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  • Conquer Holiday Clutter

    Conquer Holiday Clutter

    Many of us spent a quieter-than-usual holiday last year. We missed our friends, families, and traditions... but we didn’t miss the mess! Another holiday season is right around the corner, so here are some tips and tricks to help manage the chaos that comes with holiday baking, decorating, planning and everything in between.

    Wrapping paper alternatives 

    Are bright paper packages tied up with strings some of your favourite things? While presents can be beautiful, piles of supplies can also be wasteful. Canadians send 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper and gift bags to the landfill each year!  

    If you’re looking for a greener solution, our experts recommend a seasonal DIY — sewing your own fabric reusable gift bags. They’re customizable and will last for years. Not to mention, you’ll save yourself money and trips the trash bin. Don’t have the magic touch with a needle and thread? No worries. You can still cut back on your waste by reusing paper gift bags that you’ve collected, as well as recycling old boxes and paper. Consider wrapping children’s gifts in oddly sized household boxes (cereal, shipping, Kleenex, etc), it will keep them guessing about what is really under the tree. 

    Tree tidy up 

    Balsam fir? White pine? They look and smell irresistible. They can also leave behind a huge mess! If you trim a live tree each year, tuck a large tree disposal bag under the stand during set up, then decoratively place your tree skirt overtop of the bag. Once you’ve wrapped up your festivities and it’s time for cleaning, all you need to do is remove the tree skirt, then pull the tree bag up over the tree and tie it. Finally, you’ll haul the tree, in the bag, outside for disposal — easy as pine! 

    If you have a reliable artificial tree (and the storage space) you can store it in a reusable storage bag with all the decorations on. Just don’t forget to remove breakable ornaments and store them separately before packing away the tree. There’s lots to love about a swift take down this year, and a quick set up next year. 

    Staying organized in the kitchen 

    Holiday baking is a favourite (and pleasingly aromatic) pastime for many. Unfortunately, it can often be messy, time consuming, and even wasteful. We recommend making a detailed plan before you start. A master list for groceries, a schedule for execution, and a well prepared kitchen will keep you on track for any baking extravaganza. And before you get started, be sure that you have the right tools for the job

    It can also be fun to get friends and family involved in the kitchen, and best of all, it can help cut down your preparation time! And if you’re really trying to cut back on your baking, but don’t want to sacrifice variety, consider a cookie or baking exchange. You’ll end up with a wide array of treats in a fraction of the time, with a fraction of the mess. 

    Freezing and storing 

    Getting your baking started early means lower stress during the holiday season — even in October and November. If you want some tasty treats ready to for unexpected company, look no further than the freezer. Squares and cookie recipes are tried and true, and they can be stored frozen for up to three months! Remember to always let baked goods cool completely before storing and to use airtight freezer-save containers or storage bags. Pro tip: Keep your crisp cookies and soft cookies separated when freezing and storing with layers of wax or parchment paper. Finally, make sure to label with dates and flag ingredients for those with allergies.  

    Make ahead 

    Cooking a holiday feast? A great way to stay organized in the kitchen is to pre-make your appetizers and sides. If you’re hosting family or friends, this can cut down your cooking time and free you up for more socializing and celebration! The ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen has an amazing list of make-ahead appetizers and sides, including: Asparagus and Ham Tarts; Baked Risotto Balls; Blueberry Baked Brie; Cheese Twists; Coconut Shrimp; Shrimp and Goat Cheese Tarts; Spice Roasted Chickpeas; Sun-Dried Tomato and Cheese Phyllo Triangles; Brussel Sprouts; Mashed Potatoes; and Broccoli Salad

    Cutting back on shopping waste 

    While many of us try to cut back our waste production all year round, it can be especially challenging during the holidays. A great way to reduce waste is to mix-up your style of gift giving. Consider these alternatives: donating to a charity in the name of the recipients (bonus points for choosing a charity related to their interests); do a family gift exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone; plan a family getaway or excursion to make memories; make gifts from the heart, including delicious baking or interactive treats like hot chocolate bombs; and lastly, gifts of time such as childcare, grocery shopping, or cooking! 

    No shame if you’re a traditional shopper. If you can’t resist the urge to hit the mall, don’t forget these basic tips: use reusable bags for your purchases; create a list of gift ideas; create a purchasing game plan so you can decrease your number of trips to the mall; and start early. 

    Decoration DIY 

    Holiday decorating isn’t limited to the tree. You can make your whole house feel festive with a few simple ideas. Even everyday items can be transformed into holiday decorations with the smallest of effort. Our advice? Keep things simple. The less you have to haul out of storage, the easier to decorate (and the easier to clean up).  

    Instead of purchasing new decorations each season, think about rotating and repurposing décor to bring new imagination to special items and decorations. A few of our favourite décor ideas include:  

    • Fill a glass pitcher, clear vase, bowl or interesting jar with holiday objects: 
    • Cinnamon sticks tied together in bunches with ribbon 
    • Dried fruit such as lemon, orange or apple slices 
    • Gingerbread men, ribbon candy or candy canes 
    • Leftover scraps of ribbon from wrapping gifts 
    • Nuts in their shells and pinecones  
    • Shiny tree balls or other small ornaments 
    • Strings of mini lights. 

    Place a few pieces of cedar, pine or spruce trimmings on a mantle instead of a garland. Tuck bright tree balls or favourite family ornaments into the greenery. 

    Spray a mixture of pinecones and unshelled nuts with gold paint and use them to fill a glass serving bowl.  

    Using pretty ribbon or lightweight fishing line, hang pretty tree ornaments at varying heights from a dining room light fixture.  

    Pro tip: when it comes time to pack up after the holidays, have storage containers with content labels for all your décor and treasures. And if you can, try to keep all the holiday and seasonal items in one area of storage. 

    We get it, the holidays can be hectic, but for many they are the most joyous time of the year. Staying organized and planning ahead can help you enjoy the holiday season and allow you to be more present with those around you! 

    P.S. We would be remiss if we left out the number one holiday cleaning tip… stain removal! From pesky red wine to turkey grease, Blue Flame Kitchen has you covered. And if your home needs a little extra TLC after a busy season of hosting, our Rümi experts are ready to help with a full lineup of home cleaning services. So, kick your feet up, and enjoy a left-over turkey sandwich or that last batch of cookies from the freezer! 

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