Monday, November 30, 2009

Organized Holiday (Christmas) Preparation Calendar

My Holiday Preparation Calendar has reduced the stress of my Christmas preparations. The past 24 years as a mom have taught me that advanced preparation and pacing yourself are the greatest invention since the Ziploc bag.

For me, decorating and shopping take most of my time. I do the bulk of that in November. This allows December to be a time to spend time with family, attend school concerts, create memories, and ponder the birth of our Savior. Our tree goes up the week before Thanksgiving because it's artificial. Some people think I'm a bit odd for doing it then, but I think my family likes a stress-free mom on Thanksgiving Day. I'm a bit ahead and behind, but on my way. Feel free to copy, adjust for yourself or save for next year. Here is a PDF file.

Holiday Preparation Calendar

September 1st WeekPut up Fall decorations
2nd Week
Update Christmas card address list
Order Christmas address labels
3rd Week
Decide on Christmas budget
Decide what Christmas traditions this year
Decide on holiday travel plans
4th Week
Create a Master Christmas Gift list
October 1st Week
Put up Halloween decorations
Work on homemade Christmas gifts
2nd Week
Buy supplies for Halloween costumes
Shop for girl's holiday dresses
3rd Week
Buy pumpkins for Halloween
Family Christmas picture taken
Order copies of family pictures
Ask family for Santa wish lists
Work on Homemade Christmas gifts
Start Christmas shopping
4th Week
More Christmas shopping
Enjoy Halloween!
November1st WeekTake down Halloween decorations
Put up Thanksgiving decorations
Send invites for Thanksgiving if at our house
Christmas shopping
Write family Christmas letter
Make copies of Christmas letter
2nd Week
Inspect/put up outdoor Christmas lights
Inspect Christmas decorations
Buy stamps for cards/letters
Calendar holiday activities/parties
More Christmas shopping
Decide holiday party menus
3rd WeekSet up/decorate Christmas tree
Find Thanksgiving tables, chairs, utensils
Decide on Thanksgiving table decorations
Shop for Thanksgiving meal items
Wrap/box relative gifts
4th Week
Enjoy Thanksgiving
Give relatives Christmas gifts
Take down Thanksgiving decorations
Set up advent calendar and nativity
Finish online Christmas shopping
1st WeekAddress and sign Christmas cards
Shop for stocking stuffers
Mail all packages & cards
Wrap presents and listen to Christmas music
Tradition: Read nightly Christmas stories
Tradition: Go to 1st Presidency Devotional
2nd WeekTake kids shopping for siblings & teachers
Kids wrap gifts for siblings & teachers
Tradition: Read nightly Christmas stories
Tradition: Go visit temple lights
Tradition: Go work at homeless shelter
Tradition: Make Christmas goodies
3rd WeekPurchase food for Christmas breakfast/dinner
Tradition: Go caroling
Tradition: Read nightly Christmas stories
4th WeekMake Christmas Eve dinner
Tradition: Read the Christmas story
Enjoy Christmas Day and family
Shop after Christmas sales
Purchase next years decorations
Plan New Year's activities
Tradition: New Year's Eve countdown

Food and Emergency Storage Items to Gather: December

Here are some ideas of items to stock up on this month. You may find some of these on sale at this time of the year. Choose items that you think your family would use and add them to this month's food storage plan.

Baking cocoa
Baking chocolate
Lipton onion soup
Extracts - vanilla, almond
Evaporated milk
Marshmallow crème
Bread crumbs
Makeup (use coupons)
Baby powder
Kitchen trash bags
Paper bowls (hide away for emergencies)
Bread rolls
Nuts (2 year shelf life if frozen)
Chocolate or baking chips, sealed
cold medicine
cough drops
decongestant, etc.
Duct tape
Snow scraper
Detailed area map
Small mirror
Pocket knife
Small toiletries
Good shoes
Paper towels
Hand wipes
Electric wheat grinder (on sale)
Solar shower

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Home Organization: Daily Household Routines for Mom

I suppose I should have done this in January, but as my preparations for the holidays have increased, I've felt the need for organization in my life. I've looked at before, but got completely overwhelmed. This time, I decided what this stay-at-home mom could realistically accomplish.

Remember: I have independent-get-our-own-breakfast teens, and a four year-old. So you young moms who work may get overwhelmed with my schedule. Just create your own routine. It really makes sense to have a Bedtime and Morning routine. Obviously you can't always stick to a routine. However, I have been very happy with mine. It keeps me from getting sidetracked. I still need more practice, but it's so nice to wake up to a tidy house. Still tweaking, but eventually I want to laminate these cards and keep them in the kitchen and desk.

Bedtime Routine
1. Clean up house (20 min. tops)
 Tidy LR, FR & Kitchen
 Kitchen: clean up, shine sink, put out clean dishcloths
 Put items away on stairs
2. Think about tomorrow
 Check calendar for appointments
 Write up To Do list
 Put out tonight what will make tomorrow easier
 Check the weather
 Lay out clothes (my girls do this, so why not me!)
3. Focus on Self
 Get ready for bed
 Bath (sometimes)
 Read scriptures
 Read or Sudoku for fun
 Prayer

Morning Routine (M - F)
1. Rise & Shine
 Prayer
 Exercise (treadmill)
 Make bed (if hubby is out)
 Make sure teens are moving
 Shower
 Swish toilet w/cleaner
 Get dressed
 Put in a load of laundry (Mon/Fri)
 Eat breakfast/vitamins
2. Think About My Day
 Check calendar
 Check To Do List
 Check email (10 min. tops)
3. Kitchen
 Wake 4 year-old
 Help her get dressed
 Start her breakfast
 Unload dishwasher
 Let out/feed dog
 Put out something to thaw for dinner

Thursday, November 19, 2009

LDS Missionary Christmas Care Package Ideas

Update: Another Christmas Care Package idea for my newest missionary can be found here.

Today I mailed a few Christmas care packages to my son serving an LDS mission in Bolivia. About a month ago I asked him to send me ideas of what he might want or need. This year I wrapped each gift and put a mailing label on it with a scripture for him to look up. I looked up the correlating scriptures in the Topical Guide and the Bible dictionary. It was enjoyable for me, and I hope he reads them instead of tearing open all of the little packages first.

Shipping Tips:

  • Keep package weight under 4 lbs. to prevent expensive customs fees at the other end.
  • Use a postal scale at home before you get to the post office so you don't have any surprises. When I arrived at the post office, both packages weighed 3 lbs. 14 oz. each! Pretty good.
  • Choose items that are lightweight.
  • Don't try to send everything you desire because if he gets transferred, he can't take it all with him.

Items I sent:

Water filtration bottle - John 3:5
Beef Jerky - Matt. 25:35
Cracker Jack's - Matt. 12:1
Rice Krispies Treat - D&C 89:14
Starbursts - Genesis 1:16
Sugar Free Hawaiian Punch singles - John 2:3-9
Life Saver Storybook - Luke 9:56
Swedish Fish - Matt 4:19
Wonka Laffy Taffy - Eccl. 3:4
Post-it Notes - 2 Chron. 30:6
Nerf Basketball w/hoop & net - Matt. 13:47
Candycane Cocoa packets - Mark 6:8
November Conference Ensign - D&C 1:38
CTR rings in Spanish for kids - Joshua 24:15
5x7 Pictures of President Monson - Amos 3:7
Sm. Hand sanitizer - D&C 50:28
CD "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" - D&C 58:4
Oatmeal packets - D&C 89:16-21
Family Testimonies written in English & Spanish to be put in BofM's he passes out - D&C 76:22
Pillowcase with family handprints - 3 Nephi 11:15-17
Ties for companion and converts
Willowtree Thank You ornament & bookmark for pensionistas (cooks). I wrote a thank you in Spanish on the back of each gift.
Mini Christmas tree (Walgreens)
Super-mini Christmas lights (Walgreens)
Advent Calendar
A few gifts and letters from relatives.

Some other missionary care package ideas from BYU Women's Conference
More ideas here

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gifts of Love and Inexpensive Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

For many, Christmas this year will be different. It will be frugal. It will be more thoughtful. It will be creative. Today I've been reflecting on how to put the true spirit of giving into our Christmas. How to give the gift of self. So I'm taking a moment to pause and really think about my loved ones and how to give gifts of love this year. So my gift to you is to share my ideas:

How to Give Gifts of Love:1. First, write down the names of those you want to give to. It's impossible to give to everyone in the world, so be realistic.
2. Decide on your overall Christmas budget, and then write down a budget for each person. Now is not the time to go into debt. This year may be leaner for many of us, but you can still have a wonderful time together with some creative planning.
3. Consider your skills and talents. Giving a gift of service to a family member or friend, is one of the most memorable gifts you can give. With your typing skills you could type up a journal for your Dad. With your baking skills you could make a food item. With your art skills you could paint or decorate an apron or a T-shirt. With your carpentry skills you could build the shelves your wife has always wanted (hint, hint). With your computer skills you could design a website for your mom (thanks, Josh!). With your photography skills you could create a family movie.
4. Now, think of each person's hobbies, job, favorites, or other interests. Really think. Have they been having a difficult time recently? What could make a difference? Write down what comes to mind. Do they like to cook, work in the garden, read, or play a musical instrument? Is their favorite color green? Do they love to eat? Do they have a favorite band or sport?
5. Next, pray for guidance to know what the real needs are of the person.
6. After you've written down some your ideas and their interests, if you still need help then go through the links below and jot down your gift ideas. Just write the gift idea and the link number below so you can find it again.

This year try to make Christmas more thoughtful and memorable by giving a gift from the heart. Best wishes!
#2 Read article: "A Christmas Made at Home"
#3 Read article: "Our Best Tradition Yet"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Retail Items That Go On Sale in November 2009

What goes on sale in November? If you are trying to save money, the following items typically go on sale in the month of November. Some are perfect for emergencies, Christmas, or everyday. There is a big push for retailers to draw you into their stores this month. I tried to list some items you could wait on for the clearance sale. I've noticed that overall stock is lower in WalMart and Target as retailers are attempting to not overbuy, so be conscious of that.

Items on Sale this November:
Fall decor clearance. Shop first week after Halloween. (I saw some items yesterday in Joann's Fabrics for 70% off. Put a couple of things aside for next year).
Halloween costume clearance. Shop first week after Halloween. (dress up costumes are a great gift for a little girl.)
Coats (if you can wait, the best clearance sales come in January. I bought a coat at Kohl's earlier this year that retailed for $150. I paid $20!)
Boots (if you need them now, buy them on sale. Harder to find your size when they go on clearance.)
Gloves (December is better, or January clearance. Get two pairs as gloves get lost.)
Quilts (Flannel sheets are now on shelves in the store, so retailers have unsold quilts on sale or clearance)
Baby blankets (on sale. Go to or )
Heating appliances (on sale)
Water heaters (on sale)
Small appliances (on sale)
Men’s/boy’s suits (on sale. best time is Easter)
Thanksgiving week sales (Actually several weeks of sales. Just about every department will have something on sale.)

Hang onto sale mailers and put them in your purse or car. Even though you may not plan to shop, it's always nice to have them on hand when you suddenly decide you need something. Throw away old flyers when you are waiting somewhere like the doctor's.

Here is my seasonal sales calendar. Needs to be updated.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Here are some ideas of items to stock up on this month. You may find some of these on sale. Choose items that you think your family would use and add them to your monthly food storage plan.

Shelf Foods
Canned pumpkin
Sweet potatoes/Yams
Spices - cinnamon, etc.
Cake mix
Pie filling
Broth - beef & chicken
Cooking spray
Brownie mix
Brown sugar
Freezer Foods
Whipped topping
Non-Food Items
Plastic wrap
Medical & First Aid
Hand sanitizer
Cotton balls
Car Emergency Kit: Part 1
Water bottles
Food bars, etc.
Jumper cables
Flashlight and batteries
Toilet paper roll
Work gloves
Plastic trash bags
ABC fire extinguisher
Smoke detector
Fire escape ladder
Emergency Prep
Latches on cupboards
Brace shelves/cabinets