hey friends! if you follow me on instagram then you saw my stories about tackling christmas before christmas so you can enjoy christmas...phew that's a mouthful. so many of you requested i write a blog post on this topic! the response was overwhelming and exciting - so here we go! i shared this on my stories today and decided to write this impromptu blog post just this afternoon. it's been a long afternoon/evening, but i'm excited to share!
for as long as i can remember i have always found myself repeatedly telling friends and family how i wish i had it together enough to tackle christmas early so that i could enjoy its magic and the extra fun stuff come december, rather than running around like a rabid chihuahua ready to burst into flames at any given moment all of december. clearly, i'm not the only one who feels this way because so many of you reached out to me and said you feel the same way. maybe you didn't use the exact rabid chihuahua reference, but it was implied. ;) so, last september (2017) i challenged myself and a couple of friends to grab christmas by its horns in october so that come december 1st, we could exhale and enjoy a bit. we actually talked about it the previous december (2016) and i was sure to remind them come fall 2017. ;) i knew i wouldn't be able to get everything i wanted done, but if i could get the majority of it conquered, then i could breathe a bit. after losing my brother last summer i knew i needed to do this more than ever, because i knew i would have some dark days, and i knew i couldn't cancel christmas...my family was depending on me. so somewhere along the way october 1st seemed like the perfect day to start - that date would give me 8 weeks to meet my deadline...but could it be done?
now, i must tell you that we kind of make a big deal out of christmas in my family. thanksgiving is actually my favorite, but christmas is definitely up there and a very close second. i must also tell you that i don't decorate for halloween or thanksgivng very much either. i share this on my instagram often, but i prefer to let nature do the talking - so i celebrate those seasons with colors, candles, textures, textiles, foliage, etc. my daughters are older, so this is more reasonable for me these days. i might break out some pretty pumpkins and platters, but nothing extravagant. i also do not host thanksgiving dinner at my house - thanks to our parents. all this to say, those things allow me to hone in on my list easier. did i tell you i'm a crazy list maker? it's true, i love, love, love lists. i love adding that little check mark next to the items i've conquered. i'm a list girl. i make daily, weekly, and monthly lists all of the time. i almost have to because for as long as i can remember, i have always had a horrible memory...if i remember correctly. ;) har har, i'm a horrible joker, guys. really though, if i don't write it down, i will mostly forget about it. so lists allow my world to keep on spinning.
another reason my list is so extensive is because we have a huge christmas eve party at our house. it's an open house and i'm always surprised with how many people we can squeeze into our home - it's quite a glorious evening because of the people and delicious foods! that said, people go through our house all evening long; they like to tour its entirety to see the decorations in each room, to escape from the downstairs crowd to the loft or balcony, and to just visit with the various guests throughout. we love it! it does make me want for my house to shine at its fullest potential and to be extra organized. plus, who doesn't want that with each season and especially when adding extra decorations to our homes. some years i achieve my shine and organize goals, and some years i don't, and somehow it all works out either way.
okay, so what does this look like for me? i make lists for october and november - extensive, detailed lists that include the teeniest projects/tasks, as well as the large ones. this keeps me from forgetting those little things like touching up paint or hanging artwork - you guys, those seemingly small tasks can send you over the edge come christmas week...believe me, i've been there. so punch them out now! seriously, karate kick those tiny tasks behind you!
once i have my lists made i count up how many tasks i have to accomplish and then i break them up into weeks. so, if there are 40 tasks for that month, i will try to cross off 10 of those per week and i base it on the size of the task too, so it's evenly distributed. still with me? the list making takes a little time, thought, and adjusting, but it will force you to take a look at what really lies ahead of you, and if it's too much, then just remove a few and save them for the new year. i can tend to want to tackle major projects before holidays (with the exception of last year) so sometimes i have to tell myself no. saying no, even to yourself, can save christmas. ;)
i did start purging last month, which was helpful going into october, but if you haven't done so, don't fret! there is no time like the present! also, this monster to-do list will require all hands on deck. i think it's important to get your family involved in these things because it's their house too, you know?!? it's their christmas as well! ha ha! so i give my daughter's and husband the low down of what's about to go down and i give them lists for the week to accomplish. i like to give them an overview though, because they, like myself, have days/weeks where they have more time and energy and may want to tackle more of their lists then. the beauty of this method is that if something comes up, or if you get sick, it's okay because it's not even december yet. don't rely to heavily on that thought though because decemeber 1st is only 8 weeks away; but you can give yourself a break every now and then. :)
okay so to summarize...
the goal: to complete 90% of christmas
the deadline: december 1st (8 weeks away)
i decided not to type out my entire november list here because it would take me forever, you would lose interest quickly, and you would realize how crazy i am. here's my october list:
- empty out and clean laundry room
- purge and organize loft - including books
- organize desk in loft
- girls' bedrooms (purge and organize - this is their task, i direct and fine tune.) ;)
- organize under girls' bathroom sink
- organize linen closet
- clean and re-style balcony
the above tasks are all upstairs, work an area and complete it so you're not scattered all over the place.
now for downstairs...
- organize kitchen pantry
- organize kitchen cabinets
- touch up paint on kitchen cabinets
- paint hutch
- purge and organize coat closet (this closet is an embarrassment. it somehow became my second closet.)
- organize under guest bathroom sink
- paint pot in bedroom (tree)
- paint guest bathroom
- purge and tidy our closet (it was recently organized and just needs a tidying up)
- organize under our bathroom sink
- organize linen closet in master bath
- wrap purchased gifts
- 20 gifts (5 per week)
- toilet bowl brushes (2)
- bathroom trash can (1)
- gift wrap and tags
a reminder to stay on top of your usual daily/weekly tasks - for instance i dust and clean floors every friday, so i will keep on top of that so i don't get behind and feel overwhelmed in those day-to-day areas.
so once you have your list written down this way you can then break it up into weeks/days accordingly. i'm sure there will be add-ons and adjustments made, but at least the foundation has been laid. remember, if you can't tackle all of the items on your october list, it's okay, because you can tackle it in november! how amazing does it feel to check mark or cross something off of your list?!? it's exhilarating! so this means come november i can tackle the rest - for example, here's some of my november list. i still need to fine tune it...
- put up tree (we do this in november because it works for us and we love enjoying it longer. i even leave it without ornaments for a several days and simply enjoy it with its lights. obviously this applies to artificial trees.)
- put up christmas decorations
- buy the rest/majority of gifts
- buy christmas outfits
- take photo for christmas cards (we actually already took ours in the summer #winning)
- order christmas cards
- address christmas cards
- wrap gifts
- put up exterior lights
- dry clean any items that need dry cleaning - including rugs, etc.
- spruce up front porch
- clean and decorate back yard
- tidy garage
- basically any additional projects/organizing can be completed in november
- any replacement holiday lights
- christmas cards
i've learned it pays to hustle these two months, and at a more enjoyable pace, rather than feeling like you're spinning out of control from thanksgiving weekend on. trust me...it's worth it. again, it helps to have someone to help you with those bigger tasks. make it fun for yourself too. last year i would take my laptop with me from room to room and watch one of my favorite youtube shows (the michalaks) while tackling my list. i would watch reruns from their christmas archives so i didn't have to watch intently and it helped get me into the christmas spirit. so put on your favorite netflix show, or favorite album, or simply enjoy the quiet and go to work! i found watching holiday themed shows (later in the season) help too. it almost tricks my mind into thinking it's the month of and gets me excited for the magic of the season as well. also, be gracious with yourself and with your family - don't make this two months of misery for all involved. work hard, yes, but be gracious and kind.
i know, i know - it's not about the gifts and all that jazz, but since i do celebrate, i want to prepare the best to my ability. seriously, i enjoy the celebration, i enjoy seeing the smiles on peoples faces with a well thought out gift within my budget, but part of all of that is planning ahead, if i buy last minute, i usually go over budget, if i decorate last minute, i'm stressed, you get the picture. this is what works for me. it may not work for you, you will definitely need to tweak this according to your family, your/their needs; but you asked me to share, so here's a glimpse into the insanity known as "nichol's mind"...my poor family. they're saints...seriously. ;)
really this method could apply to any holidays/major events/life! who doesn't like to get organized in their home and lives?!? so even if christmas isn't your jam, this can apply to you! i do want to add - if you're going through some rough times this holiday season, give yourself some major grace. it's okay if this holiday season looks different than any other. i went to a grief group last christmas and one lady who lost her child that year said she and her family were going on a cruise that christmas - no decorations, no gifts, nothing familiar. i thought how genius it was of her to know her and her family's limits. even if a cruise isn't in the budget, do what works for you. purging and organizing like a mad woman is what worked for me. i am honestly not a naturally organized person either (that's my sister monica who runs circles around me ;)), so don't think that's why i operate this way or it's impossible for you if you're not either. with a little planning and a lot of doing, you got this! i had about 90% of christmas done by december 1st last year, you guys! it made all of the difference in my little snow globe world, even when being avalanched by my grief. it made a huge difference for me. i've heard year two can be worse in the grieving process, we shall see. i guess everyone is different, every grief is different, but i will not go there right now. instead - i think i'll go look at my list for tomorrow. :)
best of luck to you, friends! now go make your lists, check them twice, and remember the reward - a more enjoyable december! woo hoo!