Somewhere on the world wide web I came across this Christmas (or insert any major holiday) organizing advice:
As you pack up your stuff for the year jot down what worked and what didn't (i.e. order Xmas cards earlier by such and such date, don't let the girls write Santa letters on Xmas eve unless you want to kill yourself, recipe failures or success, teacher gift ideas, etc... you get it) and put it at the top of one of your decoration bins.
Well, I just thought that was genius advice and wanted to share it with you all. It is easy to forget the lessons learned the previous year... which traditions are more stress than they are worth, which events made the holiday experience & when the tickets go on sale, etc.
I already started streamlining our bins last year and sorted out a "1st Bin" which has the bare minimum that we need to get things going on time (the advent calendars & tree lights & star & tree skirt). If we are crazed at the beginning of the month I know I can pull out the advent calendars on time. This has happened more years than not, particularly since we are often out of town for Thanksgiving. I'm in love with the "1st Bin"... No more starting advent calendars 3 days in!
So for us, I have worked out the couple of things that hadn't worked as smoothly as they could have and jotted them down along with the surprise holiday hits I want to repeat and tucked the list on top of my "1st Bin"...
I have a reminder that Christmas lists need to be finalized over Thanksgiving weekend. This is before the girls get cuckoo for coconuts and start thinking they want stuff they've seen in store circulars but really had never heard of before. I might even have them drop them off at one of those Santa mailboxes just to be sure there is an END point to their lists. This year Kid was the worst and thought of what she *really* wanted at 9 PM on the 23rd. Santa is a miracle worker... but... that can't always be pulled off and it created a lot of stress!
Also, Thanksgiving weekend would be a perfect time to pick out our Christmas card. This year was a crazy last minute fiasco with Mr F ordering some (without telling me) and then I ordered some not knowing he had... gah!... it was a big expensive mess. So we've agreed to just get it done when we have the time off for Thanksgiving and can make a joint decision together.
Ikea pre-made gingerbread house parts are THE BOMB. They were cheap and easy to assemble. All you need is your own icing & candy. We had one for each girl... it was AWESOME.
While I'm at Ikea I'll pick up more of the super nice battery operated candles they had in the Christmas section by checkout (they were great for caroling and with the window suction cup holders you can get at Joann's they are great as window candles). Easy on off button on the bottom. And affordable. I want to put them in all of the windows.
So, yes, my basic lesson was Thanksgiving (not for shopping, that isn't my scene) is the perfect time (and only downtime available until Christmas!!) to knock out a lot of the little things that help get the season started. Also, if I'm ever going to pull off Christmas boxes I need to mark out a weekend on the calendar and do it. I failed this year thinking I could fit it in, but with school parties and events my weekends were booked all the way through Christmas. I think the 1st weekend in December, before all the holiday parties get rolling.