So let's start with why I begin planning for the winter holidays in July. The main reason is my job as a music teacher. I'm just so busy around the winter holidays, between the end of the semester and trying to prepare and perform all of the holiday performances! Add on additional programs at church, and it can be really hard to enjoy the season with family and friends! Plus I realized that I so often think of great gift ideas during the year, based on comments someone makes about something they want or just something I come across online or in a store, and I just *know* I'm going to remember the idea for the next holiday or birthday, but then of course when I get super busy and I'm trying to find gifts for everyone at the last minute (because yes, I've procrastinated again), I can never remember most of those awesome ideas!
Enter the latest addition to my planner:
Last year I made some printables for planning and organizing everything related to Thanksgiving, Christmas / Hannukah, New Years, and everything in between, and I found it so helpful! I recently went through and updated the pages, and I've printed out the new pages for the back of my planner (if you're interested, you can get the set here). Most of the pages I won't be using until it gets closer to fall/winter (things like party planners, baking lists, donations tracker, Thankgiving / potluck planner etc), but some of them I want to have ready now, so I wanted to share those with you now to give you some ideas. You definitely don't need this exact organizer to use these tips to get organized now- these are very simple ideas that you can use to make your own organizers on the computer or hand-write in a notebook!
The first thing I wanted to mention is that any time I am printing planner pages that I am only using seasonally (like the holiday pages or the summer organizer pages), I generally print on regular (thinner) paper and only in black and white. I just can't stand wasting any extra money on something that I'm not going to use for long or keep after I'm done I guess. So to make up for the lack of color and slightly-flimsier cover, I added some gold tape to the edges. So much more festive! As always, I'll use different colored pens to make the inside pages more fun too :)
The main things I want to get started on during summer break are gift ideas, cards I want to send, and my own wishlist. For the cards, I want to start making a list of people that I want to continue to stay in touch with and make sure I have their addresses. Last year I failed at this- I had great intentions but ended up just sending a mass email (sorry friends). This year I'm hoping to get things organized sooner so it's not so overwhelming when it's time to get them in the mail!
I feel a little weird about making a wishlist, but this is an area that can ironically be stress-inducing for me. People want to give me something I will like and use and ask me what I want, and I find that usually I have a hard time thinking of things! Last year I did a little bit better job of writing down some ideas when I came across things that I liked but wouldn't buy for myself, and it made everything much easier for me when Christmas rolled around.
The main reason I want to get started organizing for the holidays, though, is to start writing down gift ideas for other people. Although going to a secret Santa system in my immediate family helped a lot last year, I still can easily get overwhelmed trying to come up with ideas for everyone that I want to send a gift to. My goal is to have all of the names filled in for people I want to consider, along with 1 possible gift idea, by the time school starts back in August. Then no matter how crazy the school year gets, at least I know I have something planned for everyone!
I used this setup last year and loved it. It's a little hard to see in the picture, but basically I have space to note the person's name, when I want to have the gift ready by, gift ideas, and then a checklist for buying/making, wrapping, and delivering the present.
Are you doing anything to get organized for the winter holidays? Do you think I'm completely nuts? Share your thoughts in the comments :)