Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Simplify Christmas

Christmas is just a few weeks away. Preparing for Christmas may seem like a mountainous task – decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and baking!!!!! It can be an endless list of chores that can steal away your Christmas spirit if you let it. The two main culprits are time and money – you never have enough of these two things!

You need a Christmas Notebook! A Christmas Notebook will save you time and money by organizing your Christmas preparations. Buy a spiral notebook or a binder and some notebook paper. Print out the month of December and glue or tape on the first page. Fill in special dates, parties, and obligations as you receive them. You will use the next few pages of your notebook to make shopping lists.

1. Gift list. List the person’s name, gift ideas, and a price range. Leave a few spaces for revisions and fill in the final gift. Don’t forget the newspaper boy, garbage men, etc.

2. Decorations. Do you need to buy a Christmas tree, new lights, a wreath, extension cords, wrapping paper? Add to this list as you set up your decorations.

3. Food. What cookies, candies, and breads are you going to bake? Are you going to have a party or a special meal? Write out a preliminary menu. Pull out the recipes for these foods and store them in your notebook – you can make a copy or just tape them in. Make another list of special ingredients or staples you need to buy.

4. Entertainment. Are you having a party? What party supplies do you need to buy? Will you be attending a holiday show? Do you need to pay for tickets or meals out?

5. Cards and postage. Do you need to buy holiday cards and stamps? Do you need to mail packages?

6. Reservations. Are you traveling? Do you need to make plane reservation? Hotel reservations? Do you need to buy things for your trip?

7. Charities. What charities do you want to donate to this year?

After you have made these lists, you can budget your Christmas. Decide how much money you can spend on Christmas. The best way is to set aside some money for Christmas every month or an extra paycheck or two during the year. If you have not already done this you need to figure out how much money you can come up with using what you have, spare savings, credit cards, maybe even a part time job. On a new page, list the major categories of gifts, decorations, food, entertainment, cards and postage, charities, and travel expenses. Estimate your expenses for each category using your lists and adjust according to the total amount you want to spend. You may have to eliminate some items to make your budget work. Maybe you can make some gifts or reduce your gift or party list.
You can add chores, party and dinner plans, menus, phone lists, addresses, and just about anything else you need to remember. Everything you need to remember will be in one place.

This notebook can be used for several years by adding on more pages. Add recipes, Christmas ideas, crafts, and cutouts from magazines to your notebook. Take pictures of your decorations if you want to repeat them next year and might not be able to remember. Keep a record of the gifts you give so you don’t repeat them the next year. Make one page a list of gifts and decorations that you buy in the after Christmas sales so you know what you have already bought for the coming year.

Once you have something written down and a semi- plan in place you can forget about the hassles of Christmas and relax and enjoy the season!

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