300 Words About Gift Wrapping, Then We All Have Things to Do

300 words about Gift Wrapping.  Keeping it brief, since we all have things to do.

During high school and college breaks, I worked at a a great local Hallmark chain, Don’s Card Hut in Kalamazoo, MI.  Much to my delight,  I could spend my whole shift this time of year just wrapping gifts for customers!

So I know a few things, let me share…

  1.  DO NOT WAIT UNTIL CHRISTMAS EVE!
  2. Set up a folding / banquet table today, and plan to leave it up for a few days (this may be the only time I will ever say this.).  Mine is in the basement.
  3. Collect your wrapping tools (tape, scissors, pens, etc.) and place them in a shallow container on the table.  Expect to misplace them as you wrap, but at least you will start strong!
  4. Gather the gifts you have bought for your loved ones.  This step provides an opportunity to check your gifts so far, and make plans for finishing your shopping (SOON!!).
  5. Match up the gifts with the necessary wrap. Inventory your supplies, factoring in additional wrap for the gifts you haven’t bought yet and for the wrapping needs of anyone living in your house (they WILL be wrapping on Christmas Eve.)
  6. Go shopping for your gift bags / wrapping paper / tissue paper / gift tags / ribbons, etc.
  7. Get wrapping!  Do not wait!
  8. If you have multiple destinations, set up and label boxes near your wrapping area for each destination, and add your wrapped items as you go (For example, “Christmas with my family in Michigan”, “Christmas Eve”, etc. ).
  9. Collect the receipts for purchased items. Keep yours in a labeled envelope for Just In Case.  Place the gift receipts for each household in their own envelope with the family name on them, and plan to hand the envelope off to that household when you exchange gifts.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Right Now, What’s The Right Thing To Do? (a.k.a. Don’t aggravate your loved ones)

Last week in my newsletter, I stated:a755a998abbfc3e4597f01a9ba15e829

“Let me recommend – focus on the most used areas of your home.  For a Thanksgiving event, those areas would be:

  • the entryway / coat closet; 
  • kitchen; 
  • dining room; 
  • family rooms; and 
  • guest bathrooms. 

“Now is NOT the time to pull out everything from the attic, garage, or basement storage room.  Restore order and touch up those public spaces this week, and leave the other projects until after Thanksgiving!”

 

Apparently, this statement resonated with a number of my readers, thanks for your comments. One reader specifically asked if I had grown up in her home, as her dad would take the day off before Thanksgiving every year to “help”, and would instead start a huge and messy project , driving her mother crazy.

Every.

Year.

We all want to help.  We all want to act.
But we all need Priorities, Focus and Big-Picture planning and we don’t always have these!

My To-Do list is long.  I may never complete it,  since I add more tasks all the time.  But since I always have tasks and to-dos to complete, I have to decide “RIGHT NOW, What’s The Right Thing To Do?”

I think this happens to many of us, to some extent.  We have so many tasks and to-dos and ideas that we want to act upon, we could ACT all day but still not get to our important work.

So here’s how to figure out What’s The Right Thing to Do Right Now.

Write Things Down!  Write down, either on paper or digitally, ideas and tasks and to-dos.  Don’t edit them, just write them down.  Your busy brain will thank you.

Not All Actions Are Created Equal.  It’s often difficult to know what the next step is.  Sometimes we feel like we should be doing SOMETHING, but we don’t want to think through the process, so we just dive into a project or task and end up making a bigger mess.  THINK first, and Act Well.

Often, it’s the simplest thing.  We tend to over-think things.  Sometimes the best thing to do is take a shower, put some clothes on, get a drink of water, make a phone call, make dinner, leave the house, send the email.

Pick Today’s List.  Look at the  on-going To-Do list, and choose.  Last week, a client asked if we could come up with a plan for our 3 hours together and talk through the planning process.  So, on her dry erase board, we:

  • wrote down all the tasks that were on her mind to complete that day;
  • asked how long each task typically takes, and how long to allot for it (finish tagging files – 20 minutes; file receipts – 30 minutes; hang art in home office – 45 minutes, etc.);
  • determined if any of them were attached to a specific time (like a 3 o’clock conference call, or starting the crock pot to warm dinner 2 hours before dinner time);
  • and finally, ordered the list by attaching a number to each item (#1, #2, #3, etc.,), and moved a few things to the next day’s list.
  • This was an interesting exercise.  We ended up adding other tasks in, and we ran over a few time estimates, but we certainly learned a lot about the process and the client.


Group Similar Tasks.  
A class participant explained how her home seemed to be full of distractions and asked me how to keep focus.  We talked about a couple of strategies, and she chose “set aside a half an hour for house tasks, then a half an hour for paying bills, a half an hour for cooking and cleaning up the kitchen” etc., instead of hopping from task to task without ever feeling like she had completed a project.


What tasks on your list only need elapsed time?
 Start the laundry, start the crock pot, send out the emails and ask for responses by a certain day this week.  And then ignore the results until the next time you need to check in.


Ask.  Communicate with the folks around you, whether at home or at work.  
You may feel some tasks and your part of the overall plan are high priority, but some one else may see other tasks and other parts as higher priority.  You both may be correct, but communication will help everyone get the right things done.


Make an “After Thanksgiving” or “January” list now.
 Looking at all the tasks and to-dos on the Master list, determine which ones can wait.   Today, I was reminded that I need to make an annual doctor appointment for February or March, but I waiting until January to make that call. I wrote it down so I won’t forget, and will worry about it later.
Manage your time and yourself better by asking often “Right Now, What’s The Right Thing To Do?”.
To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

4 Basic Tips for Fighting Holiday Overwhelm

I love the holidays, but they can be overwhelming.  We’re busy enough on a regular day, but when we add the joy and pressure of the holidays, many of us leap straight to overwhelmed!  And I say “We”, because I’m there sometimes, too!

Sure, this time of year, even the mundane and day-to-day business of life can be elevated to something more meaningful if we put some thought into it.  On the other hand, completing big and impressive holiday prep tasks feels great, but not when we neglect ourselves and our lives to complete them.  “Hey kids, I finished your Christmas shopping on-line today, but I was so busy doing that, we have nothing to eat for dinner.”

So when we are feeling overwhelmed, at the holidays and any other time of year, we can benefit from taking a deep breath and returning to the basics.

Take Care of Yourself

Maintaining routines and taking care of our health is important any time of year.  But it becomes both more vital and more difficult around the holidays.  It’s more vital because more is asked of us, and who wants to get sick for Christmas?  It’s more difficult because there are so many conflicting demands on our time and efforts.

We traveled for Thanksgiving, and had a lovely time with family out-of-state.  And even though I know better than to neglect my routines, I….. over-ate, under-slept, didn’t exercise, and forgot to take my vitamins.  Not surprisingly, I hit the proverbial wall some time Saturday night, feeling blah but overwhelmed.

Today was a return to routines, with regular bedtimes, mealtimes and schedules, and I feel better already.  I also spent some time in the kitchen, making healthy meals and snacks for the next couple of days.

Make time for the daily habits that will maintain your health and wellness.

Take Care of Each Other.  We can get so caught up in the stress of the holidays that we lash out at the people who we are celebrating for, like our friends and family.  Remember Why we celebrate this time of year.

Take Care of your Home:

Even in the face of the busy holidays, we still have to do things like get dressed and go to work and take care of our families.  Just because I spent 2 hours on-line purchasing Christmas gifts last night instead of doing laundry doesn’t make the laundry any less important.  It just means I have more folding to do this morning, to make sure we have clothes for the week, uniforms for the high-schoolers, work clothes for me, etc. We still need to wash dishes, take out the garbage, sweep the floors, etc.  These few simple maintenance steps become even more important during this hectic time of year.

Take Care of your Business:

A radio commercial this morning called December a “wasted month”, professionally speaking.  Yikes!  Most of us can’t “phone it in” for an entire month, so remember to maintain your professional efforts this month, even though it’s so tempting to cut back and goof off, when all the world is a distraction.  My 11 years owning my own business have taught me is that my marketing efforts this month directly influence my success next month.  Stay the course this month, finish this year strong and start 2015 ahead of the game!

5-Weeks-‘Til-Christmas Survival Guide

A Client sent me the original notification of this article from November, 2012.  She was clearing out her in-box, but wanted to review this list for her own holiday planning.(I edited it for this week!). I have been working through my own copy myself, and you may benefit from it, too!  Take some time this week to chart your course for the next 5 or 6 weeks heading up to Christmas!

In my Holiday Planning Class, the most well received hand-out is the Holiday Planning Weekly Checklist. I’ve shared it with clients, and one said she couldn’t believe that preparing for the holidays could be that easy. I won’t say “easy”, but “simpler, less stressful and better prepared” sound pretty great.  Here are some suggestions to make your season better, tweak these suggestions to fit your life.

Week of November 17

  • Appreciate your friends and family members, and all the good things in your life. (We had a brunch for friends yesterday, and I am feeling so grateful today!)
  • Finalize Thanksgiving Menu
  • Pantry-shop to get rid of clutter, and stock up on cooking / baking  supplies
  • Hang outside lights, don’t turn them on
  • Plan Holiday Party:  dates, guests lists and menus, and choose invitation and RSVP deadlines
  • Buy multiples of your standard hostess gift, like nice wine or candles.  Make sure it’s something you use, in case you have extra left over
  • Encourage kids and adults to purge and donate
  • Heavy clean and de-clutter, or make some calls for assistance!

Week of November 24:

  • Stock up on gift certificates for teens, stocking stuffers, teachers etc.
  • Take a nice family picture at Thanksgiving, when everyone is a little dressed up. Use it for your Christmas Cards!
  • At Thanksgiving, tell or email family about upcoming Christmas concerts, children’s programs and parties.
  • Buy Stamps, while you can still get Holiday stamps!
  • Stock up on cooking and baking supplies
  • Complete your Christmas Card list, and confirm addresses (keep a copy for next year!)

Week of December 1:

  • Take out the “First Out” Box.  Our “First-Out” box is also our “Last In” box.  It contains the items that are used for the entire Advent and Christmas seasons for us, like our crèche, some children’s books, our Advent Wreath and candles, etc. Set up just a few decorations now.
  • Stock up on gift certificates, stamps, and cooking or baking supplies
  • Order your Christmas Cards, or start your letter
  • Plug in or turn on Christmas lights
  • Complete out-of-town shopping / wrapping
  • Start Christmas shopping for local recipients
  • Find and clean holiday dishes and tins

Week of December 8:

  • Continue to stock up on gift certificates, stamps and cooking and baking supplies (spread the costs out over several weeks)
  • Finish teacher gifts, like gift certificates and cards
  • Check decorations; donate any that will not be going up this year!
  • Assemble and address Christmas Cards
  • Ship all out-of-town packages
  • Complete Christmas Shopping
  • Holiday donations, service projects

Week of December 15:

  • Finalize Christmas Menu, who is bringing what
  • Decorate the house, and buy / set up the tree
  • Finish shopping and gift wrapping.  Load into labeled bags or boxes, one for each of your destinations
  • Start baking cookies
  • Mail out your Christmas Cards
  • Take a breath, and take a break.  The house is decorated, your gifts are bought and wrapped, cards are mailed, travel plans are completed, and donations are made.  Sit calmly in your living room, reveling in the beauty of your stress free holiday prep and beautiful decorations.  Go to a party or 2!

Week of December 22

  • Last minute baking / cooking for Christmas Eve
  • Last minute grocery shopping
  • Relax! Go see the Christmas lights, have some holiday fun!

December 24, Christmas Eve:

  • Family Christmas Eve traditions
  • Make ahead dishes for Christmas Dinner, if possible
  • Lay out outfits for Christmas morning Mass

Christmas:  Thursday, December 25:  Enjoy!!!

Week after Christmas:

  • Invest in some sale priced Rubbermaid or Sterilite storage containers
  • Put your decorations away by category and label the container
  • Remember to put your “Last In” away last, so you can grab it first next December!

Take steps now to make your holidays more peaceful and enjoyable!

The Holidays Are Here. Don’t Say You Didn’t Know.

Here’s a head’s up – the holidays are here. Don’t say you didn’t know.  And Do not allow your procrastination to create emergencies for others.

I know the holidays are busy, but on December 23rd, you are not allowed to freak out and cause other people angst of any kind.  Not your family members or the poor unsuspecting store clerk who gets stuck waiting on the cranky-freaked-out you or your loved one who doesn’t receive the really nice gift they deserve.  If you don’t plan ahead now and take care of business, you don’t get to be crabby, or whine that the holidays just crept up on you and now you are too busy to get things done.

However, if someone else’s lack of planning causes you stress, you have my permission to say “No” to bailing them out, or at least expect a little something extra in your stocking for your troubles. 🙂

I was at Mass this weekend, and two of the three scripture readings said “Wake Up! Be Alert!  Be Prepared!”  Now is the time to wake up. Now is the time to prepare.  So let’s go!  Here is some tough love, friends.  You can get everything done, yes you can.  But you have to start now and you have to keep moving.

Take a couple of deep breaths, remind yourself It’s all Baby Bear, and get busy.

  1. Make a Plan – There is still time.  State your purpose.  Schedule the big stuff, put the events and necessary tasks on the calendar, assume that you will need to step up your usual pace for a few days to get things started.
  2. (Here is my purpose:  I am celebrating the gift of the Birth of our Savior.  I will open my home and heart to friends, family and strangers.  I will remember that the gift of my time      is the most unique gift I can give to friends, family and strangers, and plan accordingly.  I will give of myself and my resources joyfully, in the example of God and Jesus.  My mantra remains God, Family & Community.)
  3. Santa was right – make a list.  Make that list and check it twice.  As I sit here writing this, random ideas are popping into my head.  Work related – follow up with that client, remember to (fill in blank here). Holiday related – text sister-in-law about gift idea for (insert name here).  If it’s a quick task, do it.  It if requires a little more time, put it on the list.  Keep those ideas from getting lost, and then act on them.
  4. If you have something you need to do, Do It Today.  For goodness sake, why would you wait?  If you have the idea, and a little bit of time, take action!  Make the phone call, order the gift, run the errands, hang the lights, etc. Do it today.
  5. Do Good.  Donate your time or money or stuff to a worthy cause.  It is always the right time to do Good.
  6. Be prepared.  But be prepared to be surprised.  Prepare for work and life and the holidays, but expect that the unexpected will happen in the next month.  There will be big and little emergencies and surprises.  Prepare as much as you can, but expect pitfalls.
  7. Go to bed on time (Click here for my friend Erin Dubich’s Facebook page for more motivation:  https://www.facebook.com/erindubichnutritionAnd get out of bed on time.
  8. Make a January List.  There are already a number of tasks on my to-do list that I realize I won’t get to until the New Year.  So I’ve moved those tasks to January already, to clear more space in December.

Get busy, friends, get things done and make some progress towards great holidays this week!

Healthy Time Management: 10 tips in 5 Minutes or Less

breakfast2The Holidays are a wonderful time of year!  Unless you come down with a cold or flu, and then you’re miserable, regardless of the decorations and parties.  Your best time management would be to not get sick or rundown this time of year, right?!

I worked with a very wise client today – one of the first goals she mentioned is “making time for self care around the holidays”.  Awesome!!!

Make room in your schedule for these healthy habits.  Use your time better, be organized and less stressed, feel and live better.

  1. Drink a large glass of ice-cold water every morning when you wake up, to stay hydrated and boost your metabolism.
  2. Make a habit (maybe buy a pill sorter?) to regularly take your medications and supplements – with breakfast?  Dinner?  At bedtime?  Just make the habit.
  3. Clean out your briefcase, stand straighter and travel lighter.  Clean out the backpack, handbag, etc.  Pare down to what you really need.
  4. Strapped for time in the morning?  Grab a healthy and portable breakfast, like an apple and granola bar, on your way out the door.
  5. Pack your lunch – saves money, saves time, is much healthier!
  6. Every week, grab an antibacterial wipe and wipe down your computer area, keyboard, desk phone and cell phone.  And if you or people around you are sick, do it every day!
  7. Grab your calendar, and make your medical appointments for your annual physical and screenings, and twice annual dental visit.
  8. Take the stairs / park farther from the door
  9. Floss.
  10. Go to bed.  Early.  You know you want to, so just go to bed!  You’ll feel better, be more productive and more positive tomorrow!

Use your time better, feel better, live better – Enjoy!

Secrets for this Week: Goodness, Strengths and Action

time_universe_6This week brings the Winter Solstice.  In this hemisphere, it will be the darkest time of the year, with the least amount of sunlight.  We may already feel the darkness in the regular stress of the holidays or in the turmoil happening in our world.

Peace of Mind is my business name, but also my purpose, to bring Peace of Mind to my clients, so here are 5 suggestions to help you through this busy, hectic and potentially dark week:

Put Goodness into the world.

There are people suffering out there, and I wish, oh how I wish, I could take away the pain.  But I can’t.  But there are things I can do.  I firmly believe, and am reminded daily,  that if we put Goodness out in the world, it will come back to us.  That is not the reason to put Goodness out there, though, just so it comes back to you.

We should consistently put Goodness into the world because it is needed, regardless of if it comes back to us or not.  We must keep the faith, be kind to others, hold on to hope and be the light in this dark week.   There are always glimmers of love, joy and hope, if we just keep our eyes open.

Lower your expectations.

Most weeks, my message includes “Of course you can!”.  And “Of Course You Can!” still holds.  However, Christmas is quickly approaching, so now is the time to get things done.  It may be time to lower your standards, ditch perfectionism and finish!

The first rule of organizing is “Don’t organize what doesn’t need organized!”.  If you are strapped for time, energy or resources this week, focus on what you absolutely have to do and let the rest go.  Looking around my garage last week, I noticed enough accumulated E-Waste to warrant a run to the recycling location in my town.  But do I need to go the week before Christmas?  No.  I stashed my Christmas decoration storage containers back in my crawl space, and recognized that I do need to tidy up in there and purge some stuff.  But not this week!

Stick with your strengths, and stick with what you know.

I like all of you, and sincerely want you to have all that you need.  I hope, for your sake, that you do not need a handmade gift from me.  That’s not going to happen.  No hand knit sweaters or scarves, not crafts of any kind.  I can sing you a song, I am very good.  And I can bake, oh boy, can I bake.  I stick with my strengths.  No handmade gifts.  It’s just better that way, trust me.

I was speaking to a client on the phone last week (hands free of course) when I drove past two Jewels to shop at my usual one.  She asked me “Why?”  My answer was “it’s quicker to stick with what I know”.  Stopping at a new store to fill a lengthy list takes a lot longer than driving the extra block to go to the store I know really well.  I can get through MY store very quickly, and I know the speedy checkers and baggers.

This is not the time to take up quilting, open up a wood shop or try new recipes for Christmas dinner.  Stick with your strengths, with the familiar, and save yourself time, energy and aggravation this week.

Keep your routines (if they are good) to maintain health and well-being.

Take your vitamins.  Take a nap.  Wear a scarf.  Drink lots of water.  Get good sleep.  Exercise if you can, meditate if you like.   Take the time to maintain your health and well-being.

What good will it do you to make it to the holidays with all the right gifts and foods and decorations if you are too sick or tired or miserable to enjoy them?  Eat healthy food, get some rest, stay hydrated.

Choose to Act.

All the planning in the world is nothing if you do not choose to act.  If we have enough energy to do other stuff while avoiding our work, then we have the energy to do our work.  But we have to choose to act.

So, what’s it going to be?  I am glad you read to the end, but now it is time to get moving!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a lovely week.

Get Baking for National Cookie Day!

toffee cookiesDid you know?  December 4th is National Cookie Day, so this week’s blog is all about Holiday Baking!  I carry wonderful memories of baking with my mom as a child, and now my kids and I do the same!

Before you bake the first cookie, examine your personal Christmas traditions and expectations.  Do your traditions add to or detract from your enjoyment of the holidays?  Do you have traditions that you love? Do you have any that are more trouble than they are worth?

An example:

My mom made frosted butter cookies every Christmas.  There was mixing, chilling and rolling of dough; frosting and sprinkles; assembly and display.  It was a lot of fun.

A few years ago, in addition to our annual favorites, I decided to add the butter cookies to our list.  Yikes, what a chore!  I quickly realized the secret is the time spent together in loving and creative ways, not the actual frosted butter cookies.  So we now stick with our specialties, I call and thank my mother, and I let others frost and sprinkle.

One meaningful family tradition that we keep is making lemon bars on Christmas Eve.  The story goes that I was making lemon bars on Christmas Eve 15 years ago when I realized I was in labor for our oldest son.  He loves that story, so the tradition stays.

After you examine your traditions, Create Your Plan!

Pick your cookies.  Keep the list reasonable, don’t go crazy.  Here are our favorites:

Look at your list, read all the directions and ask yourself some questions (my answers are listed, too):

  • When can I bake?
    • I realized  that baking on a weekday in addition to regular life is just too much, so  I’m sticking to weekends.
  • What  do you need / use the cookies for?
    • We give cookies as gifts, plus serve them at various parties.  The first party is December 16th.
  • What cookies freeze well?  Make those early.
    • Toffee cookies and biscotti.  So I will make those soon, bag them up and freeze them.
  • What dough requires chilling?
    • Magi’s turbans.  So I assemble that dough first on baking day and chill it while baking the others
  • What recipes tie up my pans for a long time?
    • toffee cookies tie up my cookies sheets for hours of cooling, so I make 4 pans all at once, and nothing else
  • What recipes use specialty pans (and free up the cookie sheets for other things)?
    • Peanut butter cup cookies require my mini muffin tins, so the cookie sheets are free for something else.  So I will probably make those on the same day as the biscotti or Magi’s turbans.

So, considering my answers, here is my plan:

  • Today      – toffee cookies (4 pans cooling on the counter right now)
  • 12/9 –      2 types of biscotti, peanut butter cup cookies
  • 12/15      – magi’s turbans and just-for-fun cookies
  • Oreo      truffles are optional for the day after Christmas for a late-in-December party

Other tips:

  • Share specialty spices, supplies or baking dishes with friends or family to defray baking costs.
  • Enlist Aid.  Most of our specialty cookies require some type of candy.  My sons are great about helping with assembly and un-wrapping, and we all enjoy the time spent together.
  • Assemble cookies all the way to placing the balls on cookie sheets.  Instead of baking them, put the cookie      sheets in the freezer and freeze the balls.  Store them in a freezer bag, and when you want fresh cookies, make a dozen or two as needed.  No need to defrost, the dough can go straight to the oven!
  • Don’t store peanut butter cookies or mint cookies with anything else, or everything will taste like peanut butter or mint.
  • Try a cookie exchange:  Plan an event with 5 or more friends.  Have each attendee bring many dozens of their specialty cookie, and then swap at the cookie exchange.  Everyone goes home with a variety of yummy homemade cookies, and you can concentrate on one type you make really well.

Enjoy your baking, check out my friend Kate’s blog, www.CookingwithChefKate.wordpress.com, for baking ideas, and have a great Christmas season.  As for me, I need to go clean out my freezer to make room for the first batches of cookies!

Holiday Planning Checklist: Week-by-Week

This from my 8 year-old last week…

“Mom, did you ever have the feeling that the clock is moving way too fast? I swear, it was 8:15 and 10 seconds later it was 8:23.”

Yes, sweetie, I’ve had that feeling.  All the time, actually!

I presented a Holiday Planning Class last week.  Giving that class always motivates me, too!  The most well received hand-out was the Holiday Planning Weekly Challenge.   I shared it with a client, too, and she couldn’t believe that preparing for the holidays could be that easy. I won’t say “easy”, but “simpler, less stressful and better prepared” sound pretty great.  Here are some suggestions to make your season better, tweak these suggestions to fit your life.

Week of November 19

  • Appreciate your friends and family members, and all the good things in your life.
  • Finalize Thanksgiving Menu
  • At Thanksgiving, tell or email family about upcoming Christmas concerts, children’s programs and parties
  • Pantry-shop to get rid of clutter, and stock up on cooking / baking  supplies
  • Hang outside lights, don’t turn them on
  • Plan Holiday Party:  dates, guests lists and menus, and choose invitation and RSVP deadlines
  • Buy multiples of your standard hostess gift, like nice wine or candles.  Make sure it’s something you use, in case you have extra left over
  • Encourage kids and adults to purge and donate
  • Heavy clean and de-clutter, or make some calls for assistance!

Week of November 26:

  • Stock up on gift certificates for teens, stocking stuffers, teachers etc.
  • Buy Stamps, while you can still get Holiday stamps!
  • Stock up on cooking and baking supplies
  • Complete your Christmas Card list, and confirm addresses (keep a copy for next year!)

Week of December 3:

  • Stock up on gift certificates, stamps, and cooking or baking supplies
  • Have Christmas photo taken, or start letter
  • Plug in or turn on Christmas lights
  • Complete out-of-town shopping / wrapping
  • Start Christmas shopping for local recipients
  • Find and clean holiday dishes and tins

Week of December 10:

  • Take out the “First Out” Box.  Our “First-Out” box is also our “Last In” box.  It contains the items that are used for the entire Advent and Christmas seasons for us, like our crèche, some children’s books, our Advent Wreath and candles, etc.
  • Continue to stock up on gift certificates, stamps and cooking and baking supplies (spread the costs out over several weeks)
  • Finish teacher gifts, like gift certificates and cards
  • Check decorations; donate any that will not be going up this year!
  • Start Cards
  • Ship all out-of-town packages
  • Complete Christmas Shopping
  • Holiday donations, service projects

Week of December 17:

  • Finalize Christmas Menu, who is bringing what
  • Decorate the house, and buy / set up the tree
  • Finish shopping and gift wrapping.  Load into labeled bags or boxes, one for each of your destinations
  • Start baking cookies
  • Mail out your Christmas Cards
  • Take a breath, and take a break.  The house is decorated, your gifts are bought and wrapped, cards are mailed, travel plans are completed, and donations are made.  Sit calmly in your living room, reveling in the beauty of your stress free holiday prep and beautiful decorations.  Go to a party or 2!

December 24, Christmas Eve:

  • Last minute baking / cooking for Christmas Eve
  • Family Christmas Eve traditions
  • Make ahead dishes for Christmas Dinner, if possible
  • Lay out outfits for Christmas morning Mass

Christmas:  Tuesday, December 25:  Enjoy!!!

Week after Christmas:

  • Invest in some sale priced Rubbermaid or Sterilite storage containers
  • Put your decorations away by category and label the container
  • Remember to put your “Last In” away last, so you can grab it first next December!

Take steps now to make your holidays more peaceful and enjoyable!

Be Peaceful and Relax With Me This Week

     Reposted, original post 12.26.2011.

Can I move to the UK? Or Canada? Just for the day? I am writing this on December 26th, and my original first line quipped “my annual Boxing Day dilemma” and that I would have to look up to actually see what Boxing Day is. So I did. And, as God would have it, Boxing Day is exactly what I needed!   My dilemma was about how to spend my day, relaxing or taking care of business.   For once, relaxing won!

     In other countries and cultures, the day after Christmas is reserved for relaxing and spending time with family, eating party leftovers, being thankful for what you have and giving generously to those in need. How awesome is that?

     I struggle daily with two opposites: feeling compelled to constant work and motion, versus feeling the need to relax and recharge. The titles of the saved emails in my in-box this morning were indicative of these two opposites: “You-time is vital to survival”, “Take back your weekend”, “Take time off this Christmas time” on the one hand; “Productivity during the Holidays”, “Strategic Planning for 2012” and “Head Start Week for Businesses (using this last week of the year to get ready for strategy and organizing for 2012)” on the other.

     Work and motion always win. I spent the last three days lovingly and happily working hard to extend hospitality with a clean home and lovely meals, and making sure Christmas wishes came true. I cantored Christmas morning Mass (a great joy of mine), spent time with wonderful people, had some emotional ups and downs around great joy and tragedy and loss, received lovely gifts and counted my blessings.

     I am sharing this not for props, but to explain why I am very tired today. So, friends, if you also struggle between work and rest, let me suggest that this week both you and I allow relaxing and re-charging to win for a change.

     One of the blogs I follow states relaxation is vital to survival, an opportunity to replenish “the well”, to regain the energy we have expended and prepare us for tomorrow.  For me, today’s relaxation included sleeping in and staying in my fuzzy robe for a while, looking at lots of Legos, reading a magazine, catching up with a good friend far away and going to the movies with my family.  I believe there will be more movie watching and vegging out later this evening if I hide the remote control now….. ok, done.

     I find it difficult to do nothing, so I also cleaned out my in-boxes, tidied up my house, re-pledged to healthy eating and taking my vitamins, and did some strategic planning for next year. I find positive energy replenishing, so I enjoyed these things, too!  And I did it all while wearing jammies and drinking coffee or tea from my wonderful new Keurig, my gift from my even more wonderful husband.

     So, take a breath this week, take a break, and replenish your energy to prepare for the new year. If you need me, I’ll be eating leftover cheesecake for dinner and playing Wii games with my family.  Smiling all the way.