HGP 2023 – WEEK 1 – List Week / Front Porch

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Lori K

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Welcome to the Holiday Grand Plan 2023! This year, AuntJamel and I will be sharing HGP duties. I’ll be taking the odd-numbered weeks, and she will handle the even-numbered weeks. Are you ready to kick off HGP 2023? Let’s get started.

Week 1 of the HGP starts with preparing, and plenty of list-making and organizing. If you like, you can build your Christmas planner as we go and use it for reference in future years.

If you’re building a HGP planner or need forms to replace ones you’ve already used, printable calendars and lists can be found at https://holidaygrandplan.com/calendar-checklists/.

On the cleaning front, we begin this week focusing on the exterior entryway – the FRONT PORCH. This is the first place in our home that our guests see, and we want to make sure that the front of our home is welcoming from the streetside.

Begin by removing and stowing summer furniture, toys, gardening implements, etc. that will not be used until next year. Give it a good sweeping and/or washdown, top to bottom, to remove any cobwebs or spiders hiding in the corners.

Get busy on the exterior windows on your porch and doorway and be sure to clean both sides of the storm door glass, so that your entrance is sparkling for all those holiday porch deliveries. Once it dries, check for any streaks. HINT: On the exterior, clean side to side; on the interior, clean vertically top to bottom. If you have any streaks, you’ll know which side needs to be wiped down again.

Update your door wreath and/or flag for the Autumn / Fall season – think harvest gold, oranges, maple leaf reds. Maybe some Indian corn or pumpkin décor?

On the LIST front lets take a look at the following:
  • EVENT CALENDAR: Start your holiday event calendar, penciling in dates that you’ll need to remember as the holidays get closer. When someone in your book club mentions a cookie exchange, you’ve got a calendar set up to jot down the date, so you don’t schedule over it. Remember to mark in work-related parties, too, even if you’re not the one attending. That way you can plan your dinners at home accordingly.
  • HOLIDAY BUDGET and GIFT GIVING: If you haven’t already done so, determine your budget for the holidays and prepare your gift lists; if you’ve been stashing gifts, begin double-checking what you’ve purchased and what remains, and calculate where are you are in terms of the holiday budget.
  • CHRISTMAS CARDS: Begin updating your Christmas card list and start looking for your holiday cards. Get a rough count of the number of stamps you’ll need to purchase when the Christmas stamps become available. And, make a note on your calendar for Oct. 11th – USPS Christmas stamps go on sale.
  • HOLIDAY PARTIES: Begin planning any holiday entertainment you take on. Are you hosting Thanksgiving Day? Christmas Eve? Christmas Day? A neighborhood holiday party? Or do you expect to visit others’ homes and bring a side dish? Start a list for each event. If you’re hosting, set your guest list and start putting word out, so friends and family know you will be hosting. If you’re going to send invitations, start the process of finalizing the date/time and selecting the invitations. Be sure to mark “mail (or send) invitations for [each event you’re hosting]” on your calendar.
  • HOLIDAY MENU PLANS: If you haven't already started, begin planning for holiday meals and dishes you expect to take to pass. Use a menu planner form, if that works for you.
  • GROCERIES: Begin making your holiday grocery lists, based on your menu(s). What can you purchase ahead, especially when there are good sales? Perhaps make a separate list of perishables you will need as the holiday / event gets closer. Cross things off your list as you purchase them in the coming weeks.
  • BLESSINGS: Now is the time to begin counting our blessings and consider those who are less fortunate. Think about setting up a donation box in the pantry for holiday food drives. If you see a great deal or a BOGO, consider getting “one for me and one for the donation box”. A search using Google found several great Reverse Advent Calendars that provide ideas for food bank gifting and provide a checklist of items to set aside each day for donation. Consider having one box in October to gift in early Nov. for the Thanksgiving food drive; one in November to gift on Dec. 1 for the Christmas drive; and one in December to gift on New Years Eve or New Years Day, to kick off the New Year with a good heart.
Shall we begin? Crank up the music. Ready … Set … Let’s GO!!!!
 
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Lori K

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This second post is to record my own list of what I need to tackle this week, and I'll cross things off as I go. I hope that it inspires you, too, as we begin HGP 2023.

I should begin by stating that I live in a townhome and, technically, the exterior areas are the responsibility of the Association. But, if anything needs cleaning or touching up, I’m usually waiting until the cows come home before anything really gets done! So is life in an association-managed community!!!! That said, if the Association didn’t tackle a project I submitted during Spring or Summer, it definitely won’t be done after Labor Day. So, I’ll tackle any minor touch-ups myself, to ensure that my home looks its best during the holidays.

There’s no way I’ll do all of this in one day. It will be spread out over the week, depending on what else I have on my calendar. I find that starting at the top of my porch and working my way down works best for me. This year, I need to cover:
  • Stow any summer décor that impedes cleaning of my front porch – or at least remove it during cleaning, so I’m not tripping over it. For me, that’s my Red, White, & Blue "Welcome" board, my summer door wreath, and my summer garden flag. They need to be moved to the garage for off-season storage.
  • Dust / sweep the rafters, corners, and columns of any cobwebs.
  • Wash any bird droppings or other markings off the columns.
  • Wash the frame and exterior glass of the transom window above the door and do the same for both sidelight windows. The interior side of the transom and sidelights will be done when I do the foyer.
  • Wash the storm door frame and glass, inside and out, making sure to get in the corners. [If you have a front-door screen, be sure to wash that, and stow it if that's your normal practice. I have a full front-door screen, but have never used it.]
  • Wipe down the door transom and check door seals.
  • Sanitize door handles on the storm and interior door, inside and out.
  • Check the pneumatic sensors that control the storm door and adjust or replace as needed.
  • Wipe down the front door and touch up any paint that may be needed (I painted my front door last year, so hopefully just a quick wash-down).
  • Touch up any paint chips on the exterior door frame. (Nope, the Association did NO painting this summer, so I’ll scrape and do these minor touch-ups.) Also touch up on worn spots on the columns.
  • Wash porch light fixtures and replace bulbs, if needed.
  • Check to make sure the doorbell works; replace batteries, if needed.
  • Trim any garden foliage that needs to go (and all of what the Association landscapers have been ignoring all the summer) HOLD OFF -- Received email from Assn that the landscapers are going to be doing their Fall clean-up in the next 2 weeks. Let's see how much they do, first, before spending valuable time on this task.
  • Hang Autumn wreath and garden flag; check Christmas wreath for any repairs and note if it (or any part of it) needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Locate and check the Christmas door mat and double-check its condition. Make a note if it really should be replaced, and watch for pre-Christmas sales. Pretty sure I pitched my coir mat after last winter. NEED TO REPLACE
  • Arrange for any sidewalk or driveway repairs, if needed. This year, I need to add crack filler into a couple places on my sidewalk steps and landings, to prevent any water from freezing and doing more damage. I asked the Association about it last year and it’s not a priority. So, I got clearance from them to do it myself. DECIDED NOT TO DO THIS, cracks are not as bad as I thought and don't want to take on the liability.
  • Considering how cold it may be during Garage Week, clean exterior garage lights and replace bulbs as needed. And, wash exterior garage windows now, as it will be too cold to tackle in November.
 
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Myron's Mom

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Busy week planned here. Will decorate for fall today. There is one really cool day and no rain this week so I’ll get the porch and flowerbeds tidied up. I’d like to get to the sun room too. That requires some ladder work so will have to coordinate with my husband.
Happy cleaning everyone!
 

halimer

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Will get home on Thursday - baseball game Friday night so…

Over the weekend will try to get some fall out - change door wreath and put out my giant pumpkin craft (if I can finish it and it looks good)

Then will sort through various fall items that I have….
 

sweetpumkinpye

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Lori and AJ, thanks for hosting this year!!
I have been so excited to start this year. I know that I will miss one or two weeks with a mini vacation and working extra. I did not complete last years plans so am determined to get it all done this year.

On the LIST front lets take a look at the following:

  • EVENT CALENDAR: I have set the date for our annual extended family dinner, this year it will be November 12th. We like to have it early in the 'season' to free up dates for later in the year when we get too busy. Work Christmas party is booked. I have made notes to book appointments for nails and hair, have added baking days and wrapping days. Have also made note for a potential night to go looking at lights. Will firm that and dinner plans with the kids.
  • HOLIDAY BUDGET and GIFT GIVING: My Christmas club at the bank has a good amount in it. I do a set and forget deposit every week through the year and it will become available on November 1st. I still need to buy gift cards and purchase DH big item but the money is there for those.
  • CHRISTMAS CARDS: Looked at this as part of CIJ. I have enough cards for domestic and MHH swap. Stamps will become available on November 1st
  • HOLIDAY PARTIES: See above
  • HOLIDAY MENU PLANS: Have finalised plans with Mum for Christmas lunch and boxing day lunch. I have got a plan in place for Christmas Eve and NYE.
  • GROCERIES: Have been putting aside ingredients all year so have a healthy stock of items needed. The rest are noted on shopping lists for the next few weeks. Looking at your Summer I am aware that ours will be a scorcher so am planning on stocking up on Summer type items over the next few weeks so that we are prepared.
  • BLESSINGS: Have put aside socks, deodorant, hand sanitiser, tooth brushes, shampoo, tissues and a comb. These are put into ziplock bags and will be taken to the church. Need to still decide if we will do tinned food items as well.
 
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MrsSoup

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We did the back porch today. I do desperately need to get into the front bed and trim the foliage in there. It's just such a huge job now that we've let it go since spring. I will put it on my list for next weekend. DH will be gone so i'll have to do it on my own, but I did it last time on my own.

I think my fall wreath is already on the door, but i'll double check. If not, i'll see if I can find it this week. DD and I are itching to decorate for Halloween already, but I think we'll hold off until mid-September. I don't have many "fall" decorations.

We are not hosting Christmas this year, my brother and SIL are in their new house. We are going to swap back and forth. Therefore, I have no gatherings that i'm aware of to plan for. Yay!

I will go through and work on the rest as time allows this week. :)
 

Ahorsesoul

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Porch cleaning has began. Dh will kill off the spiders that were building a big next in my summer wreath. I will put that in a bag with a spray of bug killer before storing it downstairs. Fall wreath is waiting in the sunroom to shine.

I have four events to put on the schedule. Small gathering with the life coaches (if my energy holds out), dates to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with grandson and optional would be halloween with grandson If he is coming here this year. If DD is up to it I will plan a Christmas photo shoot with her friend.

Do need to look to see what else I need to buy for gifts. Christmas cards are still packed for now.

Holiday menus generally stay the same unless we give gifts to grandson early if he will not be here for Christmas (then we just do appetizers instead of a meal), Christmas dinner is prime rib. Dh is already watching for a sale on meat.

When I was reading about the Blessings a thought crossed my mind that I should do small blessings for my family this year. We always do things for others/strangers this time of year but this year I will see what blessings I can do for myself and family members.

Thanks for the update.
 

AuntJamelle

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FRONT PORCH WEEK Cleaning Tasks

Front Porch week is sort of "Outside Week" for me. We have a small front porch that typically needs minimal attention and can be done in a day. So I include our large back deck and other misc. outside tasks as well.

I got a head start this year and at this point the front porch area has been power washed and the decking re-stained. The wooden rockers have been washed, along with the front door and mailbox. Everything is neat and tidy again and looking so much better!

I plan to clean the bedroom windows that look out onto the front porch this week. If possible I want to power wash the deck railings as well - which is a big job!

Yesterday I spent most of the day with DH and DS on yardwork. DH cut down the underbrush and small trees and the MASSES of wild grapevine that had overtaken the fence at the very back of our property. DS and I helped with that part as well as dragging things up to the firepit - detaching portions using hedge clippers - and throwing on the fire. It was exhausting work! And we still have a large pile left to haul and burn!

Misc. tasks yesterday also included washing the steps to the upstairs and touching up the paint on our kitchen island. Both things I have been meaning to get to for FOREVER!!!

LIST WEEK Holiday Planning!!!

Confession time. I am a list maker. I am that person that makes lists of lists. If I can put it in a spreadsheet I get excited. I am a list nerd. ;)
  • EVENT CALENDAR: I use Google calendar to keep myself and DH in the know for all scheduled events. I have updated it through the end of this year with everything I can. Not sure of the exact date for DH's work party and I need to confirm date his brothers and their wives can come for a dinner in December.
  • HOLIDAY BUDGET and GIFT GIVING: I haven't touched my Christmas Budget spreadsheet yet and I need to! I do have a running document for gift giving that I update as I buy things throughout the year or that I just use to quickly note gift ideas as they occur to me. DH is always difficult to buy for so when he mentions something in passing I quickly make a note via my phone so I don't forget!!! I recently went through all my "gift closet" boxes, made note of all items and have everything in one place now instead of scattered over the house.
  • CHRISTMAS CARDS: I took a look at my Christmas card list recently and am down to one person I need to get a new address for. Have 45 cards to mail this year! Added Oct 11th to my calendar!!!
  • HOLIDAY PARTIES: We are not hosting Thanksgiving this year - instead we will travel to family about a half hour away. We host a party for friends the first Saturday in December. We will also host dinner for DH's brothers & their families another weekend (date TBD). We might attend DH's work party this year but he is undecided still. We do not host other family at Christmas typically but we might have DH's brother from GA coming to stay.
  • HOLIDAY MENU PLANS: I've spent a lot of time on this already this year! Last year I did NOT plan very well ahead of time and it made a big difference - not in a good way! :rolleyes: If I have time I will go through some of the "church" cookbooks I recently bought to find some additional appetizer recipes to try this year. But the BULK of the planning is done. I've mapped out all the different dates I can do freezer cooking and am in the process of deciding on what items I am making on each day. I have a LOT to get in the freezer in October!!! I may end up adding some weekday evening freezer sessions in addition to those on the weekends.
I also would like to spend some time planning a week of light - simple - easy meals for the week immediately following New Years. By that point we are always more than ready to leave off rich holiday foods!
  • GROCERIES: Right now I am in the home stretch on this-basically down to adding ingredients for Christmas cookies and other baking to my Master Grocery List. I use a spreadsheet with one tab for Non Perishable and one for Perishable. Weirdly or not, I include things like hard cheeses and blocks of cream cheese on my non-perishable list. They have such a long shelf life in the fridge that I can buy them in the near future and they have expiration dates that get me through the holidays. Things like nuts, shredded coconut, butter can be stored in the freezer until needed. So I also buy that ahead.
  • BLESSINGS: Love the reverse advent calendar idea!!!! I also want to have DS pick something off a Giving Tree - let him shop for and wrap item - help deliver it, etc.
  • ADDITIONAL LISTS: Every year I also keep the following lists / spreadsheets
    • Make Ahead Meals spreadsheet where I keep a master plan for all freezer cooking, holiday related and otherwise. I include canning session information here too.
    • Christmas Dinner Party Timeline spreadsheet that breaks down each task needed for the party, spreading out prep over several days leading up to the event. I include everything - cleaning and food prep - down to the times things go in the ovens and at what temp. Really helpful to keep me on track!
    • Master Craft List spreadsheet to track all projects, gift related or otherwise
    • Advent Calendar Planning list where I keep track of the little things I collect for DS to find each day.
    • Pharmacy/First Aid Inventory spreadsheet - Helps me keep tabs on what we have, what is expired and needs to be replaced. I also try to stock up on the sorts of things you need during cold and flu season.
    • Black Friday Plans - List of items I want to replace for the home using Black Friday deals. This year I want to replace our bath towels and also buy a set of new for DMIL. I want to replace our body pillows as well. As the ads get released I'll start looking for specific deals and also items I might try to get as gifts.
    • Decorating Plans - I have documents I resave and tweak every year for where I am going to put what in the house. One list for Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. I have a LOT of decor for Fall thru Christmas and I have a blast "playing" with it all!
 
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Lori K

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Pharmacy/First Aid Inventory spreadsheet - Helps me keep tabs on what we have, what is expired and needs to be replaced. I also try to stock up on the sorts of things you need during cold and flu season.
I do that one when I clean my bathroom and the guest bathroom. Since I"m going through drawers and reorganizing, for me, it's the perfect time to check expiration dates, purge, and replace.
 

Miss JoDee

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I had an hour before leaving for the dentist so I started on the hallway. Got most of it done. I still need to sweep and mob floors and stairs as well as couple of spots to touch up with paint.

When I went to clean the light fixture I saw paint on the fixture. I grabbed the nail polish remover and a cotton ball and was able to remove it. I got the last bit of residue with a magic eraser. I saw some paint on a door knob or two when cleaning them so will try it there too. I change my clothes I wore to the dentist and see if I can't get it finished up today.
 

AuntJamelle

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I saw paint on the fixture. I grabbed the nail polish remover and a cotton ball and was able to remove it. I got the last bit of residue with a magic eraser.
Bless you @Miss JoDee !!! We have random places around the house with little dribs and drabs of paint left behind by the painters this summer and I have been meaning to figure out what to do about it!!! I'm on a mission now!
 

Whusky

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I don't have a front porch, but I do need to tidy up our front garden.
I've cleaned the windows and front door, and I've attempted some weeding. The weather is a bit miserable here at the moment and keeps threatening rain, so I have no idea when I'm going to be able to cut the grass.

Gift list is easy this year, but I'm struggling with menu planning! My mil is staying with us from 24-26th December, and cannot eat gluten or lactose, has cut back on sugar, and is very fussy in what she eats. She has told me and husband that she'll bring her own food over, but I don't feel great about not having anything in for her. No idea what to get her :confused:

I'm loving reading everyone's posts!
 

Miss JoDee

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I did complete the hallway with the exception of paint touch up. I have some to do in the kitchen so I thought I would wait until I cleaned the cabinets then do all the touch up at once. What I am finding out is that I am worn out the following day, so I will be changing my process. I had hoped to finish the upstairs this week but will not. I will get the bathroom done by the end of the week and then the bedroom next week. I am ahead of the schedule but once done upstairs it gets a little more intense. The check off list is longer and the rooms bigger.

Today I would like to finish the kitchen cabinets. When I inventoried last week most of the cabinets were cleaned and reorganized I just have to do the lower cabinets with the hope of declutter too. Under the sink is the worst. I have decided to pare my cleaning supplies so I have to see what is there. I will either use up what there is or toss.
 

Miss JoDee

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She has told me and husband that she'll bring her own food over, but I don't feel great about not having anything in for her. No idea what to get her :confused:
Let her bring what she likes or ask her for a menu she would like and your menu planning is done by adding a dish or two your family likes. ;)
 

Lori K

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I'm struggling with menu planning! My mil is staying with us from 24-26th December, and cannot eat gluten or lactose, has cut back on sugar, and is very fussy in what she eats. She has told me and husband that she'll bring her own food over, but I don't feel great about not having anything in for her. No idea what to get her :confused:
My DNiece is gluten free vegan (vegetarian?, never sure which one she follows) and has hosted Thanksgiving a couple of times, so I asked her for suggestions. She pointed me to this web site, which has great ideas, recipes, etc. for those who have dietary restrictions. It looks like you can also filter by cooking method. https://www.cottercrunch.com/

Additionally, she told me they have a holiday meals section (she told me "just search for holiday meals" -- I did that and found 2 meal plans, one gluten free and one gluten and dairy free). Both include some featured recipes and also a full list of menu suggestions at the bottom, and the gluten free one even includes a shopping list. https://www.cottercrunch.com/gluten-free-dairy-free-holiday-meal-plan/

Hope this brings you some inspiration!
 

Ahorsesoul

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I don't have a front porch, but I do need to tidy up our front garden.
I've cleaned the windows and front door, and I've attempted some weeding. The weather is a bit miserable here at the moment and keeps threatening rain, so I have no idea when I'm going to be able to cut the grass.

Gift list is easy this year, but I'm struggling with menu planning! My mil is staying with us from 24-26th December, and cannot eat gluten or lactose, has cut back on sugar, and is very fussy in what she eats. She has told me and husband that she'll bring her own food over, but I don't feel great about not having anything in for her. No idea what to get her :confused:

I'm loving reading everyone's posts!
I prefer to bring my own food too. So do not worry.