(image via here)
The get-it-done list for December... straight out of the "gentle reminders" section of my 5 years of Martha Stewart Living magazines. Started late? Check out the other months here.
- Wrap gifts as you bring them home. If you have the space, create a wrapping station stocked with paper, ribbons, tags, tape, and other supplies, and leave it in place throughout the shopping season.
- Stock your stain-fighting kit. This time of year is particularly perilous for tablecloths and other household fabrics; saving them from spilled hot chocolate, wine, gravy, and candle wax, to name a few, is a matter of having the right solvent, detergent, or other product on hand. For a printable chart of common stains and what you need to remove them, visit marthastewart.com/gentlereminders.
- Write cards early in the month, and mail them before the last-minute rush.
- Revamp your vacuum. This cleaning workhorse needs regular maintenance. If the rollers are tightly wound with threads or hair, unplug the machine, and use a seam ripper to cut through the threads. When suction power diminishes, you may need to replace the motor belt. Once every year or two, take your vacuum to a reliable shop for a professional cleaning and any necessary repairs.
- Get tips for tipping. Confused about the appropriate gift of amount of money to give to your mail carrier, hairstylist, babysitter, or pet groomer? Consult her guide at http://marthastewart.com/holiday-tipping.
- Organize paperwork. Store instructions for toys and appliances, warranty cards, and receipts in one place. Ask for gift receipts at the register, and tape them inside each package you give. (It's also a nice touch to include batteries with any electronic gift.)
- Avoid drafts. Plug air leaks with caulk or weather stripping to limit heat loss in your home. Hold a lit candle or incense stick near vents, mail slots, and window frames; if the smoke changes direction, there's a leak.
- Feel the heat. Save energy and keep your furnace running efficiently by cleaning or replacing the filters about once a month. Humidifiers can also reduce heating costs, because moist air feels warmer than dry air, even when the thermostat is set at a lower temperature.