Monday, September 19, 2011

Let the holiday planning BEGIN!

I have to admit, I am a Christmas addict. It is really a sickness. Thanksgiving can't get here fast enough for me every year--not just because it is a wonderful time of family togetherness and reflection on our blessings, but it also marks the 'official' countdown to Christmas! I have always watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with wide-eyed anticipation of the end ... Santa's sleigh riding in signaling the beginning of the festivities. I love *almost* everything about Christmas (I'm not real keen on the commercialism of the whole thing--it cheapens it--but for the most part I just ignore it and focus on the good stuff), and while I don't really look forward to the craziness, there's another little bit of excitement found in the organization and planning that adds to the joyful anticipation. In the past I have used Organized Home's Holiday Grand Plan (and the organizer printable pages) to get my holiday merrymaking in order, but I'm always up for a new organizational tool, especially when it's a Christmassy one!

THIS year, I bought the 100 Days to Christmas E-Book for my Nook (also available in Kindle and PDF formats) and I'm LOVING the daily reflection and slow-but-steady planning. Do you realize we have only 97 days till Christmas today? Guess what? I'm NOT stressed about it! Why? 'Cause I've got my PLAN on this year! Do you? NO? Well, by all means, go get yourself an e-book and get to it!
Are you more of a blog-follower? Well, they have that too.

So far, since last Friday (day 100 for those of you who are still not with the program! LOL), we have made planners, gathered calendars and started making wishlists for our family. Today is all about budget planning. Eww, I know ... but as with all plans, if you don't have one, you'll blow it!

Personally, frugality is something I quite enjoy. I've tried to instill in my children a love for things that are made with love instead of just purchased to placate. Hmm ... that sounds bad. I'm all for wishlists and telling the department-store Santa what's at the top of a child's list, but trying to fit everything on those lists under our tree was a rather financially-painful endeavor (and didn't do them any GOOD) when we had just two children. NOW we have seven--plus those two children-by-marriage, and hopefully we'll start being blessed with grandchildren soon, so ....... budget planning is a major necessity. Buying anything for seven children can get VERY expensive.

My own saving grace is clearance sales! LOVE those holiday clearance sales! In fact, I don't think I've paid full price for holiday wrapping paper in ... ten years, maybe? I've also not paid full price for stocking stuffers. My strategy is to have some money set aside for *after* Christmas to stock up on little items that go on clearance to put away for the following year! I've already got quite a stash in the gift closet, but I really do need to get in there and figure out what all I've bought!

This Christmas is going to include a couple of budget-busters, but every few years, that isn't a big deal, really. We don't make a habit of it. Morgan is *really* hoping for an American Girl doll, and Jamie has been BEGGING for her own Game Boy DSI since Morgan got hers for her birthday. We don't usually mind too much spending a little more when we know they are more responsible with their belongings. We do, however, need to figure out how much we plan on spending (and NOT spending) on the rest of the family. Time for a hubby-conference! I do know that Pete and I have pretty much decided that our older children will be getting "couple" gifts instead of individual ones. Since all four of them will be home (okay, not THEIR home, but ours) for this Christmas, we'll probably do stockings for everybody this year too. Not exactly expensive, but with 11 of us, it could be! I think we need to do some tree ornaments in the adult kids' stockings so when they start having their own trees, they will have some special ornaments to put ON them!

Oooooooh, my holiday juices are flowing!

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