Monday, October 31, 2011

Take Action

Happy Halloween!  I hope you all have fun plans for this evening, whether you have little ones or not.  Thanks for your patience this week.  Our  Take Action plan for the week got put on hold yesterday so that I could enjoy some much needed family time after my husband had been traveling all week.  Sometimes even Christmas has to wait. :-)

Here's our plan for the week! Can you believe it's almost November?!

Week of October 30th - November 5th

*Make a batch of holiday goodies

*Make 1 freezer meal

*Buy at least one gift- if you can knock out a few more, that would be great!

*Put the finishing touches on any crafts or homemade gifts

*Polish your silver, clean your glassware, and/or candlesticks- anything that will adorn your Thanksgiving .  Make sure your tablecloth, placemats, and napkins are clean.  If you need replacements, pick those up along with any candles, napkin rings, etc.

*Remove your Halloween decor- Doesn't it feel like it just went up? :-(

*Put up your Thanksgiving decor

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Take Action

Week of October 23rd - 29th

*Make a batch of holiday goodies

*Prepare and freeze one meal- your freezer should be filling up as we are nearing the end of our freezer meal preparation.  Only a few more weeks to go!  How easy will your holidays be with all of those dinner options already prepared?

*Purchase at least one Christmas gift. Wrap, label, and store it.

*Finish up any homemade gifts or crafts- if you're not quite finished, keep plugging away.  Be sure you can finish within the next 2-4 weeks.  Otherwise, consider a "Plan B".

*Start addressing your Christmas cards

*Send invitations for Thanksgiving- be sure to finalize details with family and friends if you don't usually send out invites

*Take a holiday clothing inventory- make sure your family has everything they'll need for holiday gatherings.  Consider dress clothes, Christmas pajamas, travel-specific clothing (especially if you're headed to different climate to visit family or for a special event).  Consider using the holiday wardrobe planner from Organized Christmas.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Take Action

Week of October 16th - 22nd

*Make a batch of holiday goodies

*Make one freezer meal

*Buy at least one gift- wrap, label, and store it

*Check your progress and adjust your "To-Do" list accordingly.

*Finish any homemade gifts or crafts- Asses your progress on these as well.  If you're not as far as you need or would like to be, consider scrapping these gift ideas or putting them off for upcoming occasions (maybe even next Christmas).  Let yourself off the hook.

Remember that Halloween is just 2 weeks away!

*Buy a pumpkin

*Review and finalize costume plans

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Books, Books, and More Books

Some of the best things about the holidays are the books and movies you can find about the season.  I have spent years collecting my favorite Christmas DVDs and love sharing them with my kids each year.  But, as a former educator, it's the books about Christmas that I cherish.  Last December, a dear friend shared one of her holiday traditions with me and graciously allowed me to adopt it. 

I have spent the last year collecting various Christmas books so that I could have 24 altogether- one for each night of December, leading right up to Christmas Eve.

Today, during my alone time, I dug up all of the books, placed them in a fairly random order,  and proceeded to wrap them.  It was a 3 hour project, that I'm sure glad to have under my belt.  And I know, come December 1st they will be ready to go!

What to Do?!

I'm almost giddy today!  My wonderful brother-in-law and sister-in-law have offered to take the kids for the day, leaving me all by my lonesome.  Now, I know they are looking forward to spending time with their niece and nephews, but I still consider this a huge favor.

The problem I face, however, is trying to decide what to do with all of my free time.  Part of me wants to go shop it up.  But, why should I spend the whole day out with crowds of people?  My next idea...stay home...alone.  I know the mere thought of that prospect would bore many people to death, but I am SO looking forward to it.  I haven't been able to spend a quiet day alone in my house for 6 years and I plan to take advantage! 

What's on my "To-Do" list today?  Holiday planning!  You can be sure the candle will be lit and Christmas music of some sort (although, I save some particularly special tunes for after Thanksgiving) will be playing.  I'm looking forward to trying a new cookie today which I'm hoping will become a holiday favorite at our house.  I'll also be digging out our Christmas books and wrapping those.  You may even see another post from me today.  Can you imagine?!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Break

It's Fall break and it didn't come a moment too soon!  Just because the kids are home doesn't mean your progress has to stop.  Try to accomplish at least one item on your holiday prep list, even if you can't get to them all.  Or, if this week means lots of free time, use the relaxed schedule to do some catching up.  Either way, keep up the great work.  There are just about 10 weeks left until Christmas and something tells me they are going to fly by.  That isn't an invitation to get stressed out.  You are already ahead of the game!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Take Action

October 9th - 15th

Can't believe we are headed smack dab into the middle of October.  It's time for the season to slow down, please.  Let's keep up our momentum.  Here is your list of action items for the week:

*Make one batch of holiday goodies

*Make and freeze one meal

*Buy 2 canned foods- if necessary.  If all of your canned menu items are purchased, consider just buying one for your local food drive.

*Buy one or more gifts- wrap, label, and stash them

*Work on any holiday crafts/gifts- if your kids are on Fall break this week, get them to help!

*Catch up on areas you may have fallen behind on

Friday, October 7, 2011

Don't Break the Bank

Undoubtedly, Christmas is one of the most expensive times of the year.   All though, we know it's coming every December 25th, budgeting for it sometime manages to escape our attention until it's too late.  Here are some tips if you're a few months late and a few dollars short.

Start now. Don't wait until the after Thanksgiving sales to start shopping or saving.  Remember, thinking Christmas earlier in the year saves you stress and money.  Designate an amount to pull out of each pay check between now and Christmas.  If your bank offers a Christmas club account, I highly recommend it.  They will automatically deduct an amount of your choosing and place it in your Christmas club.  This money is not accessible until generally the end of October, so you don't have to worry about it getting spent.  It's probably too late for this to work to your advantage this year, but start one as soon as you can for next year.  If you don't have the luxury of a Christmas club account, hit your ATM on pay day.  Do not wait, or that money will inevitably get spent.  Even if you just pull out $20, you'll feel good knowing that you are saving for the holidays.  Every little bit helps.  Keep it in a safe place until you are ready to do your shopping.

Make one holiday gift purchase each payday.  Start browsing through catalogs and websites and begin making a list of gift ideas for family and friends.  That list will give you direction and you'll be thrilled as you start to see things get crossed off.  Remember, it's not too early to start purchasing gift cards either.  Throw a $20 gift card into your grocery cart next time you're at the supermarket and you can cross one gift off your list.

Utilize online shopping. Take advantage of sales, clearance, and free shipping deals to start your gift shopping, without having to leave your house!

Clean out your closets and have a Fall garage sale.  The cooler morning temperatures are perfect for weekend bargain hunters.  You already know you'll be filling up the house with extra toys and gadgets at Christmastime.  Make room for them now and use the money you make to help offset the cost of the holidays.

Join a site like and trade for gifts.  You can get items like new (or even brand-new in some cases) just by swapping movies, DVDs, books, and video games that you don't want any more. is a great resource for holiday books, movies, and music even if only for your family's own enjoyment.

Consider making some gifts.  The Internet provides a plethora of gift ideas through craft websites and because you're planning ahead, you have time to knock out a few.  Try this French memory board, courtesy of our friends at Organized Christmas, for example.  I made one for my teen aged niece last year and it was a HUGE hit.

Shop Ebay.  Another advantage of giving yourself adequate prep time is the ability to "shop" around until you find the best deal.  Ebay is a fantastic source for anything and everything.  These days, sellers are listing more and more "brand new" items for sale.  Given enough time, you can search for the right deal and bid away.  Someone on my list this year is getting a Kindle cover.  Retailing normally for $40-$50, I was able to find one of the same quality for...(drum roll, please) $7.95.  And what's  more, I didn't have to leave my house or fight angry, last minute shoppers.  It will be on my doorstep in 5-7 business days. :-)

Any other creative saving ideas? I'd love to hear them.  Please share!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Take Action

October 2nd -8th

*Put up your Halloween decorations- if you haven't yet, but are planning to

*Make a batch of holiday goodies- these don't have to be Christmas related, either.  If you have a special Halloween/Fall treat you like to make that you can freeze.  Knock them out now!  Otherwise, cross another Christmas recipe off your list.

*Make one freezer meal- this week it's Sicilian casserole for me.  I posted the recipe several posts ago, but if you're running out of ideas and need something new, I highly recommend this one.  It's delish!

*Buy 2 canned food items- one to save, one to give

*Buy at least one gift- wrap, label, and store it with your others.  You should notice you are making considerable progress with your shopping at this point, even if you've only been purchasing one gift at a time.

*Work on any homemade crafts or gifts- again, these don't have to be strictly Christmas related.  There are two holidays coming first.  Finish whatever you've been working. Although, I don't recommend starting anything new unless it's easy and you can finish it quickly.

*Finish any other items that you may not have completed- I am still working on cleaning out our toys.  That is first on my list to finish this week!