Prep your holiday planning notebook. Whether it's a 3 ring binder or a simple spiral notebook, get it ready to go. My suggestion? Grab a simple 3 ring binder (before the back to school supplies are gone), get some divider tabs, and a pack of paper, grab a zipper pouch so you can keep your pens handy, and you're ready to go.
Print monthly calenders. You can get them directly from Organized Christmas or look online for a template that works for you. Remember, this is YOUR plan. Use what will make this the easiest for you. Whatever style you choose, make sure you have one for August-January. As soon as you can, jot down any family birthdays, events, vacations, holidays, or business trips that might derail your progress. If you have family birthdays in the coming months, don't postpone your holiday preparations until after they are done. The key is to plan simultaneously, a little at a time, to avoid the feeling of insanity come December.
Create some deadlines on your calendar. These can certainly change over the next few months, but keeping these goals in mind will help you focus on accomplishing them. Consider when you need to mail packages (especially if you are sending some overseas), have your photos taken, send your greeting cards, departure dates (if you're traveling), arrival dates (if you're expecting guests), party dates, school functions, church functions, office functions, etc. You may not know the specifics yet, but pencil them in the best you can. If you know your kid's school has a program the last week before break, jot it down. You can fill in specifics later. At least you'll know what you are working around as more and more activities vie for time on your calendar.
Designate the following necessary sections in your planner:
- To Do Lists
Start pulling recipes for freezer meals and your favorite holiday goodies. You'll need these sooner than you think! Get a new cookbook in the past year with some holiday recipes you're dying to try? Copy or clip them and get them in the binder now.
Stock up on butter, flour, sugar, cans of pumpkin, and other baking supplies. Sprinkles are a valuable commodity in November and December. Buy what you need over the next few weeks so you're not scrambling to find those illusive silver nonpareils when the rest of the world is too!
Last but DEFINITELY not least, ask your family for input. They may look at you like you're crazy, as my own husband did last night. "You're asking me to think about December in August?" Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am. But let's be honest. Ultimately, you're doing all of this for them. Find out if there's anything they are particularly looking forward too or perhaps something they could do without. It may just end up making life a little easier for you. If your husband's favorite Christmas cookies are the one's his nana used to make. Find that recipe! If you're kids hate Christmas caroling to the neighbors, maybe you can find another way to "bless" your neighbors this holiday season.