Every year after Christmas, we all say things like, “I’m going to save up all year to buy gifts for next year’s Christmas,” or “This season went so quickly that we didn’t have time to really enjoy it!” or “I wish we’d taken more photos,” or some other wistful regrets.
Have you considered planning your Christmas season as early as September? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. And it’s not just about shopping for gifts a little early. This kind of planning enables you to plan ahead for the special things, the family time, the traditions, and the leisurely baking days. Early Christmas planning helps you to deliberately make meaningful memories. Click & Tweet!
This may sound overwhelming, but really it allows you to start thinking and jotting down notes here and there. This year you might actually buy special gifts instead of a last minute dash through WalMart to dig through the leftovers. This year you might have a laid-back Saturday making Christmas ornaments with your kids. This year you might really start that Advent calendar on time!
Many years ago I found OrganizedChristmas.com and it changed my life!
Yes, the holiday spirit can be magical–and can lead to magical thinking. Those who wait until the spirit moves them to plan their holiday season often find their decisions swept away by the Christmas tide, not made by their conscious choice. Whether they over-spend, over-schedule or over-indulge, they’re dancing to the season’s tune, not in charge of their own celebration. Result: debt, stress and holiday chaos. [Read the rest HERE]
With the free printables on this website, I created a Christmas Planner with a spiral notebook and some scrapbook paper. Not only is this a planner, it becomes a keepsake for the holiday season. You can choose to use the pages that suit your family and your traditions. I encourage you to use the journal pages, and after Christmas is over, add a few of your photos. When next year comes, pull this out, enjoy the memories, and use it to plan the new holiday season!
Make the planning a fun, family event! The 90-day countdown to Christtmas starts on September 25. Take that day or the weekend and begin Step 1.
Step 1: Gather your family members (whether it’s hubby or teens, or anyone who’s helpful) and start talking about the fun things you want to do this holiday season. You may want to include the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays. Start the discussion by asking:
- what food they want
- the movies they want to see
- craft ideas
- gifts to make
- parties to attend (or host!)
- new traditions to start
- old traditions to continue
- outings to take (caroling, Christmas lights?)
- stories to read
- ornaments or decorating themes
- family photo ideas
- cards to make or purchase
Just start taking notes. This list may grow over time, because you’ll think of more ideas!
Step 2: Print blank calendar pages for October, November, and December (before the end of September), and then choose any other printables you would like in your planner. Organize them in the order that suits you best. Remember: this is YOUR family Christmas book, so customize it for YOU! When you pick up your binder, consider getting pocket dividers, and even a few photo-holders. These will be great for adding the special memories as you go along (invitations, photos, etc.).
Fill in the calendar dates that you already know of: school holidays, parties already scheduled, church events, etc. (Two of my children have birthdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas (!!!) so these will be part of the planning!)
Step 3: Are you hosting the family for Christmas morning? Thanksgiving dinner? Or having a group of friends over for a holiday party? If you’re doing anything along these lines, you don’t want to be that crazy cleaning Nazi the day before the event — so include the Chore Checklist or Home Spruce-Up lists. Planning ahead for every part of the season is key to reducing stress and enjoying your holidays! Assign chores to every able-bodied worker in your home, with a deadline.
Start thinking about the menus for those parties. There are printable pages for that. Also consider the possibility of food to take to parties: what are your favorite or easiest dishes to prepare? Jot those notes down and be prepared.
Gather the recipes for your family’s favorite cookies, casseroles, or hot cocoa. Print them and slide them in the planner. Again, you’ll spend less time hunting these down later, and they add to the keepsake-ness of the planner. Yeah, I just made that word up. It works, doesn’t it?
Step 4: Be deliberate about having fun and making memories. Now is the time to add in the books you want to read together, ornaments to make, gifts to make, and places to go. Look up the craft projects, make a list of the supplies you’ll need, and jot down the date you’d like to set aside for crafting. Plan a day for baking lots of cookies. Whip up some hot cocoa for a Christmas movie night. Learn a new Christmas carol with your family. Go shopping for a new ornament.
You can fit all of these things in your season if you think ahead and pencil them in on your calendar. This is the key!
Step 5: Gifts. This is what most people DO plan ahead, and that’s smart. Make a list of everyone you’ll want to give to, assign a budget, and brainstorm ideas. Can you make gifts? Do you have a go-to plan for neighbor gifts? Do you have a strategy for sales? Are you shopping on Black Friday? (There’s a free printable for that!)
Make sure your shopping is fun and memory-making, too. Plan a day to shop with your kids, or your mom, or your BFF. Arrange your child care in advance, plan your budget, and have a list. You’ll have a great holiday outing and you won’t come home feeling guilty and unorganized. Because that’s no fun!
Also, check out this list of planner/dividers with lots of excellent categories!
But wait: there’s more!
If you LOVE this idea, and you’re ready to begin, you may also LOVE the additional bonus: The 6-week Christmas Countdown. It’s an email/social media daily reminder to get you organized by early December. If you’re serious, you will be all set and able to enjoy the entire month of December because of your ninja planning skills! I’ve done this a couple of times, and can tell you it’s great!
Each week has a special theme to focus Christmas organizing. Grouping tasks makes them easier to complete–and to simplify! Working week by week, we’ll zero in on gift-giving, take charge of holiday budgets, organize Christmas cards, plan holiday meals and decorate for the holidays. Free printable checklists make it easy to follow each week’s assignments.
Hint: Like Christmas Countdown on Facebook and then on their page, click the “down arrow” on the LIKED button and choose “See First.” This guarantees you’ll see the posts daily.
NOW. You may not have a clue who’s coming over at Christmas or what your kids will have under the tree, but you are about to have a PLAN and that is the first step to a peaceful holiday season.
And the real meaning of Christmas will get a lot more attention when the celebration details are all taken care of ahead of time.
Tell me: do you start planning the Christmas season this far in advance? Are you willing to try it? Let me know what you think! And invite your friends to join in!
Hi! I’m Nicki! Welcome to my blog! I live in Texas with my husband and five children, and a wild assortment of dog, cats, chickens, and ducks. I’m a second-generation homeschooler, a book lover, and history enthusiast. I gush about all of these things on this blog, and I hope to share the love with you! Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Join my subscriber list for access to my FREE Download Library: