HHP 2017 Recap

Discussion in 'House & Holiday Plan' started by Holiday_Mom, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    It's been snowing here all day. Schools are shut down. I've used today to really give some thought about HHP and how it worked this year and what I can do to improve for next year.

    The week before Christmas was busy with a visit to my parents, 2 Christmas concerts, 2 appointments at the dentist, 1 appointment at the orthodontist and 1 appointment at the oral surgeon. (I had three teens getting their wisdom teeth out this past Tuesday.) When I first added these dental appointments to my calendar two weeks before Christmas, I was real nervous. That peaceful week that I dreamed of having looked as if it was quickly changing into chaos. I was ready to throw a pity party for myself. Then as I went through the list of things to do, I realized that it wasn't really chaos. It just was going to be different than I wanted. This realization was all because of the years of doing HHP and the encouragement of each of you over the years. :)

    The last thing I had to do that week was go to the oral surgeon appointment that was 2:30 pm on Friday, Dec. 22nd. As soon as I got home from the appointment, I felt like it was going to be Christmas. All the "mom" things were done for the week, I was now "party planner." I put on the Christmas music and got to work for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was an enjoyable three days straight of Christmas celebrations. We started on Christmas Eve with a buffet dinner at our house. Christmas dinner was another buffet at my brother's house. The next night was a Christmas sit down dinner at my sister-in-law's house.

    What Worked
    • Doing as much ahead of time as possible. This is the first December in ages where I felt rested the week before Christmas. I didn't run around like a chicken without a head. I've set a date of December 17th to have the cards in the mail, gifts bought and gifts wrapped. If I'm waiting on an address and it isn't available by the 17th, I've given myself permission to not send the card. If a gift isn't bought by the 17th, then I've given myself permission not to feel guilty about it. If gifts aren't wrapped by the 17th because it is back ordered, then I've given myself permission to use a gift bag when it does arrive.
    • Getting to bed at a decent hour, exercising and eating healthy. This can be really hard but I worked hard at getting this done. I went to bed at a decent hour the week before Christmas. It was important to me to exercise and eat healthy. I wanted to stay healthy for Christmas. This helped me to feel like I could tackle the week of dental/medical appoints.
    • Making meals in October/November to use in December. We had number of Christmas concerts to be at since my girls play instruments. It was helpful on those nights and the week when we had dental/medical appointments.
    • Dividing cookies into bags for parties before freezing them. We have 4 parties we're hosting and 2 we attended this Christmas. We divided the cookies up according to the parties and froze them in freezer bags. It has made the cookies last longer since no one wants to raid the freezer all the way down the basement.
    • Buying stocking stuffers early in the fall. I bought practical items and wrapped them up in October. Then I put them into individual bags with the names written on them. On Christmas Eve, I was able to give the bags to my husband and he filled them with no problem.
    • Buying all the same gifts for service staff/teachers, etc. iI bought these in October and then wrapped them then too. I usually do this around Thanksgiving. This year, I was done early and it was such a relief.
    • Sitting down around Halloween and writing in dates/snow dates to get the tree, go shopping, Christmas concerts, cookie baking, etc. That really helped us when events popped up. We already knew that in order to say yes, we would have to say no to the tree, concerts, etc.
    • Writing in a weekly time to myself to take care of me. I really liked doing this! I looked at each week of November and December and figured out the best time. I either read a book with a hot beverage or I watched a Christmas movie.
    • Cutting back on food. Per last year's notes, I did cut back on the amount of food in the house. I bought lots of raw vegetables to snack on and made salads to eat. We had some cheese and dips but I did not go overboard on the amount. That has helped a great deal in limiting the over eating. In addition to the soda and water that is in the cooler, we also added seltzer water. That was a nice surprise for many.
    • Keeping a stash of "Christmas week only" supplies out of everyone's eyesight. I quickly realized by Thanksgiving that some of my extra supplies of things like tissues were disappearing. I'd buy a three pack of tissues and then two weeks later there was nothing on the shelf. (Schools were asking for tissues. My children were taking them to school but they didn't tell me. :eek:) My husband got to the point that he said, "Wait, don't say it. 'I just bought tissues last week. How could we be out of them?'" :oops: From then on, anything that I was concerned about having on hand Christmas week was kept on a shelves out of sight in our basement.
    What Didn't Work
    • Not delivering a number of gifts. People were out the week before Christmas. This happens every year but this year seems worse. I even tried to drop off the gifts a week early but they never showed up. Then there was the story that the police were notifying people that gifts for the trash guys and the recycling guys were being stolen in the early morning hours. It's quite discouraging. I'm seriously considering giving "thankful gifts" at Thanksgiving. The gifts would have a Thanksgiving/fall motif. Chances are that almost everyone would be around then and not taking time off to go Christmas shopping.
    • Wrapping a large amount of gifts in December. There were a number of items that I couldn't get in a store on Black Friday so I bought them online. Up until that point, I was happy with the way I tried to stay on top of the wrapping. However, I wasn't ready for all the boxes that started to arrive a week or so later. I want to be more aware of the number of items that need to be wrapped and figuring out a time to get them done in December.
    • Being distracted while wrapping gifts. "Santa" did a few binge wrapping sessions in early December. "Santa" thought he was putting on gift tag labels as he finished wrapping each gift. Apparently, Santa didn't. He must have been tapping into the spiked eggnog early. On Christmas morning, three gifts got mixed up. Santa will have to remember to check each box for a label after wrapping.

    Share what worked/didn't work with HHP this year!
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  2. jollykelly

    jollykelly Active Member

    Sorry for the late response....I think I have started and stopped this post 10 times over.

    First of all...BIG thank you to Holiday Mom for keeping me honest and on track, and to all the ladies for the inspiring ideas.

    Here is what worked and didn't work for me:

    What Worked:
    1. Shopping Early - I was so thankful that I created a shopping plan and shopped early. I wrote out the people on my list and then worked backwards from Dec 1st (which was my planned "finished with shopping" date) to sync with my paychecks to I could do one person on my list per paycheck + DD. If it was a big one I counted it as two paychecks. This meant I started shopping in the Spring, but it was well worth it. If I did not know what to get them, I simply put the cash in an envelope and put it in gift closet.
    2. Wrapping as I bought - Once I bought the gift, I immediately wrapped it. I liked this because not only did I have a little bit of Christmas every two weeks, but it saved me a late night in December
    3. Getting the Stocking Stuffers in one night - This was really helpful for me. It does help that I only have 2 stockings (DH and DD), but I actually took their stockings to the store(s) and did them both in one night. I took their stocking to make sure what I got them would fit in it, wasn't getting too much or too little, etc. Saved me the worry of wondering how it would all work out. I also focused on quality. I was over getting cheap junk, just to fill up the stocking. They may not have packed to the gills, but everything that was there was stuff they either needed or loved receiving.
    4. Paring down Christmas Cookies - I baked just my family favorites, and did not go overboard on the number of batches. They all got eaten and not a cookie was thrown out! This was such a time and money saver.
    5. Paring down the decoration - This year not only was I not hosting, but we were also going down the shore for New Years weekend. Since that is when I usually pack it up, I pared it down and I loved it. Of course we had the tree, but I forgo all of the knick knacks and villages and went for the "bang for your buck" decorations. Larger, Light up, ones that were easy to put up, and easy to take down.
    What didn't work (wah, wahhhhh):
    1. Keeping up with the cleaning - This was a fail for me. Sure the cleaning got done, sometimes. I think it was because I was not hosting as it was my sisters turn, I was just not motivated. Next year is my turn, so I hope it keep it on track.
    2. Saying no - Every year I tell myself that I am going to say no some things. I will have to try this next year as this year was a fail. I said yes to way to much, in every aspect. Yes to planning the office party, yes to planning the Sunday School Pageant, yes to all of the deserts! Note to self: JUST.SAY.NO
    3. Freezer Meals - Not nearly enough planned or done. I wanted to work on at least just having the staples done (hamburger fried, crock pot meals bagged, etc). Didn't happen, hopefully next year.
    Well, the list of what worked outnumbers what didn't so that is a WIN!

    Hope to see you all again next year.
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  3. MinnieCo

    MinnieCo Well-Known Member

    Mary your post about mixed up gifts makes me laugh because I can relate. One year I was wrapping gifts and had them in "organized piles" by person. Well I got called into work and ended up being there for 3 days because of a storm. When I got home I had no idea who's was what. I had to unwrap those dang gifts..haha..to see where they went. I learned my lesson. It's NEVER happened again. BUT this year...my plan back fired...my kids were laughing at me constantly...Because now I wrap them and immediately they get sticky note with the name of the gift inside and who it's for. Then I got back after they are wrapped and so bows. I like fancy bows, so it's just easier for me to do my stuff in stages. Well this year I proceeded to forget several of those sticky notes...so I'd go to hand out a gift and see a stick note..hahaha..or my daughter got a gift and could read what was inside. I attribute it to old age!!! ;)
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  4. MinnieCo

    MinnieCo Well-Known Member

    Well I posted that but didn't say what worked and didn't work for me. Overall it was a pretty good year. With it being the first year after my daughter graduated from college I knew that I wanted to work as hard as possible to make sure it was all covered so the 5 days she spent at home were days I focused on the family. For the most part I'm reaching an age where I'm finding a fine balance of prioritizing the important things and letting other things go. For the first time ever I bought a store bought dessert for Christmas dinner and the world didn't end. It wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but we all survived and it was one less thing I had to worry about on Christmas Eve. Lowering the number of gifts has also worked well for me...I try and get about about 4 gifts for each of the immediate family and make sure one of those is a really nice gift..and something they really want. Down side of that is I miss wrapping more packages.

    One thing I do need to do more is think about clothes ahead of time. I NEVER do and I end up not having stuff to wear and it drives me crazy!

    Trees are hard for me...I love so many different themes and want to try so many different things, but realize I can only have so many trees..lol One I struggle with is my Disney tree. I'm kinda over it to be honest.....at least some years...but tell myself that I can't possibly stop because now I have grandkids. Maybe when they get a little older and really start to enjoy it, I'll feel the spark again. It just gotten to be SOOOOOOO big and so many ornaments....and I usually save it for last because it's the last of my priorities. One year I got the tree up with lights and garland and bulbs and called it good.

    I'm not even 50 year and I'm already starting to think about "someday" when I can't get all this stuff up and out by myself. My husband doesn't do any of it inside..heck..the only thing he helps with are the lights on the house because I make him. That means I tote them in and out of the house and they seem to be getting heavier and heavier....geez I sound like such a downer Debbie, but I do wonder where my priorities with decor will end up. I think if I had a garage or basement and could keep stuff in there like most people it wouldn't be such a daunting task. Maybe that's the answer...MOVE!! hahahaha Okay now I'm amusing myself.

    I'd say my biggest failure is following one of the houseplans. It's been YEARS since I've followed through. So many things contribute to that and I'm not sure how to switch it up. BUT with that said I do follow my own HGP basically during the spring, into summer and when I'm feeling down in the winter about not keeping up I remind myself it could be worse if I didn't do my big cleans earlier in the year.

    On the opposite end my biggest success was the meal prep. I did a lot and it saved me so many times, even this month when my kitchen was out of commission for a week. I hadn't used all the meals I prepped so I finished them up. The only thing I'd changes is doing them in early October so they are done and in the freezer prior to the election season each year when I work.
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  5. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    Oh, I know this one all too well. I've gotten better at saying no. I think I am annoying people when I'm asked to take on something and I say no. That would have bothered me four years ago. A couple of years back, I was going through burn out. I sat down and made a list of all the things that I say "Yes!" to and then the approximate time that I spend doing that "Yes" item. That included drive times, shopping time, planning time and the actual activity. It was a real eye opener for me. Most of those "extra" activities were not ones that I enjoy doing so it not only took up time but it also took up my energy.
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  6. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    LOL! It's good that we can look back and laugh at it. I always want a Martha Stewart Christmas but it seems it is more like a I Love Lucy Christmas.
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  7. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    You had me laughing at this! I totally get it.

    I enjoy the creativity of wrapping gifts only if I have the time. I don't wrap well under stress.

    I can relate to this as well.

    You mentioned about the trees and decor and thinking about "someday." I'm doing the same thing but I have a basement where I have about 12 Totes filled with Christmas decorations, gift bags, wrapping paper, books etc. Some of the decor is for the kids. They like to decorate. This year I saw a big shift. My elementary child was the only one who had time to decorate. The high school students were too busy with studying for midterms and my oldest was too busy with finals. I see our family life is gradually changing. I'm realizing that they'll be moving out and starting their own family traditions and it will just be me and my husband someday. Which begs the question - How much of that stuff do I really want to bring up the stairs once the kids move on?
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  8. MinnieCo

    MinnieCo Well-Known Member

    It's hard to make those changes...or even think about them Mary. I'm finding that the best way I deal with it is to just "go with the flow" now days. I was such a perfectionist in my younger years (and I still am at times), but I think I'm reaching a happy medium of letting go easier in the times where I need to.
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  9. Ahorsesoul

    Ahorsesoul Santa's Elves

    Remember when you say no to taking charge of events you are blessing someone else with the opportunity to serve. If you say no to going to an event you are blessing your family with time to be together.
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