Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Christmas Planner

In March, I created a Boucher Family Binder to serve as our family's central information hub.  Since creating that binder, life is much more organized and less stressful around here.  To learn more about the forms and information contained in the binder, click on the link.

Much of the formatting I used for my family binder came from ideas in the book House Works: How to Live Clean, Green, and Organized at Home and the author's website

When I created the family binder in March, I read about making a Christmas planner notebook to keep Christmas organized.  I finally decided to tackle the project this week, and I am so thrilled I did!

I purchased a 1" red D-ring binder at Walmart with clear pockets so that I could insert some scrapbook papers and stickers from JoAnn's to make it a little more festive.

With a lot of brainstorming, I came up with all of the different categories I wanted to include in our family Christmas planner.  I printed off a Table of Contents on some white cardstock and put labels on some plain white dividers.

Some of the forms are adaptations from, others are directly from the site, and others are uniquely my own.  

1.  Budget
I created categories (gifts, charitable giving, decorations/lighting/home, food/entertaining, Christmas card/supplies) to keep the financial end of things organized and in balance.  My hope is that this form will keep the Christmas season financially on-track!  We'll see if I prefer the paper and pen method or want to put it on Excel next year.

2.  Master Gift List
I created this form with spots for your spouse, children, and non-family gift recipients to keep track of what you bought, where you got it, whether you already purchased it or had it delivered, whether you wrapped it, how much it cost, and your running total of how much you spent.

Our family does an adult gift exchange, and the grandchildren exchange a book.  I created a separate form for future years with names to cut out for the draw and a fillable list of the gift givers and gift recipients.  (My version has the family member's names filled in.) 

3.  Stocking Stuffers
Philip and I are still playing around with the idea of starting a tradition with the stockings to make it a little simpler.  We might fill them with winter jammies and a book each year to be opened, worn, and read on Christmas Eve.  That way, there's no need to buy a bunch of little things for each family member!  

For now, I created this form to keep track of all of the little stuffers for each family member to make sure that everyone gets roughly the same amount.

4.  Room-By-Room Décor
To make "decking the halls" and un-decking the halls after the Christmas season less stressful, I created this category and form.  It's a room-by-room guide of what décor I have, where I place it, and where it's stored.  My brilliant husband suggested taking photos of each room and the different arrangements and keeping the photo album in my "Christmas Planner" folder on the computer.  
5.  Menus/Recipes
Here's the central hub for the go-to and favorite brunch, dinner, goodies, and other Christmas-related recipes.  I'm in the process of compiling these items, so I don't actually have the forms yet.  I will separate the items by category and include the hard copies of recipes or the websites where they can be found.  I know I will be glad to have all of the recipes finally compiled in one spot!  No more searching for "that one cookie recipe!"

6.  Our Holiday Traditions
This is the place to list and describe the different things your family does that makes Christmas uniquely yours.  For our family, this section includes things like:  how we use the Advent Wreath and Jesse Tree, visiting an area parish's local living Nativity, celebrating St. Nick's day (December 6th), Bernie (Our Catholic Elf on the Shelf), gift exchange, baking goodies for neighbors, singing "Happy Birthday" and eating birthday cake for Jesus, visiting the botanical garden poinsettia display, etc.

7.  Advent Wreath
Philip gave me a beautiful Advent wreath with candles for my birthday (November 26th) last year.  We decided to put the Advent wreath on the kitchen table this year, and we're using Lisa Hendey's O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath to lead our prayers after dinner.    
I also collected and printed off copies of the Christmas songs we sing around the Advent wreath as a family.
8.  Jesse Tree 
I printed off the corresponding Scripture verses (Revised Standard Version) and reflections to read as we place each of the 25 ornaments on our brand new Jesse Tree.  (More to come on that another time!)

9.  Ornament Journal
If you're like me, you struggle to keep straight who gave who which ornament, and you want to remember those little details when you unwrap the treasures that go on your tree.  This is a central hub to record information about those ornaments to (hopefully!) be passed down to future generations.

10.  Holiday Favorites
This form, directly from, is a place to keep track of favorite Christmastime movies, books, music, and a wish list.

11.  Recipes to Try
When I find a recipe I might want to try next year from a magazine, I tear it out and put it in here.  If I see a recipe on Pinterest or somewhere else online, I'll jot down a description of the item and the website where I found it.  If this section gets big enough, I'll categorize the items.

12.  Craft Projects
The place to put fun craft ideas to make with your family.  My Christmas Pinterest page is bringing me all kinds of inspiration.  I'll list the winners in this section!

13.  Entertaining
This is the place to include things like: buffet layout ideas, bar set-up, music playlist names/Pandora stations, Christmas Minute to Win It games, menus, etc.

14.  Christmas Card
We made a Christmas card and included a letter for the past few years.  With all of the chaos of this last month, we didn't get around to making a card or writing a letter, so we sadly won't be sending one this year.  Maybe I'll still write a letter and post it on my blog. 

This section of the planner is the place where I'll archive old letters/cards, store favorites from friends and family, keep the list of recipients, and record prices and shopping information for cards and stationery.

15.  Post-Holiday Debriefing
Perhaps this is the teacher in me that wants to evaluate how things went, but I'm excited about the Christmas debriefing form.  This form, directly from, is the place to "record the highs and lows of the season just past.  Stored in your Christmas planner, it'll guide you toward more satisfying, less stressful holidays next year!"  It includes questions to get you thinking about what worked, what didn't, and what you can do to make next year more enjoyable for you and your entire family.

That's it--for now!  As I use the Christmas planner and celebrate the Christmas season with our family, I'm sure I'll learn that some things in the planner need revision or that we need to add more categories. 

Is there anything you think my Christmas planner is missing?  Please suggest additional categories or any revisions.

I created a Google docs page for anyone interested in using my forms.  You can access all of the forms here and print them off for your own use.  

I hope they help to make your Christmas season more organized and give you time to focus on what really matters--growing in holiness and sharing Christ's love alongside your loved ones as you prepare for Christ's birth.  I hope that you and your family have a blessed Advent and Christmas

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