• Buy an extra gift and wrap it, just in case you have forgotten someone. If you pick something genderneutral, you could keep it for yourself if it goes unneeded. You won’t be caught offguard when someone you forgot to put on your list stops by with a gift for you.
• Here’s a great rule of thumb when planning a large holiday dinner: For every side dish that requires extra preparation time, plan for one or two that don’t. For instance, if you are preparing a casserole with many ingredients or complicated instructions, serve a package of vegetables that requires nothing more than steaming. If you are preparing a time-consuming dessert, buy a prepared pie or fresh fruit salad and whipped topping. Don’t overstress yourself in the kitchen.
• “In my family, you come to a holiday dinner with your own plastic containers for leftovers. If you don’t bring your own, you don’t go home with tomorrow’s lunch. Mom instituted this rule after the first Thanksgiving when all the kids had moved out. We practically cleaned her out of Tupperware!” — E.Y. in New Mexico
• Want to beat clutter but need to start slowly? Try this trick: Put a date label (the peel-off kind) on seldom-used items. Then if you use the item, remove the sticker. In a few months, re-evaluate what items still have stickers.
• Soak cloudy glassware in hot vinegar for 15 minutes to clear them up. Wash good crystal by hand only, never in a dishwasher.
• “New use for an old, useless key: Keep one handy to use as a bootscrape.” — I.G. in North Carolina
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