Creating a Christmas Notebook

Christmas Notebook

For a season that is draped in tradition, Christmas often has a way of making everyone feel a little frazzled and foggy-brained, especially moms. And while there are definitely many extras added onto the month of December--parties to attend, treats to bake, gifts to wrap, decorations to put up--most of the hubbub that happens around the holidays is routine. The to-dos happen every year at exactly the same time in exactly the same way.

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So why is it that each year finds so many moms making list after list so they don't forget a single thing amid the clamor and chaos? Why do they reinvent the same wheels over and over again? They make lists for gift buying, lists for activities they'd like to do with their kids, lists for groceries to shop for, lists for supplies to pick up at the craft store, lists, lists, lists.

It's a cycle of madness. But it doesn't have to be.

Creating a Christmas Notebook

One year, I decided to jump off that crazy train and put all my lists in one spot. I created a Christmas notebook to hold all of the lists. Now as December rolls around, I just lather-rinse-repeat all the major happenings. And since I no longer have all that mental clutter weighing on me, I can use my energy resources to enjoy the season.

My Christmas Notebook

As a minimalist, when I made my notebook, I chose to keep it simple. I always have dot journals on hand for homeschool projects, so I used one of those and added some festive paper scraps to give it a Christmas look. But you could also use a 3-ring binder which would give you the option to add, subtract, or rearrange elements whenever necessary. Additionally, you could purchase a blank Christmas-specific journal like this one or a pre-fabricated Christmas memory book like this one

Christmas notebook and wreath

Two ways to use a Christmas Notebook

Some women prefer to make a memory album for storing photos, keepsakes, and stories of Christmases past. These journals generally get added to at the end of the season and act as a scrapbook.

Others like to make a holiday planner. It's like a brain-dump notebook that has places for creating calendars, lists, and plans for that specific year. If you choose to go this route, you can make one of your own or purchase one that has already been created for you like the following: 

I land somewhere in the middle. For the most part, my notebook is full of lists. But not the kind of lists that you'd write on a sticky note and then toss away. Instead, they're the kind of lists that act as moorings from year to year. They include inventories of traditions so that I don't have to expel any extra brain energy trying to remember the important things. 

What I include in my Christmas Notebook

Currently, my notebook includes the following pages:
  • Advent activities that we've enjoyed in the past (I use this list to plan 24 activities for our Christmas countdown calendar. Since I've compiled over 50 ideas, I can rotate activities from year to year while still including treasured favorites.)
  • Favorite Nativity picture books (I use all the following book lists to quickly reserve all the books I'll need for our Christmas book flood each year.)
  • Favorite living literature-themed Christmas books
  • Favorite Christmas-themed picture books
  • Favorite Christmas-themed chapter books for kids
  • Favorite Advent devotionals 
  • Favorite Christmas-themed novels for adults
  • My Christmas gift-giving formula for stockings and under-the-tree gifts.
  • A shopping list of things I always need to buy each year such as 6 rolls of wrapping paper, tape, cookie tins, etc.
  • Recipes for all our favorite Christmas cookies
  • Ordering info for our favorite Chinese restaurant (Since moving to a new town far away from family, we've ordered Chinese food for Christmas Eve dinner. I've written down the phone number and the quantities needed for all our favorite dishes so I don't have to waste any time trolling through an online menu.)
  • Menu for Christmas dinner
  • Grocery list for Christmas dinner 

Christmas notebook and cookies

Other items to include in a Christmas Notebook

  • Favorite Christmas movie titles
  • Christmas card list (names and addresses of those you typically send greetings to each season)
  • "Best of" lists (Write down each person's favorite Christmas memory or gift from year to year.)
  • Gift-giving list (names of other folks you need to make/purchase a gift for like music teachers, coaches, co-op teachers, etc.)
  • A pull out December Calendar
  • A pocket for cards you've received
  • Photo sleeves
  • Homemade gift ideas
  • Christmas wish lists
  • Party planning ideas

Christmas notebook and cards

Final word

Can I give you a piece of unsolicited advice as you consider creating a Christmas notebook? If at all possible, hand-write it all. In our digital age, it's obviously easier and faster to type out, print, and glue all the necessary lists, recipes, and memories into a journal. But a notebook--even one with very little frills like mine--can become a treasured keepsake for future generations, especially if it's written out by you. One day, your personal scribblings will act as a thread connecting you to your children and your children's children. 

Remember, a Christmas notebook is a tool. It should work for you, not the other way around. If maintaining a notebook adds more fuss to your December, then it's not worth your time or energy to create one. But, on the other hand, if you'd find value in having all your Christmas plans out of your brain and tucked safely in one spot, I'd highly recommend spending a few minutes this season to put a notebook together. 

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