I know you're wondering how many posts could I possible write on Christmas while it's only September! I needed this week to get my feet back under me and I'm feeling much better, but I couldn't finish the topic without discussing how to stay organized during the holidays so that we are prepared to worship when December arrives and we aren't all running around frantically trying to get ready the last two weeks before Christmas day.
Cynthia Townley Ewer has a couple of fantastic websites, one of which is Organized Christmas. You really need to spend some time over there and get familiar with her site. Besides some great articles, you can join her Houseworks Holiday Plan, The Rudolph Club, or The Holiday Grand Plan. Each of these options are free of charge and include weekly assignments that vary depending on which plan you follow. There are great articles, crafts, recipes, decorating ideas, gift ideas (homemade of course), and my favorite: The Christmas Planner and the Christmas Countdown, which is the most simple and basic. It's just enough to keep me on track and allow me the flexibility to do things the way I like. After the doing it the first year, I just print up the forms, follow the weekly checklists, and skip the parts I don't need.
While most of her plans focus on getting the house clean before company arrives, the Christmas Countdown focuses on getting your gifts, christmas cards, and meals ready by the time advent rolls around. And it even includes tips for Thanksgiving preparations as well. The other plans begin around the end of August, but the Christmas Countdown doesn't start until about the last week in October. This works great for me since I need September to get school going and into a routine. Six weeks after you begin, you will be completely done with all your preparations and you will be set to enjoy the holidays - if you follow her guidelines.
I've been doing the Countdown for about 6 years and what a blessing it has been! Honestly, I don't want to be preparing eleven months for Christmas. I prefer to tuck money away all year so that when it rolls around, I have a bit of cash reserved to do some special baking, crafting, family activities, and charitable donations, most of which take place during this six week period prior to Advent. I confess that I don't finish everything on time each year, but I do get more done than I would have if I just flew by the seat of my pants. And what's left to finish isn't so intrusive on my worship or celebration.