Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Organizing for Christmas

With Christmas just under 8 weeks away, it's time for us to think and dream of how we will celebrate this year... so much discussion, so much excitement!

In our home, we don't focus on receiving.  Instead, we focus A LOT on the joy of giving!  There's always plenty of lively discussion about the perfect gifts for those who mean so much to us.

Advance Christmas planning is essential for me if we are to stick to a budget.  I really despise shopping in December as the shops are way too busy for my liking.  Long lineups full of grumpy people, and plenty of frenzied chaos all sap my energy and my Christmas spirit.  Blah!   My plan is very simple but very effective.  I make 6 lists:

ACTIVITIES - This is for all the must do activities that the kids want to do such as a drive to see Christmas lights, sledding together, making gingerbread houses, a Christmas Eve walk, a family potluck, a cookie making party, etc.

FOOD/MENU PLAN - This is my list of the family's requested special treats for the holiday season.  The list is pretty predictable, but every once in a while, they request something new or something that we haven't made for a long time.  I try to ensure that we make each child's top pick :)   I also record my menu plan for whatever meals we are hosting/preparing over the season on this list.

GIFT LIST - pretty self explanatory.  A list of the people we give to and what we are giving them.  This list evolves as we think of things to make/buy.

TO DO - this is for jobs that we need to do such as address & mail cards, put up lights, prepare for guests, decorate, etc.

TO MAKE - This is the list of things that we need to make.  Many of my gifts are made this year already as I worked hard all summer making jam and soap to give in my gift baskets.  I do need to get busy and make more soap, though!

TO BUY - This is my list of things that we need to purchase.  I divide this list in two main lists and then, into several sub-categories.

     1)  Food
          a)  to buy in advance (for advance cooking/baking or items that are not perishable)
          b)  to buy last minute (perishables)

     2)  Other
           * this list is always in flux depending on funds available, timeline, and what I'm working on.  Items on this list could be things like craft supplies, gift items, clothing for the family, etc.

Now is a good time to quickly review our wardrobes to see if I need to make or buy something for wear over the Christmas season.  I like to do this pretty early so that I have time to look in the thrift shops first before I spend money buying something new.  I like to have 2 nice outfits for everyone (preferably mix and match separates) as we usually attend and host a few gatherings over the season.

Historically, I've kept these lists all together in a duotang or notebook, but this year, I'm going to try using my phone as it's always with me when I'm out.  I'll let you know how that goes - I'm thinking that the portability will be really helpful.

Now is also the time for me to start loading the freezer with one dish meals.  I like to double cook as much as I can in November, so that when December hits, I have more time for whatever the season brings our way :)  It takes NO extra time to double a recipe 2 or 3 times/week in November, but ironically, it saves me HOURS of cooking in the busy month leading up to Christmas when I am working on gifts or having fun with my family.

The most important thing to mention is that we view our lists as guides as to how we want to spend the holiday together. Some years, we never get through even half the list, and other years, we do it all.  Finances, available time, works schedules, family dynamics, travel, house guests, illness...   so many things affect our planning and preparations.   I aim to be flexible, because when the wind comes (and oh, it usually does), I'd rather bend and sway in it than snap in two :)

Most importantly, we aim to put people before things...

....ALWAYS people before things :)

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with people before things. Otherwise it could get too easy to be caught up in the lists and forget to look at the people around you. I am a list maker, too- almost daily, but for sure weekly. My challenge sometimes is to let the list go and enjoy whatever it is that comes up! Thanks for the great post!