62 days until Christmas. Yes, I just went there. Even before Halloween. I don’t like the Christmas décor in the stores right now any more than you do. But you know what? I’ve got this sweet spot of about two quiet weeks right now and I want to use them for good! I’m not encouraging you to hang the holly just yet but if we can make the holiday season just a little less stressful, then sign me up! And who doesn’t like making a list or two? I love lists. And Christmas time, more than ever, is when we need them to keep organized. A crapload of lists actually. Gift list, card list, Christmas dinner list, baking list. A list of lists! Anyway, first…well, list.
Make a list of who you want to buy gifts for.
This always begins basic, with family members, maybe a couple of friends. We think we have it covered. And then we remember the co-worker, the cousin coming from out-of-town, your nephew’s new girlfriend, and now your list goes from 10 to 25. The kids teachers! Make that 27! You know the feeling. That just blew a hole in your budget and somehow you now need to find time to shop for said gifts. So take the time to think of them all NOW, while your brain is clear from the holiday buzz. I have 17 niece and nephews to shop for. If I don’t make a list, my least favorite will fall through the cracks. I’m kidding- I love them all the same. Mostly. Kidding! 🙂 But really, it’s a lot to remember. And it would feel terrible to forget someone. If you are a traditional paper and pen person, dedicate a small notebook to the holiday season. Write down everyone you will be buying for, and assign an approximate amount you’d like to spend to each person to help you budget. Leave room to write ideas in, you’ll need to do that later. If you’re comfortable with going digital, try using an app made specifically for this purpose. I tested four Christmas list apps and while this one still doesn’t work just like I’d like, it’s pretty helpful. I can write in ideas, mark what I buy, and tally what I’ve wrapped. It gives me my spending stats- which are painful to face sometimes, but I think it will be a really helpful tool.
After your list is done, take some time to think about gift ideas. This post about thoughtful gift-giving will give you some ideas about that.
Take your Christmas photo now and create your mailing list.
Christmas cards. I love receiving them, but when I haven’t mailed my own, I feel like each one that arrives is taunting me, reminding me what I still have to do. “Oh look. The Smiths. They think they are SO special because they sent their cards out by Dec. 1.” No, not special- just a planner! This advice is two-fold. One, take your family photo for your card NOW. I won’t tell anyone that you are sweating in 85 degree weather here in Northern CA wearing your scarfs and boots for pictures, attempting to make it look like a lovely fall day. Taking your photo now will ensure that you aren’t up at 1:00 a.m. December 18th , searching for a photo, any photo of all of you from the past year and then trying to meet a deadline to have them printed and mailed before Christmas. Part two, finesse your mailing list. Some family may have a new address that you need to hunt down, it may be time to take some old friends off of the list, and maybe you have some addresses to add to your list as well. If you hand write your addresses on Christmas cards, step out of the dark ages and join the world of printing labels. You will be so happy that you did. All of your addresses saved in mailing label format to print whenever a birthday party, bridal shower, or holiday requires envelopes to be addressed. See who made you’re A-list of Christmas cards, print your labels, and you are half way there. If you’re REALLY organized, you could even order your cards. But let’s not get crazy now.
Make and freeze your cookie dough.
Do you bake during the holidays? It’s such a fun tradition for those who enjoy it, but it’s a lot work and a huge mess. I’m not suggesting that you scrap this holiday tradition but perhaps make it a little easier on yourself. Chances are if you bake, you will commit to bringing cookies to a work function, maybe to a dinner party, or pass them out to the neighbors. For the recipes you make in bulk, make the dough now. Did you know that cookie dough freezes beautifully? Make the mess now, freeze the dough, and the bake when you need them. It’s such a nice feeling to bake cookies without piles of mess to clean up afterwards. There will be no stressing at 10:00 p.m., wondering if you have all the right ingredients. Save a special recipe or two for your baking tradition day. It will make that time feel a lot calmer and enjoyable.
Well I think that’s enough for now, seems how it’s still October. Look ahead at your next couple of weeks before the holiday crazies set in, and get these things started. When December comes around, you can enjoy your season!