Holiday Planning: Nerdy? Yes. Unnecessary? Oh No.

Despite the obvious Halloween fever that is raging through our home, I still have an eye toward Christmas.

Am I that weird? No.

What I am is a woman with a fairly large family, and not a lot of money (especially in December). When my husband and I first got married, planning early for Christmas was a necessity. At that time, I spent all year catching sales at the craft stores, because I made a good chunk of the Christmas gifts for our extended family. By doing this, we were able to focus our holiday budget more on the kids and the big meals at our home. I’ve made TONS of gifts over the years, and in the coming weeks, I’ll share some of my favorites.

Before we get to gifts, let’s talk about planning. I used to scoff at people that actually had Christmas planners. That is, I scoffed until my Christmas stress hit Chernobyl-quality. Nothing sucks the fun out of the holidays like the last-minute shopping.

A couple of years ago, I finally broke down and tried to add a little organization to my holidays, because by the time I made and stored 20 gifts, I could not remember what I had done, or had left to do. I channeled my inner-nerd, and created a binder with a list of people, gifts, gift ideas, the location of gifts I had hidden, recipes I wanted to try, dinner menus, calenders, etc. Let me tell ya, after that Christmas, I was converted. Even as we shopped, my husband noticed how much more relaxed it was, because we already had a clear plan at our fingertips. We could instantly see who we already had gifts for, what they were, and had ideas already in place for those still left on our shopping list. By keeping that binder handy all year, I brought the fun back in my holidays.

Last year, I found this website:

And I was one happy Mama. Since I am not at all creative, and coming up with my own planner from scratch was too much work for me, this site was a very welcome discovery. It is full of printable planner pages. Some are actually part of a guided planning strategy from some organizational guru, while other are just handy and easy to mix and match. There are also printable divider pages, which is useful for me in separating gift stuff from food stuff.

I love the Master gift list:

This sheet is handy for an at-a-glance update when shopping, but I also save it year-to-year so I don’t do repeat gifts by mistake. However, I also use the gift idea pages to store more detailed info on each person, such as ideas and sizes:

There are dozens of pages for cleaning, decorating, cooking, etc. I was especially fond of this page, because I constantly find recipes I want to try, then subsequently forget about them with my goldfish-like memory:

By going through all of the possible pages on this site, I was able to customize a binder planner that had only what I needed in it.

So, yes, I may have become so neurotic that I actually need a Christmas planner, but as I bask in another year of stress-free holidays, I find I’m ok with that.

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