Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Christmas Planner

The Christmas season is upon us and, as usual, I am super excited. Like, super excited. I have always loved the holiday season but people, it is so much more fun with the little guys around. So. Much. More. Fun.

Which is why I have already pulled out my Christmas planner. I have been using the same planner for a few years now, which is great for a few reasons. First of all, this planner was created from a hard covered wire bound notebook. I chose one with two dividers. For my planning needs I require five separate sections:

  1. To Do
  2. Gift List
  3. Holiday Activities
  4. Giving (time, monetary, donations)
  5. Recipes & Table Decor (meal planning)
Because my notebook only has three sections I added the extra ones I needed by using red metallic holiday tape. Simply add the tape to the edge of the page and fold over to the back and voila - holiday inspired tabs! 

Every year I just tear out the old pages and start fresh. Reason number one why this planner is great- no need to buy a new one every year. I am going on year number three with this one, and I anticipate I will get at least a few more years out of it. Very cost effective. Now I don't know about you, but I am all about keeping costs down during the Christmas season!

The second reason why I like using the same planner year after year is this: memories. This morning, while the boys were eating breakfast before school, I sat at the table with them, my coffee, and my Christmas planner. Before I tore out last year's pages I took a little walk down memory lane. Last year's notes, to do list, recipe ideas, (Oh those reindeer cookies were NOT a good idea!)... There's the snowman sticker my youngest son stuck on the cover last year. And there's the homemade gift ideas the boys and I created last year. Remembering Christmas past- always a good thing. 

I don't know about you, but I need my lists. There is always something popping up, stealing my time and energy. This week alone I have found myself adding a birthday party invite for my oldest son, (on a school night!), a music therapy consult, and about a thousand telephone calls to my already busy To Do List. So if I don't plan, I find myself seeing the world pass me by. And passing my boys by as well. There are television shows I want to share with them. There are tree lighting ceremonies to attend and Christmas lights to drive by. There are handmade gifts to make, cookies to bake, and fire stations to deliver those cookies to. And there are budgets to stick to, am I right? And what about all those great ideas you find while scrolling through Pinterest? (Wait, what? You don't stalk Pinterest while watching TV at night? I swear there are days that I have some sort of attention deficit.  I cannot simply sit still on the sofa and watch a show. But that's a post for another day...)

I keep the To Do List in the first section, so that it is the first page I see when I open the planner. Every time I think of something that needs done I simply jot it down on the running To Do list. All those little things, like asking the teachers what school supplies their classroom needs so we can send in a gift, and getting the dog groomed before any holiday gatherings in our home find their place here. I use the Franklin Planner method of tracking progress, marking my tasks as either "in progress", completed, or delegated to others.

In the Gift section I keep track of store sales and websites where I might be able to find the best deals. This way, I don't have to pull in my sweet husband on every little detail. I make it a point to sit down with him a few times over the gift buying season to show him a particular website or store ad so that we can discuss gifts, costs, and logistics, such as online ordering versus driving all over town. I do the same with our home decorating. My sweet husband really doesn't care what decorations I choose each year, including what I choose to re-purpose or what needs to be purchased. He just needs to know the bottom line- how much is all of this going to cost. And I have to say that by using my planner wisely, that cost is much lower than it would be without it. Knowing what we have on hand, knowing what hand made items I would like to try, and knowing where to get the best deal on decorations that need purchased prevents me from impulse buying or duplicating what we already have in storage here at home.

Every Holiday season we are just bombarded by philanthropic requests. We want to help everyone, don't we? But honestly, we can't. We can, of course, keep all those needs in our prayers, which we do. But I need my boys to see how we determine where we spend our money. And I need our boys to see us giving of ourselves. But I am human, and I will forget all of those needs. And I am OK with admitting it - my brain is like a sieve.

My boys are learning from my Christmas planner as well. They are seeing me plan and prepare. They are hearing about budgets and they are helping me to plan our donations and service. They are active participants in planning gifts for others and they always have something to look forward to when they check out the Holiday Activities section. 

The only rule to my planner? The boys know that they are not allowed to open it or look at it unless I am with them. I wouldn't want them to read about the gift ideas we have for them. I remember the days when I didn't have to worry about this - but now the oldest can read to the youngest. I swear, teaching them to read has not always been helpful! (Calm down, no haters please, I am just kidding. But seriously, do they have to read EVERY sign they see out the car window?)

My love of organization and my love of Christmas, married. What could be better? 

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