Someday I’d like to meet Mrs. Clement Clark Moore. Her husband, as you may recall, wrote, “Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
Imagine, not a creature stirring on Christmas Eve! Mrs. Moore, with donned kerchief and settled brains (another amazing Christmas Eve feat), was not exactly dressed for success, yet somehow she managed to hang the stockings with care by the chimney, nestle her children all snug in their beds and still have time for a long winter’s nap.
Let’s face it. Mrs. Moore obviously didn’t wait until December to get ready for Christmas or other winter holiday celebrations. To have things run smoothly in the most hectic time of the year, planning for the holidays needs to begin in July.
Just doing two simple things right now will speed you on your way to a Christmas Clement Clark Moore would be proud of.
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First: Set up a Christmas notebook.
This is a loose-leaf binder with tabbed sections such as:
• Gift list (people to buy for and what gift they’ll be given)
• Christmas card list (or keep on the computer)
• Party plans (guests, menu, entertainment, etc.)
• Receipts: Envelope for all receipts so any exchanges will be hassle free.
• Christmas memories (compile every year)
• Crafts: List of handmade gifts and recipients
• Decorations: List of decorations and where they’re located (or which box they’re in). Also, if you decorate the house the same way every year, make notes about where things are placed, etc., and how you decorated each area. Also, in this section, you can record plans for decorations you want to make (or purchase).
• Christmas supplies: Things you purchased after last Christmas (when items are often 75 percent off!), what they are and where you stashed them.
Second: Set up a waiting bag.
The waiting bag helps you take advantage of time you spend waiting for something to happen: waiting for a meeting to start, for a practice to get over, for a performance to begin, waiting for the doctor, traveling time, etc.
Grab a tote bag or briefcase and fill it with waiting essentials. Some possibilities are a notepad, pen and calendar. With these supplies (along your phone or tablet — if you prefer some high-tech help), you can decide who to buy for and what to do or buy, compose a Christmas letter, plan decorations, address Christmas cards and plan a party or dinner.
If you’re a crafter, fill your bag with supplies for your current project. You’ll be able to complete it in bits of time that otherwise would be wasted. Short on ideas? Use your phone as a “waiting bag” and glean ideas from Pinterest or the like.
Then closer to the holidays ...
Set up a gift-wrapping station so you can wrap as you go. This can be as simple as a card table set up in the corner somewhere. Have all your supplies handy: paper, gift bags, ribbon, tape, tags, scissors, etc. Pop-up tape that requires the use of only one hand is especially useful. You can hold the package and wrapping with one hand, and tape with the other.
To discourage snoopers, assign each family member a number (known only by you) and put that number on the gift tag. Or, assign a specific wrapping paper to each person. Only you will know that Steven gets the snowmen and Susie gets the Santas.
And think ahead
If you’re low on motivation, write yourself a letter after the holidays are over and detail your dilemmas, the stress and disappointments you felt, the things you wish would have turned out differently. Next year, about this time, re-read your letter, and you’ll be able to kick-start yourself.
This year, before you get involved in an all-night wrapping session, stop for a moment. Promise yourself that once and for all you will have peace on Earth at your house. Plan well, prepare early, and, on Christmas Eve, not a creature will stir!