Guest post by Angela K. Nickerson
Pinterest would have us believe that Christmas is always warm and cozy with steaming mugs of cocoa and an elegantly-attired mantle, handmade stockings, and everyone in matching pajamas. No one is sweating. No one is worrying about their credit card balances. And every wrapped gift under the carefully-appointed tree perfectly reflects the giver’s love and will be well-received.
But that’s not the reality of Christmas. We all know that. And while we may strive for that fantasy, making it all happen is a ton of work! It isn’t effortless or free or easy. Making a picture-perfect Christmas happen can mean long nights, fraught financial decisions, and — gasp! — arguments.
So, first I want to encourage you to, in the immortal words of Elsa — let it go! Pinterest and Instagram be damned! Christmas isn’t about how it all looks.
Christmas is about JOY! The joy of baking cookies together. The joy of finding the perfect gift. The joy of a little one anticipating Santa’s arrival. The joy of wrapping yourself in the love of your family and friends. That is Christmas.
Until a few years ago, however, I was in danger of losing that joy. I was in a career which was particularly intense during November and December. We never had enough money for gifts. I never had enough time to do what I wanted to do. And I always ended up at Christmas Day exhausted and more than a little disappointed, vowing it would be different next year.
Then I developed The Nice List.
And everything changed.
The Nice List is a Christmas organizer and planner. I created it first for myself, but then I realized that my friends were in that same frantic, harried boat. So now it is available for everyone! The Nice List contains a variety of tools designed to help busy people slow down, focus on the things that are important about Christmas, and find the joy again!
These tools include:
- A short questionnaire that helps you figure out what is actually important to YOU
- Weekly and monthly calendars for November and December so you can plan time for the activities that are important to YOU
- A budgeting tool to help you avoid overspending
- A Christmas shopping organizer to make shopping easier and less expensive
- A gift tracker to record the gifts you receive and the thank you notes you send
- Blank pages for notes and lists, journaling or anything else you can think of
- A pocket for receipts and coupons
At its core, The Nice List is about thoughtful giving, and finding the right gift in your price range can be difficult. But The Nice List helps you prioritize all of the people on your shopping list and determine a per-gift budget. Once you have done that and figured out your budget, I have a beautiful giving guide at MidModernMama.com filled with unique and thoughtful gifts in every price range including teacher gifts, DIY ideas, and a whole list of gifts under $5. We don’t do piles of gifts in our family. We do intentional, well-chosen gifts. And the same is true for my giving guide. You will find beautiful, thoughtful gift ideas to help you make choices that keep you on budget.
But all of those thoughtful gift ideas don’t do you any good if you are frantically scrambling at the last minute to find them, because Christmas has snuck up on you again. So the other half of The Nice List is all about setting your time priorities, because THAT is where you will find the joy. Using the calendar pages, I walk you through scheduling each of the events or tasks that you identify as being important to you. And you have permission to decline anything that doesn’t bring you joy during the holidays. Anything!
How does this work?
Well, take our family for example. In early November, my husband and I have a working lunch meeting together. We sit with our calendars, planners, and The Nice List and over a leisurely lunch we plan out November and December — every concert, every event. We schedule a weekend for decorating the house and putting up the tree. I schedule a day to make lefse. We make sure Santa Lucia Day and the Feast of San Nicola are on our calendars. We make notes about gift ideas and sources for the people on our list, and we schedule a Christmas shopping day — just the two of us — when we buy a large majority of the gifts on our list. It all goes on the calendar. And we live by that calendar — making the things that are most important for us the priorities for the season.
Each person will set different priorities, but by using The Nice List, your Christmas will be filled with more joy! It’s a little like KonMari-ing your Christmas season — keep the things that spark joy and scuttle the rest. The Nice List helps you do just that.
You can order The Nice List until September 15 on my website: midmodernmama.com/shop. It makes a great gift, too! Get a copy for yourself, and your mom, and your sister or your best friend — and make a date to plan together! All prices include shipping, and books will be shipped to you at the end of October.
Christmas doesn’t have to look like Pinterest-perfection, but with a little planning, and the help of The Nice List, your Christmas season will look and feel exactly as you wish. Stay on budget. Do everything you hope to do. And enjoy the company of the people you love so much!
Author Angela K. Nickerson has lots of plans and executes most of them on her two websites: PiningForRome.com and MidModernMama.com. She loves planning so much that she has even written her own Christmas planner: The Nice List. The 2019 edition is available to order now now at midmodernmama.com/shop