The January 2017 To-Do List

Joanne Helperin

The holiday festivities are over, but January doesn't have to be a drag. It's actually the best time to finish projects and organize your life – all while having a little fun. And what could feel better than that? Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Put Away the Decorations: First, examine decorations for broken bulbs or ornaments – and replace them at a fraction of their price before the holidays. Then, if the idea of putting it all away is giving you the chills, check out the holiday storage selection at Container Store. Having a specific place for everything makes it fun, and you'll be glad you got organized when the holidays roll around again.

Write Those Thank-You Notes: It has to get done, and better sooner than later. Whether you send a longhand note on beautiful stationery or shoot off a quick email, you'll be glad to check it off your mental "to do" list. (And it means Aunt Gertrude can't scold you.) If you've got kids, get them in the habit of writing thank you's or making a special call to Grandma. It's also the time to return or donate unwanted gifts -- or decide who will get that re-gift -- shhh!

Shop the Bargains: Everything you ever wanted for the holidays but didn't get is now on sale. As stores make way for new inventory, find bargain basement prices on:
  • Fall and winter clothing
  • Furniture
  • Motorcycles
  • Fitness gear and sporting equipment
  • Home appliances
  • Cookware
  • Linens for bed and bath
  • Rugs
  • Computers and electronics
  • Formal clothing and party dresses
  • Carpets
  • Broadway theater tickets
If you have the patience, it's a great time to stock up on gifts for next year, too!

Get College Applications In: Dozens of college application deadlines fall in January. College Simply lets you sort deadlines by date, by state, or alphabetically to help students stay on track.

Last Chance to Change Your Healthcare Plan: Until January 31, you can enroll in or change your 2017 healthcare plan, so make sure you have the plan you want. Regardless of the plan you're on, as of February 1, you can enroll or make changes only if you qualify for a "special enrollment period" – life events such as getting married or having a baby or adopting a child, moving, or a losing health coverage.

Grab a Last-Minute Vacation: Maybe you hosted for the holidays (exhausting!), or traveled to visit friends and family (also exhausting!). You need a break after the holidays, right? Grab a quick ski trip just for your immediate family, or perhaps a girls' spa weekend. Travel agents everywhere offer cheap last-minute weekend packages to refresh you, body and soul.

Check or Fix Nagging Home Issues: It's the right time to change your air filter, check gutters, drains and window wells for dead leaves, and weatherstrip. Dry, hot air isn't particularly healthy, so break out or invest in humidifiers -- or bring in moisture-producing plants, like ferns. (If you see a lot of condensation on the windows, though, hold off in that room.) If you have a ceiling fan, reversing its spin direction will help you distribute heat better.

Experience the 2017 Holidays: Now that the "big" holidays are over, it's easy to just hunker down for the winter and let the world spin by. But why, when there are fun things to celebrate in January? Here are just a few:
  • New Year's Day, Jan 1. It's a new year, so make it count and have some fun! From the Philadelphia Mummers Parade (the country's oldest folk festival) to the Pasadena Rose Bowl (on Jan. 2), celebrate the parades in person, on TV, or with a live stream.
  • Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 16. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." Take advantage of charities and local volunteer opportunities to help those less fortunate.
  • Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Love it or hate it, it will be historic.
  • Chinese New Year, Jan. 28. Head to Chinatown to watch the dragons and fireworks, or learn about the way the Chinese celebrate New Years in China, including why they wear red underwear!
Plant and Grow: In January? Yes! Rodale's January gardener's guide and your local garden center will help you choose what to plant, no matter where in the country you live. Don't want to brave the cold? Indoors is a great time to start with seeds for peppers, tomato, onions, herbs, and to get your spring flowers germinating.

Schedule Your Resolutions: Let this be the year you stick to your guns and go to the gym or spend more time with your family. Make appointments in your calendar for what's important to you, and they might actually happen this year.

Joanne Helperin is a Los Angeles-based writer/editor and marketer. Dubbed "The Research Queen" by friends and family, she’s known for leaving no stone unturned in her pursuit of stories on health, business, news, technology, and lifestyle. She has written for digital, print and broadcast for more than 20 years.