HOW-TO CREATE A CHRISTMAS ORGANIZER
by marta dansie
i'm super excited about this how-to. (maybe because the snowfall is non-stop outside while i write this! a blanket of fresh snow is perfect for pre-holiday projects.) i hope you'll find this one useful for your upcoming festivities. now you'll know what to do with all those pretty christmas catalogues that keep arriving in your mailbox! in just eight simple steps, you can create a super handy custom christmas binder.
i've mentioned in a previous post that i have a simple method for saving favorite articles and magazine eye-candy in inspiration binders. i started out with a holiday binder dedicated to year round holiday happenings, and soon discovered i needed to set aside christmas for its very own binder. duh. thank goodness i did. i've been using this same christmas binder for a few years now, adding to it every year. my binder is titled, christmas is coming and i crack it open every autumntime to gear up for the big holidays ahead. this really is my christmas survival kit! it's not only full of great inspiration, but now it has happy memories inside too. i sing a little hallelujah chorus whenever i break it out.
amber from giverslog has created a wonderful free printable for weekly to-do lists leading up to christmas too. i like keeping a copy in my binder for a quick go-to resource.
step one. get yourself a sturdy standard 3-ring binder at your local office supply store. be sure to pick up plenty of clear page protectors while you're there. you could go fancy with this christmas book, but i like that it's a grab and go workbook without too much frou frou. which is why i get the standard 3-ring binder, i don't imagine it going out of style anytime soon. don't bother with the classic tab dividers, they get lost between the sheets. i'll give you my solution to making tabs in a moment.
step two. gather up all of your archived holiday magazines. this time of year is the best time for magazine madness. browse the magazine racks for your favorites. if you'd rather not spend money on magazines, you can print out good ideas online or, better yet, rip out pages from free catalogues that come in the mail. my favorite resources for holiday ideas are Martha Stewart magazines, Real Simple, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, InStyle, Garnet Hill, and Anthropologie. once you start looking, you can find holiday inspiration everywhere, including food catalogues (fabulous party, centerpiece and table setting ideas) and printed advertisements too!
step three. start tearing out (or, in some cases, printing out) your favorite articles, holiday decorating ideas, craft ideas, gift guides, wrapping ideas, festive recipes and whatever else you would like to hold onto and remember! i love collecting tips about december traditions, living christmas tree advice and other ways to solve the season's problems that are bound to creep up.
step four. group your tear-sheets into sections for easy breezy browsing. specific sections will make your binder that much more awesome and dependable. i have a large collection of holiday home ideas (some not even suitable for our place now, but ideas i want to remember when i decorate my dream house)! i love unique wreaths and i've put all the wreathy inspiration back to back in my binder (abundant ideas for hanging wreaths in the Pottery Barn catalogue). now slip your picks into the clear protectors and place them into your 3-ring binder. you're halfway there.
step five. this year i finally created tabs for my binder, as it is becoming a mammoth resource for me to flip through. i admit, there is likely a better / nicer / more martha way to do this, but this worked for me. i simply cut out 3.5" x 2" cards, wrote the category titles on them and attached them directly to the clear page protectors with clear packaging tape (taping securely over the front and back of each tab). works like a charm. voila, sturdy homemade divider tabs!
your section categories will differ from mine, but here are my tab titles to inspire you: Holiday Planning & Prep (our december schedule and family ideas), Christmas Traditions & Tips (helpful articles and more), Gift Guide & Wrap Ideas (gift giving inspiration and pretty packaging), Christmas Cards (online resources, my own christmas card list, ours from years past and display ideas), Holiday Home Decor (wreaths, trees and more), The Christmas Kitchen (festive foods).
step six. this may be the most important step of all. don't forget to include your own ideas too! remember that this binder is a custom organizer, not just a boat load of pretty pictures. be sure to include items like new traditions and activities (ice skating, sledding on new year's, the nutcracker ballet, a girls' night cookie exchange!), your family's christmas cards from years past, lists of gifts you gave and what you received, brainstorming for family gifts, your go-to christmas card list, DIY tutorials for homemade crafts, or step-by-step guide to making your grandma's caramels.
dan and i dip chocolate pretzel rods every year and i definitely take notes on what works and what doesn't. this is the section that makes me smile because it has a snippet of seasonal memories which i love. it also reminds me how i never followed through on that brilliant gift idea of '07, maybe i can do it this year!
step seven. keep a few blank pages at the ready and out of page protectors so you can easily jot down ideas or check off your lists for christmas 2010. i also utilize a cheery red envelope for a master receipt collector, in case i need to make a return before or after december 25th.
step eight. slide in custom christmas covers for your binder and you'll be happy every time you pick it up. now you're ready for the season to start!
more favorite pages from my christmas binder to come...
p.s. thanks to you for filling my comment box yesterday with wonderful and thoughtful words of thanksgiving. i appreciate it! all day long i felt so full and grateful for your sentiments. please, carry on with your goodness.
images by marta
the how-to series is here to encourage confidence in the creativity and skills you have to offer. i am excited to showcase your talents and unique ideas. if you have a specialty (and i know you do), please submit your holiday how-to guest post by emailing me: marta at martawrites dot com. i will be delighted to feature your how-to in the future.
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden