Sunday, November 27, 2011

Take Action

It's here!  The Christmas season is officially upon us. I hope your Thanksgiving celebration was a success and that all your planning ahead paid off.  I can honestly say that for the first time in our family's history, dinner was on the table at the designated time.  This most likely was due to some Divine intervention, but I'd like to think that I'm getting at least a little better at this each year.

Since most of your shopping, baking, and wrapping has already been done, I trust that you are finding some time to enjoy the season with your family and relaxing with a good Christmas movie.

This week, there are only a few things work on (besides enjoying the fruits of your early labor).

Here you go!

Week of November 27th - December 3rd

*Decorate your house and yard- tackle one project at a time.  For instance, the Christmas tree.  Bring in only the boxes pertaining to that.  When it's complete remove those boxes and bring in the next set.  Take one room at a time, if possible.  This eliminates "decorating overload", which can be stressful and unnerving to those of us who like to maintain some semblance of order in the home (even if just a little).  Start with the absolute decorating "musts"- those things that your family would miss if they weren't out.  You may find as you progress that you don't feel the need to put everything out.  Sometimes less is more!  Take as much time as you need to decorate to your liking. 

*Wrap your Black Friday purchases- don't forget to label and store them.

*Update your gift shopping list and check to make sure you're on budget.  If not, adjust accordingly.

*Prepare all packages for mailing- and beat the crowd to the post office!

*Try to plan at least one evening to enjoy with the family- watching a Christmas movie,  playing a game, singing Christmas carols.  Be sure to pull out some of the goodies you have in your freezer and enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Take Action

Thanksgiving week is here!  Our freezer meals are made and our Christmas goodies are baked.  Now it's time to take advantage of some of  that advance preparation.  Let's get busy!

Week of November 20th - 26th

* Get everything out for Thanksgiving- prepare what can be done ahead of time.

*Finish any last minute shopping- including fresh produce and bakery products

*Wednesday- use a freezer meal.  If you run out to pick up anything let it be a salad to accompany your meal.  Otherwise...avoid the grocery store at all cost!

*Friday or Saturday- Start decorating for Christmas- Pull out your Christmas tree, if you go the artificial route, and set it up.

*Wrap, label, and store any gifts you picked up on Black Friday.

*Deadline Week- if your homemade gifts are not finished, put them away and purchase something else.  This is life.  Be realistic and let yourself off the hook without regrets.  You gave it your best shot.  There's always next year!

*Eat some Thanksgiving leftovers and pop in a Christmas movie!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Take Action

In case you've lost track, we are on week 12 of our holiday prep and Christmas Countdown.  Thanksgiving is just over a week a way and Christmas is right on it's heals.  I'm so excited about all of the things we've accomplished already and after this week, we'll be ready to hit the cruise control in some areas.  Let's get started so we can be finished!

Week of November 13th-19th

*Make a batch of holiday goodies- if you've been faithfully making a batch a week, your freezer should be bursting but relax.  This is our last one.  Your holiday baking is about to be done!

*Make one freezer meal- once again, this is your last.  You should now have 10 meals you can pull out of your freezer in a pinch.  Decide which one you will be using next Wednesday.  You do NOT need to be cooking another meal the night before Thanksgiving!

*Buy at least one more gift- the operative phrase is "at least".  If you're like me and look forward to Black Friday sales, you could put this off until next week and knock out several.  If not, get one more checked off your list.  Wrap, label, and store it.

If you're not hosting Thanksgiving, you can stop there!  If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you have a few more things on your plate (pun intended).

*Make place cards

*Be sure all serving pieces are clean

*Borrow any additional pieces

*Check, clean, iron linens.

*Prepare centerpiece

*Make 3X5 card for each serving dish- on it, write what goes in it, when it can be filled, and silverware needed to serve it..  Tape it to the dish.  If you have a place to stack those dishes, put them all together.  Otherwise, you can place them back in the cabinet.  But at least you'll know what to pull out and when.  The other benefit to this is that when your kitchen is buzzing with family and friends who are asking to help, you can direct them to a dish and let them do the rest!

*Finalize your Thanksgiving menu & shoppping list- start shopping now before the crowds get out of control and inventory is sparse.  Next week, you can pick  up your bakery goods and fresh produce

The Nightmare Before Christmas

It's official.  I had my first pre-Christmas nightmare.  It was late Christmas Eve and I realized that, not only had I not wrapped even one of my kid's Christmas presents, I had forgotten to buy them.  I remember standing in the living room with my husband at about midnight and discussing whether or not we could hold Christmas off for one more day without the kids figuring it out.  I distinctly recall glancing at the clock and thinking that I could just pull an all-nighter and pull something together.

So, okay, I may be playing it fast and loose with the word "nightmare".  But for someone with my personality (and by "personality" I mean "OCD"), that's darn near terrifying.  I think it's safe to say that my sub-conscious is trying to tell me I'm not as prepared as I would like to be.

Today it is time to bear down and make sure I'm on track with all my planning and preparations.  In other words, I'm making a list and checking it twice. :-)  Truthfully, I'm checking my lists and making a new list, but that doesn't sound quite as poetic.

I hope you are not experiencing that kind of anxiety.  But, if you are starting to feel the pressure of the holidays looming, take a few moments to evaluate where you are in your preparations and focus on the things that are of utmost importance to you.  Shorten your list.  The key isn't to finish everything on it, but to be able to do the things that matter most to you.  Prioritize and take one thing at a time.  Remember:
"Action is the foundational key to all success." -Pablo Picasso

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Take Action

Week of November 6th - 12th

Make a batch of holiday goodies- if you haven't noticed already, it's not necessary to double your batches unless you plan on having  more goodies than you'll know what to do with.  If you feel you already have more than enough, feel free to skip this step.  Only one more week of goodies to make after this and then your holiday baking will be done!

Make a freezer meal- regardless of whether or not you think you have too many, make another.  Remember that there will be holiday gatherings and company lingering after Christmas too.  New Years often sneaks up.  Save a meal for New Years Eve or New Years Day when you don't want to have to cook.  Also, only one more week of this.  You'll  be all done before the biggest cooking day of the year- Thanksgiving!

Buy at least 1 gift- at this point I recommend buying as many as you can afford.  The more you purchase now the less you have to think about later.

Wrap and label your packages

Finish up any crafts or homemade gifts

Review and revise your Thanksgiving menu & update your shopping list-  Or, if you haven't created one yet...make your shopping list!  Many Thanksgiving food products will go on sale this week and next (if they aren't already).  Having your list ready means you can pick them up while taking advantage of sale prices.

Plan your table setting and/or centerpiece- borrow any items that you may need, if possible.
Purchase, clean, or iron your holiday clothing

Get your family schedlued for flu vaccines- if you typically vaccinate against the flu each year, do it now.  Don't let that tiny detail get overlooked in the midst of your major holiday planning.  My family learned the hard way last year and ended up sick from the second week of November straight through New Years.  Learn from our mistake!  If you only accomplish one thing this week, let that be it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Is it Really November?

*Insert heavy sigh here*

If someone were to ask me to recall any one particular moment over the last two months, I would be at a loss.  I honestly have no recollection of the last 60+ days.  What I do know is that my husband traveled a lot and I sat down very little.  I've been looking forward to this week since the start of September because I knew it would mean the end of some big commitments and crazy work hours.  Now it's here and it dawned on me, as I replaced Jack-o-lanterns with Turkeys today,  that October is over and Thanksgiving is only three weeks away.  I have a very emotional reaction to that thought, not because I'm stressed, but because I feel as though the season is flying by and I'm missing it.

My Thanksgiving menu and shopping list is made and has been for months.  Thank you Organized Christmas!  And a good portion of my Christmas shopping is already done.  I have Christmas cookies in the freezer and meals ready to pop in the oven when our schedule fills up again.  Christmas cards are here and in the process of being addressed and gifts are already getting wrapped.   Even I have a few things to catch up on, but all in all, I'd say I've set the stage for a wonderfully enjoyable holiday season.  Now I just have to stop moving long enough to enjoy it.

I hope you are feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment, regardless of whether or not you've finished everything on your holiday "To Do" list.  But my greater hope is that you will find time to enjoy the season before it's over.  We started our preparations early for a reason, so that we could relish in the season and enjoy each moment.