I used to reach the week of Thanksgiving feeling a dread in the pit of my stomach. I was excited to spend time with my family, sure. But I knew once the day was over, it was just a few short weeks until Christmas, and the stress of organizing all the things that needed to get in that time was overwhelming. Then I began using a Christmas planner, and it was a total game changer.
Having a place to keep track of all things holiday-related and being able to add to it and work on things like gift lists or decor ideas when I felt like it – life-giving. For the past fifteen years (excluding this one, where I have spent zero time doing holiday planning) my holiday-related stress has been lowered by having a system that works for me.
That is the key. You need to find what works for you. If you go to Pinterest, there are a ton of free printables and ideas for creating a holiday planner. Just click here and have a look. What I would do is think about how you want your planner to work for you. What kinds of things do you want to organize?
Do you want to have a list of addresses for holiday cards? What about lists for gift ideas? Do you want to break it down further and have a list of stocking stuffer ideas? How about menu planning? Brainstorm ideas of what you would like to include in your planner. Then, when you begin to look at the printables you find online, it is easier to determine which one(s) will be a good fit.
I like to use a binder to organize my holiday planning materials. This lets you easily add new pages, insert printed recipes, or move items as needed. What size you choose is personal preference. For the last fifteen years I used an 8.5×11 binder, but for next Christmas, I’ll be moving into an A5 sized binder. You can change the size you print your pages out in your printer settings. Don’t feel limited by the default settings.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- The Holiday Grand Plan. This is the site where I began my holiday planning journey. It combines a weekly fall cleaning strategy with holiday planning, that takes you through the end of the summer right through Thanksgiving. By the time you are done you are all set for the holidays.
- Holiday Notebook. The girls at Eighteen25 provide printables you can use with scrapbooking paper and a composition notebook to make your own yearly Christmas Notebook. The nice thing about this is it’s small enough to toss in your bag and take with you on the go. This is one of the reasons why I’m moving to an A5 size planner.
- Use your Bullet Journal (or create one just for Christmas). The good folks at BuzzFeed have a few ideas to get you going.
Whatever format you decide on, make it yours. Don’t feel pressured by someone else’s ideas of what should be included. If the printables you choose have a list for keeping track of clothing sizes, but you don’t buy clothes as gifts, don’t include it in your planner. Similarly, if you need a page or two for keeping track or organizing something that isn’t included in the pages that you choose to download, you can easily create your own in a word processing program.
Finally, don’t feel pressured into thinking you have to implement it this year. It’s already Thanksgiving week and let’s not count how many weeks and days are left until Christmas. What you might do though, is use those printables to take some notes for next year.
Keep track of what worked this year and what didn’t. What are some things you needed as you did your wrapping that you might want to pick up during the post-Christmas sales? Or, maybe you heard people talk about things they wish they had received this year and didn’t. Take some notes and put them on your gift ideas pages.
A fun thing I like to do is have a “Christmas in July” day. I make some hot chocolate, pull out my Christmas planner, and spend about half an hour thinking about things I want to get a head start on. This allows me to be able to shop for gifts when I find items on sale or see something that strikes me fancy for someone on my list. I am able to work on those house projects that I want to get done before the holidays arrive, and it helps me feel better in the months leading up to Thanksgiving.
Because once Thanksgiving arrives, all bets are off.
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