Holidays 2011 | getting started

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12 days of Christmas is good. The advent calendars have 24 days. But this year, to share with you, I’m going for 25 days. But first, an introduction…

I’m about to launch a 25-post strong holiday crafting series here, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. These will be real projects, pages, and ideas that I am personally using this holiday season. Before I get that started though, I wanted to share a post about my holiday schedule. You see, I’m a firm believer in extending the preparations period so that the words “stressed” and “rushed” (almost) NEVER enter my holiday vocabulary. I believe any and all holiday offerings should come from a place of love and happiness!

So here are the rules I follow:

1. Christmas photo to be taken in early November. [full post on this as soon as I take mine!]

2. I buy my holiday cards, I do not craft them, mostly because I love pre-made cards and have no desire to mass-produce the 50-70 cards I’d need. I did it one year and I resented the cards – it is just not for me. I buy an assortment (on sale the year before) and address them/fill them out/add photo/seal them up a few at a time starting the first week of November. Usually as I watch TV or need a quiet break from other things.

3. All “to be mailed” gifts must be purchased, wrapped, and MAILED by Tuesday BEFORE Thanksgiving. The years I’ve let this one slide I have gravely regretted the hour+ the post office took! The days before Thanksgiving tend to be quiet in postal land. Take advantage!

4. Before I am allowed to fully immerse myself into holiday zone, I must write down my lists. Who I’m sending cards to, who I’m getting gifts for, what gifts I’ve purchased early, what my baking plans are, etc. The holiday prep can be overwhelming, but by organizing myself I’ve found I don’t spin in circles, forget as much, and having it on paper helps keep it manageable. It also helps me remember people I want to make sure and not forget (for cookies, whatever!)

5. The day after Thanksgiving is for decorating inside and out!! Tree, decor, the works! This day we really get things turned up with music, movies, and full on Christmas mode. We love to lay low, avoid crowds, love every minute together.

6. I enjoy myself, and treat even the mundane tasks as traditions to be enjoyed. By working from a place of happiness, I am always smiling this time of year!

The most important rule in my mind is that you choose what you do, how, and why. The spirit of the season is different for every person, and there’s no one right way to do it.

This year I want to focus on wrapping gifts earlier and doing more with each one (vs just special wrapping a few). Last year we took a vacation for the first week of December, which I allowed to disrupted a lot of my normal traditions and flow. I had a whole different outlook and approach – including skipping most of the baking and getting a late start on our decorating. I was fine with that – honestly I enjoyed mixing it up. But it reminded me why I go to the post office early, why I like writing my cards in November not December, and why in general I like to space things out more.

Because the true secret to my holiday happiness? Come December 10th, when a lot of people are running around and frantic to get finished, I’m sipping cocoa and reading a holiday novel or watching White Christmas. I’m baking a batch of cookies with my girls and doing something fun. I’m relaxed – because I give myself the time and space to be. THAT is truly a gift!! In fact, this Saturday we’re going to have a holiday craft day at my mom’s place to get things started!

I just purchased the Christmas Junque kit from http://www.rhonnadesigns.com/ – LOVE IT! You’ll see me using it a lot over the next six weeks or so. My “25 crafty ideas” series… well I don’t quite know if that’s the name I’ve settled on. You’ll see 25 projects – including how-to, videos, all kinds of good information – starting Monday. I will likely have other blog posts mixed in as well, so it’s not going to 100% take over my blog or be 25 days in a row. But everything I share? REAL. I’m going to share a lot of gift wrap, some home decor, hostess/teacher/small gift ideas, a mini book, some holiday tags, favorite recipes, and throughout these posts I’ll add in some of my personal favorite music, movies, and more. So I guess it’s more 25 days of holiday cheer than just crafty ideas!!!

I hope you’re going to enjoy it as much as I am – and I’m just getting started!! I’d love to hear any tips or “rules” you follow to make most of holiday season.

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15 responses »

  1. We have a few snowflakes in the air here (NW Chi. Burbs), and instead of my usual uck, I am all set to go forth with holiday cheer. First up I absolutely need to see if I can fix the problem with my dishwasher before I call a repairman. Next is my fun list of gifts to purchase and what cookies to make. I am having Thanksgiving here, but it will be small as compared to other years so I do need to do that prep too. I like to make my cookie list before Turkey Day so that I can gradually replace old spices while I am gradually picking up any staples I need for Thanksgiving. This year I plan to wrap the gifts shortly after purchasing so that I too can add an extra special touch to each gift. Too many years I spent wrapping into the wee hours just to get them done and only a few had that special touch.

    I am looking forward to your 25 Days of Christmas and hoping to learn from it. I believe that one is never too old to learn a new way of doing something, and I love less stress and more cheer.

  2. Thanks for sharing all this, May! I am really looking forward to your 25 ideas!! And I love your idea of having most things done in November – what a brilliant idea!! I shall work on that!! I love the idea of December being more relaxed! Thank you!

  3. Your rules remind me of how I typically plan the holiday season :). I’ve kept a ‘Yule Log’ – holiday planner – for years with my lists, holiday calendar, recipes, etc. I buy my cards also, for basically the same reasons. Christmas movies and music go into rotation on December 1st, and that’s also when I put up my tree (our Thanksgiving was in October).
    Really looking forward to your 25 Crafty Ideas. So glad you’ve chosen this digital kit (otherwise it would have passed me by), and am looking forward to how you use it.
    Christmas Cheer – bring it!

  4. I love that you buy cards, I always feel as a paper crafter that I’m cheating by buying cards but I always buy a photo card which leaves me more time for personalized notes and relaxing with some cocoa 🙂

  5. Love your whole holiday philosophy!
    I do make my Christmas cards but I start with close family members & then I don’t stress if i don’t get any further then that. I get bored trying to mass produce cards though so I have to make each one different. Like you, I purchase cards after Chrsitmas the previous year to have on hand.

  6. I’m really looking forward to this – especially your teacher gift ideas. I have 3 kids – 2 in school and for the 2nd time a child in a multi-age classroom so 3 teachers at once! My ideas have been drained! And I still have one more kid to go! Thanks always for all you share on your blog.

  7. I always decorate before or on Thanksgiving weekend. Although we always cut down the tree that weekend, we may not have time to decorate it as a family. So I will decorate other parts of the house. I also do the outside on the nicest day that week, so as to ‘enjoy’ the process if possible. We live in the PNW which means rain for November and cold early December. Basically it is a strategy to enjoy and not burn out. This year is a struggle due to an injury…so I may start even earlier than normal and do less. Cookies for the neighbors may not happen. But then I’ll surprise them for New Years. Love your encouragement. Thanks.

  8. I have already started organizing myself for this year. I already feel less stressed because I bought a few gifts and I am taking pictures of my girls for cards today! I am headed to NYC next weekend to check the city out all decked out! These are the moments you should enjoy, not rushing around like a mad woman! Merry Christmas!

  9. Love this post & your plan, May. I also want to finish all prep this month & for the first time I’m not annoyed that all the stores were decked out for Christmas on Halloween. It’s helped get me in the mood & I’m in full list-making, planning mode. Feeling very optimistic about spending December creating a December Daily album & just living the traditions & joys with my family.

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