The Christmas Calmdown–Christmas Planner

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It’s Ainsley’s turn to host The Christmas Calmdown; this post is also appearing on her blog, Pattycake Manners.  Be sure to visit her and say hi!  And don’t forget to grab a nifty Christmas Calmdown button to let the whole of Blogdom know that this December, you’re going to be calm, cool, and in control!!!

Wow! I can hardly believe that it has been a whole month since the
launch of our Christmas Calmdown feature!! For those of you who may have missed the first instalment, the Christmas Calmdown is the collaborative effort of myself, and my dear cousin Kim, over at  Nesty.  Each month, for the next year, on or around the 25th, we will take turns posting a goal for anyone wishing to follow along, with the end result being a more organized holiday season for all. You can click here to read the introductory post! And now onto February's Christmas Calmdown Goal!

Ask the mastermind behind any successful event, and they will tell you that it all starts with a plan. A good plan. A plan full of details, and a plan that covers every aspect. A good plan takes time to build, and involves a lot of thought on the part of the person doing the planning.

Today, the event in question is Christmas 2011, and you, my dears, are the people doing the planning! In this post, I'm going to talk you through creating your own Christmas Planner, and then we'll go over just what you should put in there!  I won't re-hash how crazy the holidays get - we've been there, done that - but there's no reason we can't learn from our mistakes, and make  Christmas 2011 a calm and peaceful one. You should know by now
that I am a list maker. Lists make hectic days smoother, and who
doesn't like when things run smoothly? Especially around the holidays! What I'm proposing is that you start making some of those Christmas Lists now, in order to ensure a much smoother December for yourselves, and for your family.

But it's one thing to make the lists. It's another to have them all
neatly contained in some sort of paper keeper, so that they are all
right at your finger tips when inspiration strikes, and again when youare trying to recall that brilliant idea you had last week. Enter...the Christmas Planner.

Your planner can really be anything that can keep your notes and ideas in one place. Here are a few versions to consider.

There is a growing trend towards Home Keeping Journals - a notebook of some sort where organized home managers keep banking info, menu plans, housekeeping schedules, calenders, etc. You might be familiar with FlyLady's Control Journal, or Tsh's Home Management Notebook over at Simple Mom? If you are already going this route, good for you! In my opinion, you are ahead of the game. Your Christmas Planner can be as simple as adding another divider and some more loose leaf to your existing Home Keeping Journal.

There are numerous Christmas Planners on the market, geared toward doing just what we're doing - getting organized for the holidays. A few years ago, my sister-in-law gave me this cute little number for my birthday. It is filled with various sections, and had pages to carry through a number of years. I used every bit of it, and it was fun to look back at my notes from previous years. If time is short, and crafting is not your thing, but you still want something cute and festive, this may be the way to go for you.
Feb 20 2010 002
Or your Christmas Journal can be as simple as a small notebook that you keep tucked in the cupboard, used solely for jotting down all things Christmas.

But my favorite way to keep holiday ideas in order is with a hand
decorated binder - one that is pretty to have on the kitchen counter or beside my favorite chair, and one that is completely devoted to Christmas planning. Here is the step-by step of what I did to create it.

* this tutorial was originally published in December 2010*

First, I found an old 1 inch binder left over from my college days. I
then gathered up some pretty fabric from Stampin' Up!, my glue gun, and some cardstock.

I covered the binder with fabric and glued down the edges.
October 31 2010 002
I then covered the inside covers with the coordinating cardstock.
October 31 2010 003
Then I decided to embellish the outside cover with a funky flower
using more of the fabric, my Big Shot die cutter, and a big ole'
button. Lovely!!
October 31 2010 005
Once you have decided on what kind of planner you will use, it's time to decide just what is going to go in between the covers. I would suggest using some sort of divider to keep things organized, and a pocket of some sort might be handy for receipts and loose notes. Here are a few things that I keep in my Christmas Planner. Feel free to use them as a launching pad for your own Planner, or toss them and fill your Planner with the things YOU need to keep track of. It's all about making things easier!

1. Notes from last year - While things are still fresh in your mind,
make notes of things that worked and things that didn't work for you during Christmas 2010. My list already includes things like "Buy more fairy lights" and "Make scrapbook cards ahead of time". These are the kinds of things that jump up and get me during the first week of December, and have me shaking my head, asking why I didn't do them in October!
2. Gift Ideas - A no brainer, but one we often lose track of because
we are sure we will remember that book that so-and-so mentioned back in August. Make a list of all the folks you are planning to buy for, and do a quick brainstorm. Did one Aunt love the scarf you made the other Aunt last year? Have your grandfather's swim trunks seen better days ( I can hear all you MacDonald's snickering from here!) Jot down those ideas when you think of them, and then you can plan to shop throughout the year.
3. Decorating Ideas - Again, pretty self-explanatory, but it's always helpful to have everything in one place when the time comes to carry out the task, or when Michaels has a killer sale going on.
4. Christmas Card List - If you are a card sender, keep a master list
of all the people you plan to send Christmas greetings to. It can save so much time and energy if you can quickly calculate how many cards and stamps you need to buy by just looking at your list. Jot down names, as well as addresses, as it can also be a time saver not having to go through your address book. Try to update your list through the year as people move, or have babies!
5. Budget - Oh, you knew it was coming. We all know that the holidays can be a drain on the pocketbook, but with a little planning, we might be able to make it a little less painful. If you can, figure out what you are willing to spend on the holidays, and plan to spread it out over the year. Things like stamps, stocking stuffers, many largergifts items, craft supplies, cards, wrapping supplies, cards, even baking supplies can be purchased throughout the year and tucked away.  Much better, I think, to spend a bit every month, than to enter the New Year dealing with Christmas debt.
6. Calendar - Nothing crazy, but a loose weekly calendar for the
couple of months leading up to December can be helpful. For those of us who make many of our gifts, setting goals and timelines for handmade projects can keep us on track and take the pressure off in the end.
7. Mailing Schedule - As someone who mails the majority of her gifts, I can tell you that this is an important one. Make a list of all the parcels you will be needing to send, and when you want them in the mail by. Postal services of course give guidelines for this, but I like to set my own personal dates. For me, it is a huge relief to know that my gifts are done and on their way, so they are a top priority for me. Decide what needs to go, and by when it must be mailed, and plan to pick up any mailing supplies you might need in early November.
8. Kids Ideas - Ideas that pop up throughout the year for crafts and activities to keep the little ones busy throughout the holiday season.  I also like to jot down supplies for these projects that I accumulate during the year so I don't end up over-buying.
9. Cooking and Baking - Again, just a place to make notes of things
you'd like to try, things that may make good neighbour gifts, and a
master pantry list is always helpful. Making notes early and planning ahead can save money. If you are planning to give a gift in a mason jar, it's cheaper to buy them during canning season than to wait until mid-December!
10. The Fun Stuff - We all know we want lots of nights to relax around the holidays, but it often doesn't happen because we forget to "plan" to relax! For the last few years, I have allotted so many nights in December to doing truly Christmas-ey things. I schedule movie nights, gingerbread house day, even a day to start my Christmas puzzle. It may sound a bit rigid, but if these things are not on the list, they often get pushed to the side and forgotten. Putting them on the list makes them a priority and I don't end up feeling like I missed out on some of my favourite things!

Like I said, these are the lists that work for me. Everyone's planner
will be different. The important thing, in the spirit of the Christmas
Calmdown, is to make notes throughout the year, and to keep them organized in one place. We would love for you to join us in this year-long project!! We'll be back again in March with our next goal, so have your planner ready to share! You'll be invited to leave a link in your comment showing us what you've done, and we'll be pop by to check them out! And be sure to grab a button from my sidebar if you plan on participating in the Christmas Calmdown! The more the merrier!

And a little note from Kim...

Hi Everyone! Welcome back to the Christmas Calmdown! I’m really excited about our first official Calmdown challenge and can’t wait to make my own adorable planner. Ainsley is an incredible paper-crafter; her scrapbooks, cards, and projects always have that certain something that makes you stop and go “Wow!” I can already think of a dozen different ways to use this planner design with a simple change of colour and theme; household planner, shower guestbook (add some scrapbook pages for an elegant souvenir of a special day), memory book
for school or university (so cute in campus colours!), coupon
organizer (just add page protectors), or personalized scrapbook! The possibilities are endless, but of course, the first one I’m going to make is my 2011 Christmas Planner! See you next month!


  1. Wow a lot to take in but some great tips....

  2. Wow, you guys really are super organised! I am going to have to post something asap for my Christmas blog now I have read this or I am going to lose that Christmas spirit!
    Best wishes,

    PS I love your new profile picture!

  3. Wow, so organized! I love the idea of the Christmas calm-down!

  4. Very cute blog. I am a new follower.


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