A little bit about home and leisure

Holiday Playbook

C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S, did I really say CHRISTMAS?!!!  Is hearing that word bittersweet for you?  Me too!  As much as it shouldn’t be, it is!  With all the joyful memories and anticipated smiles and giggles, comes that anxiousness of making it to that day without allowing myself to get edgy, stressed or bitter.  Starting several years ago, I declared no longer would I allow the holidays to run my game, but yet, I would become the playmaker who would prepare ahead for the knowns and be ready for the unknowns.  

With our intense holiday schedules (you know what I mean, don’t you? You’re sitting there nodding your head without even realizing it, aren’t you?!), I try to do the majority of my holiday planning and preparations ahead of December.  And as our family has grown, preparing ahead has become even more imperative for the sake of my sanity, the enjoyment of the holiday and most importantly, the embrace of Christmas and the fellowship with family and friends.  This year I’ve gotten a little too ambitious and have included a few remodeling/redecorating projects in the midst . . . YES!  I need my sanity checked!  I just can’t handle our floors any longer, so why not add more to my plate.  Ever been there?  

So for the sake of your and my sanity, I want to introduce you to my method for managing all this madness . . . My Holiday Playbook!  Kinda’ like the long, methodical preparation of a college football coach strategizing for the National Championship Game, my playbook helps breakdown the planning and preparation into manageable, weekday bites over the course of six weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  Though there will be unexpected hiccups during the holidays, they are less stressful when everything else is already figured into the playbook.  (We live in the south where college football is not just a Saturday hap’ning, but a religion – we plan our tailgates and attire days in advance!  So please, if you just hate football, overlook those analogies and just get to the nitty gritty!)

Are you ready for a less stressful holiday season?  Ready for some simple daily steps to help maintain “silent nights” where “all is calm”?  Then, join our team and lets tackle the holidays one day at a time!  Visit the blog or follow us on Instagram: ann_magnoliahouse for our daily “plays” from our Holiday Playbook!  Let’s have some fun ushering in the holidays!


Christmas Playlist

TODAY, MONDAY . . . Day 1 – Let’s get into the mood.  Fortunately, it has FINALLY started cooling down enough in the south, so I can actually think about Christmas.  Make yourself a cup of warm yumminess, turn on your favorite Christmas playlist, recruit your family members and let’s get started.  Grab everyone a small plastic trash bag, pre-determine 3-4 of your favorite Christmas songs and explain the rules to your team members.  Assign each member their own bedroom and a common room, i.e. kitchen, family room, etc., then for those 3-4 songs (or set a 15 minute timer) everyone goes to their location and fills the bags with trash that has been cluttering surfaces, baskets, and counter tops.  Once the songs end, take the bags out to the trash and you’re done!  Happy Monday!!!

Holiday Playbook

TUESDAY . . . Day 2 – Today we are beginning to build our holiday playbook!  To start with we’re printing a few helpful tools in planning for the holidays.  

Calendar . . . First, we want to print our calendars for October, November and December and begin adding important dates to our calendars, i.e. special church celebrations, children’s Christmas programs, dinners with friends, and corporate dinners.  Honestly, I live with my calendar on my iphone and ipad – it allows me to “invite” my husband to events and juggle all of our calendars.  If you’re an iphone or ipad user, Apple offers an app “Cal Printer” for printing your digital calendar.  For those of you who just want to print a clean calendar for your playbook, here’s one I made just for you . . .

Holiday Playbook Calendar

Christmas Card Register . . . Now, begin assembling your addresses for holiday cards.  Personally, I keep it on a spreadsheet for easy updates, but it’s what works best for you that is most important.  If you want to build your own spreadsheet, I’ve got Excel & Numbers spreadsheets attached or you can print the PDF and complete by hand.  Whatever works for you!  

Christmas Card Register (PDF)

Christmas Card Register (Spreadsheet)

(On a side note, if your family likes to send photo holiday cards, then schedule your photography appointment TODAY before your photographer is booked!)

Holiday Traditions . . . I included a place for gathering and planning your holiday traditions.  Think through and jot down your favorite holiday traditions (or even some you may want to add).  Once you’ve though through these, add necessary dates to your calendar.

Holiday Traditions

Finally, if you’re like me and just feel the need to organize a special binder just for your holiday playbook . . . Go ahead & purchase a package of a set of 5 tabs (1-Calendar, 2- Christmas Cards & Gifts, 3-Culinary Creations, 4-Decor, 5-Travel) & the binder.  And a little fun tip – Zazzle has some great looking binders and you can even personalize it!

WEDNESDAY . . . Day 3 – Well hello there!  So you’ve stuck with me until Day 3!  Congratulations!!!  Today is just a simple project . . . We’re going to take inventory of our wrapping paper, boxes, tissue paper, tape, ribbon, scissors, and Christmas cards.  I have a long, flat container for wrapping paper, tissue paper, tape, etc., a basket to collect my ribbon, and another basket for  my Christmas cards, pens, envelopes and self-inking address stamp.  I like for my Christmas present ribbon to match my tree, so I start collecting ribbon early.  If you’re a Hobby Lobby shopper, they begin displaying their Christmas decor and gift wrap in July.  Unfortunately, the ribbon doesn’t go on sale until closer to Christmas; therefore, I purchase one roll at a time using my coupon or wait until they mark it 40% off.  After taking inventory, create a shopping list of all the necessities you’ll need for Christmas – more cards, stamps, wrapping paper, tissue paper, yada yada yada . . . Tuck that nice little list into your Holiday Playbook, we’ll need it in a few days!

THURSDAY . . . DAY 4 – I want to hug your neck . . . You’re sticking with the playbook!  Today is a “not so fun activity” day, but come December 26 or even mid-January, you WILL BE THANKFUL!  Download our budget worksheet and begin thinking about your gift giving, donations, holiday meals and baked goodies.  Friend, imagine me sitting beside you raising my hand – I am SOOOOO guilty that in the heat of the season and desperation for that perfect present for each family member and friend, I inevitably will spend TOO much on gift giving . . . Not that there’s ever too much you can do for a family member or friend, but that I will exceed our budget and feel the pinch come January!  To me, there’s three ways to prepare for Christmas expenses:  (1) set aside a certain amount every month for Christmas; (2) purchase gifts throughout the year; or (3) budget!  Since the first two are not options at this time of the year, I invite you to plan a budget for the holiday season.

Download:  Holiday Budget

Happy Planning!


FRIDAY . . . DAY 5 – FUN DAY!!!  Errands, errands, errands . . . Grab your inventory of gift wrap, tissue paper, tape, ribbons, and boxes.  Where are you lacking?  Now, head out to your favorite store to stock up on those items.  My personal favorite place to purchase gift wrap, ribbon and tissue paper is Hobby Lobby; although, if you’re an online shopper Paper Mart and The Paper Source are two great options!  For nicer gift boxes, I purchase those through The Container Store.

Have fun stocking up!  Maybe even celebrate completing your first week with some festive Christmas music and a warm, peppermint mocha (or whatever your favorite treat is!) . . . See you back on Monday!!!


MONDAY . . . DAY 6 – Welcome back!  Now that the weekend is over, we’re back on our mission to win the holiday championship!!!  Today’s prep activity is seeking and searching . . . Do you make mental, written or even phone lists with the “wants” you hear dropped throughout the year?  Grab that list and start gathering everything together on to one list.  In addition, I send out an email to our immediate family members for sizes and any special requests.  Personally, I keep an envelope with a spreadsheet in it to track wants, purchases and even totals.  Then, as I make purchases, I add the receipts to the envelope for any post Christmas exchanges or returns (and hide it in my purse for safe, no-peeping keeping!)

Here’s a downloadable spreadsheet for your immediate family gift giving . . . Basically, each column is for a family member, then I list the wants at the bottom of the list and when I purchase something I move it to the top and just keep a penciled, adjustable total for each column – EASY BREEZY!  

Downloadable Holiday Gift Giving spreadsheet!