YIKES - It's almost Turkey Time

Getting organized for a Thanksgiving Meal can be OVERWHELMING!!!! My suggestion? - Take everybody out to dinner, just kidding, (I hope my sister doesn't read this, I'll be in big trouble, holiday traditions are her favorite thing!)

How do you have a Thanksgiving Dinner and avoid feeling overwhelmed - truthfully I don't think it's possible. Even if you're only cooking for a small group there are so many things you want to do to make the meal perfect that it all becomes overwhelming. Here are my top 5 suggestions for making your Thanksgiving Holiday less Overwhleming and More Enjoyable.

1 - Accept the fact that you are going to feel Overwhelmed and possibly under appreciated.
I remember a couple of years ago my older son saying to me, "I don't know why Mrs. Smith is so stressed out, you have twice as many people over and you do everything in one day." He was oblivious to the fact that I had spent at least one hour, and on some days several hours, - everyday for the two weeks prior to the event just getting ready. This is one of the keys to enjoying the Overwhelming event that a thing like Thanksgiving is - Accept that it will overwhelming, Accept that nobody will really know how hard you worked, and then when it gets hairy you can just take a deep breath, look around at all of your wonderful friends and family and say - "I'm so glad you're all here."

2 - Make a list for the week or two before Thanksgiving
Write your list several days before you actually need to begin executing it. Create a master list of ALL the things to do and then divide that master into daily tasks. Each day knock off a few of the items. Besides the obvious things like shopping and baking pies ahead of time, consider actually setting your Thanksgiving table a day or two early complete with serving dishes. I drop a little note in each dish with what I'll actually use the dish for and then I add the appropriate serving utensil to the empty dish. This will avoid that last minute scramble to find a spoon for the mashed potatoes.

3 - Assign tasks to willing takers - then accept the work they do.
There's no better way to run off a good volunteer than to be visibly dissatisfied with the fruit of their labors. When you assign a task or menu item to a member of your Thanksgiving group be Thankful that they've take something off your plate. Don't make adjustments to what they've done or prepared, bite you tongue when you taste the bland soup or notice that the forks are on the wrong side of the plates. Chances are you're the only one who will notice. If you can't keep your comments to yourself on this one day of Thankfulness, don't share your work. Assigning tasks will only help you be less overwhelmed if you can deal with the fact that it isn't going to be done "Your Way." Know yourself, be THANKFUL if you can, if you can't, don't let others help.

4 - Create and Follow a Cooking Schedule
Large meals require lots of planning, and often times the stove or oven get over booked. Make and follow a cooking schedule. This will help insure that you have space in the oven at the right time and right temperature. You may want to invest in one of those little portable ovens for cooking your turkey. They're less than $50 and they can free up all of your oven space for doing other things. (If you don't have room for it in your kitchen, you can plug it in elsewhere - the basement, or even the garage.) Your cooking schedule should start a day or two days before the big event and include all of your chopping, slicing, dicing, mixing...anything that is food prep related. Again, it's a good idea to figure out which pots and pans you'll need and when you'll need them.

5 - Clean up the dinner dishes (with help) before you serve dessert.
You've spent days getting ready for this meal. Lots of time, money and energy - now let some of your helpful guests ease you into the final phase. Accept their help with the mid-event kitchen clean up. Put on the coffee, get the kitchen cleaned up, and the first load of dishes into the dishwasher before you serve dessert. That way you can enjoy dessert and when everyone loads up to go home all you'll have left to do is a stack of pie plates, a few forks and some coffee cups. - Let those things wait until tomorrow. (You're family can take care of them after you've left the house for the 5am shopping bargains.)

Happy Turkey Day to All of you!!


Holiday Organization - How to get yourself set up for storing and organizing holiday photos, memorabilia and more.

The Holiday season is always stressful. Often times during the holiday season things that should be fun become overwhelming and the joy disappears. Minimize your holiday stress where scrapbooking is concerned by getting ready for the holiday season today.

Step 1
Designate a Place for Holiday Stuff.

Having a designated place to accumulate holiday materials is key. If you don’t own a TravelPack Plus, now is a good time to purchase one. You’ll also need some storage pages in a variety of designs (SuperSized Singles, Double X-Long, Fabulous Four, Perfect Six and some 8 ½ x 11 page protectors from the office supply store).
If you’re already using a TravelPack Plus, and you’ve got an empty Spinder that will work too. You can also use an empty Spinder on your ScrapRack. If you need a couple of extra Spinders you can buy a 2 Pack of Spinders and have one for your TravelPack and one for your ScrapRack base unit.
Put all of the pages on your Spinder and put it into your TravelPack Plus. Find a convenient place for the TravelPack. Remember, being able to get to it easily is one of the keys to actually use a good organization system. If you’re using a Spinder on your base unit add the empty pages to the Spinder.

Step 2
Create a Calendar for the weeks to come.

Use the templates in Microsoft Word on your computer to choose a weekly calendar blank that you can keep with your TravelPack Plus or with your ScrapRack. I prefer/recommend the type that have lots of space to write, rather than the type that have small cubes.
Print out one weekly calendar for each week, from the first of November through the second week of January.
Add any notes you already have for holiday activities or events. Be sure to write small, you’re going to be adding notes to most things as the events happen.
3 hole punch the Calendar, add some hole reinforcements to it if you’ve got them and put the calendar in front of all the pages in your TravelPack Plus or on your ScrapRack.

Step 3
Holiday Gift/Shopping List

Create a list on your computer of all the people you will give gifts to this season. Group them by type of gift or reason, i.e., your Postman, Milkman, Paperboy, Kids Teachers, etc. may all be getting a small gift or a card with a check or gratuity, they are one group. Your ScrapPals may have a gift exchange or you may want to give them each just a little something (Basic Grey’s Rub On Roller Tool or Precision Sanding Set could be perfect for these friends). There are neighbors who may be getting cookie plates, extended family and of course your immediate family. Print this list out and put it in your TravelPack Plus or on your ScrapRack. Use this section as a place to jot down notes and ideas for these people. You can remove the list when you head out for Christmas shopping. It’s generally easier to actually write down a note than it is to login to the computer find the document and add to it. If you like to keep things tidy, you could jot down the notes and then once a week or so you could add them to initial computer list.

Step 4
Accumulating Holiday “stuff”

As holiday “stuff” starts to arrive; Invitations, Community Events, School Events, Church Events, etc., Add the dates and times of the events to your calendar. Then file the flyers, invitations, etc. into the storage pages. Again, remember to write small, as you’ll probably be adding information later. Use this system to store anything that’s relevant, even notes to yourself. This is a great place to store recipes you see in magazines or online. If you see a special recipe for the cookie exchange or for a holiday meal, add it to a pocket page in your TravelPack plus. When you are ready to write shopping lists or plan for holiday baking, all of the things you need will be in one place.

Step 5
Attending Holiday Events

Once holiday events get underway, you’ll be accumulating pictures, memorabilia and hopefully some good stories to journal about. With a TravelPack set up, you can easily add memorabilia and journaling notes right into the pocket pages. This is where the space on your calendar becomes important. On the calendar make a note that you have memorabilia, journaling and photos next to the event. If you use a traditional camera and are having pictures printed, you can add a note about the pictures and where and when you dropped them for developing. If you are using digital, put a note about how you coded or labeled the pictures on your computer and what file you stored them in. Finally, use the remaining space to make notes about the event; who was there?, how much you enjoyed it? etc. . You can even put a reminder to yourself to send a “Thank-You” with a picture or two to the event host. Use the Perfect Six Storage Pages to sort, store and organize pictures that you’ve had printed.

Step 6
Will you be visiting a Scrapbook Store during the Holiday Season?

If you have a chance to get to the Scrapbook Store during the Holiday Season take your TravelPack Plus with you. You’ll have all of your memorabilia, journaling notes, and photos together in one place. This will allow you to choose Scrapbooking products that easily coordinate with things you have to “scrap about.” Put these special purchases right in with the Photos, Memorabilia, and Journaling notes. A SuperSized Single Pocket page works great for this as it will accommodate even 12x12 items.

Step 7
When you have time to Scrap

When the hectic pace of the holidays slows down and you have time to scrap about them you’ll be ready with everything in one place. You won’t have to worry about missing memorabilia, or exact dates, or knowing who was where, etc. You’ll have everything grouped together in one tidy little bundle. Whether your slow down comes in January or you have to wait for a year from January, it won’t matter because everything you need will be right there waiting for you!

One Final Tip - Capitalizing on Christmas Cards
Christmas Cards begin arriving slowly and then start to pour in. Even with the best intentions it’s sometimes hard to remember to add people to your Christmas Card List and/or return cards to them. To help with this, save each of the envelopes from Christmas Cards in one pocket page. Make a note on the envelope indicating that you’ve already sent a card or that you need to send a card. You can send the card out quickly, and then add the name to your permanent Christmas Card List after the holidays using the return address on the envelope. Also, saving all of the envelopes can help you create a really fun Scrapbook Page. Simply tear or cut all the return addresses from the envelopes and use them to create either a full page, or embellishments on a page about reconnecting with friends and family over the holiday season. Not only will you have a great page, you’ll have saved all the mailing address for your good friends.


Holiday Organization

The holiday season is so busy. Simplify your holiday life by having a plan for collecting holiday photos, memorabilia, etc. You'll be ready to Scrap as soon as you have time. Check in with me on Wednesday for a more detailed plan about how to "get it all together."
See you Wednesday,