By far the most popular discussion I ever created was on the OC Notebook forum in Mar 2006 about the "how to's" of starting your own Christmas notebook. So I'm posting it for the benefit of the ladies here! ~ Christy I've seen several people comment here recently that they are just starting out and didn't know where to begin or what kind of notebook they even want. So I've been reflecting on my own recent journey with a notebook in the hopes that it will inspire some of the other beginners who want to organize a holiday notebook. When I started reading about Christmas Notebooks here in the fall, my own stuff never seemed to fit what other people were using and the idea didn't seem to suit me at all. Then the board was down, and I decided to counter-act the Christmas discussion detox I was going through. I decided to sit down with all my Christmas stuff and found my stuff was more condusive to a notebook that I first thought, because I gave up the idea that it had to look like someone else's. Now I have a notebook that is very different from many around here, but that I love flipping through and jotting in! Your holiday notebook is yours. It doesn't have to fit anybody else's mold and it will only be practical or useful to you if it suits your needs and purposes. If it makes sense to you, your notebook is a success! First: Ask yourself a few questions. - Do I want to refer to this notebook often (once a week or more), or do I want to refer to it occasionally as an archive or reference? A bit of both? - Do an inventory. Start just flipping through your current Christmas stuff and on a piece of paper write down the categories these things might fall under. Something in there not fit a category here? Make your own. Some examples to kickstart your imagination: Calendar Rudolph Club Advent Activites Thanksgiving Entertainment Shopping/ To Buy Gift Closet Inventory Schedules and To Do lists Grocery List Recipes Budget Gift Lists/Ideas Christmas Countdown Traditions Future ideas Poems and Craft ideas Website Listings Magazine inspirations Evaluation Page Christmas Cards/ Addresses Kids activities (crafts, colouring pages etc) Some of these sections might be best used for you by breaking them down even more...for example...really serious decorators might want to do a decorating section for each room of the house. People with lots of future ideas might want to break them down again (entertaining ideas, decor ideas) etc. Second: Ok, so you have your sections. Now go through each section and decide what makes the most sense for you in terms of set up. Things like a schedule section or the Christmas Countdown can be done in a chronological order, but other things like decor can have some reference pages. Do you want to have all reference pages in the back of each section they pertain to, or in a section of their own? Along with this, brainstorm what would make those sections more efficient or durable. If you want it to be a working notebook, make sure to add lots of hole-punched paper to make jot notes and additions. If you want it as an archive (or even if it's not!), you might want to check the dollar store and see if you can find some clear plastic paper pockets or liners to preserve your pages in. Other useful items that may suit your notebook: Pencil case, hole punch, post it notes or post it flags. Accessories can be a fun addition to your notebook. If you have lists in some of your sections, you can make some choices based on how you use them: - You can write them by hand on paper and update them frequently. - You can print them up on a printer to make them neat and uniform (but you need to be ok with re-printing them fairly often or adding pages if you jot and update often). Third: Some sections looking empty? Get to work on those! Get ideas from family members for presents (or check out the gift threads on the forum). Peruse websites for inspiration on decor and cooking ideas. Ask family members or co-workers for their favorite Christmas traditions and it might inspire you even more. Last, Keep in mind that your notebook can evolve...just as your Christmas celebrations do! Make changes or alter it so it makes sense and you'll never be sorry. HAVE FUN! Your notebook will start with fun memories if you make up your mind that this isn't a task, but a neat way to channel your love of Christmas! Fill up a cup of cocoa (Some Christmas tunes if you're so inclined!) and enjoy the process of beginning your Christmas experience with this new perspective! Then your notebook will become something you treasure.