Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eleven Months and Counting

Today is a special edition blog that's focus is Christmas. Today and each twenty-fifth of the month (or weekday closest to it) I'm going to switch gears just for the day to keep Christmas as a topic. For some of you this may be tortuous, but others may delight in the once a month reminder "to keep Christmas in your heart and honor it the whole year through". From organizing and planning, shopping to cataloguing, and finding ways to do for others, these blogs will keep Christmas a positive and enriching season, one that you are well prepared and eager to embrace.
With Christmas behind us, but still close enough in memory, it is a good idea to jot down a few notes about what worked and what did not for your family. Traditions are important to family, but sometimes traditions need to be revisited, tweaked, and decided which are truly valued and which simply are done out of misplaced and unnecessary duty. A Jell-O mold that gets begrudgingly made and winds up in the trash year after year because "Grandma used to make it", is a nice gesture, but needs to be released. Honor Grandma a different way by reading a story she loved, hanging her favorite ornaments, or telling stories about her. By keeping the information of last year's Christmas in one place, like a Gift Journal, or a Christmas Journal, you have a one-stop resource when Christmas draws near. If you, like me, have several time-honored and well-loved Christmas recipes that are scattered throughout the house, take the time to put them all in one area and label them so next year they are all in one handy place:  a folder, a recipe box just for Christmas, a cookbook, etc. This little bit of time now will save you far more time come November/December when you would normally frantically search for each and every recipe.
If you took advantage of post-Christmas sales and have bags of loot that you haven't looked at since you brought them home, this is a perfect time to get out or start a Gift Journal. Catalogue each and every purchase, even if its intent was to stay at home with you, so you can see what you bought. If the items were wrapping paper, tape, bows, and name tags for your own home, jot down where you are storing them and if you needed anything else before you start wrapping next year (i.e. new scissors, pens). If it was a gift, remember to write down the intended recipient's name and the occasion you want to give the gift. Taking the time to do this saves a lot of money in the end because you know what you have, can spot it easily, and you no longer need to sprint to the store in a panic to buy last-minute gifts! I picked up several gifts after Christmas that I'll be using for Anniversary gifts (check), Valentine's Day gifts, birthday gifts, and, yes, Christmas gifts for next year. As I inventory them in my Gift Journal, I write who they are for and for what occasion I am gifting. Truly I am saving money and have reduced my stress immensely! Not sure where to store the gifts? Storage boxes should still be on sale so pick up a few and label them so you know it's for your eyes only! Find a closet, attic space, basement area, or corner of a room to store your gifts.
Remember that post-Christmas sales may be ending or over, but throughout the year stores routinely have major markdowns at the end of every season. Scour sale racks, clearance shelves, and other sale places with an eye out for something someone you buy gifts for would appreciate and love. Of course buying crap is not what I'm talking about, but end-of-season sales usually result in excellent merchandise the stores simply have to move out to make room for the next season's items. This is your opportunity to bargain-hunt and stow for next year or later this year. Remember, too, if you are going on vacation or traveling for work, to pick up unique finds for friends and family you gift. They need not be expensive items as long as they are unique to the area you are visiting, they are cool gifts!
If all of the Christmas shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, and materialistic slant has left you feeling disgusted with the Christmas season, even now, there is a way to combat it. By doing things for others who are needier than you, you can find peace and a sense of purpose. Many people volunteer or donate their money or time in November and December to Soup Kitchens, Shelters, and different charitable organizations, but winter is long and the donations of time and money usually stop in January. So, connect with your community and help out! Whether you do some hands-on volunteer work or simply clean out a closet to donate to the local Salvation Army, doing something for others brings the "Season of Giving" back into perspective and keeps it alive all the year long.
My goal, and it's a lofty one, is to keep Christmas a pleasant, happy, stress-free, and meaningful season that doesn't just exist for four weeks a year. I love Christmas the whole year every year and want to share that enthusiasm with YOU.
So, until next month, Merry Christmas!


  1. I guess this comes under Baden Powells moto 'Be Prepared' or “The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.”

    Great blog Chief this coming year I'll be prepared to enjoy Christmas like never before :-)

  2. Last week I stashed away about 10 nice X-Mas gift bags for next year. I just hate gift wrapping.

  3. I don't need another reminder that I am getting older! Every month I will see how close I am getting to my next birthday.