November 26, 2012

Now I have a Spreadsheet

A few years ago, I got sick of Christmas being a train wreck. Not for the family, the family always had an awesome Christmas, but by the end of our big, fancy holiday, I was always a shattered and exhausted shadow of my former self.  I am, like, a lot of women, the keeper of Christmas.  Joe does a lot to help me, but that's what it is. Help - because I'm the one in charge of the thing. I set the budget, I decide on the presents, I co-ordinate with Santa Claus to fill stockings for the children. I buy ornaments, I do the baking, I make sure there's enough paper and tape and I keep track of the schedule and make it all lovely - and even if people take on some of those tasks for me, it's still a ton of work just keeping it all on track. I tried to think of what I could do to change it so that I enjoyed the holiday as much as the people I was trying to make it for did.

I considered a bunch of options. I thought about doing less, or cutting back, having fewer celebrations or making fewer gifts, or giving more of the jobs to other people, but as I went down the list, I realized something important.  I like it. I like all those things, and I love having a big celebration and I like making all the gingerbread and knitting presents and I like having ironed napkins and I wouldn't like a Christmas that didn't have those things, and I also wouldn't like it if I wasn't the Keeper of Christmas in this house.  I love doing that for everyone, and it wouldn't feel right if I didn't do it... I just wanted it to be less exhausting.   I talked about it with my friend Jen, and it suddenly occurred to both of us that if we could efficiently manage big projects for work - Then there was really no way that we couldn't efficiently manage Christmas.  We just had to think like project managers.  Thus, the current approach was born. Start early, have lots of lists, schedules and spreadsheets. I note where a gift is going to come from, so we can make one shopping trip to that store or area. I plan the cooking so it all gets done early and some of it can be frozen... This weekend I added up all the knitted things that I want to give people, and I went through the box I've been tucking things in all year to see what I've already accomplished.  I feel like a ninja. A Christmas project managing ninja, and let me tell you this too... I thought that treating Christmas like a job might take some of the fun out of it?

Nope. Not one little bit.  It's the Christmas prep that I'm treating like work, and that means that I get the part of Christmas that I love back- the part where all that work pays off, and I get to enjoy it without being a sleep deprived lunatic with tape stuck to her hair.  This year, if all goes well, will be like last year - or even better.  Organized, tidy, and complete - but like any good project manager, I'm always looking for ways to make it even better. My plan officially launches in a few days - and I'm excited to make it great.

Are you the keeper of your family's holidays? What do you do to get it all done?  Got any tips?

Posted by Stephanie at November 26, 2012 12:10 PM