“Christmas is (blank) days away!” Does it make you panic just to think about it? Sometimes when I think of all the things I have to do in the next month and a half, I can be tempted to lose it. And Christmas comes this time every year! That’s why I have developed plans and strategies of organization to help our family celebrate Christ’s birth in a way that is honoring to Him!
With that in mind, today I’m beginning a series entitled, “Calm Heart, Organized Christmas” (CHOC) (Isn’t it wonderfully ironic that the acronym for this series is also the abbreviation for one of my favorite comforts in life: chocolate?! It was meant to be:)
Calm Heart, Organized Christmas (CHOC) will be a weekly Tuesday series, in which I’ll be sharing with you what I’m doing that week by way of preparing. In conjunction with this series, I’ll also be doing a video series called “A Helping of Hospitality.” This time of year is a time when many of us increase our hospitality exponentially! There’s a whole lot of gettin’ together goin’ on! In this Thursday Hospitality series I will share with you thoughts on the heart of hospitality, ways that I’ve found to handle having an open home with a lot of hospitality, and ideas to simplify the whole process. I hope that you’ll join me for each of these series!
And if you haven’t already done so, won’t you consider subscribing by email, via RSS, or following via Google Friend Connect, so you won’t miss a thing!
Now, here’s the first in our series to help us have a Calm Heart and an Organized Christmas!
Calm Heart, Organized Christmas (CHOC)
Getting started, the first step I always like to do when I tackle a large event or project, is write down all the things that I know I have to do connected with the project or event. (I call this downloading my brain.) If I can organize them into categories, so much the better. I like pen and paper for this, but if you prefer a Word document or spreadsheet, great.
I’ve mentioned before a wonderful resource that I found a number of years ago called “Christmas Organized” and one of the reasons I like it is that it lists everything that you might need to do, and assigns it to a certain week, so that you will be done preparing for Christmas, just by following their schedule. You can check out their list: not for a minute would I expect you to do all that’s on it, but it will help you to think about all the possible things that should go on yours. Now to begin, cards (with photo, letter and sent to 200 people) is a biggee for me, and of course, the gifts, so let’s start there.
Here’s what I do right after Christmas the year before, but you can do now:
- Purchase Christmas cards: I buy them from Dayspring during their after-Christmas online sale–I strongly encourage buying your cards ahead, because you can save yourself a lot of money. I send cards to a lot of unsaved relatives, and I like to send a Christmas card with a meaningful Christian message, including Scripture, and these can cost quite a bit, but buying them during this sale, I’m able to get them at a discount. I also buy laser printer paper for our Christmas letter, bags, gift wrap and labels, and any other items I need for the next year. Besides Dayspring, Current is a good source for nice paper in large rolls for a reasonable price. Having just finished the season, it’s fresh in my mind what supplies I have and what I need to replenish, so it’s a good time to buy. Budget for it this year, and you’ll be so glad you did when next Christmas rolls around!
This is what I did this past week:
- I began signing Christmas cards (remember, I send out about 200 cards each year:): I did this actually while I was sick last week, and while watching movies with my family. I like that I can get two things done at once this way.
- I made out my list of people to buy for: I used last year’s list, which is still in my Master Planning Notebook (otherwise known as “my brain”). I like to keep them in my notebook for a few years, because then I can see what my family wanted for gifts at Christmas to give me ideas when their birthday comes around, and it’s just nice to look back to these lists for reference. I could also put these lists in my Christmas Notebook (see Christmas Organized for instructions on how to make one of these). I didn’t write down ideas of what I plan to give each person yet, just their names on the left, with the budget amount I’m planning to spend in the column to the left of that, based on the last few years’ budgets, and our present finances. (I can always spend less, but this keeps me focused, so I don’t blow the budget.)
- I group people together, and give the same gift to everyone in the group: Neighbors last year received one Pie in a Jar per person in their home. The Friends’ families that receive gifts from us, all receive the same gift. This makes sense in terms of finances (I can sometimes get a quantity discount, and it sure simplifies things.)
- I am planning when to take our Christmas picture: we take our own, and have it copied at Sams Club, and include it, with a letter, in our card. We will be with extended family this weekend, so I’m thinking this may afford an opportunity to get the photo taken. We usually dress up, because I like it that way, (I don’t think I personally look as nice dressed casually:) so I will make sure everyone packs clothes that will coordinate for a nice-looking photo. My cohort in crime on this is my daughter, Kelsey. She is even more insistent about getting a photographically-good photo, and making sure we have a Christmas photo, than I am! She will help figure out when to take it and where. My brother-in-law built a beautiful field-stone fireplace years ago for his home–maybe in front of that–or if the weather is nice, outside!
- We have one annual event that we send out invitations for, and I have begun to think about the date for this event, and will decide it this week: Because Christmas is such a busy time of year, it’s wise to send out invitations a month ahead, especially if there are a large number of invitees. I will talk to my family, and make a few preparatory phone calls to key people, just to make sure the date I’ve picked works for them, before I send out the (probably computer-made) invitations.
In addition, I’m linking up with Raising Arrows’Large Family Organization (you don’t have to have a large family to link up:).
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