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My Christmas notebook planner (aka: how I stay sane during the holidays)

I wrote this post as part of my participation in a blog tour for The Motherhood on behalf of the makers of Children’s MOTRIN® and received compensation to thank me for taking the time to participate. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Two weeks ago when I was scrolling through my twitter feed “Christmas” was one of the top trending topics. I immediately got a little tightness in my stomach and rolled my eyes at the thought that people were already starting to talk about it, even before Halloween had come and gone. 

I’ve always been the kind of girl who feels bad for Thanksgiving. Each year Christmas seems to creep in on her and choke out all the goodness of Thanksgiving. So I rarely let myself begin to even think about Christmas let alone turn on a carole or plan the pockets of my advent calendar before I’ve fully celebrated Thanksgiving. 

But the other day driving home from school the girls started talking about Christmas. “It’s my favorite of all the holidays,” someone said. “And not just because of the presents. I love the way Christmas feels–cozy and warm. I love the spirit of Christmas.” 

I sat and listened in silence and decided, maybe I could let Christmas creep in a little earlier this year. Maybe instead of feeling that post-Thanksgiving-only-a-few-more-weeks-until-Christmas panic, I’d start to think and plan a little earlier. Maybe instead of the post-Thanksgiving “how am I ever going to fit in all the things I want to do with them?” crunch, I’ll give Christmas planning a little head start. 

So this year I’m embracing the spirit of Christmas early. Because it’s not just about the rush to buy presents and decorate and get the tree and bake the cookies and send the cards, it’s about the “cozy and warm” of Christmas. 

And that’s why instead of waiting until after Thanksgiving, I decided to share my Christmas sanity-saver with you all a bit early, too. 

This idea is in no way my own. My grandmother–mother to FIFTEEN children–used a similar system. And my own mother too– that secret black Christmas book that we all were SO tempted to peek inside, but never did. At least I never did. 

Many years ago I bought myself a large moleskine notebook that has become my Christmas notebook. It is the place where I organize Christmas. It is where I gather my thoughts, write down my ideas, collect recipes, make lists, and most importantly gather memories. 

Here’s a breakdown of what’s inside my Christmas notebook: (Be warned, I’m a list-maker. And I have to write things down on paper to keep my mind clutter-free.)

1. Gift lists: Each year I make a three-column list. The first column is the name of anyone for whom I have to purchase a gift. In the second column I write down any and every idea I have for their gifts–whether homemade or store-bought. And the final column is what I actually ended up purchasing or making. 

2. Pre-Christmas calendar. In order to keep the week before Christmas from getting all kinds of crazy I plan out the week before in my notebook–everything from bath nights to when we’ll decorate the tree or drive around looking at lights, to what Christmas Eve service we’ll be attending, and when I need to get my Christmas meal grocery shopping done. 

3. Meal-plans + grocery lists. I also keep track of all our big meals in my notebook. Christmas Eve dinner (which in my wise old age has become simplified to soup and good bread), Christmas morning breakfast (something fairly easy, but special and always a big fruit salad), Christmas dinner with family and day after Christmas meals with out-of-towners. I write out my meal plans, make my grocery lists and clip recipes and ideas into the notebook as I come across them during the year.

4. Receipts. In the back pocket of my moleskine I tuck all the holiday shopping receipts. This way when/if something needs to be returned, I know exactly where to find it.

Added bonus: Not only is the notebook helpful for planning each holiday season and knowing who’s getting what, it also makes a great reference for birthdays. When I find myself at a loss for ideas, I consult my Christmas notebook to see if there were ideas I didn’t jump on for Christmas that might be great for a birthday. If it’s July and I think of The Perfect Gift for one of the girls, I quickly jot it down in my notebook because Lord knows I won’t remember it in December.

But probably what I love most about the notebook is the memories. Do you remember  what you got your oldest child for her 3rd Christmas? I most-definitely do not, but oh how I love flipping back through the pages of my notebook to Christmas 2005 to find out (it was all about horses and art supplies.) Or remember 2009 when I tried to pull off a fancy roast, luminaries and the late Christmas Eve mass with a toddler? Yeah, I was crazy back then. 

My notebook keeps me sane. It helps me avoid those “standing in the middle of Target with no idea what to get my kids” moments. It helps me stay organized enough that I can truly enjoy the “warm and cozy” of the season.

And this year, I decided to bring it out early. Thanksgiving, I still love you. I’m just adding a sprinkling of Christmas spirit all around. 

The makers of Children’s MOTRIN are inspired by all the things moms do. Moms may not always realize it, but they are amazing in so many ways. Moms are on call day and night have have so much unique knowledge that can really help other moms. That’s why the makers of Children’s MOTRIN are asking moms to share this knowledge in the form of tips and tricks that help keep them going. They are asking moms to post their tips to the MOTRIN facebook page and for every post, Children’s MOTRIN will donate $1 to Safe Kids Worldwide, a global nonprofit that provides moms with the tips they need to keep their children safe.

2 comments on “My Christmas notebook planner (aka: how I stay sane during the holidays)”

  1. What a brilliant idea to make a notebook planner. you describe its benefits briefly. I will try to write my diary daily but often I miss it due to my carelessness. After reading your sufficient article I think I should maintain it properly to be beneficial as your notebook. I will do it after three days when i will complete my <a href=>canadian tour</a> because these days I am not at home.

  2. I remember you writing about this years ago and I immediately started my own notebook. What a lifesaver! Thank you for sharing bits of your beautiful world.

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