You know that feeling you get when you run to the hardware store for a ball of twine and know, just know, there are other things you should be picking up while you’re there?
But you can’t think of them – until you get home?
A 60-watt light bulb, perhaps? An over-the-door hook for hanging your holiday wreath? Masking tape?
These scatterbrained moments happen with increasing frequency during the holidays. You buy wrapping paper but forget the money-holders for cash gifts. You pick up some vitamins at the drugstore but walk right past the toothpaste you’re completely out of at home. Gone is the memory of rolling up and squeezing, squeezing, squeezing the tube for the third day in a row.
We have some suggestions for better preparing for the busy weeks ahead, starting in the kitchen – the place you’ll be spending a good deal of time. Check your cabinets soon for:
Must-have spices. Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Poultry seasoning? Don’t wait until Thanksgiving morning to discover you’re out of the spices you need.
Food wraps. Whether it’s aluminum foil for the turkey or parchment paper for baking, check your supply. It’s so frustrating to find just a couple of inches of wrap left on the roll and not have a backup. Another idea: food storage bags for sending home leftovers. You can even invest in a few inexpensive containers you don’t necessarily want returned. I have a relative who always has these on hand for packing up goodies to share with the rest of us.
Paper products. Next time you shop, also stock up on extra paper towels and toilet paper or, as I always write on the shopping list, T.P.
Gravy boat. Do you own one? If you do, do you know where it is? Do you really want to serve the gravy in a Pyrex measuring cup? I bought one several years back that I can use year-round to serve syrup and sauces.
Coffee/tea. You know the story. You stock regular. Guests request decaf. Maybe you want both in the house this time of year.
Light bulbs. One thing you can count on: A very important bulb – say one of the six on your chandelier or in the fixture at the front door – will burn out right before company arrives. Keep some extras on hand.
Favorite holiday recipes. Are they where you think they are?
And a few things to do soon:
• Get your electronics in order. Pull together music. Organize photographs to share with visiting relatives on your laptop or iPad. Have camera ready for taking new photographs.
• Save money and avoid last-minute runs to the store by borrowing a few things from close relatives and friends ahead of time: turkey platter, ice bucket, tongs, carving knife, folding chairs or table linens – and, yes, even that gravy boat.
• Clear the closet. Take a few minutes to empty the coat closet of unnecessary items – rarely worn jackets and summer flip-flops must go – then stock it with heavy-duty hangers for guests’ coats.
• Launder/press tablecloth. It’s very likely you haven’t used it since March, so look over the cloth you plan to use. And, as always, try to set your table the day before any gathering – making sure to dust off the chandelier first.
• Perk up salt and pepper shakers. Wipe off any smudges and fill shakers with fresh salt and pepper. One time I waited until the last minute to do this and ended up ruining the little rubber stopper at the bottom in the process. I was in a hurry, of course.
Remember, too, that holidays are the time to be especially kind to appliances. No stuffing parsley down the garbage disposal or improperly loading the dishwasher. No running the vacuum over something you shouldn’t.
Oh, and next time you run to the store, add toothpaste to your list.