March slipped by…
Some of you may have noticed that my monthly Christmas planning guide did not appear in March. Although it wasn’t planned this way, it is a very good example of why it isn’t quite enough to read the monthly guides and decide to put some time aside each month to prepare for Christmas. Instead, you need to do what I didn’t do last month – schedule it into your diary or calendar. I intended to sit down and write my piece in early March. However I had a few things pop up here and there, and before I knew it, it was April. And this is exactly how so often we find ourselves in December with a mountain of Christmas preparation to do.
Make a date with yourself
So, if you do nothing else at all this month, go through your calendar and put in some regular appointments. These will be to work on crafting the Christmas that is going to give you the gift of a relaxed December. You may decide that the 25th of each month is a good time to put an hour or two aside in the evening. Perhaps the first Tuesday of the month works better for you. However you choose, do get it scheduled in. To my cost I have learnt that if it isn’t in my diary, there is a real risk it won’t get done, despite my best intentions.
So back to the plot!
Here I am, back on track. Before pressing on with this month’s theme, if you have read my previous pieces but not had time to act on them yet, there are two things I would urge you to focus on above everything else. Firstly, start putting away a little money each month towards Christmas if you can possibly afford to. Again, schedule this in, so it does get done. Maybe set up a direct debit into a savings account. It’s also lovely to make a payday ritual of withdrawing a certain amount of money and putting it into a jam jar which you then tuck out of sight. Secondly, jot down a December wish-list for how you want your December to feel, once the pressure of Christmas preparations has been taken away.
Tasks for this month
Now, onwards with our tasks for this month. I hope you will join me at my kitchen table with a pot of tea whilst we make our plans. We have two tasks this month. They are both pleasurable. Plus both will help us on our way to making that dreamy enjoyable December a reality.
Pick a theme
I do think that magazines take Christmas themes too far. One year it is peacock feathers, the next year it is upside-down fake trees, then it is black baubles and on it goes. For me, part of the joy of Christmas is unpacking old favourites which carry treasured memories. However, I do like to have a new theme each year as a framework on which to hang my Christmas preparations.
For example, I chose snowflakes for one year. I made my Christmas cards featuring snowflakes. As a bonus, I put a pinch of snowflake paper confetti into each one. Wrapping paper had snowflakes on. I made a few extra snowflake decorations to join my existing decorations. Other years I have looked for a colour. I usually go for holly berry red.
What I like to do is start a new page in my planning notebook to jot down some ideas. I often start a new secret Pinterest board too. I like to jot down things like I want to write my cards in fountain pen ink or seal them with sealing wax. All the little things which give the flavour of the Christmas I am designing. That way when it comes to making decisions about buying or making cards, gifts, decorations and so on, I am already partway there.
Sometimes my theme is a little looser. For example one year I wanted to give gifts themed around the idea of warmth. So I made hot water bottle cosies and gave luxury hot chocolate, handmade candles and knitted scarves. Make yourself a pot of tea, and spend an hour or so listing and pinning some ideas to capture the essence of Christmas for you this year.
Or a challenge?
Also consider if maybe rather than a theme as such, if you want to take up a challenge for Christmas this year. Perhaps you would like to challenge yourself to make all your Christmas cards? Or to wrap all your gifts in fabric rather than paper? Or as Laura did on her blog, resolve to buy only from small or local businesses. (You can read her post here https://anysomethingsite.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/keep-it-local-this-christmas/) Choose something that matters to you, something you will enjoy doing and don’t force yourself to stick to it any further than you want to.
Make a plan
Now you have an idea of the kind of Christmas you want to produce. The next step for this month is to start to think about how you are going to get there in the next seven months, and the remains of this one. It always feels like there is much to do, but breaking it down and arranging it to suit yourself is by far the easiest and most enjoyable way to get it all done. If you refer back to the list we made last month of different areas you might spend money on, this will give you a good framework to use when thinking about what goes into your Christmas.
Let us take cards as an example (if you choose to do them at all). They need to be made or bought, written and posted. How will you go about this? If you buy your cards, your theme planning should give you an idea of what you are looking for. Will you buy cards to support a particular charity? If you make them, have you got a design or technique in mind? Would you rather make a few each month, or schedule a couple of evenings to make them in one go? The same goes for writing them, would you rather spread it out, or sit down and do it in one go?
Get it in your planner
Whichever approach suits you best, then make sure you put it in your diary now. A couple of weeks before making a note to stock up on any supplies you may need such as new ink for your fountain pen, and postage stamps. When it comes to the time you have set aside, don’t forget to have a cup of something delicious to drink, some Christmas music to listen to, and a nice treat waiting for you at the end. Doing it like this will be so much nicer for me than last year. Then I was frantically writing cards and squeezing in dashes to the post office to avoid missing the last postage dates.
Plan for these
You can apply a similar approach across the board to other areas such as:
- shopping for gifts
- wrapping them up
- getting them to the post office and/or seeing people for delivery in person
- buying or making any new decorations and putting them up
- when to get your tree out, or to go out and buy one
- any Christmas entertainments – tickets to book, guest lists to write, invitations to send
- buying food and drink – will you buy a few non-perishable foods or drink treats each week, or would you rather schedule in one big provision shopping trip, or opt-out and order a weekly grocery box for the whole of December?
Whichever aspect of Christmas planning you are looking at, the principle remains the same. Think about the feel you are trying to create. Then decide on how much needs to be done and how you want to do it. Split the work up into achievable chunks and get it in your diary. Then you can sit back happily knowing that at this point you have broken the back of the Christmas preparations. These foundations are going to make the rest of the year so very easy for you.
Before we know it we will be in December. Rather than that feeling of pressure and a hundred and one things to do jumbled up in your mind, you will be sitting back with a hot chocolate and a happy feeling of calm and satisfaction, knowing it is all in hand.