Okay, okay, don’t shoot the messenger! I know it’s only August 15, and we’re just now getting ready for the Back to School stuff, but seriously: 131 days until Christmas. I’m just letting you know!
(Our tree last year!)
I LOVE Christmas. LOVE. IT. It’s a wonderful time of fun and fellowship with folks we don’t get to see very often, and, of course, the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
(My Christmas flag!)
Even so, it tends to be kind of a stressful time for me. Let me explain:
- I’m wrapping up all things end-of-the-year at my full time job (insurance marketing) and planning for the next year, so there’s a lot going on there. Plus the mailings and special promotions and parties.
- Oh, the parties. I think people should space out their gatherings so there aren’t 25 people wanting to have their Christmas Open House on the same Saturday in December. But, between our friends, family and coworkers, there are a LOT of PARTIES we jet around to. And I’m normally in charge of bringing something.
- I’m planning and prepping and baking for all the folks I do baked goods for (here are three of last year’s treats!)
- I’m planning and shopping and prepping and wrapping all the gifts (here is last year’s “theme”)
- We’re rehearsing and perfecting and performing all of our Christmas musical events with the choir and worship team from our church. These normally include color-coordinated clothing mandates, so then I’m shopping and coordinating and making dry cleaners runs galore! (Here’s a shot of us singing last year!)
- Oh, and Christmas is one of the busiest times ever for me and my photography business (when I offer specials and rush turnarounds, etc.) Most nights I’m up into the wee hours of the morning editing and prepping packages. Roughly 3 hours of sleep per night in the Christmas season, yep, that’s about what I get.
It’s pretty sad how excited I got just typing all of that stuff up! No matter HOW crazy it gets, I STILL LOVE IT!
I want to share with you all the top three things I did last year that helped me out BIG TIME. These are things I starting doing NOW and they make a huge difference in the long run. Are you ready?
- Plan it. Yep, plan it. Sounds simple enough, right? What I mean is, get out a calendar and chart everything that you have to do between now and January 1. Some of these things you know for sure already – put them in ink. Some things you’re not for sure yet – put them in pencil. Once more things are added to your schedule, you can see it all right there in front of you, and then you know when you need to start saying NO to things. And it’s okay to say NO to things…because if YOU run yourself into the ground trying to do everything (voice of experience here – I got the FLU last December) you’ll be no good to anyone else. Oh, and you’ll be miserable. So plan it.
- Decide it. If you do baked goods for folks, decide NOW what you will bake. Locate all your recipes and get your shopping lists in order. Then, when it’s time to start the work, you’re totally prepared. If you do gifts, decide NOW what type of wrapping paper you need. Start gathering the supplies that you can (tape, ribbon, tissue paper) and making sure you’re stocked so you’re not running out of things at the last minute. OH, and here’s a FANTASTIC secret! Decide NOW what your gifts to others will be. Well, at least decide by Thanksgiving, and have the money saved for those gifts. Why? Last Cyber Monday (which is the Monday after Thanksgiving when TONS of stuff on the internet are on sale at amazing discounts, I sat down with our Christmas list at the computer and ordered every last gift. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I transferred the money from savings into the checking account, and then sat back for the next few weeks and watched the presents arrive AT MY FRONT DOOR. There were two things I had to return, but I still had plenty of time to get everything taken care of, I saved HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS, and I didn’t have to mess with all the crazy Christmas shoppers. All because I decided it ahead of time.
- Follow through. Seriously. Don’t look at your calendar and say, “Why on earth did I want to decide what our Christmas cards would be TODAY? I’ve got plenty of time!” Don’t do it. Don’t ask questions, don’t put it off, just follow through. You’ll remember why when suddenly, before anyone else has their Christmas cards completed, you’re good to go. You’ll be so glad you followed through. (Here are our cards from last year, attached to goodie bags my husband took to his team at work!)
Want a glimpse at what I have on my calendar so far? Here ya go!
September 16: 100 Days until Christmas
October 25: 2 Months until Christmas
November 4: Begin Christmas Card List
November 10: Deadline if someone else is taking our Christmas photos
November 11: Decide on Christmas gifts
November 18: Decide on Christmas baking and 2 Weeks until Cyber Monday
November 24: Deadline if I take our own Christmas photos
November 25: 1 Month until Christmas, One Week until Cyber Monday, Order Christmas Cards
November 29: Decorate for Christmas
December 2: Cyber Monday, Start on Christmas Card Labels
December 11: Mail Christmas Cards
December 18: Mail out-of-town Gifts
December 25: CHRISTMAS! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!
And I’ve got one more nugget for you! This year, I found a fantastic blog called 100 Days to Christmas. GO THERE. Sign up with your email address, and starting on September 16, every day you will receive a reminder or a point of inspiration or a helpful hint, all the way up until Christmas Day! Great, huh? I have a feeling it’s gonna be the best Christmas ever!
How do YOU plan your Christmas so everything runs smoothly? I wanna know!
DON’T FORGET! The Van’s Natural Foods Giveaway is still in session!!! CLICK HERE to enter!