|Again, this is not my complete Christmas notebook. I do keep track of our Christmases in this one in a very general way, but the other notebook contains the bulk of the information.|
The following is a description of the next few pages in my notebook. I guess you might call them crafting and gift inspiration pages, for lack of a better term.
In New England, we have a chain of stores called Christmas Tree Shops. They offer a lot of unique gifts (and yes, some junk too) at very reasonable prices. They tend to offer some of the same items -- maybe in different patterns -- every year. Things like glass cutting boards, ceramic loaf pans and pie plates, all in pretty, colorful designs -- items that make wonderful additions to, or containers for, gift baskets. They also have beautiful, rich-looking paper napkins for Christmas (imported from Italy) for only $1 or $2 -- I love to tuck a package of these in with a kitchen gift. Anyway, all that to say that in my Christmas notebook I have several page protectors filled with ideas I've clipped from Christmas Tree Shop flyers and pasted to construction paper.
Following these, I have a bunch more page protectors similarly filled with ideas I've clipped from catalogs over the years. These are ideas for Christmas gifts and decorations, most of them things I would like to make myself. If I take the time to page through these ideas, I never fail to be inspired by them. I've actually used some of the ideas!
|One of my inspiration pages|
Another idea was a set of wood or papier mache Shaker boxes, painted to look like a snowman wearing a top hat, with a strip of plaid flannel for a scarf and a couple of buttons adorning the bottom box. I found a tree ornament that looked just like a set of Shaker boxes and painted it the same way.
|An adorable, one-of-a-kind ornament!|
The idea pages go on and on. I have gotten some wonderful gift and decoration ideas this way.
|A manila divider with lists and patterns tucked in for my embroidery and cross stitch category|
Basically, I took a look at the different things I wanted to craft for Christmas gifts and decorations. I then divided these up into categories based on what type of craft technique they involved. Of course these categories will vary depending on what sort of crafts you like to do.
The five categories I came up with were : Sewing; Crochet; Embroidery/Cross-Stitch; Paper/Printables; and Miscellaneous.
For each category, I used one of those manila divider pages that has a pocket in it. I placed an index tab on each one with the name of the craft technique in it. Then, in the pocket of each divider, I placed the printed instructions for each craft item in that category. For example, I wanted to make my husband a new checkbook cover for a stocking stuffer so I had the instructions for this project safely stowed in the divider for the Sewing category. (Obviously, this won't work if your instructions are part of a book or magazine, but read on.)
Also in each category, in addition to the divider, I have a number of sheets of lined paper where I've outlined just what projects I want to do in that category; how many of each; materials required, and what date I'd like to be finished by. On this lined paper I would also add the information as to where to find the instructions if they are part of a book or magazine and not conducive to placing in the divider page.
For example, in the sewing category (I'll use a previous year's list as an example), I have:
10 -12 foldable fabric baskets
Materials - Christmas fabric, plastic canvas, thread, ribbon
Finish by: June 25
5 fleece pillow quilts
Materials needed for each - 2 1/2 yds. fleece, pearl cotton to match
Finish by: October 25
In both cases the instructions were such that they'd fit into the divider pocket. But if they weren't, I'd add a line that says something like this:
Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 1, page 25
Crafting Traditions magazine, Dec. 1995, page 20
or whatever your book or magazine is.
For me, this has been a great way to organize my Christmas crafting. Hope it's helpful to someone else!
Now, for the last "official" part of my Christmas notebook.
This last section is labeled Christmas Past. Here is where I file things from past Christmases.
I have lists of what we gave people for Christmas, going back to Christmas 2001, which is when I started trying to be more organized about the holiday. It's been a real help to me to save these lists, because I find I will often have the same gift idea for the same person and would otherwise not be able to remember whether I actually gave them that gift or not. I can look back at my lists and know for sure.
These lists also include what we gave to people whose names we drew in our Sunday School gift exchange.
I even include on these lists a notation as to what food gifts I shared with our neighbors each year, and if any of those were particular favorites with the recipients.
Also in this "Christmas Past" section are lists detailing any entertaining we did, starting with Thanksgiving dinner and going through cookie exchanges, open houses, Christmas Eve, Christmas dinner, etc. etc. It is really helpful to look back and see what we served, or, in the case of Thanksgiving, who brought what, etc. For the big occasions, I also keep a list of what serving dishes I will need.
Organized Christmas has a printable After-Christmas debriefing form which is very helpful. Each year after Christmas, take a quick look back at what worked, what didn't, and how you can improve in your planning for the coming year. I keep my debriefing forms in the Christmas Past section too, very appropriately.
Technically this ends my Christmas notebook, but I have a few items stuffed into the front and back pockets of the notebook. The back pocket is easy. That's where I store my menus from past Thanksgivings -- the meal plan, who brought what, etc. I also keep a list of what serving dishes and utensils I typically need for Thanksgiving dinner.
The front pocket of the notebook is quite a bit more of a mess. I've tucked in several pretty Christmas pictures (from catalogs, etc.) that I thought inspiring. (But now I have a better place to put them -- my scrapbook-type journal!) There's a Christmas card or two in there that I hope to frame. There are lists and ideas that just don't seem to fit anywhere else -- but as I look these over now, I realize that they could fit into other places in the notebook if I really think about it. I'll be working on that and I may add a new divider for Christmas hospitality. Some examples of items in the pocket are lists of open-house appetizers and desserts, and a couple lists of homemade mixes I've given to our parents for Christmas. There are centerpiece ideas, a holiday shipping/mailing guide from the US Postal Service, a clipping detailing how to host a cookie exchange -- even a list of gift ideas for myself, because people sometimes ask and I seldom can think of anything quickly.
Finishing up the description of my Christmas notebook has been a great thing to do today, because it has given me new enthusiasm to get the notebook reorganized and set for a new holiday season! So I'll quickly share just what I do right after Christmas and will hopefully be doing this week:
|Apologies for the shadowy photo, but you get the idea.|
Then I take a fresh piece of lined notebook paper and start a new list for the coming Christmas. Some things stay the same, pretty much. For instance, we always give my mother-in-law a tub of bran muffin batter, a jar of hot chocolate mix (both homemade) and a bag or box of clementines. So that is already on 2016's Christmas list next to her name.
Some gifts, like a science center membership for one family, a gift card for another, etc. will be the same again next year, so I make sure to write those down.
I have already purchased a couple of items for next Christmas, so I'll make note of that.
Another thing I like to do is to look over my crafting time lines and add in new projects I want to start and note whether I need to buy materials for them. This year, I only have a couple of handcrafted projects in mind so far.
I also like to note any new recipes we tried and how we liked them. And I make a note of any new decorations we added, where we put them, etc.
It's a great feeling to start with next year's Christmas planning. Why not brew yourself a cup of holiday tea and get started? You'll be glad you did!
(Again today, I am sharing with No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage.)