Help for My Christmas Brain

Sweet Pea and Little Man

The days are flying by at my house as we bake, mail Christmas cards, wrap gifts, and generally have a nice time being together.  I have  a tip to share that has been a lifesaver for me the past few years.  My brain is so full that I can’t possibly keep track of the details required to pull off Christmas for a family of fourteen – I have to get everything out of my head, on paper, and into my Christmas Notebook.

My notebook is a simple three ring binder with three sections:

1. Menus and Recipes

I keep a record of our holiday menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and any parties we host.  I include notes about quantities, what worked, what didn’t, and anything that will help me in future years.

I also keep a list of cookies we bake and copies of the recipes in page protectors.  With Sweet Pea home for two weeks, we’re being more ambitious about the variety we are tackling.  She made a chart of the ingredients needed for our recipes, including pounds of butter, cups of coconut, etc., that  I’ll save for next year to make shopping easy.

2.  Gifts

This year we are giving each child one main gift, a small gift, and a book.  I keep a chart showing what I have purchased for each person and what I still need to get. I can see at a glance which kids I am done shopping for and which ones still need one more thing.  We also give each child an ornament every year.  I make notes about things they have expressed an interest in and keep their little “wish lists” from year to year.

3.   Notes

This is the most important section of all!  I keep notes of how many Christmas cards I send and how many I need to order next year — I ran out this year!  I make a list of things I’ve already purchased for the next year such as wrapping paper, bows, kids’ ornaments, and a list of items I’ll need to purchase, like more white lights.

I keep a list of gifts we’ve given to teachers and other people in our lives.  I also make note of people I wish I had given a small gift to.

*****

In essence the notebook becomes my holiday brain and helps me stay organized.  I feel less anxious when I can see at a glance that I haven’t forgotten one of my children as I’ve shopped.

It works for me and I hope it helps you!  This is the perfect time to start a notebook for next year; when you buy wrapping paper the day after Christmas — write it down!

[note: Renae just left a comment that I want to share.  She said that it is a great idea but now she would need to find time to actually make the notebook.  I completely understand!  This is my response:

Renae, just grab one of your kids’ spiral notebooks or even a tablet to start making notes. You can put them in a notebook later. My notebook has changed over the years. I even have copies of old Christmas letters and photos in it, post-its with handwritten notes from the kids, and pages torn from magazines. It’s just getting it all in one place that helps.

Don’t let this make your life harder!  Start with something very simple and add to it as you can.]

Have a great day.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

13 Comments

  1. Renae
    December 21, 2010

    This is a great idea! My problem….finding time to actually make the notebook..uggghhh! Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas!

    Reply
    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 21, 2010

      Renae, just grab one of your kids' spiral notebooks or even a tablet to start making notes. You can put them in a notebook later. My notebook has changed over the years. I even have copies of old Christmas letters and photos in it, post-its with handwritten notes from the kids, and pages torn from magazines. It's just getting it all in one place that helps.

      Reply
  2. Sarah
    December 21, 2010

    Great idea! I love reading blogs of more experienced moms like you!

    Reply
  3. carla
    December 21, 2010

    You remind me of my sister, she got ALL of the organizational skills of the family. She is 16 months older than me and there were none left by the time I was born. haha I will never keep trying to be organized though, I am determined to get there someday. Everything usually comes together, but leading up to it gets kind of crazy. I will say that I am looking forward to a holiday without adoption paperwork. Between post adoption reports and getting paperwork to ready to pick up our China jewel, ugh! I love to hear all your ideas, they inspire me and I will definitely try this idea for next year. Have a Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  4. Courtney
    December 21, 2010

    this is GREAT! and i love how you emphasized to just START with whatever you have on hand! any little bit helps, right?!? thanks for getting our brains working along this line!

    Reply
  5. Michele
    December 21, 2010

    I like this idea!

    I have a notebook for our garden: what we planted, what grew well, how much was harvested and then canned or frozen …and then notes on how long it lasted so we know how much to plant the following year. It just started in a simple spiral notebook and I add to it every year.

    Reply
    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 21, 2010

      Michele, that is a great idea!

      Reply
  6. Ann
    December 21, 2010

    thank you so much! I've been feeling especially overwhelmed this year with Christmas and I truly want next year to be more organized. I am going to my supply closet now to find a 3-ring notebook. You are such a wise and wonderful woman!

    Reply
  7. Chantelle
    December 22, 2010

    I sooo wanna be like you when I grow up. 🙂 ((((hug)))) Merry Christmas, friend. 🙂

    Reply
    1. One Thankful Mom
      December 22, 2010

      Chantelle – you crack me up! Merry Christmas to you too.

      Reply
  8. Nona Mills
    December 22, 2010

    this is GREAT! and i love how you emphasized to just START with whatever you have on hand! any little bit helps, right?!? thanks for getting our brains working along this line!

    Reply
  9. learningpatience
    December 26, 2010

    I have a similar notebook for Christmas, and this year I had the thought that I need to start one for Thanksgiving too.

    Reply
  10. Sharon
    September 13, 2011

    Fabulous idea-thank you!

    Reply

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