Holidays 2011 | getting started

12 days of Christmas is good. The advent calendars have 24 days. But this year, to share with you, I’m going for 25 days. But first, an introduction…

I’m about to launch a 25-post strong holiday crafting series here, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. These will be real projects, pages, and ideas that I am personally using this holiday season. Before I get that started though, I wanted to share a post about my holiday schedule. You see, I’m a firm believer in extending the preparations period so that the words “stressed” and “rushed” (almost) NEVER enter my holiday vocabulary. I believe any and all holiday offerings should come from a place of love and happiness!

So here are the rules I follow:

1. Christmas photo to be taken in early November. [full post on this as soon as I take mine!]

2. I buy my holiday cards, I do not craft them, mostly because I love pre-made cards and have no desire to mass-produce the 50-70 cards I’d need. I did it one year and I resented the cards – it is just not for me. I buy an assortment (on sale the year before) and address them/fill them out/add photo/seal them up a few at a time starting the first week of November. Usually as I watch TV or need a quiet break from other things.

3. All “to be mailed” gifts must be purchased, wrapped, and MAILED by Tuesday BEFORE Thanksgiving. The years I’ve let this one slide I have gravely regretted the hour+ the post office took! The days before Thanksgiving tend to be quiet in postal land. Take advantage!

4. Before I am allowed to fully immerse myself into holiday zone, I must write down my lists. Who I’m sending cards to, who I’m getting gifts for, what gifts I’ve purchased early, what my baking plans are, etc. The holiday prep can be overwhelming, but by organizing myself I’ve found I don’t spin in circles, forget as much, and having it on paper helps keep it manageable. It also helps me remember people I want to make sure and not forget (for cookies, whatever!)

5. The day after Thanksgiving is for decorating inside and out!! Tree, decor, the works! This day we really get things turned up with music, movies, and full on Christmas mode. We love to lay low, avoid crowds, love every minute together.

6. I enjoy myself, and treat even the mundane tasks as traditions to be enjoyed. By working from a place of happiness, I am always smiling this time of year!

The most important rule in my mind is that you choose what you do, how, and why. The spirit of the season is different for every person, and there’s no one right way to do it.

This year I want to focus on wrapping gifts earlier and doing more with each one (vs just special wrapping a few). Last year we took a vacation for the first week of December, which I allowed to disrupted a lot of my normal traditions and flow. I had a whole different outlook and approach – including skipping most of the baking and getting a late start on our decorating. I was fine with that – honestly I enjoyed mixing it up. But it reminded me why I go to the post office early, why I like writing my cards in November not December, and why in general I like to space things out more.

Because the true secret to my holiday happiness? Come December 10th, when a lot of people are running around and frantic to get finished, I’m sipping cocoa and reading a holiday novel or watching White Christmas. I’m baking a batch of cookies with my girls and doing something fun. I’m relaxed – because I give myself the time and space to be. THAT is truly a gift!! In fact, this Saturday we’re going to have a holiday craft day at my mom’s place to get things started!

I just purchased the Christmas Junque kit from – LOVE IT! You’ll see me using it a lot over the next six weeks or so. My “25 crafty ideas” series… well I don’t quite know if that’s the name I’ve settled on. You’ll see 25 projects – including how-to, videos, all kinds of good information – starting Monday. I will likely have other blog posts mixed in as well, so it’s not going to 100% take over my blog or be 25 days in a row. But everything I share? REAL. I’m going to share a lot of gift wrap, some home decor, hostess/teacher/small gift ideas, a mini book, some holiday tags, favorite recipes, and throughout these posts I’ll add in some of my personal favorite music, movies, and more. So I guess it’s more 25 days of holiday cheer than just crafty ideas!!!

I hope you’re going to enjoy it as much as I am – and I’m just getting started!! I’d love to hear any tips or “rules” you follow to make most of holiday season.