer Brownie Points if you can’t find the booty! Dig it all out from boxes, closets, drawers or attic.

Time to see what you have--and what you need. Use a Gift Wrap and Mail Checklist to evaluate your existing stockpile. Will you need to refresh stocks of gift wrap, gift bags, ribbons or bows?

Tool check! Make sure you have scissors and pens. Like cellophane tape, these gift wrapping necessities often go astray during wrapping season, so lay in a good supply before you begin.

Include mailing supplies on your list, especially postal-approved parcel sealing tape. Masking tape, twine and cellophane tape can become caught in parcel handling machinery, delaying your gifts and goodies or even damaging them. Don't run the risk to save a few pennies.

Make a "to buy" list and add items to the shopping list. Hint: double up on the cellophane tape. There are never enough rolls of tape on hand for holiday projects!

Select The Right Spot
List made, find a place for your wrap and mail activity center. Look for a room of your own with a lock upon the door: a bedroom, office, utility room or large bathroom that will allow you to wrap in peace and privacy.

Good lighting and a comfortable work surface are a must, so consider placing a craft table near a window. Those in small homes can make use of a bed area, if they place a large sheet of poster board or cardboard on the bed before hauling out the supplies.

Access to a computer and printer will help speed the process of mailing gifts. Look for a postal scale to make best use of the mailing tools offered by the United States Postal Service. Using their Click-N-Ship, you'll be able to buy postage, print mailing labels and arrange for carrier pickup from the comfort of home. No more long holiday lines at the Post Office!

Scout Out Storage Options
Once you've chosen a location, be creative to find storage for tools and supplies. Stand rolls of gift wrap on end in a large carton, confine bows to grocery sacks, and tuck the box into a corner of a closet.

A paper clip on each end of rolled gift wrap keep the paper from unwinding when stored. Supermarket "chip clips" are a handy way to group sheets of tissue paper; hang clips on a hook to grab the right color tissue anytime!

Under-bed storage works for the wrap and mail center, too, so long as you corral the supplies in a long, low cardboard storage box. Commercial gift wrap organizers are available and are a wise purchase. Long, low molded plastic boxes with storage for bows and gift cards slide easily under beds or on a linen closet shelf. An over-the-door shoe bag will keep scissors, bows, tags and ribbons visible as you work.

Remember To Recycle
To cut the cost of gift wrapping and mailing gifts--and give a welcome Christmas gift to Mother Earth--make room to recycle!

As the season progresses, stockpile any catalog or mailing boxes you receive for re-use in the wrap and mail center. Recycling mailing boxes, bubble wrap and plastic peanuts makes environmental sense . . . and saves cents!

A well-stocked Wrap and Mail Center smoothes ragged nerves as the season approaches. Establish yours today . . . to get ready for Christmas!

Today's Recipe

pine cone cheese ball recipe

For upcoming parties and events, share some holiday sparkle with this Almond Pinecone Cheeseball appetizer.

Shaped like a pine cone and decked with a bit of artificial greenery, it looks as good as it tastes!

Make the filling up to a day ahead to save time on busy holiday weekends.

Almond Pinecone Cheeseball Recipe

It's a pinecone? No, it's a savory cheese spread sparked with bacon, green onions and dill.

So pretty that guests are afraid to muss it, you'll need to dig into this creamy, pinecone-shaped cheeseball first! Add a sprig of artificial evergreen for an easy show-off holiday appetizer.

This Ewer favorite has been served in our family for over 30 years!

1 1⁄2 cupalmonds, whole
1 cream cheese, 8 ounce package
1⁄2 cupmayonnaise
5 bacon slices, crisply cooked
1 tablespoongreen onion, chopped
1⁄2 teaspoondill weed, dried
1⁄8 teaspoonpepper, ground

Spread almonds in single layer in shallow pan. Bake at 300 degrees, 15 minutes, stirring often, until almonds just begin to turn color.

Combine softened cream cheese and mayonnaise; mix well. Add bacon, onion, dill and pepper; mix well. Cover; chill overnight.

Form cheese mixture into pinecone shape on serving platter. Beginning at narrow end, press almonds at slight angle into cheese mixture in rows. Continue overlapping rows until all cheese is covered.

Garnish with artificial pine sprigs. Serve with crackers.

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