Autumn Christmas List

Autumn Christmas List

Lessons from Christmas Past

Fall festivities and Thanksgiving require their own preparations and time allotments, so beginning Christmas planning in early autumn is always a wise move.

Wise Christmas elves remember holiday budgeting is most effective when included in their annual budget discussions and is made part of their savings plans for the year.

Learning from Christmas past is one way elves grow in wisdom. As you go through the holiday season, or after the powdered sugar settles, take notes as part of your planning for Christmas future and include them with a ‘master plan’ template for the years ahead.

Makin’ a List

Autumn Christmas List suggestions to start the snowball rolling:

  • Jesus is the Reason for the Season (make Him the centerpiece of your planning)
  • Develop a Master Plan Template (to reuse yearly)
  • Determine specifics for THIS Christmas (total budget, in-town/travel, caveats, etc.)
  • Pencil preliminary plan on printable calendar (Oct-New Year celebration)
  • Breakdown budget (ministry donations, holiday offerings, cards, postage, gifts, wrapping supplies, special meals, extra dishes/paper products, holiday clothing, baking & storage/wrap supplies, travel, holiday décor, unexpected, etc.)
  • Update personal and business contacts
  • Take family photos for Christmas cards
  • Buy or order Christmas cards and begin addressing envelopes
  • Determine dates for mailing Christmas cards and placing special holiday phone calls
  • Determine dates for gifts that need to be mailed
  • Place specialty food orders (turkey/ham, breads, desserts, etc.)
  • Determine dates to deep clean your home
  • Schedule in seasonal yard work and home maintenance
  • Determine and schedule in seasonal activities and special events
  • Ensure time in schedule for routine housekeeping
  • Determine dates you need your teenagers available and make certain they’ve arranged their work/social schedule accordingly
  • Working backwards, determine specific days/times for items that have to be scheduled in last days of preparations (pick up special order and fresh foods/produce, determine who is going to pick up Grandma and when, assemble serving dishes/utensils, set table, etc.)
  • It bears repeating here and be sure to tell others too… Jesus IS the Reason for the Season

Checkin’ It Twice

Go back through everything again with a fine-tooth comb and realistic eye. Ensure your plan is sound, anticipates surprises, and won’t allow the ‘Oh, I’ll remember that’ type item to be forgotten.

If you added new traditions or recipes to your repertoire, be sure you’ve eliminated some of lesser importance -unless you ended up with extra time and money on your wise-elf hands last year.

Be certain to have sufficient margins of open time throughout your days. Your vehicle will need fuel and you’ll need to fill your own tank occasionally too.

Make wise adjustments to lists and schedules now and thank your wise-elf self later.

For a little Christmas frankness and a few more suggestions…

It’s Christmastime, Let’s Get Real

Gotta Be Cute

Day of Week Chalkboards

WHEN?•z•day is a wide-ranging Wednesday blog series covering organizational planning, seasonal themes, ‘time of life’ issues, growth and development; basically, anything that addresses, “When?”

Being the first entry in this series, I thought I’d share a few (of my many) personal peccadilloes. These relate to organizational tools, so don’t hold your breath for anything racy.

Ding-ding-ding-DING!

I’m reminder-dependent. Almost everything in the realm of my life is noted by me somewhere, and if it is noted somewhere, it probably has an alarm or notification set to go off -at two different times. A heads-up for any needed preparations a day to a week before and a day-of one that goes off with ample time to stay on schedule for the task or event. I don’t know if it is age, fear, or just habit, but I assume I will lose track of life if I don’t operate this way.

To List or Not to List?

That is the question… Prior to being reminder-dependent, I was list-dependent. The lists were my reminders and they were posted all over the house and in binders. I had grocery/menu and family calendar lists in the kitchen, school lists in the office, cleaning lists in the bathroom, bill paying lists in files, seasonal lists in binders on bookcases, and THEN, we started to homeschool our sons. That pushed me over the top with lists. Thankfully, technology stepped in and saved the day.

Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful ways to display practical lists, but I like to keep it to a minimum nowadays and technology allows me to have most of it in a few, easily accessible, key places (computer, tablet, phone) and they all sync… I’m sync-dependent too -and I love it.

There are plenty of specialized list-type apps with notification functions, but my ‘stuff’ is pretty well covered by my multi-purpose, family accessible COZI app and by my personal iCloud Calendar, Reminder, and Notes apps. Not all, but most of the lists I still maintain can be found on my devices, either within apps or in file form.

It’s gotta be cute.

Call me shallow, but looks matter to me when it comes to schedules, calendars, and other listy things.

Google ‘organization schedule’ images and you’ll see a bunch of boring calendar-type schedules. However, if you look closely; or better yet, search on Pinterest, you will find ideas for appealing, eye-catching, and very functional lists, most of which you can easily make on your own.

I’m a huge fan of color-coding, special fonts, and decorative accents. Color-coding pulls eyes to just the right places and accenting with appropriate adornments makes the list more friendly and inviting. Displaying lists in a way that is pleasing and strikes a cord with users is important to drawing them into the information on the list. And, that’s key to me, because if it meets the criteria for display, I want it used as intended.

Sometimes you gotta go 3-D.

Too much ‘stuff’ in my home sends my senses into overload and I feel like the walls -and my life, are closing in on me. I have to limit ‘storing’ things ON counter-tops, desks, and other furniture. We lived in small homes for years and it’s a serious challenge to have everything stored out of sight. However, it is a rewarding thing to strive for if there is more than one person living in the home… or if I live in the home.

My rule of thumb: If it must be out, it must be orderly and have as small of a profile as possible. And, as I shared earlier, it’s gotta be cute!

The fact is, if you see it every time you enter the room, you live with it -like a silent roommate. Why not strive to have it be something nice to spend time with, as well as have a job, and help keep the place clean?

It’s Christmastime, Let’s Get Real

Merry Christmas

We can all use at least a little more time and a little more peace by Christmas Eve. Give yourself the gift of both by staying ahead of the game.

I’d like to share a few tips I’ve learned over the years to help maximize the peace and joy while minimizing the stress and distractions that can easily slip into the season. I hope you’ll share some of your own words of Christmas wisdom in the comment section.

Most Christmas Eve and Christmas-day stressers can be anticipated and avoided… Before this year’s festivities get any closer, think back to Christmases past and make a list of items you wished you had done differently: things that did not have to be left to the last minute; things that ended up taking longer to complete than you originally anticipated; to-do items that really required a helper or two. Set firm deadlines of at least 2-3 days out, delegate or arrange for assistance, and stick to your new schedule. It will bless you later.

Less is more, especially during Christmastime… Look at your Christmas To-Do List and pick a few things to eliminate -unless you’ve already learned the hard way and now start with the short-version list. If that’s the case, pat yourself on the back and rest in the joy of that blessed Christmas season you have realistically planned out.

Earlier is preferred to later… Give that To-Do List another look-see and determine at least a few things that may take longer than what you’ve allotted. Either move up your start time or leave it for another Christmas.

Okay, sometimes later is preferred to now… Remember Christmastime isn’t your only options for visiting with friends. New Year’s Eve and day are just around the corner, bowl games and the Super Bowl are coming up too. If your plate is just too full for Christmas, schedule (or reschedule) a little somethin’ somethin’ in January or Feburary. It will be here before you know it and folks are freer and more relaxed then. You’re sure to have a good time and just may find you want to make it an annual event.

Expect the unexpected… Move a couple things to your Maybe List and allocate some buffer time which usually requires some streamlining too. Very few things are a ‘must’ for Christmas. You know what they are, mark them accordingly and be willing to let the rest go. Hey, if it turns out you can do it all, great, but determining early-on what is most important will serve your family well. It’s a wonderful conversational teaching moment to have as a family too. Kids who are prepared to go with the flow during the Christmas season are a blessing to their parents. And, even better, children who know what is most important about CHRISTmas are a blessing to God.

Wrap gifts as you buy them… Eliminate the stress of last minute gift-wrapping into the wee hours on Christmas Eve. The first couple gifts might be fun to wrap, but when you’re running short on time, even the most happy of Santa’s helpers can get grumpy. Don’t procrastinate on this one. It’s gotten many a good elves on Santa’s Naughty List.

Remember, batteries are required… If you purchase something that requires batteries, buy the batteries at the same time whenever possible and wrap them with the gift.

Prepare a healthy make-ahead breakfast for Christmas morning… At some point the family will be ready to eat and real food will keep the day running better than if everyone chows on candy from their Christmas stockings and the cookies Santa left behind.

Clean the kitchen and tidy the Christmas tree room before bed on Christmas Eve… Waking up to a fresh home on Christmas morning after all the prep is done is a blessed gift in itself for most women.

Place garbage bags and a pair of scissors in a convenient child-safe place on Christmas Eve… Things usually get moving quickly on Christmas morning and the handy garbage bags for wrapping paper and empty boxes makes it easy to stay ahead of the inevitable trash collection needed from opening presents. There’s always at least one gift that requires a pair of scissors to open, so leave them in a handy, but safe place too.

Shower before bed on Christmas Eve… You may be completely whooped and running on Christmas cookie sugar rather than sleep, but at least you will wake up with clean hair.

Shower before bed on Christmas Eve… It’s worth mentioning twice. It will also help relax you so you can get to sleep quicker. At this point we all need rest.

Christmas traditions are wonderful, but they don’t all have to be done every year… Schedule in and plan ahead for the ones that draw your family toward Christ first and foremost; like Christmas Eve service at church or family reading of pertinent Scripture. Don’t be so busy with last minute prep that you’d consider skipping such an opportunity to recognize the great gift from God, His Son.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season, but… It’s impossible to truly celebrate CHRISTmas if you’ve set yourself up for an unfestive amount of stress and chaos as you prepare. Pray for discernment and decide what can realistically be done with the time and resources you have available.

I wish you a joyful Christmas season filled with the Peace and Hope that is only found in Christ… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

Questions: What are your favorite organizational or time saving tips for Christmas prep? What have you learned over the years about keeping the peace in your heart and home during the Christmas season?