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Readying Your Home For The Holidays

The Early Show, holidays, decorations, table
CBS/The Early Show
As the holidays approach, you probably find your "to do" list growing and free time shrinking.

But Nathan Turner, Pottery Barn's style consultant, says it's not hard to get organized for a stylish, stress-free season.

He says you just need to focus on doing five specific things to get your home in shape for the holidays, because that'll make everything easier and save you time and aggravation later.

Turner guarantees they'll help you feel more prepared for the season.

And he says the sooner you do them, the better -- the season is only going to keep getting crazier.

Turner says his suggestions will help you stay organized and feel good about your home.

All have one thing in common -- they're simple.

The five tips touch a wide variety of areas, from making guests feel at home, to decorating.

CDs / DVDs

You only pull out your holiday music and DVDs once a year, which means they're probably stuck in the back of a closet somewhere. You don't want them cluttering your media center for two months, but you want to be able to access them easily. What's the compromise? Turner has a practical -- and fun -- solution. Turn a photo album or even an attractive CD case into a holiday album. Pull your favorite CDs and DVDs from their individual cases and compile them in one place. If you really want to go the extra mile, make a "title" page for each member of your family and divide the album into "Mom's Favorites," "Nathan's Favorites," etc. That's also a fun thing for Grandma and Grandpa to thumb through when they come to visit.

MEDIA DIRECTIONS

Turner suggests making a small instruction sheet, similar to what you might find in a hotel, for your guests, detailing how to work your TV, stereo, etc. If your home has wireless Internet, you might also want to include your network password on the sheet. That not only makes your guests feel comfortable, it saves you the time of having to answer a billion questions or doing those things yourself. The sheets will last much longer if you laminate them, and you can buy laminate paper at any office supply store. It simply adheres to your paper; there's no heat or machine involved.

FIRESTARTERS

If you have a fireplace, you'll probably use it during the holidays -- it adds a cozy, festive glow to any party. Chances are also good you don't want to spend precious moments before a party lighting the fire and making sure it actually starts. Enter Turner's fire-starters: He buys the small fire-starter logs, but then wraps twigs around them as a "disguise" and adds some pine, rosemary or lavender, which will send a light scent wafting over the room once lit. He ties all of this up with decorative rafia (a natural fiber that burns easily). The little bundles look cute piled next to your fireplace. Throw one in and light a match. When it begins burning brightly, add your firewood.

PANTRY

Unexpected guests tend to stop by during the holiday season. It won't stress you out if you know you have something to serve them. Turner recommends making one shopping trip now and stocking up on sparkling water, tonic water, soda water, a variety of sodas, wine, nuts, and olives.
You also want to make sure you have extra paper towels for messes, pretty napkins, and plenty of plates and glassware. Finally, Turner says the No. 1 item he finds missing from people's cupboards is serving platters. A beautiful meal deserves nice presentation. You don't have to spend a lot of money, but buy three or four in a variety of sizes. If you check all of the above items off of your list now, you can calmly and cheerfully greet anyone who stops by your home.

DECORATION

The Early Show asked Turner to come up with one simple holiday decoration that people could put in their homes and not have to maintain, something that's inexpensive, easy to put together, and won't have to be touched again until it's taken down in January. Turner suggests either buying some silver branches or bringing in some branches from your backyard and spraying them with fake snow (available at craft stores.) Arrange them in a vase and, viola -- you have instant holiday cheer! Up the ante by decorating with artificial berries or Christmas tree ornaments. You can make the arrangement smaller or larger, depending on the space you're trying to fill.