Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Holiday "TO DO" List

When it's time to begin planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially the meals and decor, I love to pour myself a fresh cup of coffee and get comfortable with a stack of my favorite books and magazines for inspiration.

My favorite holiday book right now is "The Christmas Book" by Hallmark.  It's chalk full of ideas for entertaining, gift-giving and decorating, with beautiful, glossy photographs. 

Here's a peek inside.

But after a few hours/days with my books, I start to get so many ideas and have so many things I want to do, that I can start to feel a little overwhelmed.  I feel like there is so much to do, from the meal-planning and grocery shopping, to the decorating and shopping, on top of all the regular duties of work, household chores, and parenting.  And don't we always say we want to RELAX and ENJOY the holidays?  

One way I help myself calm down is by creating a holiday "to do" list.  I seriously think I would be lost without it!  And I create it EARLY in the season.  Like two weeks before Thanksgiving!  

When I start to feel like my brain is going to explode from trying to remember and calendar and schedule too many things, I do a big ole' "brain dump" onto a fresh, clean notebook.  A new (preferably pretty) notebook is somehow key to helping me feel better:)  Getting these thoughts out of my head and onto the paper is critical to my well-being.  Afterwards, I feel like I can relax because the "mental chatter" is now on the page and I don't have to worry about forgetting something.

The next step is to break things up into manageable categories.  For example, I wrote out what I needed to do to complete our Thanksgiving table.  (Sometimes someone in our house likes to add to my lists, but it just makes me smile, seeing those little scribbles.)  I'll also create categories like: Thanksgiving menu, Christmas decor ideas, Christmas projects, Gift lists, etc.

As for the Thanksgiving menu,  I write out list of things that looked good, then narrow it down to what I'm going to make, and create a grocery list.  I like to use the pre-printed "Real Simple" Grocery Lists for my shopping list.  I've got mine started.

Aside from the grocery store, I like to prepare a list of all the things I need to buy from places like Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Target, or WalMart for decor, projects and gifts so that I'm not constantly back-tracking it 100 times because I should have picked up the items while I was there.

Obviously, these lists evolve and change, but since our time is precious, I like to accomplish as much as I can while I'm out.

I literally pull out the calendar so I can see how many days we have to accomplish what needs to be done.  And seriously, do not kill yourself with your calendar.  We need to have days with little to nothing on the agenda so we can just chill and be lazy.

My November calendar looks something like this:

Are you a list person too?  Any tips you'd like to share for how you juggle and keep track of everything during the holidays?