I used to start thinking about Christmas after Thanksgiving. There’s so much to think about during any normal week that the thought of planning a big event was honestly overwhelming. Event planning was never in my skill set anyway.
I heard about a Christmas planner and bought it. It was overpriced and not particularly helpful except that it taught me that Christmas is always 8 weeks after Halloween. As soon as you turn off the porch light and put the candy away, you can pull out a notebook that you have especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Mine is in EverNote or I’d share it with you.)
What’s in this notebook?
- a reminder to find and attend an event to donate frozen turkeys to the local food bank – this kicks off the holiday season for us in a way that has truly made even the Christmas preparations festive and fun
- a reminder buy a big red bow for our mailbox (we try to get a new one each year as this is the one bit of decor that really gets beaten up as it’s out in the weather)
- a reminder to put parties and events on a calendar
- a reminder to schedule my hair cut/color to coincide with any holiday events that are important to me
- a checklist for my tags, wrap, tape with a reminder to wrap a gift each day
- My tried and true Thanksgiving menu – I’m free to change it but if it ends up being a crazy year, I can pull it out and go on auto pilot
- A note to decorate for Christmas sometime during our Thanksgiving holiday weekend
- Names and addresses of Christmas card recipients with a reminder to cozy up with the cards and some coffee the weekend after Thanksgiving
- My Christmas budget spreadsheet including a list of gifts purchased (stored on a shelf in my closet)
- A reminder to check out cyber Monday to purchase the remainding gifts
- A reminder that the best office gift I gave was a simple handmade soap wrapped in a sleeve of brown kraft paper with a bit of greenery tucked in a ribbon
- A note reminding me that I have an envelope in the top drawer of the buffet in our dining room to store Christmas receipts (when I used an actual physical planner, the receipt envelope was in the binder itself). I put all receipts in that envelope in case someone has a problem with a gift we bought for them.
- A reminder to get some cash and gift envelopes for our mail person and the trash pick up crew (scheduled for a few days before Christmas)
- My go to Christmas baking list – it’s become easier and simpler each year with tasty (but simple) sugar cookies and a homemade “snow” cake
- Christmas breakfast menu
- Christmas dinner menu – we roast prime rib and serve it up with savory cheese cakes served on salad greens
We streamlined a few other things that has helped so much. All Christmas decorations are in the same closet. We found simple lights on the stairs in the foyer, the hearth and the buffet with the same wreaths on the front door work well for us. The Christmas tree goes in the same corner and it takes one afternoon to get it all done. The decorating becomes a party with a fire going, something festive to drink and kids running around hanging ornaments.
I learned that if I follow my simple plans, it doesn’t get overwhelming. I have a shelf that is always for gifts. That way I can take advantage of any great sales (I bought my oldest son’s Christmas gift months ago when his favorite sporting goods store had an incredible sale.) My kids love Christmas stockings and that has gotten more challenging and expensive as they’ve grown into adults. I try to grab anything that would be fun for them to include in their stocking. If I tuck things away all year, it doesn’t become a huge burden. It’s fun to pick up little things during the year and it’s just one more way to realize how much I love them.
I know there isn’t any ground shaking new material in this post but I wish my younger self could have known that just decorating the tree and putting out some twinkle lights and a red ribbon on some greenery can make your home feel special. Doing less in a festive way without being stressed out feels more like Christmas to me. I also didn’t realize that people don’t expect elaborate gifts. My older self knows this now. Trust me on this one.
This post ends with a small powerup of $28.03 having come in under budget for the week in fuel.
Level Completed: 142 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $548.16
Total Balance: $5,189.02
Our Money Game fund has increased 11.8% so far this month.
$169.44 is needed to reach the next level.