Th Joy of List Making

Lists are an invaluable tool for staying focused. In this information age our memories are on overload much of the time. Thus, the idea of allowing paper to carry the burden of remembering and organizing the season's myriad tasks is enticing. If you're at all like me your HOLIDAY NOTEBOOK will probably include the following:
A MASTER GIFT LIST. Write down every person you wish to include in your holiday gift giving. Next to each name, indicate how much you want to spend on the gift; whether you plan to buy or make the gift; as well as several ideas you have for that person (don't forget stocking stuffers and token, i.e., small, gifts). Remember to include the mail delivery person, trash collectors, teachers, neighbors, and business associates. If necessary, add a reminder for gifts that must be mailed in advance--include a "mail-by" date to ensure they get delivered on time.
CREATE A SEPARATE PAGE FOR EACH PERSON on your list who will be receiving more than one or two gifts. Allow enough space on each page for an ACQUIRED column. You will use this to record gifts once they've been purchased or created. This is especially useful to parents with several children to buy for, as well for monitoring Internet purchases. Don't forget to record the date you ordered them so you can keep track of their arrival. When recording an item in the ACQUIRED column, remember to write down the price you paid.
ESTABLISH SEVERAL PAGES TO LIST HOLIDAY DECORATING TASKS. This includes buying and trimming the tree, writing and mailing greeting cards; wrapping gifts; putting up outdoor decorations and the like. You may also wish to include projected completion dates next to each listed task.
CREATE PAGES TO RECORD HOLIDAY BAKING PROJECTS AND RECIPES. Include home baked gifts you'll be making, as well as goodies for parties you plan to attend (homemade goodies are lovely hostess gifts) or host. Remember to include foods you plan to serve during the holidays, such as pies and breakfast breads, even the turkey, potatoes, stuffing and vegetables. Hint: Be sure to include the cost of your baking supplies when deciding your full holiday budget (mentioned in yesterday's post).
CREATE AN ACTION PAGE for each week leading up to your final completion date. This is determined by your start and finish dates. For example: If you begin planning on October 3rd, and your final deadline is December 4th, you'll have nine weeks in which to accomplish your goals. Consequently, you'll have nine ACTION pages (one for each week).
EACH WEEK, CHOOSE ONE (OR MORE) GIFTS FROM YOUR LIST AND BUY THEM. Your budget and timeline will determine how many or how few. Remember to wrap, label, and discretely tuck aside your gifts each week. When our children were small we used those very large, black garbage bags to house the gifts. We hid most of them in the rafters of the garage. Just don't forget where you put them!!
FINALLY, INCLUDE A PAGE TO LIST NAMES OF CHARITIES YOU LIKE TO ASSIST, along with their web address, phone number and the like. I can't think of a better way to cultivate the soul of the season than to give the gift of caring ~ in the form of time, money, and/or labor. Think about helping out at your local soup kitchen or shelter during the busy holiday season. Hint: In a culture of entitlement, this is an especially valuable lesson for older children and teens who don't realize how blessed they are. I can think of no better experience than to include them in your charitable activities. Seeing how tough life can be for those less fortunate offers a valuable gift of perspective at a young age.
Relax and Create the Magic

Once you've allowed your HOLIDAY NOTEBOOK to bear the burden of remembering and organizing for you, you'll enjoy them so much more. There is a magic in list making. The simple act of writing out your potential accomplishments sends an unconscious message to the central nervous system. Consequently, you will often find yourself doing the very tasks you've wanted done.
Remember to relax. You needn't fret if you're unable to accomplish or afford every task and item in your HOLIDAY NOTEBOOK. If the decorations aren't perfect, and the children don't have matching outfits, the world won't come to an end. Your family and friends aren't nearly as likely to remember such details. What they WILL remember is whether you were in a good mood or a bad mood.