Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Making a List, Checking It Twice

This year I am making a list.  And I'm going to check it twice.  Maybe the song isn't talking about making a list of things to buy but a list of things to do.  At least that's what my list is about.
Anyone else ever feel like this about Christmas?  :)

Last year I tried to be more organized. I shopped all year 'round and really felt like I had a leg up...until it got a little too close to Christmas and I realized that I had let my ego of being ahead get the best of me and I found myself way behind way too late to fix it.  Basically I shot myself in the foot by convincing myself that a year worth of shopping meant that I was done.

But I was far from done.

So I took the feelings that I had from last year and used them to kind of troubleshoot my faults to be prepared for this year.  Here are things that always catch me up and the solutions I've come up with so I don't have these things hanging over my head:

*Christmas cards-I always put these off, have lots of cute cards, and then am struggling at the last minute to get them out in the mail amidst all of the other tasks going on.
SOLUTION: I'm already addressing them to get in the mail the day before Thanksgiving. I can wipe my hands of them and sit back and relax.

*Decorating-Every year I have the best intentions.  I am going to make amazing displays around the house, people will ooh and aah and it will be amazing.  But it never happens.  I always have Nick bring down our decorations and then 5 bins end up sitting in a corner, just waiting to be unloaded up until the very last minute.  This year I'm not doing it.  Not gonna do it.
SOLUTION: While we are sticklers (my husband is) about not decorating until after Thanksgiving, I was able to have him bring all of the bins out of the attic.  I am going through them the days before Thanksgiving: weeding out what the kids are too old for (training dishes, board books), and paring down the bins we need to decorate with by getting out things I know we will not be using and putting those things together.  I tend to get really nostalgic once that tree's up so sitting in my craft room doing this really helps me to think don't need, need, don't need, don't need.  Trust me folks, this works :)

*Christmas Shopping- I've always been okay about shopping Christmas early, but early was November, maybe October.  I always ended up thinking I had bought more than I really had and ended up going on massive shopping sprees at the end.
SOLUTION: I have taken a clue from my favorite person, my Aunt Jan, and have shopped all year.  I've made a detailed list of what I've gotten for who including how much I've spent along the way to make sure I don't overspend.

*Christmas Budget-I always tried to spend money but with the massive shopping trips I took I was ruining my budget at the finish line.
SOLUTION: To be honest I don't have an overall Christmas budget.  I try to buy items as cheaply as possible  (with coupons, clearance, sales, etc) and it always seems to work out.  An example is for one child I bought 13 items and spent $42.00.  The retail value of those items was about $184.00 so I saved a lot of money!   $42.00 is within the range of what I am willing to spend so I am okay with that.  I keep an eye on my spending throughout the year so I am aware of what I've spent.  What I do budget for is the month of December: Christmas tree, dinners, cookie making, stamps, gas going to extra places: it all adds up...we set an amount to stick to with all of those categories.

*Gift Wrapping-Am I the only person who hates the whole "staying up late wrapping gifts until the break of dawn on Christmas Eve" thing?  This year I've decided no way, no how am I doing that again.  My problem being that the place I wrap presents is also known as our homeschool classroom which makes it a little tricky to get things wrapped, and then not touched by inquiring little hands :)
SOLUTION: Gifts are going to be wrapped ahead of time and then taken to any houses they are going to that are not mine.  We exchange gifts at my grandma's and so any gifts that go there are going there immediately.  That way there's less to keep track of here.  Once those are out of the way I will start wrapping the gifts that stay here but aren't for our kids.  Those we have room for in our classroom while still doing school.  After we start our Christmas vacation the kiddos won't be in the classroom and I'll be able to wrap the kids gifts without them spying them :)  Whatever works for you, the point is make a number and wrap that number of gifts per day...5 is my number.  5 gifts a day gang :)

*Taking/Making Food-I love cooking but when I am asked at the last minute to bring a dish or appetizer, I freak.  When I freak I spend way too much on stuff I know no idea how to make and get so nervous.
SOLUTION: I've thought of what people usually ask me to bring and what I am comfortable taking to places.  I usually make appetizers or desserts. So in November I found a sale and stocked up on crackers and cream cheese for making cheese balls and dips.  I also stocked up on cocoa powder and add-ins for brownies and cakes like peanut butter, nuts, toffee pieces.  With these things on hand I'll be able to whip up something relatively quickly without the fuss of running out to buy ingredients.

So I hope this helps you all with the dreaded Christmas tasks.  I came up with this list for myself when I noticed that Christmas was starting to feel more daunting than darling.  And I don't want that.  This year, with these items checked twice and under control, mistletoe will be the only thing hanging over my head!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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