Monday, January 04, 2016

How to make a Christmas notebook, Part 1

My actual Christmas notebook is much thicker and bigger than this.  But I do make use of this one, too.  Would you believe I got this fun Mary Engelbriet planner at a dollar store?
Time to update my Christmas notebook!  Do you have one?  If you don't have a Christmas notebook or planner, right now is a perfect time to begin putting one together.  Christmas, and the cookies you baked, and the gifts you gave, the decorating you did, are still fresh in your mind.  Beginning a notebook will help you get nicely organized for next year and future Christmases.

The overstuffed binder that holds my Christmas notebook
 For my notebook, which I started probably a dozen years ago, I began with one of the clear-view binders. I pasted fun Christmas pictures and quotes on plain white paper and slipped them into the view pockets on front and back. This personalizes the notebook and makes it fun to use.  (If you go to Organized Christmas as I will recommend below, you will find some nifty printable covers that you can use for this same purpose.)

My Christmas notebook, like everything else in my life seems to be, is a work in progress. It's full of ideas, lists, and organizational helps. It's helpful to have most of my Christmas planning in one place.

Organized Christmas has been a huge help to me, especially when I was getting started with my notebook.  Basically, there are three plans you can use in getting ready for Christmas.

Christmas Countdown is a six-week countdown in which you work toward having everything ready for Christmas, including your house.  And if you want something even more intensive, in which your house gets deep-cleaned along the way, you can choose the House and Holidays Plan, which begins in August.  Some year I would love to do that one!

  Rudolph Club is probably the simplest plan.  It helps you to work toward Christmas every month of the year.  It's probably the plan I've used the most over the years, though I've gotten some helpful guidance from all three.
In the front of my notebook, I have a section with Rudolph Day ideas that I printed out some time ago. I don't think I have actually ever done any of these things on a Rudolph Day (25th of each month) but I really intend to -- some one of these days. Here are a couple of ideas:

* Buy stocking stuffers
* Make tags/labels for homemade gift mixes
* Work on holiday scrapbook pages
* Try out a recipe you'd like to make at Christmastime.

You can see that there are simple things, like the above, which can be done all through the year to help prepare for Christmas.

In this section, I also have the monthly Rudolph Club meetings printed out. These contain wonderful ideas to do toward Christmas, every month of the year. One neat suggestion: buy canning jars in summer, during canning season, to use for gifts in a jar at Christmas. (I'm too frugal to do this, but I do save jars all year round to use for the same purpose!  Summer might also be a good time to find old Mason jars at yard sales.) Another thought is that summer, when the pace of life is a little slower for many people, is a good time to craft for Christmas. One year, I made cross-stitched Christmas bread cloths for special gifts and worked on them while we were camping. It actually made me feel a little bit cooler!
  This  year, while spending time at the beach, I made small projects like crocheted hot pads to put away for Christmas.

In the next section, I have forms from Organized Christmas and FlyLady's Holiday Control Journal. (For that one, the link will take you to a page with links to all of FlyLady's control journals.  Just click on "Holiday Control Journal" once you get to that page, and the pdf of the journal will open right up.)  Lots of helpful stuff on both of these sites.  The holiday baking planner is very helpful indeed! I also like the forms for "Recipes to Try" that also give you space to note how you liked a particular recipe and if you would make it again.  

The forms for Gifts to Make and Gifts to Purchase are invaluable, as is the Gift Closet Inventory and the Catalog Order Tracker. These are all things I use every year.
Some years I've used the Room-by-Room Decor Planner from Organized Christmas to plan my decor, and then after the decorating was all done I made notes on this form of exactly where I put each item. For example -- Christmas tree -- picture window; lighted village -- under tree; creche -- on hutch, and so on. All the years of decorating tend to blur together after awhile, and so I think it's a great idea to keep track of what you did that worked well.
blurry pic of the room-by-room decor planner
Organized Christmas also offers some thought-provoking questions to ask yourself as you begin to plan for Christmas. These can be found here: Focus on family Christmas values. I found them very helpful and likely you would, too.

Organized Christmas also has an After-Christmas debriefing form to fill out after Christmas to evaluate how things went, what worked, what didn't, and what you want to do differently in the coming year. This has been helpful to me.

Even Santa needs to debrief after Christmas.
Now for the next portion of  my Christmas notebook! Filed in this next area are a bunch of ideas for kitchen gifts -- some tried, some not. These include recipes from newspapers, magazines, and some I've printed off the internet. I have a few pages from gift catalogs which inspire me as to the contents and packaging of food gift items.
One important item is a list of food gifts I turn to again and again, to which I've added a short list of new items I want to try and a couple of reminders to myself. Here's the list:


Heavenly Delight

Special Holiday Fudge 

 Coffee Walnuts
Chocolate-Covered Almond Brittle 

Orange Pecans
Chocolate Peanut Morsels
White Christmas Bark
Four-Chip Fudge

Want to try:  

Cookie Dough Truffles
Maple Peanut Delights  

Chocolate-Covered Fruit Jellies

* Zippy Horseradish Pickles are great!

* Fantabulous Flapjack Mix--  always a good idea for guys!

Here, I also have some ideas for labeling my kitchen gifts, 

and a few poems I've written to accompany such gifts. For example, the Snowman Soup recipe found on Organized Christmas -- I've written my own verse for that, as I personalized it to give as thank-yous to kids who worked hard on a Christmas musical. And so on.
Also in this section I have some entertaining ideas clipped together -- a favorite punch recipe, how-tos's for a cookie exchange, some special appetizer recipes, and tips for stress-free entertaining.

Well, this is about all I have time to share for now.  I'll put Part 2 in a second post and share some of the other things that reside in my Christmas notebook. I recommend that if you think you'd like to plan better for Christmas 2016,  you can get started by taking a look at Organized Christmas and print off some of the forms I've mentioned here. You'll be glad you did!

I am sharing today at Sandi's No Place Like Home.


  1. Mrs. T, I do believe you have taken organization to a new level! I am a fairly organized person but you have me beaten. What great ideas and tips you have shared. I especially liked the idea of keeping track of things in a journal. That would be extremely helpful. One does tend to forget from year to year how and where we decorated and what we baked. It's always an adventure to visit your blog and I appreciate you sharing with us. Happy New Year, my friend!


  2. What a great idea! Once a gift is given, I tend to forget, but it would be helpful to take note of them. Yes, I can see that this would be great. Thanks for the in-depth discussion.

  3. I like this idea. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi everyone!

    Welcome, Beth! It is nice to see you here at my kitchen table!

    Vee-- that was true of me also. I would have an idea for someone and then find I had already given them that gift, or something similar. It's especially helpful for books, games, Lego sets, etc. for kids that you don't want to duplicate, but it's good for any gift at all, really. So glad you are finding this info helpful.

    Sandi, I am so glad that you like the idea. I've been doing this for awhile. My mother always kept a Christmas notebook (on a much simpler scale, but still, very helpful) and I was so happy to find that there are printable forms and such available to help me keep track of things.

  5. Thank you for letting us peek into your notebook! Very much inspires me to use mine a few more ways now. Off to check out Part 2!

  6. You are welcome, Mrs. Smith. Enjoy making your Christmas notebook even more useful!!


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