What’s inside: Christmas is coming sooner than you think. Did you know we only have 19 days until Christmas? Wow! So, let’s make this year’s Christmas less stressful by planning and organizing. I will help you get started Christmas planning and even give you a bunch of free planning printables.
I have to be honest, I have never really been a fan of Christmas. Since my birthday is only 11 days before Christmas, my birthday and Christmas have always been kind-of lumped together. As adults, we plan for the parties, bake the cookies, purchase and wrap the gifts. We spend so much time preparing for Christmas (so much so that I need a special notebook just to keep organized) and then it is over. Like that. For me, it’s kind-of a let-down. And now that the kids are older, they open their gifts so fast. I even try to make them wait and take turns just to make it last a little bit longer, but that only goes so far.
And, of course, there is the clean-up. I hate any type of cleaning. I mean I HATE it. If I could pay someone to do my cleaning, dishes, and laundry, I would do it in an instant. And there just seems to be so much extra cleaning after Christmas is over. Extra dishes from cooking and baking, pine needles falling from the tree, little scraps of wrapping paper left over from that odd-shaped present, and the list goes on.
But I do love the decorations – the colors, the lights, even the smells of Christmas. I love decorating the house, the tree, and outside. And I enjoy making new decorations and ornaments each year. But, when Christmas is over, we need to haul the boxes back down from the attic, pack up everything, and hoist them back up into the attic. Nevertheless, no one is as excited to put the decorations away as they were to get them out.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like Christmas. I truly enjoy purchasing or making gifts that are meaningful and then giving them to my loved ones. And, of course, getting gifts isn’t so bad either.
But over the years, especially since I had kids, Christmas has become more and more stressful. I needed a way to make the holiday season just a little bit less stressful. From that need came my Christmas Planning Notebook. A lot of my inspiration for the notebook and some of the printables comes from Taylor at Household Management 101. She has great resources for planning all holidays and an awesome 6 week series to plan for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
I try to start planning at the beginning of November, but my goal is to have a detailed plan by Thanksgiving. This year I printed out all of my printables, punched holes, and made a notebook. After I organized my notebook, I sat down and completed everything. When I was finished, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I have a plan and everything I need is in one place.
Now, this is how I did it – hopefully you will get some useful ideas to make your Christmas planning less stressful as well. First, I organized my notebook into 5 sections with tab dividers in a 3 ring binder. I bought the dividers that have pockets because I can put my random scratch paper notes, receipts, and coupons right where I can find them. My sections I used are: Calendars, Budgets, Homemade, Food, and Shopping Lists. And, this notebook is not only a 1-year and done deal. You can keep this year’s planning and use it as a starting point for next year. I am hoping to keep this year-to-year and update annually.
I will introduce each of the 15 printables within the 5 sections as I have them organized and give some of the tips and tricks I used when planning my Christmas Notebook. .
Okay, let’s dig in…
November 2017 Calendar, December 2017 Calendar, Week Before Christmas, Week After Christmas
I included a Week Before Christmas Calendar especially because this is “crunch time” for me. If I didn’t do it by then, I better get it done this week. And making a daily to do helps me get it all done. I also plan the tasks like making ice (so we have a stockpile for Christmas Eve), the boys’ days off, etc.
And the Week After Christmas Calendar is mainly for scheduling the clean-up from our Christmas Eve party, putting gifts away, washing new clothing, and possibly taking down the decorations. And since the kids will be home this entire week, I like to have an idea what activities they can do to keep them busy. I also am keeping track of special offers, coupons, and Groupons that we can use that week. And, of course, there is a section for planning for New Year’s Eve. We really do not do anything exciting – last year I was the only one awake to see the ball drop – but there are some activities that I like to do.
Christmas Budget and Gift Budget
I use the main Christmas Budget page to estimate how much I will spend on items such as food, wrapping, and gifts for teachers, neighbors, and family. After I come up with an amount for all of that, I can then see how much of the money we have saved for Christmas we can spend on the boys.
I use the Gift Budget to keep track of my spending throughout the season and also to keep notes (such as where I purchased a gift and if it is returnable). This is especially useful for keeping track of buying gifts for my boys. We really try to keep the amount we spend on each of them as equal as possible and this helps me make sure that we do. And most importantly, keeping track of what we buy helps us from overspending.
Homemade Gift Planner
Probably my most favorite part of Christmas is the homemade aspect. I love to baking, cooking, and especially making handmade gifts. I think these gifts are more personal and show the recipient that I really took the time and thought to give him or her a special gift. This also gives me an excuse to craft, sew, and DIY. And it is a productive way to justify all of the hours I spend on Pinterest. Usually, the boys and I make gifts for my parents, neighbors, friends, and their teachers, bus drivers, and other helpers (secretaries, mail carriers, garbage men). I also like to have a few to have on-hand – just in case I forget anyone in my planning.
I use these Homemade Gift Planner pages to plan each homemade gift so I know what I need to purchase and how much time I will need to complete each project. Then I can schedule when I will work on each to ensure it is finished on time. In the notes and resources section I write things such as where the instructions are located (Pinterest, Facebook, or one of the many organization apps I use) and how I can break down larger projects into steps. I try to write everything related to the project on these planner pages, including special packaging if necessary.
Christmas Menu Planning & Shopping Lists
In our family, we host a Christmas Eve party for Hubby’s side of the family. Compared to my family, Hubby’s is huge. Besides his parents, he has 2 brothers, a sister, 5 nieces, and 2 nephews (so far!) Needless to say, our house is bursting at the seams on Christmas Eve and we need lots of food and drink for everyone. We do a pot-luck kind of dinner where everyone brings something. The Menu Planning page is a great way to make sure that we have all of our bases covered and don’t end up without forks and drinks on Christmas Eve. This is the only meal that we are responsible for, but I included pages to plan for a Christmas breakfast and a dinner if you host one of those.
I also like to break down the menu planning page into a Shopping List. Once I have this list, I know exactly what I need for Christmas Eve.
Grocery List & Homemade Shopping List.
I know the Christmas Grocery List may be redundant, but if you are planning more than one party, combining all of those lists in one place makes it easier to manage. I used the grocery list last year so I could pick up non-perishable items throughout the season, especially when they were on sale! I really prefer buying items over time instead of going on one big shopping trip right before Christmas – no crowds, fewer bags to carry, and most importantly less time!
I added the Homemade Shopping List this year so I can pick up these items here and there when I make my regular trips to the dollar store, Walmart, and grocery store.
But, most importantly, I like to plan my craft store purchases to maximize my coupon usage. If I am anywhere near Joann, AC Moore, or Michaels (the 3 craft stores we have locally) I will run in and pick up just 1 item if I can use a coupon and not have it go to waste (an unused coupon is a travesty). This way, I don’t have to take special trips and I can get most of the items for 40-50% off. Hey – we work hard to save that money, I like to make every cent count!
If you only want to use a few of the printables, you can easily download just those in each section above. Or I have created a multi-page PDF file that includes all 15 printables (the whole kit & caboodle). If you want them all, here they are:
And last, but not least – you absolutely must make your Christmas Planning Notebook as pretty on the outside as it is useful on the inside. Here is a Cover Page for the Christmas Planning Notebook.
So, now that you know exactly how I am making Christmas a little less stressful by planning and organizing now, how are you going to lessen the stress of the holidays? Are you planning and organizing like me or do you have another great tip or trick? Let me know how you make the holidays less stressful in the comments below.
Add a Little Shimmer to your life today by making a pretty and useful Christmas Planning Notebook.
A note: My boys will be home all next week, so I will not be posting. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I’ll see you after the holiday!
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*As promised, I will be sharing information regarding Mental Health in every post. Click on the image below and be directed to the National Institute for Mental Health‘s A-Z Guide of mental health conditions. The NIMH website is a great resource for anyone who suffers from a mental health disease, believes she may have a mental health disease, or cares and loves for someone with a mental health disease. Please use this guide for informational purposes only; diagnosis and treatment decisions should always be made by a health professional.
Adding Shimmer to Life: A DIY lifestyle blog helping you add some shimmer to your everyday life.
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