Three years ago when I tried this House and Holiday Plan (an 18 week program to prepare your home and family for Christmas), I did actually complete the first few weeks, but I only posted about the first one – here. The goal this year is to improve on that!

So, here’s the list of things to do this first week, also known as Planning and Paperwork Week:

  • Declutter and clean the home office
  • Set up a Christmas notebook
  • Fill out a Family Values Worksheet
  • Establish a holiday budget
  • Begin a master gift list

I set up a Christmas notebook years ago, and it’s really been quite helpful, (although I realized when pulling it out again this year that it’s probably time to cull and reorganize it). Here are my sections:

  • Reflections
  • Finances
  • Family Gifts
  • Neighbor Gift Ideas
  • Cards/Letters
  • Crafts and Activities

The “Reflections” section could also be called “Values” or “Traditions.” While I may not fill out a new Values Worksheet each year, I do review it. Values don’t really change, although circumstances might.

We also figured out our holiday budget years and years ago. It may need a bit of tweaking, but fortunately, that doesn’t take much time. Remember that the important thing isn’t the dollar figure of your budget, but the fact that you’re deciding in advance what you will spend. Here’s CEO’s form. I use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of our budget; this will give you an idea of what it looks like before populating with the budgeted amounts:

Over the years I’ve learned that the sooner I decide what gifts I’m giving, the less stressful the holiday is, because making the actual decision is the hard part. So, time to start working on that! (My blank budget is now printed out and placed in my planner; I use that to compile our gift list.)

Note: A little thing called Hurricane Dorian messed up my plans for starting this right on schedule. It’s a good thing the office was already in decent shape. It’s also a good thing that over the years we’ve put habits and routines into place to make Christmas planning and preparation less stressful. I re-learned from this latest hurricane that the reason we plan and prepare in advance is so that we’re available to serve and help others, knowing that our family is already taken care of. That lesson definitely applies during the Christmas season as well.