I Google’d how many days until Christmas before I started working on this post. 59. 59 days. Which means it will be 57 days when this lands in your mailbox. It’s enough to make me start stress-baking (and eating) dozens of Christmas cookies. You know the minute Halloween is over we are going to be bombarded with full-on, lights-blinking, music-blaring Christmas in every store and online. Over the last few years I’ve tried to bring some calm to Christmas by simplifying. But you can only simplify so much. There’s still a lot that has to get done. The gift buying, food prepping, and activities coordinating tend to fall into moms’ laps, so here are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way to make it easier.
Organize. (Insert laughter.) Organization is NOT one of my gifts. I’m awful at it. If you could see my desk right now…oh, wait…you can’t see my desk because it’s covered in crap! Ok, so knowing this isn’t a strength, I started making a Christmas binder. (“Every successful project begins with a trip to the office supply aisle!” I tell myself.) In the binder I put the following:
A place for gift receipts (I label the receipt with the recipient’s name before I slide it in.)
A list of EVERYONE I plan to give a gift. From Great-Grandma’s to school bus drivers – everyone gets put on the list. I jot down any ideas I had for that person next to their name. As I buy/make gifts I check them off.
A list of the possible activities I think we’d like to do. Dates for family parties and any special school concerts get listed, too.
A separate list for my boys and their gifts. (Don’t leave the binder lying around if you have readers!)
A page for food. We go to a lot of holiday parties and bring side dishes and desserts. I make a list of what I want to bring and then on a separate page I list all of the ingredients for said side dishes and desserts. That way, I can take the list with me when I shop in November and get some of the non-perishables. It also helps avoid that panic when I’m halfway through a recipe and I realize I’m out of nutmeg. I also list all of the types of cookies and breads I want to make and stick to it. Once those holiday cookies start showing up on magazine covers I start getting delusions about my baking abilities. The last thing I need to do is to waste time trying a new recipe that is likely to fail miserably. So, I keep it simple and my cookie trays look strikingly similar to last year’s cookie trays. I’m happily consistent.
Prioritize. In early November I take a look at the list of activities and choose 4-5 activities I don’t want to miss. Just like in the post about summer planning, I try to pick out the most important ones and let the others fall in where they can. I do this early because I feel like once December arrives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and start assigning all the activities equal importance and then I’m trying to pack it all into the schedule…and everyone gets crabby. So I pick the most important stuff early and get it on the calendar. Continue reading “‘Tis Almost the Season!”