Wednesday, November 10, 2010

 Well, I've finally had a chance to finish up this blog on my Holiday Planner! I realized that when I took pictures of some of the pages, I can't rotate them ( or don't know how to!) so I scanned the pages into the computer.

This is my divider page for Advent. I have an information packet we received from church last year in it, as well as some info. from the Internet. Last year was the first year we had ever celebrated Advent or had an Advent wreath, so it is still new to me. I plan to look up some prayers and activities for the children to do and for family devotional times.

The best thing about having a planner is not only having a central place for all the pieces of information you need, but you end up with a scrapbook of sorts for the next year. You can review what worked and didn't, and also plan for activities you weren't able to fit in this year.

Next I have my section for Baking and Gifts from the Kitchen. If you're like me, you not only have special seasonal treats to make for your family, but also goodies you send to
 others. This year we were also fortunate to be given 36 quart size canning jars, and I plan to use some of them for those cookie mix in a jar gifts. All the recipes that I get off line or from friends will go into this section. I'm also going to make a running inventory of ingredients, so I don't end up half way through a recipe, only to find I'm out of chocolate chips. I've made a sheet for what Christmas treats I'm planning on making this year, who I'm gifting these to, and who gets what. It's so much easier to plan out ahead before heading to the kitchen. Or realizing you didn't have enough Carmel corn to gift to Uncle Fred and Aunt Betty!

You may also want to take stock of the containers and packing supplies you'll need. If you find yourself in need, look to regular Ziploc-type plastic containers that you can dress up with stickers or colored tissue paper, or head to the nearest dollar store! And don't forget to think out side the box! (Or cookie tin, as the case may be!)

This is the page I plan on using for when I have a few hours to set aside just for baking and such. I put a place for what I want to make and where it is headed. Don't forget to make note if you have frozen an item. Unfrosted cookies, cookie dough, muffins, breads and unfrosted cakes freeze well, so plan ahead. If you have a Saturday free, you need cookies for church the following Thursday evening and a crazy schedule in between, just bake, store properly, label and freeze. Take out the day or night before and you're set to go. Check your cook books or the Internet for freezing and thawing guidelines.

Next is a section for greeting cards. You can make an address sheet if you want to have addresses write on hand (pun intended!), or just make a list. You could put a folder here or just use a clear sheet protector to hold your cards and labels if you don't have too many. Also, if you are writing a newsletter type of holiday greeting, you can have a copy on hand here. I'm not very good at sending out cards, but I'm working on it, and I'm hoping this will help!
 Then comes Activities. You can put event fliers, invitations, schedules, craft instructions, directions, any thing you need to help organize your holiday activities!

You can also include a checklist of things you would like to do as a family: take a drive to see Christmas lights, have a holiday themed movie night, make gingerbread houses, go caroling, visit an elder care home, bring food and supplies to a food shelf. Decide what you want to do and when you want to do it. And never be afraid to say "No!". We should never try to be Superwoman, especially during the Holidays. We need time to focus on the reason for the season: the joy of Jesus' birth! It just can't be done during multiple trips to the mall, wrapping, trimming, baking, caroling, visiting etc. So remember to take time, both alone and as a family, to rest and reflect on what this time of year is really about.

 Lastly, is gift giving. Here you can store people's wish lists, notes, receipts, catalogs, store fliers, and notes about where you hid the presents! I made a chart to help me keep track. You don't have to, but with my scatter brain, it's helpful. Just a word of caution, though; if you have children and you have written down their presents, make sure they know that your planner is for Mommy's hands and eyes only!

So that wraps it up! I am by no means an organizational expert, nor do I have all the answers. I'm just a busy wife and mom that wants to be able to enjoy the holidays with as little stress as possible. There are a few other blogs I have looked at that also have holiday planners, and also a website, that has what she calls a "Holiday Control Journal". Her site is wonderful any time of the year, too!

Well, now that I've kept you for soooo long, I'll let you go and get started on your Holiday planning. Even if you just have a spiral bound notebook handy, you'll find it much easier if you can plan ahead!


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