Christmas is here ... but you're not ready? The e-mails in my inbox tell the story: "I wish I'd found this site earlier!"
During this time of year, I hear from scores of readers who came looking for holiday help at the height of the celebration-and faced with the reality of Christmas chaos.
Stumbling over our site, they see that it's possible to be organized--and joyous--during the holidays. They just wish they'd found us in time!
So say you're starting now, to think about next year. What's the secret to a stress-free season? Plan ahead!
Try these five tips to get ready for an organized holiday season.
With memories of the holidays fresh in our minds, there's no better time to create a simple record of what worked--and what didn't--this holiday season. Answering a few simple questions in writing preserves the actual state of your household's holiday--and gives you the information you need to craft a better plan for next year.
Print a copy of our debriefing worksheet, and take a few minutes to answer the questions it poses. Next year when you begin planning for the holidays, you'll be able to avoid the seasonal potholes and repeat the year's successes.
A few quick notes now can solve many problems next December. While decorations, gift wrap and recipes are still around you from this year's celebration, take inventory to avoid surprises next year.
Whether you'll replace burned-out light strings, replenish gift wrap supplies or recreate that great dessert recipe, a few notes now will set a straight course for next year. Better, post-holiday clearance sales mean you'll save money!
Using our decorations inventory, eyeball your decorations and note any needed replacement decor items. Check gift wrap, ribbons and tags before you tuck the snowman paper into a storage box, and hit the sales to stock up for next year. Tear tried-and-true recipes from seasonal magazines, and tuck them into a page protector for future reference.
And since a picture is worth a thousand words, circle the house now with a camera, and photograph holiday decorations. Use these photos as a guide for next year--and to remind yourself of what's tucked away in storage.
Note it now, and you'll know it later!
Start a gift list
Just after the celebration, it's easy to remember which gifts were a hit--or a miss. Was a nephew unexpectedly delighted with a copy of the latest "Harry Potter" book? Start a gift list now, and you'll remember to add "Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans" candy to his stocking next year.
A printable Christmas gift list form helps corral all those fleeting, "Oh, wouldn't he love a ...." thoughts, and gives you the jump on next year's gift list. Print one now to hold these last-minute gift possibilities; you'll have a head-start when you start next year's holiday shopping.
Make a Christmas planner
Notes, checklists and planner forms will help you get organized--but only if you can find them! Solution? A simple three-ring binder creates a Christmas planner, a one-stop planning tool that will track and record holiday prep around the year.
New Years' sales at the office supply store make it easy to set up a simple notebook as your Christmas planner. Click a set of dividers and a handful of page protectors into a good-sized binder. Add filled-in forms and lists, and as you see recipes, craft ideas, or decor inspiration, tear and tuck torn pages into page protectors.
For the ambitious, we've got a complete set of holiday calendars, forms and checklists free for the printing--but even a modest start on assembling a Christmas planner will help anyone have a simpler, more organized celebration next year.
Ready? It's time to get organized for Christmas ... next year!