Christmas Notebook Revamp: Week One

Discussion in 'Christmas Notebooks' started by Gingerbug, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Gingerbug

    Gingerbug Administrator

    As noted in the Christmas notebook thread, many of us are in different parts of life where a full-blown Christmas notebook just isn't as needed as it was in the past. This past year my most used sections were simply gift tracking and menu planning. As I might have mentioned elsewhere this year I am returning to my old format which was a simple red three-ring binder. This is because

    1, It gives me plenty of room.
    2. It can be totally personalized
    3. I don't feel a need or obligation to decorate it. (can if I want)
    4. I can remove and add sheets at will

    So I'm old schooling it this year. It doesn't matter how you use your notebook it is always good to revamp and start fresh at the beginning of the year. For WEEK ONE let's talk about the sections we have in our notebooks. What we use, what we can scrap and how they help us all year long.

    1. Calendars: I only include Oct-Dec. I don't even use the October one a lot but I feel like the holiday season starts for us in October. This helps me track events and activities we plan. If I think of something during the year that I think I might want to do during this time period I jot it on my To Consider List at the front of this section.

    2. Rudolph Day: I have not used Rudolph Day for several years but this year I plan to work on creating a Whoville each Rduolph Day so I kept the section for supplies, plans etc.

    3. The next section(s) all pertain to gifts and since I buy stuff throughout the year they are very important. Not only for what I bought but where it is stored. I have Gifts, 24 Day gifts, Stocking Stuffers, and Elf Magic. (we don't have any littles now but I still like to spice up the season for adults too with surprise elf gifts)

    4. Baking Plans/Menu Plans: Like many of you we are trying to eat healthier (this year we made FAR too many cookies) but I still like this section for picking 3-4 cookies for the holiday season and for planning menu for the
    events we host. This year I will be looking for some healthier alternatives and put them in this section so I have them handy when the busy season strikes.

    What are your sections? What are you keeping? Which are you ditching?
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  2. Lori K

    Lori K Member

    I have followed the Holiday Grand Plan for more years than I remember -- some years more successfully than others. As a working Mom, prepping the house for Christmas always seemed to take longer and create more stress than the holiday was worth (at least some years!), and this plan seemed to spread things out more evenly for me and make the holiday more manageable. As Gingerbug does, I use a standard three-ring binder – mine is a green one with large rings, and it was a discarded "freebie" from work. I don’t decorate mine, either. For me, keeping the “magic” in the season often meant keeping my plans a secret. The less distinct my notebook was, the better.

    At the front of my notebook, I keep the HGP calendars for Sept.-Dec., as well as a 12-month single-page calendar for the following year, to have for for quick reference. Additionally, I keep some plain notebook paper in the front of my binder for making quick notes and tear-out lists. Those few remaining pages from one of my DD’s old school spirals work perfectly fine, with the left edges trimmed. I also inserted a pocket folder, with a a large envelope inside for all holiday receipts. Should a gift receipt get lost, at least I know where the original is located.

    When I first started using the HGP, I printed out the weekly texts and task forms and put each Week in a separate Tab. Now, I simply re-use the notebook and weekly guidelines over and over, and just print out replacement worksheets and forms. Depending on the weekly task, I may keep the checklists and worksheets from year to year, for reference, but most often I pitch the prior year when inserting the new sheets.

    I also keep a Tab for Christmas Cards, checking off who I sent cards to and, at the very end of my holiday, I’ll go thru my card basket and check off who I received cards from, removing and saving important family photos, updating addresses, etc.

    Additionally, I keep Tabs for Pantry / Freezer Inventory, which helps me formulate my Master Grocery / Stock-up List. I also keep a separate Tab for Holiday Menu Plans, one for Baking Plans, which includes copies of regularly used recipes with my notes on them (i.e., makes more like 2 ½ dozen, not 4; make double batch), and a separate one for Party Planning. This way, I am assured that I have all of the ingredients on hand for cooking and baking, before I get started. And, I know items that are more perishable (i.e. baking powder, nuts) are fresh for the season. Plus, I know what I need to stock up on, when the pre-Thanksgiving sales start, and I can keep an eye out for coupons for additional savings!

    I really should keep a better Tab for Gifts – planning, what I gave, ideas for the future, so I don’t gift the same thing year after year after year. Just how many hoodies does my DSIL need???? One of my gifts from my DD this year was something I mentioned when we were shopping together last Spring, so I know she maintains a running list of gift ideas!

    Since it’s now just me living at home, I don’t do any of the big batch cooking or freezer meals (and even when I was working and had family living at home, I didn’t do much of that), so I don’t waste notebook space with that.

    While I do spend time reflecting on the holiday, I don’t do a lot of record-keeping after the fact. My bins are labeled and stowed in the same location every year. If something was broken or stained during the holiday, I'll jot a note for next year. Good memories remain; the rough edges are in the past and, depending on the severity of any issue, I may or may not rehash it before the next holiday -- it will depend on how I remember the events some 12 months later. I don’t need a written recounting of the holiday -- especially any unpleasant stuff. The next holiday is for creating new memories.
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  3. luludou

    luludou Well-Known Member

    I went through it today and threw out a lot of printed pages I had about gifts in a bag/jar. I have all these on pinterest now.
    I keep a calendar from sept to dec each year which includes outings schedules, christmas prep and cleaning prep.
    I have the HGP calendars but I might get rid of those too since I do my own list of prepping.
    I keep the Card-mailing list
    My notes of previous Christmas are included
    A few recipes (not alot!)
    My gift lists are in a file elswhere as are my timeline/dinner plans (in a small notebook). Maybe I should put them all together but with the budget-gift list I keep receipts (maybe I should get rid of the old ones) and they take alot of space.
    I also printed out all the subjects I talk about on my blog for CIJ (in case my blog disappears - you never know with internet) and that takes alot of space too. I put it in another notebook but not sure of that.

    I have to think about it more.
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  4. Myron's Mom

    Myron's Mom Active Member

    My Christmas notebook has always been my daily planner. I tried one year with a separate book but trying to juggle 12 hour night shifts and some sleep when I was working it has always been easier for me with my planner. It's already filled with notes for the new year. If I run out of room I use post it notes.

    Each week has a half page blank where I can add my plans/ goals (or things I've decided I don't need to do) for that week, along with room on each day also.

    My gift lists are on my phone along with photos of what I have bought. ( I keep the 2 previous years too). I keep a small note book at my bed side so if I think of something I can write my thoughts down right away otherwise I'll forget by morning. Gifts are generally stored in totes in my sewing room. This year I'm keeping gifts separate by person instead of just tossing stuff in the totes. I keep all receipts with the gifts.

    Cooking wise there is just the 3 of us and Christmas meals are pretty much always the same. I have notes on my recipes and already have a note in the first week of October about what not to bake or how much of an cookie I should make.

    Since I don't have little ones and I'm not cooking for a large group anymore things have become pretty simple. But half of the fun for me is all the planning.
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  5. Rose94

    Rose94 Active Member

    I am down to just three sections which I keep in a classic size planner binder.
    1/ gift giving section. Years ago I found a link to a couple gift list pages that would fit my planner. One page was for one person per page and the other was two per page. In each section there was room to list ideas, budget and than a place to record what you actually purchased/made. Where you purchased item and price of item. I actually use the 2 person page for one using one section for their birthday gifts.

    2/ note section—where I keep track of purchases I need to make like wrapping paper, baking supplies, or any decorations I might want to replace in next couple years so I can keep an eye out for replacement.

    3/ crafting section which is also divided into sections—Birthday, Easter, Halloween, Christmas and for me.

    I have not used the full planner for a few years now but have kept a copy of the print off pages just in case I decide that I want to go back to using it all or start using another part of the plan.
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  6. Lori K

    Lori K Member

    Rose, do you still have the link to those pages? I use a classic planner and have not found pages that are suitable for that size. Thanks!
  7. Rose94

    Rose94 Active Member

    Lori I had to adjust the printer so that it printed the sheets at 64%, than cut the paper to size.
    Miss JoDee likes this.
  8. missjane

    missjane Well-Known Member

    I still have my 3-ring binder that I did years ago and used for many years, but I have not used it in several years. I have a digital version on my computer, too, of a meshed plan of both of the "PLANS" that I modified to meet my house and needs. I pull up the dates in my digital version because I have it set up as Week 1, Week 2, etc., instead of dates because the dates change every year. As long as I know what date it starts, I'm good.

    Most of my notes about Christmas go in my planner or in a general notebook in which I write everything. I have saved all my notebooks and planners from years past and pull them to remind me what worked and what didn't. My mom relies on my notes for me to help her remember how we did things the year before.

    I keep notes about what I buy, menus, dates we did things, whose house we gathered at, who came home for Christmas, and grocery lists.

    Since I will not be working full time, I hope to be able to do the Rudy Days starting in the summer.
    AuntJamelle and Ahorsesoul like this.
  9. halimer

    halimer Well-Known Member

    In a regular 8 1/2 by 11" notebook I keep a list of what I gave everyone for Christmas each year so I don't repeat myself.

    I really should keep a list of what I buy throughout the year so at least I know to look for them before the holiday!

    Throwing gifts in festive shopping bags - per family or per person for my immediate family - works well but I really don't have room to store them.
    AuntJamelle likes this.
  10. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    My Christmas planner is a part of my daily planner. In the past I have had two separate planners but found it too difficult to manage the two. I decorate the days in my planner and I really like how I have it set out.

    My planner has separate sheets for each person that I buy for, a page for gifts and a page for stocking fillers. I write everything in here so I know what I have and what I still need to buy. I have a separate page for "others" such as work and charities that I give to. I can easily transfer these items to my weekly shopping list.

    I have a separate section for menus for Christmas Eve night, our family's Christmas Eve basket, Christmas morning breakfast and also NYE.
    I have a shopping list in here for baking supplies that I need to buy and also ingredients for what I am purchasing for Christmas dinner at my mum's. We share everything there so she has a list and I have a list. I have a rough idea of when I should purchase these and have listed approximate dates next to these items.
    My planner has several sections where I can store pull outs from magazines etc that I use for easy reference.
    I have Christmas card information on a page, including how many cards I sent out last year and to who. I have a note of what stamps I have left or need. I have also a list of what I might need for Christmas 2019. I have made a note that I do not need paper, gift bags or tags but do need sticky tape and would like to look for 2 small light up trees.

    I have a section for crafts, what I would like to make for who. I list all the materials I need to make the item and mark it off when it is complete.
    I mark any other important date in the daily planner portion. Dates to send cards, cleaning plan to do list, wrapping party dates, any dinners etc all get stored in the daily planner.

    I live by my planner, I am old school and find it doesn't suit me to have things stored electronically, I think I will always be a paper and pen type of girl. I love my planner, it makes me happy and keeps me on track.
  11. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Admire all of you that keep a hard copy planner! I would love to do it that way but for my lifestyle it just doesn't work - I am ALWAYS on/near a computer or my smartphone - so it's Google docs for me all the way. I have records going back to 2004 now!

    Each year's worth of documents - are all neat and tidy in their folders. Then I have a "current" Christmas folder I fill with documents as the year goes along.

    Some things I start right away - like my Master Gift List - saving a copy of the previous year's list under a new name and deleting all the info on last years gifts so I have a nice blank slate to start from. I resave and tweak all my documents each year:

    - Christmas Baking = Cookies I plan to bake/freeze for Christmas (this develops as year goes on and I test out new recipes), tips/notes to remember in general, lists of tried and true cookies from year's past - all with notes on where to find the recipe. I also keep track of "fun" cookies I might like to try with DS, candies I want to make and notes on how many trays/platters/tins of cookies I gave out the previous year. Helps me assess baking volume needed!

    - Master Holiday Menus (Halloween Season to New Year's) - Place to plan my menu's from yearly Halloween party we attend all the way up to New Years. Except for our Christmas party menu, that gets it's own document. ;) So does Halloween camping trip! But that's saved elsewhere!

    - Christmas Dinner Party = All relevant party info including menu

    - Christmas Dinner Party Timeline = Spreadsheet of all prep tasks for party broken down over the week leading up to it. Everything is included so I have a one stop shop to do list. Although my menu changes from year to year, many other tasks stay the same - so looking at previous years is helpful.

    - Make Ahead Meals = Spreadsheet with a tab for each year. Sections for Poultry, Beef, Appetizers, Cookies, and so on that I plan to make and freeze. When I'll do it vs when needed and so on. I use color coding to highlight recipes in green when they are done and in the freezer.

    Master Holiday Grocery List = Spreadsheet that compiles one massive grocery list for all the holiday meals from Master Holiday Menus, Christmas Party menu and baking plans. Broken down by recipe, so there are multiple rows for eggs for example. I can resort to my heart's content and I reuse a lot of the same recipes from year to year which saves time for sure. Last year's list was 536 rows long :eek: But it has been a lifesaver for keeping me organized and accomplishing more than I would have thought possible.

    - Master Gift List = Each person's name is followed by list of things I've purchased or plan to purchase or plan to craft, with costs (helps me when balancing my Christmas budget!) and pictures of the item (if purchased online and I can grab a screenshot or it's something I've made and I've taken a photo). I use color coding to keep track of each item's status at a glance - highlighting in green for purchased/done, blue for to be crafted, yellow for crafting in progress, grey for ordered and so on.

    Why? Because colors are pretty, dang it! And I don't have a pretty real notebook to play with!

    - Advent Calendar Fillers List

    - PJ Elves Box Planning List

    - Christmas Card List

    - Christmas Budget = Spreadsheet with a tab for each year, row for each person - how much budgeted vs spent and what is left to spend - love Excel formulas!!!! Yes, I'm a nerd.

    - HGP Lists = My own version of the HGP which is basically just the HGP with extra tasks specific to our family/home thrown in. I refer to it often!!! I mark items off with green highlight when done - oh so satisfying!

    I plug all my dates, HGP and otherwise, into Google calendar - setting reminders to come to my phone or email.

    I am totally one of those people that prefers a real live honest to goodness book in my hands versus an ereader - but when it comes to planning Christmas...the complexity of it has led me to embrace the "techy" approach and it works really well for me.

    I also keep misc things in my current Christmas folder - Black Friday shopping plans, Day after Christmas shopping plans, CIJ plans, an inventory of every piece of holiday decor I own (helps me plan each year's decor - or see where I need to purge!), some misc. online receipts, Christmas cartoon jokes I found on Pinterest and printed for Advent/Lunchbox that year, and so on.

    I love being able to look back and go through files to see what I did in a particular year - very helpful!
  12. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Just updated my planner again. I am really happy with the lay out of the one that I have this year. I have added a few sections from suggestions that have been posted here. Looking good for a well planned year.
    luludou, Ahorsesoul and Holiday_Mom like this.
  13. Rose94

    Rose94 Active Member

    I have updated my Christmas/birthday gift list. Figured since I have purchased a few gifts I better get them written down under the names they are intended for. Even feels good to see some future Birthdays taken care off.
    sweetpumkinpye and Holiday_Mom like this.
  14. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    I have printed off the HHP general "to do" list. It is in a zippered binder. I will refer to that when planning my weeks from September through December. The actual lists get placed in an Google Spreadsheet. I have been doing that for a number of years now. It's been very helpful when I'm out shopping for non Christmas items and I unexpectedly find something to do with Christmas or have a question.
    These are the labels on my tabs:
    • Family Gifts
    • Gifts to Make
    • All Other Gifts to Buy (Teachers, Bus Drivers, Mail Carrier, Trash Crew, Recycling Crew, etc.)
    • Holiday Supplies to Buy (Tape, Wrap, Cards, Stamps, Ornaments, Craft Supplies, etc)
    • Holiday Menus (This has the menus and all ingredients necessary for the meals with the amount needed to buy.)
    • Holiday Baking Supplies to Buy (List of cookies, ingredients to have on hand, etc.)
    • Black Friday (I've listed the individual stores, their opening times, and specific items with prices from that store.)
    • HHP (Goals for each week of what I want to accomplish from the plan are listed.)
    • Holiday Spruce Up (List of things, room by room, to spruce up the house for Christmas - paint, fix towel rack, etc)
    Miss JoDee likes this.
  15. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Mary, great list. There are definitely things on your list that I need to be mindful of. I do need to be more aware of the amount of ingredients I need for a certain meal, I tend to over do things. One of the things to write in my planner is remember how many I am cooking for.
  16. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    Spent a couple hours yesterday updating my Christmas notebook. DH and I were talking earlier this week and he mentioned that even though this past Christmas was really nice it didn't feel like Christmas to him. This past Christmas we didn't go to a few shops/stores that we normally do and since we finished shopping early we didn't have the need to go to the Mall at all during December. It's those experiences/traditions no matter how minor they are that help make Christmas feel like Christmas so we are penciling on dates to go to all the normal places we usually visit in Nov and Dec including the mall even if we don't need anything from them. I will still budget some extra money to put aside for those trips just incase.

    Also we didn't get all the yard work and prep done before the holidays and because of that we couldn't put up all the lights and decorations we wanted to. So I am adding that to my Notebook to be done in Oct.

    Another thing I need to do is keep a running list of all the DVDs we have. It never fails, each year I buy a dvd on Black Friday that we or the kids already have. DH created an excel spreadsheet of all the DVDs we own and I will upload a copy to my google account plus I will take pictures of all the movies and save them on my phone.
    Holiday_Mom and missjane like this.
  17. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Minta, I was saying a similar thing the other day to my mum. Because we were so organised last year with the wrapping, baking etc the "panic" of Christmas was not there. LOL I think it was too relaxed. Also with the kids being so much older now there did not seem to be any outings, photos with Santa etc. DD and BF and I did go looking at lights one night and that was nice.
    I want to jot in my planner a few things to bring some more magic back into our Christmas. Not sure what but I have plenty of time to plan.
    Minta likes this.
  18. Myron's Mom

    Myron's Mom Active Member

    Minta, we need a master DVD list too. Last fall we purged some of our dvds and found that we had quite a few duplicates. We have things catagorized but there are so many. Would be very helpful to have that list on my phone.
    Minta and sweetpumkinpye like this.
  19. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    YUP. I even had all my wrapping done early too which was nice but the panic wasn't there lol. Our kids are older too but this year we did agree to get a family picture done with Santa. We are also setting side a couple evenings and a weekend day to sit together as a family and watch all the Christmas Classics .. Charlie Brown, Rudolph etc. Something else I was thinking about doing was baking extra cookies to drop off to a few a unexpected receivers. We always give out tins of cookies and other goodies to friends and family but I think I will keep an eye out for anyone who may need some extra cheer this year and drop a tin of cookies off to them as well.
    Miss JoDee likes this.
  20. sweetpumkinpye

    sweetpumkinpye Well-Known Member

    Minta, maybe that is the direction that I need to go in.
    Last year I did give care bags to a local charity and am looking forward to doing that again this year and have started collecting as such.
    I would maybe like to arrange a Christmas BBQ here a few weeks before Christmas and invite DD BF family and a few others that we don't see often through the year.
    I am also aware though of striking the balance between being crazy busy and relaxed. Will ponder this a bit more over the next few months.
    Minta likes this.

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