Monday, December 2, 2013

My Holiday Planner

I have found it works out really well for me to get most of my planning and shopping for Christmas taken care of in the first week of December. My goal is to have everything bought and wrapped by the first Saturday (which would be this weekend) of December.  This frees me up to focus on other things we enjoy-things like opening our home to family and friends, watching Christmas movies, looking at lights and drinking hot cocoa.

We did end up doing some shopping on Black Friday after all (much of it online).  Today I wanted to show you my festive holiday planner.  I like to refer to it as Grand Central Station.  As you can see, it is a lovely spiral notebook.  My cover is actually blue because I pulled it from the school room.

This little notebook is where I keep track of all the gifts we've purchased and what we still need to purchase.  It keeps my grocery lists for the month.  Today I am spending some time in my office thinking through menu's for the month.  I am also including snacks/desserts/fun drinks in my menu planning.  I want to be prepared for last minute drop-in's or those spur of the moment evenings when we want to invite someone over for coffee and dessert.

Here are a few tips on planning and shopping for the holiday season:

  • Keep it simple.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  Have you considered the three gift idea?  Something they want, something they need, something to read?  We are using this as our baseline this year and I can already tell it has relieved pressure on me to create the perfect Christmas morning experience.  Because I know me, I'll supplement some more fun things to unwrap.  Things like this metallic coloring book.  Our boys LOVE these things.  They are super cool!

  • Plan.  For some this comes easy, for some it will feel like the death of you.  There is a huge amount of value in spending a few minutes thinking through your priorities for the month.  Include menus, gift lists, events you'd like participate in or create, and people you'd like to have over for dinner or dessert.  Last year we took the weekend before Christmas and went to Branson.  We took our own food, our Christmas books, candles, games and fun snacks and just got away as a family for part of our gift to each other.  I can't tell you what a blast we had.  We did not turn on the T.V. in the condo.  We spent the time being intentional.  Because we planned a little, we were able to make it happen.  Planning can reap huge harvests of blessings!

  • Set some deadlines.  If you enjoy going out on Christmas Eve for last minute shopping then do it!  But if you'd rather spend it sitting by the fire and playing games, then that will require getting your act together early.  The longer I have to accomplish something, the longer it is going to take me.  This is why I have the goal of completing my shopping the first week in December.  This week I will shop online as much as possible and Friday I will spend the day wrapping up loose ends-making sure I have wrapping paper, tape, bows, stocking stuffers. 

  • Take advantage of online shopping.  Amazon is one of our best friends this time of year.  You can get better or comparable deals and it ships in the perfect box.  All you have to do is wrap it!

  • Pray over the details.  Pray for creativity in shopping and gift giving.  Ask God to lead you to the right stores, websites and sales.  Ask for Him to stretch your dollars.  I even wrote out a little prayer at the top of my gift giving page.  "LORD, please lead and guide us, help us keep you at the center and focus of our shopping." 

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