Creative Ways to Spend the Holidays
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29 Ways to Spend That Week Between Christmas and New Year's

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Creative Ways to Spend the Holidays
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HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is -- for quite a few lucky folks -- a much-needed week off from work. Sure, you want to kick back and enjoy your free time, but don't let the time fly without getting a few things done. Imagine heading into the New Year feeling both relaxed -- and accomplished. Now that would be reason to celebrate a truly happy new year.

Pamper Yourself
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PAMPER YOURSELF

If weeknight car pools and grocery shopping leave precious little time for a massage, manicure or other pampering, schedule a few appointments for this week. Perhaps you even got a gift card for the holidays -- now's the time to use it.

Plan Your Garden for Spring
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PLAN YOUR GARDEN FOR SPRING

Look ahead to days of planting seeds and caring for your fruits, vegetables and flowers. While the snow falls gently outside, let your mind wander to days in the garden -- and imagine a new layout, a new color scheme or some new plantings to add to your usual mix.

Research Your Next Trip
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MAKE TIME FOR TRAVEL RESEARCH

Have you ever made vacation plans in a hurry -- and lived to regret the hasty decision? If you have a big trip coming up, put in the time researching not only accommodations but also activities, restaurants, shops and more. The planning will not only help you find good deals but also build excitement for what's to come.

Parties
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HOST A DINNER PARTY

Put together an impromptu gathering of friends -- it's actually a good week to have a dinner party -- and gives everyone the chance to catch up on how their holidays were and simply enjoy each other's company with all the holiday prep a thing of the past.

Clean the House
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CLEAN THE HOUSE

The holiday frenzy is nearing the finish line. Does your house show this month's strain? If so, get to work and do a truly top-to-bottom cleaning. Plan a full day or spread out the work to tackle a task a day. You'll enter the new year with a sparkling and cozy home.

Get Outdoors
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STAY ACTIVE WITH OUTDOOR SPORTS

Plan a day on the slopes, an afternoon on the rink or if you're in a warmer climate, a morning hitting the waves. Take advantage of a longer spell of leisure time and hone your skills -- or take a beginner's lesson. You probably won't make the Olympics, but you may find a healthy new hobby.

Fine-Tune Your Budget
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FINE-TUNE THE BUDGET

Despite the best of intentions, overspending and the holiday season seem to go hand in hand. Face the new year with a brave face -- and a well-considered budget -- and you'll bounce back from those splurges sooner than you thought.

Make Peace with Family Members
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MAKE PEACE WITH FAMILY MEMBERS

Did the Christmas feast come complete with a side of family feud? Hey, it happens. But don't let any family fights linger into the new year. Be the bigger person. Make amends and extend the proverbial olive branch. Life, clichéd but true, is too short to be on the outs with those closest to you.

Complete a Craft Project
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START (AND FINISH) A CRAFT PROJECT

Is there a half-crocheted scarf sitting around, a model airplane still in its pre-flight mode? Finish what you started -- and if it comes out good enough, save it -- you might have started on next year's holiday gifts already.

Try New Recipes
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TRY COOKING NEW RECIPES

Most of us would agree that we more often clip out recipes than actually cook the mouthwatering dishes we come across. You may not be ready to start a catering business -- but go ahead, pick out the most appealing recipes and let your inner chef run wild. The delicious results will be the reward.

Make a Healthy Checklist
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MAKE A HEALTHY CHECKLIST

It's not sexy, but taking stock of your health is important, especially as you age. Take an honest assessment of what you need to do (exercise, diet, etc.), book any appointments (when was that last eye exam?) and know you are doing your best for yourself.

Binge Watch TV
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BINGE WATCH MOVIES OR TV SHOWS

Long stretches of free time -- especially if the weather keeps you at home -- are ideal for binging on movies or TV shows. Pick a movie theme, see a whole franchise, catch up on a season of shows. Just don't expect everyone at work to join in when you suddenly want to talk about a show that ended three years ago.

Organize Holiday Decorations
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ORGANIZE YOUR HOLIDAY DECORATIONS

Make this the year when you really organize your holiday decorations. Pick up discounted storage containers -- and spend time wrapping things carefully instead of rushing to get it all out of sight, marking all as you go. Next year's unpacking will be a breeze.

Catch Up with Friends
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CATCH UP WITH FRIENDS

Chatting at the grocery store or at the varsity basketball game simply isn't the same as a good ol' catching up. Plan to have friends over, meet for brunch, or schedule a late-afternoon coffee, and really take the time to check in with your friends.

Organize the Closet
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ORGANIZE THE CLOSET

Is dressing for work each morning a nightmare? You know what you want to wear but can't find it? Take the time to really -- and be honest here -- edit your closet. Keep what you love (and what really fits). Then put things in their place, and look forward to returning to work in style.

Start or Finish a Book
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READ THAT BOOK (FINALLY)

Maybe it's the stack on your bedside table that's covered in dust. Maybe it's that bestselling novel everyone's talking about -- or the classic you never read. A span spent with a good book can be transportive.

Visit a Museum
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SPEND A DAY AT THE MUSEUM

Not everyone has time to spend hours exploring their local museums. Make a point to visit your favorite, without a time limit, or check out one you've never visited. You'll not only appreciate the dose of culture but may find a great new place to take out-of-town guests.

Organize Your Calendar
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ORGANIZE YOUR CALENDAR FOR THE NEW YEAR

Whether it's the one big calendar in the kitchen – or a few scattered throughout the house, we all rely on them to keep track of our lives. Sit down and mark down dates to remember for 2018, from birthdays to car inspections -- and while you're at it, update your address books with any changes from this year's batch of holiday cards.

Gather Receipts to do Taxes
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GATHER YOUR RECEIPTS FOR TAXES

Tax Day will be here before you know it. Make this year easier on yourself and start to gather receipts, look back over your spending and start to itemize things. Note what forms you'll need to look out for (dividends, etc.) so you're ready to file.

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STOCK UP AT THE GROCERY STORE

Sometimes a good run through the grocery store -- or discount shop -- to stock up on staples not only pays off in money saved but also your time and energy. With so many goods having long shelf lives, it's nice to then be able to "shop your pantry," especially during snow storms.

Let the Kids Plan a Day
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LET THE KIDS PLAN A DAY

Treat each of your kids -- or a favorite niece, nephew or family friend -- to a solo day out. Let them pick the place to go, a place to eat, and you'll be amazed at how the one-on-one time gives you a new perspective on their personalities and concerns, and also creates some special memories.

Plan a Day Trip
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PLAN SOME DAY TRIPS

Decide to finally travel to that small town an hour away -- or check out a historic site in your neighboring county. With the eye off the clock, even a day out close to home can feel like a vacation.

Catch Up with Loved Ones
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CATCH UP ON PHONE CALLS WITH LOVED ONES

Remember the days of lying on the couch, chatting away with your best friend about everything -- and nothing? Bring that experience back. Set a time to simply catch up by phone. The voice makes all the difference -- and the laughs will buoy your spirits.

Plan a Night Out
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PLAN A SPECIAL NIGHT OUT

If you still have to work during this week, make a plan for a special night out or two. Take in an inexpensive show, hit a happy hour at a bar and catch up with a friend or take the family out for pizza.

Take a Neighborhood Stroll
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TAKE A NEIGHBORHOOD STROLL

Maybe you walk around your neighborhood for exercise -- but do you ever just walk to take it all in? Go down streets you rarely do. Admire the architecture, the landscaping -- get ideas for your own home or simply appreciate the characteristics and charm of the place you call home.

Volunteer in Your Community
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VOLUNTEER IN YOUR COMMUNITY

People traveling may leave some nonprofits without their usual volunteers. Call ahead to see if you can lend a hand to an organization whose work you support. Who knows? A morning spent at the animal shelter or working at the local park may make you want to make an effort to join the volunteer effort year-round.

Have a Family Game Night
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ORGANIZE A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED GAME NIGHT

Pull out the board games or puzzles, make some hot cocoa and have an old-fashioned evening in. Family game night may have a retro reputation but once the games begin, you'll find that friendly competition and shared laughter are timeless.

Plan Your New Year's Resolutions
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PLAN YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

Lose weight. Stick to the budget. This year, you may opt for the same New Year's resolutions -- but put some quality time into thinking more about how you can keep them. Be the only one you know who actually is still going strong on their plan well into the new year.

Just Relax
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JUST 'BE'

Look to any time off as a gift -- and just let the day be free of commitments. Wake up and see what you feel like doing -- or not doing -- and just "be."