Christmas in July: Tips on Getting a Head Start

Do you wish there was less hustle and bustle around the holidays?  What if you could have more time to relax and enjoy the Christmas season?  We’re here to help with a few “Christmas in July” ideas.   Consider doing just a few things in July to get a head start on Christmas and make your season more enjoyable.

Christmas in July Tip #1: Update Your Christmas Card List

Several family members and friends have moved in the last few months.  Take a few minutes to update their new addresses.

Have you made a few new friends this year?  Jot down their names and addresses.  When it’s time to send Christmas cards, you’ll be ready to go.  You will also have a good estimate for the number of cards you plan to send this year.

If you need a good system for tracking addresses, use our printable address tracker which keeps track of names, addresses, and cards received and sent.

Address TrackerAddress Tracker

Christmas in July Tip #2:  Organize Your Gift Wrapping Paper and Bows

July is a great time to organize wrapping paper and bows.  These are great projects to work on when it’s raining, or just too hot to go outside.  Take inventory of the supplies you have on hand.  Make a note of what you need for the upcoming season.

Be sure to group like items together.  If you have gift wrapping paper in the cellar, in a bedroom closet and maybe even some with your Christmas decorations, pull it all together, and find one location.

We actually have a gift wrapping drawer.  It is located in a hutch in our dining room.  We keep birthday and Christmas wrapping paper here, along with all of the necessary supplies:

Tape
Curling Ribbon
Gift Tags
Scissors
Colored Pens and Markers
Gift bags
Gift tissue for bags

This system has worked really well for us.  When it’s time to wrap a quick gift, we grab our supplies from the drawer and use the dining room table to wrap the gifts.  Easy, right?

 

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost to you, but Running A Household will receive a commission.

Christmas in July Tip #3:  Make Your Own Gift Tags

Use scrapbook paper like this one from American Crafts to make gift tags for your presents.

Step 1:  Simply cut a circle, or use a scrapbook tool to punch out the circles, like the Fiskars Circle Lever Punch. We love this one because it allows you to make consistent circles and it’s easy to use.  Just insert the paper and press down to make a perfect circle.

Step 2:  Use a Hole Punch Tool to make a smaller hole.

Step 3:  Attach a short piece of Curling Ribbon which can be attached to a present or gift bag.

Then when it’s time to wrap gifts, just grab a Sharpie Markerand add the “To and From” details.

Christmas in July Tip #4:  Make a 2018 Calendar

A calendar filled with personal pictures is a great Christmas gift for grandparents and relatives.  Since it requires gathering pictures for each month, start this project in the summer.

  1. Create a computer folder for all of the 2018 calendar pictures.
  2. Select a store online to create your calendar.  We love Walgreens because their calendars are reasonably priced, good quality, and we can pick them up at our local store.
  3. Upload your photos to the store website.
  4. Start creating the calendar.

Over the summer, we will pull together the 2018 calendar for January – August.  We also use pictures from last Christmas to get the December page set.  Then, we just need to do September, October and November.  We keep our eyes peeled for the 50-60% off sale day, and order in November.  By following these steps, we save a lot of time and money, and can enjoy the holiday season instead of pulling pictures together on December 15th.

Christmas in July Tip #5:  Listen Carefully and Start Your List

Keep your ears peeled for hints dropped by family members and friends.  Maybe they will point out an item they like.  Or, sometimes people will tell you that they wish they had a certain item.  Take note, and start a holiday shopping list.  This way, you’ll have a few ideas once the holiday season arrives.

Christmas in July Tip #6:  Buy a Few Gifts While on Vacation

The holidays will be here before you know it.  To make this holiday season a little less stressful, consider buying a gift or two while you are on vacation.

Gift Ideas

Whether it’s a gardening basket from your local farmer’s market, or a piece of jewelry from a place by the shore, these unique gifts will be sure to please your friends and relatives.  Other ideas include:

Art work
Glasses
Handmade soaps
Picture frames
Pottery
Specialty coasters

If you have someone who has everything, or who is difficult to shop for, try shopping for them in the summer.  You’ll be more relaxed and have a different selection to choose from.  Plus, you will avoid last-minute shopping in December.

 

Christmas in July Tip #7:  Shop for Gifts On-line During July Sales

We saved the best for last.  So much of our time around the holidays is spent shopping.  For years, I never started Christmas shopping until the day after Thanksgiving because of the great deals.

Now, retailers offer great prices in July. Be sure to check out this one on July 11, 2017:

Prime Day 2017 – 30 Hours of Deals

If there’s an expensive gift you know you want to buy for someone, check out the price during this sale.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find a great deal in the middle of July!

Happy Shopping! 🙂

 

Here are a few articles on our website you may enjoy:

Simple ways to organize gift wrap paper and bows

Christmas Shopping Lists

 

Household Checklist for July

Household Checklist – July

Can you believe ½ of the year has passed already?  It is now July, and there’s plenty to do.  We’re here to help with our printable Household Checklist for July and detailed information for the projects you need to tackle this month.  So let’s get started.

There’s plenty to do in July:

Maintenance

  • Run dehumidifier in basement
  • Transplant houseplants to larger containers
  • Get started on holiday planning (Christmas in July)
  • Update your address book or contacts in cell phone
  • Organize three small areas in your home

Outdoors

Maintain vegetable and flower garden / weeding

Backwash pool filter

Trim shrubs, bushes, and hedges

Pick raspberries and blueberries

Apply Step 3 fertilizer to lawn

Money

  • Balance checkbook
  • Budget
  • Start your back-to-school shopping

Meal Planning

  • Host or attend 4th of July celebration
  • Plan something special for World Friendship Day: July 30
  • Plan birthday parties, cookouts and family reunions in August

Details on July Projects

Here are some specific details on our July projects.  Just click on the link below to read more.

Grill

How to host a simple cookout

Blueberries

Blueberry Picking Tips

Scotts Step 3

It’s Time to Put Down Your Step 3 Fertilizer

Summer Storm Approaching

Summer Storms – Checklist

two yellow durango merigolds

World Friendship Day: July 30

Seattle Market

Summer Meal Ideas

Back to School Checklist

Back to School Shopping Checklist

How to organize your receipts in bin

How to Organize and Store Your Receipts

House Sitters Checklist

House Sitter’s Checklist

Pet Sitters ChecklistPet Sitter’s Checklist

Beach Bag

What’s in Your Beach Bag?

Address Tracker

Toolbox: Printable Address List Tracker

Pink Tree

Christmas in July: Tips on Getting a Head Start

  

Printable Household Checklist for July

Just click on the link below for a printable copy of our Household Checklist for July:

Household Checklist for July

Household Checklist for July

By scheduling time to handle these items in July, you’ll be sure to keep everything running smoothly in your household.

Next steps:

Need more ideas?  Just click on our Toolbox tab above.  Looking for some quick organizational projects?  Check out the Organization section in our Toolbox.

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest:  Click here

 

Are you ready to go strawberry picking: tips you can't miss

Are you ready to go strawberry picking?

Strawberry season is here.  Are you ready to go strawberry picking?  If you are planning to pick your own strawberries, here are a few tips that will make your trip successful.

Strawberry Picking: Plan Ahead

Before you go picking, you’ll want to do the following things:

  • Call ahead to confirm berries are ready and to determine the picking hours.
  • Plan to go early in the morning.  If you can, go as soon as they open.  The saying “The early bird gets the worm” is true for strawberry picking.  You’ll have a better selection of strawberries, since the rows won’t be picked over.
  • Wear old clothes.  You might get a strawberry stain.  It usually comes out in the wash, but just in case…

What to Bring When Picking Your Own Strawberries

  • Water: You’ll be thirsty after picking.
  • Cash: Many small farms do not have credit card machines.
  • A change of shoes: I like to wear flip flops.  I can take them off right after picking, and they are easy to hose off when I get home.  Other pickers like to wear socks and sneakers.  Whatever you decide, just bring a change of shoes.  If you step on a berry, you won’t want to track it into your car.
  • Clean up supplies:  Baby wipes or wet face cloth in plastic bag.  You will want to clean your fingers after picking.

Picking Your Own Strawberries: Tips for Picking in the Field

Usually, only certain rows are open.  Try to pick a row that no one has picked in yet.  It will make picking much faster.

Since you pay by the pound, you’ll want to pick clean.  That means, do not pick the stems.  Pick the strawberry where the stem meets the berry.  Leave the whole stem behind, so only the green leaves stay on the berry.

Be sure to look in between the strawberry bushes.  Many people simple pick along the edges where you can easily see the berries.  By looking in between the leaves, you’ll find lots of berries.

It’s okay to eat a few strawberries while you are there.  After all, you want to know if the berries are sweet and tasty.  Just don’t overdo it. 🙂

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost to you, but Running A Household will receive a commission.

After you Finish Picking Strawberries

You’ll want to get the strawberries home and into the refrigerator.  I like to transfer mine into a colander, so that there a few holes to allow air in. I also cover the top of the colander loosely with plastic wrap.  This keeps anything from falling into the strawberries.

Are you ready to go strawberry picking?

Lastly, it’s important to have a strawberry huller.  This handy tool allows you to easily take the leaves off the berry.  You can certainly cut this part off with a knife, but you will take off too much of the strawberry.  With a Strawberry Huller, you will only take off the leaves, and keep the rest of the strawberry to eat.

Enjoy your strawberries!  There’s nothing quite like eating strawberries that were just picked.  🙂

Here are a few additional articles you may enjoy reading:

Summer Meal Ideas

How to host a simple cookout

Time Saving Tip: Shop Local

 

Household Checklist for June

Household Checklist for June

The month of June can be a busy time of year.  We’re here to help with our printable Household Checklist for June.  We’ve also included checklists, printables and detailed information for the projects you need to tackle this month.  So let’s get started.

Household Items to Handle in June

Maintenance

  • Finish Spring cleaning (first day of summer: 6/21)
  • Prepare for summer storms; update emergency supplies

Outdoors

Maintain vegetable and flower garden / weeding

Backwash pool filter

Power wash siding on house

Clean out gutters

Apply Step 2 Fertilizer for lawn

Apply Grub Preventer to lawn

Things to do

Locate and attend local farmer’s market

Go strawberry picking

Schedule swimming lessons and camps for children

Money

  • Balance checkbook
  • Budget
  • Finalize vacation plans

Meal Planning

  • Host or attend Father’s Day celebration
  • Plan July 4th cookout
  • Plan birthday parties in July

 

Details on June Projects

Here are some specific details on our June projects.  Just click on the link below to read more.

How to drain water from a pool cover

Tips on How to Drain Water from a Pool Cover

Helicopters from Silver Maple

Silver Maple Trees: It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

House Sitters Checklist

House Sitter’s Checklist

Grill

How to host a simple cookout

Strawberries

Are you ready to go strawberry picking?

Blank Calendar July 2015

It’s Time to Organize and Plan Your Summer Calendar

Yellow and orange tulips

Spring Cleaning Checklists

Summer Storm Approaching

Summer Storms – Checklist

Pool Cleaning Checklist - Running a Household

Pool Cleaning Checklist

Scotts Step 2

It’s Time to Put Down Your Step 2 Fertilizer

flower and vegetable seed and plant checklistGarden Shopping Checklist: Track your seed and plant purchases

Grilling Tools in Kitchen Drawer

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Seattle Market

Summer Meal Ideas

printable grocery list by department

Grocery List by Department – Make Grocery Shopping Easy and Efficient

Beach Bag

What’s in Your Beach Bag?

  

Printable Household Checklist for June

Just click on the link below for a printable copy of our Household Checklist for June:

Household Checklist for June Household Checklist for June

By scheduling time to handle these items in June, you’ll be sure to keep everything running smoothly in your household.

 

Can’t Keep Chlorine in Your Pool? Tips to Remove Phosphates

Does it feel like you keep adding chlorine to your pool?  Or does it seem like you can’t keep chlorine in your pool?  If so, your pool may contain a high level of phosphates.  We’re here to explain phosphates as well as tips to remove phosphates from your pool water.

What are Phosphates and Where Do They Come From?

Phosphates are an ingredient found in fertilizer.  Phosphates can also come from organic matter, such as decayed leaves in your pool.  Another source of phosphates is cosmetic products from bathers.  Some pool products meant to descale your pool even contain phosphates.

Can’t Keep Chlorine in Your Pool?
Signs of high phosphate level in pool water

  • Slimy walls
  • Cloudy water
  • Algae grows back quickly
  • Chlorine seems to disappear from pool instantly
  • Water testing shows high level phosphates

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost to you, but Running A Household will receive a commission.

How to Remove Phosphates From Your Pool

Step 1: Have the phosphate level in your pool water tested. 

Phosphate levels should be below 100 ppb (parts per billion) or 0.100 ppm (parts per million).  You can have your local pool store run a test, or you can purchase your own Phosphate Test Kit.

If phosphate levels are higher than 100 ppb, a phosphate remover called Phos Free Pool Cleaner can be purchased.  This comes in a three liter bottle.


Read the application instructions to determine how much phosphate remover you need.  Our pool is 16 x 36, and our phosphate level required us to use 32 ounces.

Step 2: Balance Your Pool Water

We made sure that our pool water was balanced first, with the exception of the chlorine level.  So that means our alkalinity, ph, and calcium hardness were at the correct levels.  We also added our three-month algaeside to prevent any further issues.

Our pool store representative recommended holding off on shocking the pool until our phosphate levels were reduced to close to 0.  Otherwise, it’s like throwing money away.  All of the shock you put into your pool will simply disappear.  To drive the point home, he told us to just give him $20 if we felt like shocking the pool!

Step 3: Pour the Phosphate Remover around the entire pool.

The instructions on our phosphate remover product recommended that we pour the phosphate remover around the edge of the entire pool.

Also note that the filter will need to run for 24 hours, so plan accordingly.  You will want to be around while the filter runs, so that you can bump it when the pressure rises.

Step 4: Vacuum up any phosphate remainder

Phosphate remnants look like gray or white matter floating at the bottom of the pool.  You will need to vacuum this matter and remove it from your pool.

Can't keep chlorine in your pool

Gray matter in pool after phosphates removed

Step 5: Backwash the pool filter

It is important to backwash the pool filter after vacuuming, and install fresh Dichotomous Earth (D.E.)  Backwashing will remove the phosphates from your pool, and prevent them from reentering the water.  We even took the opportunity to crack open our filter to clean the fingers.

Step 6: Re-Test the Phosphate Levels

Next, have the phosphate levels tested again.  If the levels are above 500, repeat the steps again.  Otherwise, your pool will not hold chlorine.  Since removing phosphates requires you to test multiple times, you may want to save a few trips to the pool store and purchase your own Phosphate Test Kit.  We like this kit because it provides you with a color coded strip so that you can see the phosphate level:

Clear test results means there are no phosphates in your pool.  The higher up on the blue scale you go, the more phosphates you have in your pool water. This kit also allows you to test up to 100 times. Hopefully you won’t need to test that many times, but it will certainly save you a few trips back and forth to the pool store.

Step 7: Shock Your Pool

Once your phosphate levels are close to zero, it’s time to shock the pool.  As you now know, if the phosphate levels are too high, your chlorine will disappear.

Still having water issues?  You may want to work with your local pool store to test the water.  They have the technology to perform tests beyond the standard homeowner tests.

Happy swimming!