Fail to plan . . .

I know that I shouldn't rush right past Thanksgiving. And I'm not; I promise. In fact, our second born is arriving home THIS SATURDAY from college, and after a three-month absence, I'm all a-twitter and chock-full of thanks. Sterling and I are firming up our Thanksgiving menu, so there will be more on that later.

For better or worse, Thanksgiving prep and Christmas planning must inevitably coincide, at least at my house. Cards need to be ordered. The shopping needs to be done. Decorations need installing. And then there are the thousand other miscellaneous Christmas THINGS that need a slot on the calendar: like gingerbread decorating, caroling and hot cocoa, school and church parties (that require small gifts -- so many small gifts), visiting, remembering, all manner of celebrating. 

I'm thinking of putting together a Christmas planner this year -- one that I can reuse or duplicate (in some way) for subsequent years.

The eighteen25 girls do a pretty nifty planner. Each year they update the tags with the new year. The instructions for assembly are here. And new 2013 tags are here. [Edited to add: Ha! Just saw that eighteen25 posted TODAY about 2013 Christmas planners. I'm so IN SYNC. Check it out here.

Nora from JustMakeStuff is a master of organization. I'd like to hire her to run my life, and if she'd consider working for absolutely free -- I think we could make things work. She even has an entire wrapping center at her house. (Last year, it should be noted, I put up a long table in my bedroom and stocked it with wrapping supplies. I left the table up for about two weeks, and was fairly successful at corralling my Christmas mess into that one location. Three cheers!) Nora's planner incorporates a Christmas section into an existing organizational binder. See here (click on links for all of the downloads and instructions). Also, she has an entire Christmas category (along the right side of her blog) that is super fun and instructional.

If you are more of a virtual planner, Real Simple has an "Ultimate Christmas countdown Checklist" that breaks tasks down for you by date . . . and you do get to virtually tick the boxes . . . which everyone knows is exceedingly satisfying.

There is an app (of course) called The Christmas List, which is primarily a shopping app -- tracking items to be purchased, wrapped, mailed, etc. The app also includes a budget feature which allows you track the amount spent on each person on your list. (But I hate budgeting . . . so THERE.]

Whatever organizational method I end up utilizing, I'm dead set on simplifying. Manageable -- that's going to be my mantra this year.

And guess what? Jordan's Christmas is already making it's way to France. ONE DOWN . . .

What about you guys? How do you keep Christmas simple? How do you focus your big kids on the real joy of the season?