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This Year's Gonna Be Different!

Start planning for the holidays now. Right now. Immediately after reading this article.
Thanksgiving is over and the holidays are near. This year, you're going to have everything wrapped and ready 10 days early. The dinner will go off spectacularly, family and friends will start calling you Martha, and you'll find neighbors peering in your windows admiring your decorating.

With that tall order, it's time to get cracking. And where better to start than online?

You can spend a good deal of time at Christmas.com, which has a Christmas shop, forums, holiday greetings translated in many languages, and more. There's "100 Christmas Gift Suggestions"--No. 42: "For the person who has everything, try a personalized rubber stamp. You can design it yourself to reflect the person's hobby, professional, or whatever. Do this early enough to get your design to a business-supply store or rubber-stamp maker. There may be some ready-mades that you only need to have your person's name added to at stationery stores, business-supply centers, or rubber-stamp stores."

If you really need to put pen to paper and figure out expenses and needed items, there's a printable Holiday Planning Worksheet.

Looking for a new recipe? Check out Christmas on the Net, with ideas for refreshments, appetizers, entrees, side dishes, various kinds of stuffing, and Christmas desserts. There are even recipes for turkey leftovers. Or check out the recipes at All Recipes.

For ideas on celebrating Hanukah, go to Holidays.net. It also has games, crafts, supplies, music, and print-and-color designs to be used as wrapping paper and decorations. And check out Hanukah Hints for Families with Young Children, which gives advice about creating family rituals.

It's also a good idea to prepare for potential problems: See the American Red Cross Holiday Safety Tips.

Finally, About.com offers several holiday links. Subjects include minimizing stress, planning for the holidays with children, and early preparation. The Ten Things To Do Right Now to Prepare for the Holidays has planning tips that include spending an evening now addressing envelopes and adding stamps so that the chore is out of the way.

Get going. Remember, this year's going to be different!