My dear sister, a good friend and I were having a " virtual calendar party" (we were skype-ing together to fill in everything important on our awesome calendars for 2012 ( I recommend either More Time Moms or Amy Knapp).
Anyway, they were commenting on how great my Christmas organizing is, which, truthfully, surprised the heck out of me. I am organized the same way a 20 year veteran of AA is sober--by working at it every day! It is not my natural state, but I have found and implemented some great tools, and I guess it is paying off.
So, I decided that I will share some of the things I have learned, with you, my dear readers. I hope it helps you have a blessed, peace filled Holiday Season.
First is the Christmas Countdown. Yes, already! It is the key to a peaceful Holiday and Christmas Season. Everything comes down to a firm foundation.
The Big Holiday Countdown:
Schedule these on your calendar, and work on them for 15 minutes every day.
Get Organized Week
Next to last week of October
Make or update your Christmas Planner.
Reality Check Week
Last Week of October
Take a long, hard, realistic look at what you want, what you need, what you can afford, and what causes you stress. Make your plans fit your reality.
Make a holiday budget.
Set up a holiday housework plan.
How are you doing Christmas Cards? Do you need to schedule a photo shoot?
If you are mailing cards, you can divide the Christmas card list into five groups. Write and address one group this week.
Decide how you will shop for gifts. Will you divide entries on the master gift list into five groups, and buy one-fifth of the gifts each week? Will you do most of your shopping online? If you know what you are buying, you may want to set aside the money and do most of your purchases on Black Friday. Even online merchants have great deals (and you don’t have to fight crowds, weather or car seats!)
Conduct family wardrobe check/size inventory.
Take inventory of your gift closet now, before you shop for holiday gifts.
Make sure you are focusing on Flying, and good health habits to cushion you and your family from holiday stresses.
Make a tabletop check;. Inventory serving pieces, table linens, china and flatware.
Schedule family haircut appointments.
Inventory stocks of wrap and mail supplies.
Gifts and Giving Week
First Week of November
Reevaluate your gift giving priorities and budget. Plan gift shopping accordingly.
Will you do your main shopping in brick and mortar stores, or online? If you are making gifts, do you have a realistic plan for getting them finished in time to ship, wrap and give?
Get Cooking Week
Second Week of November
Make a realistic plan of what you will have time, energy and money to cook.
Plan and calendar special holiday cooking times (remember that less stress=more fun, so don’t get all freaked out perfectionist on this!)
Plan to purchase a few special ingredients each week to ease the budget crunch!
It’s also time to get out/plan advent calendars, and to make your decoration plan (so next week’s activities will go smoother!)
Family Home Evening Activity can be an Advent Calendar Kickoff!
Third Week of November
Plan to do your decorating in little bits. 15 minutes a day is a life and sanity saver! Plus, it really makes it more exciting for the kids. And, as always, less stress=more fun!
Since this week is Thanksgiving, plan your Family Home Evening Activity to be a Gratitude Activity.
Fourth Week of November
We start Candle Time
This is the time to really focus on Family Read Aloud time with special Christmas Books (our Favorites are: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. They are all short enough that you can read all 3 aloud during the next few weeks).
Make an effort to collect and play the best possible versions of great Christmas Music. There is so much incredible music available for Christmas (both secular and Holy). Don’t waste your brain with the crap available on the radio.
After you have cruised through the first six weeks, you should have everything (mostly) under control, so you can focus on the celebrating!
Candle Time is a tradition that was shared with my family when I was a teenager. Some dear friends gave us a beautiful taper candle and a sheet with a devotional reading and scriptures for each night of December. Now we light a WHOLE BUNCH of candles, and gather together each night (I had to reassemble my own list of scriptures and devotionals, and I am still trying to perfect it!)
Baking Cookies & making simple candy. This actually extends through most of the week, but we try to keep it fun and enjoyable, not stressful and dictatorial!
Taking Cookies to the Neighbors!
I hate to admit how long it has taken us to get to know all of our neighbors—but anything is better than nothing, so don’t beat yourself up for past “less than perfects”!
Drive around town looking at the lights.
It is nice to have a deliberate, planned time to do this! Then we come home and have (urgh, gag!) eggnog (which my children & Hubby LOVE). And maybe some of the yummy cookies we have made!
We always go to my Dad’s house on Christmas Eve for the Nativity. This is a family tradition that goes a long way back—there are pictures from the 1940’s of my mom’s siblings (and cousins) dressed up as angels, shepherds, etc. The youngest baby is always cast as the baby Jesus (which means we have alternated between tiny, sleeping infants and toddlers who were ready to jump out of the manger and mug the wisemen for the gifts). After Grandpa finishes reading the Christmas Story from Luke and Matthew, we all gather and sing Christmas Carols.
More details to come!
I got most of the inspiration and ideas for this from OrganizedHome.com