Sunday, January 24, 2010

Please participate in the Poll! (Note: Now closed)

[NOTE: the poll - now closed - has been removed .] I'm hoping that my readers who aren't members of Blogger and can't post comments can still vote in a poll. Those of you who can post a comment, feel free to tell me what you've done so far to prepare for Christmas. In 10 months we'll be pulling out our decorations and supplies and gearing up for a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

#2 - More on Cards: Don’t Misplace Them!

One question has come up about buying cards early. How does one remember where she has stashed those boxes of January-bought Christmas cards when the Christmas season arrives?

Over the years I’ve stashed many things away in clever places only to forget where those places were. What a nuisance! However, I haven’t misplaced my cards in a long time. You know those holiday popcorn tins? We’ve given and received many as gifts over the years. I chose one of the larger ones we had received (after it had been emptied, of course) and rinsed it out. In it I stashed my Christmas cards as well as a copy of past Christmas newsletters.

Because it’s a Christmas-themed tin, I recognize it each time I see it. I don’t keep the tin in my Christmas storage closet/room; I might forget it or lose it under boxes of decorations. Instead, it’s stashed in my office closet. Before moving to this house and gaining an office, I kept my card tin in my living room coat closet.

Since you may want to get to your cards before you start decorating for the holidays, keeping them with the decorations is a bad idea You should keep your cards stored in a more visible place where they won’t become lost and forgotten. Using a decorative container like the holiday popcorn tins for storing your card supplies will increase your chances of finding them quickly when you want them. Keeping the container in a place you visit often makes it even more likely that you won’t lose them.

If you haven’t made a habit of sending Christmas cards in the past, maybe this will be the year. Finding a colorful Christmas card in the mailbox always brightens my mood. Think of how delighted your friends or family members will be to find an envelope full of holiday cheer from you! Better yet, they may return the favor!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

#1 - January 2010!

From the Festival of Trees
Welcome to Christmas All Year Long—where getting ready for your favorite holiday is a year-long project!

What happens to you each December? Are you caught off guard by the many activities available? Do you participate in a mad scramble to make Christmas happen at your house—by baking and decorating and shopping and wrapping and caroling and partying and spinning in circles till you pass out? Do some of your plans turn to dust and blow away due to neglect? Then this is the place for you, my dear. We’re going to surprise everyone come December 1 by being prepared for the holiday season and having the time to enjoy it!

The idea is to focus on a holiday project each month. It won’t be time-consuming, and I’m pretty sure it will be fun. We will take one topic a month and see if we can’t make a better Christmas for ourselves, our families, and our friends.

Let’s kick off January with a two-part project. The first part is simple. Make a list of all the Christmas activities/projects you completed, and then list the things you wanted to do but ran out of time and energy for.

For example, this year I wrote a Christmas newsletter (at the last minute) and mailed out cards (at the last minute) and shopping for gifts (at the last minute). That’s not the way I like to do things, but that’s how it went. I also decorated the inside of my house, and I put up a few things outside, but I ran out of time and energy for putting out strings of lights. I made my traditional double-decker peanut butter fudge and the edible holly candy, but I ran out of time for cookies! I listened to lots of Christmas music, and I sang in my church’s Christmas choir. I went to one Christmas party thrown by the local Writers Guild at a restaurant, but I did not get to have friends over to my house as I’d hoped to do. I missed going to a live nativity, but I did take my family to the Festival of Trees for our yearly photo safari. We drove through one professional lights display, but we didn’t have time for the other, bigger one. I wanted to take my neighbors plates of Christmas goodies, but I didn’t get them made! I wanted to make some Christmas ornaments, but I haven’t had time to do that in several years, and the kits are getting quite dusty!

I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I wanted to. But I also have to work at my job, get my allergy shots, and do my regular chores and errands as a single parent, plus help my teenager daughter with her school schedule and homework.

The only way I’m going to get all those things accomplished is to create a plan and follow it. So that’s what we’re going to do together! We’ll plan and work our way through the year so that our next Christmas will be the one we’ve always dreamed of! Make your lists now.

Part two: If you haven’t yet, take advantage of the after-Christmas clearance sales. You can get fabulous bargains at this time of year. Plus, it helps you plan in advance for next Christmas. As you stand in front of the wrapping paper, you can decide on a color scheme or theme for next year if the idea pleases you. Do you want to go with all metallic paper? Papers with penguins? Stripes, plaids, polka dots? All white paper with colored ribbon to accent the packages? Buy now, and you’ll have that chore out of the way. Get Christmas cards at 50-75% off the retail price. Plastic storage boxes are on sale at this time as well, so if you don’t have a place to store and protect your Christmas supplies, you can pick something up at a discount. I’ve already got my cards for next year, as well as some ribbons and small gift boxes, and I’m watching the sales for some outdoor decorations at bargain prices.

Future topics will include party planning, Christmas newsletters and photos, choosing and testing new recipes for Christmas goodies, music for the Big Day, decorating both indoors and out, shopping and/or making gifts, family fun activities, and more. Feel free to leave a comment with ideas for future topics.

Let’s keep the Spirit of Christmas alive all year long!