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Have you ever thought about how things you do now can really make an impact the following year?  I certainly have because I know for a fact that my Christmas goes so much easier when I plan for the future ones.  Over the years I’ve found some easy methods that will guarantee you have an easier Christmas the following year, but it starts now.  These 7 simple steps I promise will help.

GET ORGANIZED WITH LISTS

Just like Santa you need to make a list, and not just one list but several.  I have a file folder with lists and little notes to help me out the next year.  I suggest not packing the folder away as you’ll most likely need to view it early next year before your Christmas stuff is out.  So you’re probably wondering what my lists are about?  Pretty much anything and everything, here’s a few examples of my lists.

Previous gifts – That’s right I keep a list of previous gifts that I’ve given and look it over before I start Christmas shopping.  I find that this helps because you can’t always remember what you give as gifts and nobody wants a pink cashmere sweater or a pair of black slippers every year.  This also helps me keep track of last year’s budget if it needs adjusting.

Entertaining If you don’t have a set meal that you use every holiday season (we don’t, we switch up a lot) this will help you remember what you served, what worked, and what did not.  I have all my recipes listed that I made last year with notes, and one specifically said “macaroni and cheese casserole was too dry, adjust cooking time”.  That’s good to know and I doubt I would have remembered, it’s not a consistent dish I make.  This can also help you remember who’s hosted Christmas the years before if you need to alternate or delegate tasks.

Improvements & Ideas – Changes that need to be made, ideas you have for next year that you may forget…I wasn’t happy with the brightness of our tree this year.  It’s going on the list!  This is 2 years in a row I haven’t been happy with our tree lights, I’m going to write it in bold with a highlighter…haha.  Brian likes to decorate the backyard more than the front yard, he has some great ideas for next year.  Those are all going on the improvement list, in case he forgets.

TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS OF YOUR DECORATED HOME

This is such a big help for me!  Now, if you have just a few decorations that go in the same spot every year you probably can skip this.  For me I switch things up every Christmas, so photos are a good reference, but every year I like to incorporate some new items into our decorating and I can’t always remember what I have.  I like to view photos before I shop for new items otherwise I overbuy or buy things I already have.  One year I didn’t check my photos well and bought these new silver reindeers before I had my decorations up, sure enough once I got our stuff out I already had silver reindeers, several actually.  This is a crucial step for overboard decorators like me.

Another benefit of having photos is if you keep things in a similar spot every year others can help you decorate and take down decor by just looking at photos, you don’t have to tell them where every little thing goes.

PROPER STORAGE

Yeah, you knew I was going to throw this in.  This is the most basic of them all.  The better you wrap and organize your Christmas decorations the more you will like yourself next year.  I’ve tried to upgrade our all plastic storage bins into clear ones so it’s easier to eyeball what is in there.  Also I organize ornaments by what tree they go on…yes I put up several trees…haha.  I use large ziplock bags to group together ornaments that aren’t fragile.  Then I label the bag to say things such as “the ornaments in glass jar” or “upstairs tree”.

KEEP AN UPDATED ADDRESS LIST ON THE COMPUTER

This year I threw out my old address book, and I enjoyed doing it.  It was such a jumbled up mess of old addresses, scribbles, & post-it notes.  I had such a hard time this year addressing Christmas cards & that won’t happen again.  People move too much for an address book to work anymore.  My new method is having an address list typed out on my computer, in alphabetical order.  This way when somebody moves I can simply update it and I’ve got a clean, clutter free list that doesn’t make my brain hurt.  I also printed the list, stapled it together, and have a copy in my desk drawer, I can write any necessary notes down until I’m able to update my computer.  You can also use this to print addresses easily on envelopes and check the names off the list as the cards are sent out, insuring you don’t leave anyone out.

LOOK AT YOUR BUDGET

Take a look at what you’ve spent this year on Christmas.  Add it all up, how did you do?  Everybody is different.  Did your budget work or was it a financial strain?  If it didn’t work put a plan into action now.  Spending say $600 might have been a real financial struggle, but what if instead you had saved $50 a month throughout the year?  That would have really helped, or even if you had saved half that it would have been less strain come December.  This is a great way to maintain a yearly budget and gives you an idea if you should decrease or if you have the luxury of increasing your budget.

PLAN EARLY

Planning early can apply to so many things.  Christmas card ideas, gift ideas…think if there was anything in your Christmas this year that needed more planning.  Even if you aren’t an early decorator or planner you can still get the wheels in motion.  Maybe you wanted to make your own gifts but ran out of time.  Pick a date and put it on the calendar for next year.  I love making homemade vanilla extract for gifts but it needs 2-3 months, so I pick a date and write on the calendar in September to start the plan, otherwise there is a good chance I’ll forget and it won’t be ready.

DONATE UNUSED ITEMS

Because I like to switch out our decorations each Christmas we were getting piles of stuff we no longer used.  Last year I finally decided to tackle the clean out task.  There is no point to store items every year you probably won’t use again.  It gets in the way when trying to unpack what you really need, so pass it on and help another person out who could use it.

Have any helpful tips for an easy Christmas?  Leave them in the comments below, and be sure and check out some of my other holiday blog posts!