What's the perfect holiday organizer system? The one that works for your needs.
This is how I maintain sanity between October through January- maybe it can help you. (I count our October in the planning because we have 2 birthdays starting off the festivities.) Click here to go directly to printable items.
Years ago, the Thanksgiving and Christmas season were so chaotic, if I could have figured out how to skip them altogether, I would have. You know the drill. A tight budget, overspent, and one overscheduled activity on top of another.
If we were going to celebrate the season (is there really a choice?), I just wanted to enjoy the sights and sounds along with everyone else- withOUT the excessive thoughts of what still had to be done ruining the moment.
I knew change had to come. The Holiday season with kiddos requires a LOT more planning than the single and newlywed days. There was so much running through my mind I couldn't possibly keep it straight.
So- the next year, I started early. As soon as the kids went back to school and we were still sweltering in the summer heat, I printed off one blank December calendar and took out 3 pieces of paper.
The goal: all things HOLIDAY, planned and shopped for (minus perishable items of course) BEFORE devouring the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. It was the holiday organizer system that actually worked for me.
Now, I LOVE the idea of journals and planners. So pretty and inspiring! Why not use them? I simply don't really know. Just like the New Year's planner I buy at the beginning of each new year, I also buy a holiday organizer. And it sits pretty on the shelf waiting for the next donation trip. Good intentions, but big fail for me. Every time. Every year.
For me personally, if it's not out and I don't see it, it's looong forgotten. And I will forget to open up a planner- sounds crazy, I know. All that to say- find what works for YOU!
On to my simple papers (which I tape onto the inside of my cabinet doors):
I write down everyone I need to buy gifts for (birthdays and Christmas included) with a space for gift ideas. I also include the stockings we need to fill and add stocking stuffer ideas. (If I'm not careful, the stockings often end up being more expensive than the gifts.)
Before proceeding to my to-do list, our family has a general discussion about the events we want to participate in. I then fill out the calendar with the activities we plan on attending, and special evenings we will be sharing (craft night, hot cocoa night...)
This calendar helps me plan my TO-DO list accordingly by adding things like choose our craft for craft night, purchase hot cocoa, make advent calendar... This way, I'm not caught off guard and can spend those precious mind-time moments instead with my family.
Here, I include everything that must be completed and purchased. It's SO much easier and budget-friendly getting a head start. You'll be able to take advantage of retail sales over the period of 2/3 months, vs waiting until the last minute.
With a completed list, your eyes are more in tune to deals that cross your path for the items you need.
I write down all of our menus for the major Holiday meals and events, including our birthday breakfasts (a favorite in our home) and birthday dinners. There are SO many magazines, family recipes, and cooking shows promising the next best food idea that I easily become overwhelmed. When I can see each Holiday on one sheet of paper, it makes the meals come together in a sense, and easier to place new recipe dishes in the appropriate menu.
If a new recipe that we just HAVE to try comes along our way, I look to see if we can replace one of the dishes with it, or fit it in somewhere. We've found the simplicity in even our meals become our most-loved.
Tip: After the celebrations are over, I like to reflect and make notes on this paper. Was a recipe really yummy? What could have been done to make things simpler? Did we need 5 different desserts? I then place the planning sheet in the box on top of our Christmas decorations for the next year's reference. Holiday planning is even simpler when I can refer to what the mind has long forgotten.
I ask the family what the must-have treats of the season are and write them down as well. Cookies, candies, drinks- this takes out the guess work and helps to stop needless spending on food that will often go to waste.
I include all the ingredients on a shopping list as it gives me time to raid the pantry for what I already have. Crowded grocery stores are NOT the place I want to spend my December days.
NOTE~ WRITE DOWN THE SOURCE AND PAGE NUMBER of the treats you find- if you don't, you'll never. ever. ever. find it again. Ever. Or, you'll lose all of your well-managed time looking...
Easy peasy and it's out of my head, onto the paper. Now, I have a game plan and a list to check off.
No holiday organizer is perfect. No matter HOW much you plan for, or what you buy, there are adjustments to be made!
Pre-plan, but relax.
Learn to go with the flow and allow for changes. If you've already given thought to the Holiday you want to experience, and already have a game plan, you'll be ready for the changes. Your preplanning will greatly reduce your stress load allowing you to simply live in the moment.
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