Are you starting to melt yet? Down here in the south it is hot, humid, and no rain in sight. And in spite of living here all my life, I have difficulty handling the heat. But I still have work to do, and prefer to stay productive, so I have to find a way to handle it.
One thing I do to beat the heat of summer is to settle in with a glass of ice-cold lemonade and get started with my holiday planning. The last thing I want to do during the holidays is to run around as if my hair is on fire trying to take care of last-minute details instead of enjoying every moment of this special time.
All it takes is a cool, quiet spot to work, a pen, paper, and even maybe your Christmas notebook. By the time you have to get up and get dinner started, you will be well on your way to having that Merry Simple Christmas you enjoy so much!
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Are you starting to melt yet? Down here in the south it is hot, humid, and very little rain. Yet, in spite of living here all my life, I have difficulty with the heat. But I still have work to do, and prefer to stay productive, so I have to find a way to handle it.
My strategy is to get outside as early as possible and work in the garden. Mostly that consists of picking the last of vegetables, then bringing them inside to can. But there is also something else I focus on in the hot months of July and August.
As y’all know, I do like to stay organized and ahead of the game as much as possible. So in between canning and cleaning, I spend a little bit of time getting ready for Christmas. Wait – did I just hear you groan? Okay. I’ll give you that one. Most people don’t want to think about the holidays when they are trying to just enjoy summer.
But I also like to enjoy my holidays, and the last thing I want to do is to get so busy trying to get ready for them that I miss out on some of the fun. Which is where the heat of the summer months has me planning ahead for the holidays. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t take much time, and it is a perfect way to settle in with an ice-cold glass of Lemonade and still feel productive.
In about mid-July, I pull out my Christmas Notebook and start at the beginning. For me, that is creating a Holiday Checklist. For the most part, the list is the same from year to year. I know I need to bake cookies, plan meals, and work on handmade gifts. There is also some shopping to be done.
There are also new things to be added. On the years we spend the holidays somewhere else, I want to know where we are going, what easily transportable food I can take, and if I need to take small gifts for people I don’t usually exchange gifts with.
Once my Holiday Checklist is completed, I look at my Gift List. To be honest, this is a list that is already in progress. Some gifts and supplies for handmade items will have to be purchased, so it helps me to shop sales throughout the year. Some handmade items, such as quilts, can take several months to create. Others may only take a few days or a week, and small items for stocking stuffers may only take a few hours. But knowing what I plan on giving helps me to know how much time and money I need to set aside throughout the year.
The next list is the Food List. This is actually two different lists – the first one consists of specific Holiday meals, like turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Christmas Day. The second list is meals for all the days leading up to the holiday.
Having a food list helps me know which items I can bake ahead. On this list you will find casseroles, soups, and other main meals that can be frozen. Having a selection of meals in the freezer is a time saver for those busy days before the holidays. Other items will consist of some main dishes and desserts that will be served for the holiday meal itself.
You will also find a selection of pre-made cookies on the list. It’s too hot in July and August to use the oven much, so I mix up a batch of cookies. Once the dough is finished, I roll it into balls, place them on waxed paper, and then layer them in plastic boxes. The top goes on, I label them as to what they are, and put them in the freezer. When it’s time to bake them, all I have to do is place them on a baking tray.
Considering we create cookie trays for some of our neighbors, we can bake upwards to 30 dozen cookies a year. By having them ready to go, there is less mess to clean up after each type of cookie, and we can bake almost all of them in a single day.
The last two lists I create are a shopping list and a budget. To work on my shopping list, I look over the other lists I’ve made and see what I still need to purchase. This can be gifts, food, decorations, or supplies.
The budget is the last thing I do, as it can’t be created until I know what I need. My first step is to see how much money I have available overall to spend. I then look at what I need. If your lists are anything like mine, when the final tally is done, it is in a neon shade of red. So I have to go back and look at ways I can trim it down.
But by creating a holiday budget (and sticking with it), you won’t start out the new year with credit cards that have melted due to overuse and so deep in debt you will spend the next three or four months trying to dig your way out of. And by planning ahead for the holidays in July and August, you still have time to shop sales and find other creative ways to stretch your budget.
By now, y’all know I am a notebook fanatic. I have an old Baker’s Rack in my office which is full of them. I have one for Homemaking, one for my Garden and Farm, A Finance notebook, and several for work.
And I even have a separate one for Christmas. In it I keep originals of all the lists I will need for the season. In addition to my holiday lists, I also have divided it into sections for meal planning, recipes, gift ideas, and calendars. From time to time, I find instructions on a gift I want to make, so I keep those in the DIY section.
If the idea of keeping a holiday notebook intrigues you, you may want to check out my Have a Merry, Simple Christmas workbook. It has everything you need to get started on your holiday planning – including menu ideas, DIY instruction, worksheets, gift tags, and more! You will find a link for it in the show notes.
Yes, I may be hyper-organized when it comes to the holidays. But my goal is to keep it simple and to enjoy them, rather than running around like my hair is on fire trying to get things done. I don’t want to be in the kitchen cooking or cleaning and miss out on spending time with my kids and grandchildren.
I don’t want to run to the store for a forgotten item, only to discover they are sold out. And the last thing I want to lose out on is spending a bit of quiet time for myself, just breathing in the joy of the season, and being able to count all the blessings I have been given.
The holidays are a time for friends and family – not attending to last minute details. So rather than trying to find a fire extinguisher to put the fire in your hair out, get out your notebook and take advantage of the summer heat. Think Christmas. And then start planning your holidays now.
And once you finish with that, settle in to work on one of those handmade gifts you want to give. It’s a perfect way to beat the summer heat and still be productive.
If you want to learn more about the topic at hand just visit my website at www.thefarmwife.com/ . If you have questions or just want to stop in for a visit, you can do that through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to subscribe – you don’t want to miss a single conversation. I'll be sitting on the porch every Monday morning waiting for your visit!
Thanks again for stopping in. I will see you next week on Living a Simple Life with a Back Porch View. And while you are waiting on the next episode, grab that glass of refreshment, pull up a rocker, and sit back for a while. It’s time to relax and enjoy!
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