Sunday, September 28, 2008

Take Control of Your Holidays!

Okay, I have to confess. I’m one of those disgusting born organized people who have an updated Christmas card list, get their shopping done by Thanksgiving, and generally disgust normal people. There. I said it. I’m not normal, and I know it.

Most people run around trying to surreptitiously find out Aunt Matilda’s address every year, shop from December 12-24, and scream they can’t find Mom’s recipe for the stuffing the know they filed “somewhere safe” when they found it last March.

Is it any wonder one of the most ubiquitous articles in every woman’s magazine is about handling holiday stress? Stop the madness! Wouldn’t you love to know that address, budget so you don’t have credit debt to your eyeballs, and can serve that delicious holiday meal of your dreams?

Let’s grab up a few simple supplies and get ready for the holidays in simple steps. You’ll need:

A ring binder or two. (I needed two. One for the “regular” organization and one just for the recipes.)
Binder dividers and labels.
Good quality, top-load sheet protectors. Get a whole box if you really love to cook.
A calendar. I printed out a simple one using an MS Word template, focusing just on October through January. However, that one you keep on the wall will do nicely.
Paper. Steal a few from the kids’ filler paper stack, if necessary.

This part’s easy. Really. Put the dividers in Binder #1 and label it Holiday Organizer. Put the sheet protectors in Binder #2, if needed, and label it Holiday Recipes.

Now, here’s the next step. Take those papers and label each across the top:

Note: Please feel free to modify this list to suit your own needs and holiday celebrations. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect the first year, or even the second. This is your personal memory aid. Do what you can. This is to ease your stress, not add to it.

Mailing List—Cards and/or Gifts. If you have to mail it, you need addresses. Make that list and get those missing addresses now.
Favorite Holiday Traditions – This is a great time to sit down and discuss those traditions. I found out none of us cared for some of ours and we were all doing it to please everyone else! Now we do precisely what everyone agreed upon and keep it simple.
Stocking Stuffer List— Everyone has their little preferences. Write them down. DH knows to get me black Flair pens, and he always gets a new mag flashlight. Dante likes to get a small box of chocolate covered cherries. Why not go ahead and get these things now?
Gift List – This list will change from year to year as children grow or social circles change. However, some folks like certain things like gift cards to certain stores. Write this down. Nothing helps you keep a budget better than a list. I’m so terrible about impulse shopping that I buy on the Internet so I don’t wander around a store buying more than I need! I even ship direct from the site, since many of my family live in far-flung places. Sometimes if I buy a certain dollar amount at one website, I can get free shipping!
The Budget—Mine is very simple. How much money did I save divided by the number of people I have to buy a gift for. Other people get more elaborate. Do what you feel is best.
Dates to Remember – Shipping deadlines, the office party, church functions, deadlines for homemade gifts, and that one poor person who has a holiday birthday. Transfer these dates to your calendar and hang the calendar back up.
The Holiday Menu (You may need one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas.) This is up to you. You may serve only one certain menu or many.
Travel Notes and Checklist- Departure and return dates, packing list, who’s taking care of the pets or do you need to book a kennel?
Decorate! —Do you always forget to decorate the guest bathroom or you never remember from year to year where those “perfect places for that thingy” are? Write them down. I always forgot the special holiday welcome mat for the front door. A note helps me remember.

Now for the recipes! Go dig out all those wonderful holiday recipes. Don’t obsess! Just find the ones you can. You’ll find the rest later. You always do. For now, dump them into the sheet protectors. I spent five years before I found that wonderful cookie recipe that had knocked them in the aisles twenty years before I buried it in the cookie recipe box. This will be an ongoing project for a few years so don’t sweat it. You’ll find Mom’s stuffing recipe eventually.

Now, don’t you feel better? Everything you need is in one place. Now when it’s holiday time you can stroll over and pluck your Holiday binder(s) from the shelf and flip them open, ready to begin.

Most of this came from the FlyLady ( I urge you to check her and her system out.


Bonnie Rose Leigh said...

OMG, I can't even imagine being that organized. I'm lucky to find matching socks in the morning. I've tried following Flylady plans for organization and it never lasts more than a day or two. LOL

Bo said...

Nice ideas especially for someone like me that need notes for just about everything now. lol

I no longer go all out for the holidays but if I did, I would want to be this organized. Back when I bought or made things for everyone and I do mean everyone (something like 20 - 30 people in my family) plus co-workers, exchange gifts and so on, I would start during the after Christmas sales and buy throughout the year. Otherwise, I would never have been able to afford it all especially when the family decided to make everything uniform and (without consulting those of us with a whole lot less money) decided that everyone had to buy everyone a $20 gift. So hitting those after Christmas sales helped a lot with getting a $20 gift for a lot less. lol


Lena Austin said...

The whole point of FlyLady is to just do small steps until they become habits. One little task at a time. For instance, if you can't find matching socks in the morning, lay out your outfit the night before. Just make that one change until it's a habit. Then you can change something else.

Ms. Priss said...

LMAO Lena I love this site and do agree with you on organizing the holidays. I am almost finished shopping for Christmas and will have a list for Black Friday. My friend and I will be pulling a fourteen hour day shopping.

Lena Austin said...

I am not as organized as you but the binders saved my butt last year when I thought I had lost a key reciepe. LOL and when I almost forgot to buy something for my in-laws. Maybe once my kids are a bit older I can really get organized.

Lena Austin said...

The above comment was supposed to be from my daughter Merri, who accidentally logged on as me.


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