09 November 2010

how-to survive christmas: create your own organizer


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

26 comments:

becky said...

Luv the binder idea! I can't wait to start one of my own!

lmt said...

This IS an exciting post. Today I am thankful for this post and the motivation to be organized!

lily said...

genius!! I remember you mentioning your binder last year, thanks so much for breaking it down for us..

Eileen said...

love this!! I have starred this post in my reader ~ sounds like a great project for this weekend!

I admit, I'm one of those who likes to get through Thanksgiving first before thinking about Christmas (my mom was adamant about this when we were kids), but then December gets to be overly stressful. thanks for sharing your technique. You've inspired me to think ahead a bit!

Miranda said...

Marta I have always loved your idea for a Christmas binder and have often wanted to start one of my own. This thorough how-to is like the sprinkles on top of a beautifully iced cup cake. Now I'm really ready to make one. Thank you!

Lady Day said...

Marta, thank you so much for the fab binder idea! I'm with you on keeping it simple, you'd never want to intimidate yourself right from the start. Have a great week!

chloe said...

thank you for this how-to! i cant wait to make my binder this weekend!

Brian and Kendra said...

I love this how to! I really need to make this one! ... Now all I need is a font of your handwritting! :)

Cherish Stockdale said...

Excellent idea!! My stash of magazine inspiration cut outs always seem to get lost. It would be awesome to have them all in one place!

Hannah said...

I have a Christmas binder as well. I call it my Holiday Organizer. It is a life saver. You've given me some ideas on what to add to it.

Rachel said...

Lady, you are the queen of Christmas organization! I'm so impressed.

Our family does gingerbread houses every year and we have a gingerbread house notebook, where we've kept a running track of any changes to recipes or techniques or patterns as the years have gone by. It's so useful.

Rachel said...

I absolutely love this! I'm a bit of a magazine addict, and am constantly ripping out inspiring things...now I know how to organize them. :-)

Question: Do you just keep two pages to a page protector (so you can see it all instantly)? Or do you fill the protector with tons of similar ideas and then pull the pages out to go through them? Not sure if I'm asking this clearly... :-)

The Scrappy Tree said...

I love to see how other people get organised! I am rubbish at it!

Mary Jo said...

Love, love, love your idea for a Christmas binder. Can't wait to start my own. Thanks for sharing and the inspiration!

marta said...

thanks for your cheers for christmas organizing! i hope it works for you too.

@rachel, to answer your question.. i only put two sheets in the page protectors - back and front (so two pages show, unless i love the front and back of one magazine tear out)! i do have a few tutorial booklets that i shove into one clear protector, however i have found i rarely utilize an idea unless it's right in front of my eyes!

Abby said...

Great ideas. Thanks for such a great how to!

Mrs. Biscuit said...

Love this. As always, you are such an inspiration!

kami @ nobiggie.net said...

such a great idea, Marta! I'm excited to put mine together!

Travelin'Oma said...

You are the queen of binders! And the best thing is that you actually use them from year to year. I start every project from scratch, then months later I find some helpful box of stuff that I'd forgotten I saved. Thanks for such great suggestions!

house of 7 said...

I love your binder idea! So cute, so organized, so YOU!

summer said...

this post is so very very exciting. i am positively giddy! do you know how awesome you are, marta? this binder is worth its weight in gold. i just go crazy over it. your neat lists and awesome magazine pages.. i'm in heaven. and i'm so ready to get started on my own! (december martha arrived yesterday. merry early christmas to me.)

ps. loved playing catch up just now. so much goodness, all in one scroll.

dragonflydreamer said...

I've had one huge binder for almost thirty years. I love your separate binders and look forward to creating different binders out of my huge very used one. I made one as a gift for my "fly by the seat of her pants" sister and she loves it! Yours is wonderful. Thanks for the photos.

Christine said...

I love your idea, Marta!!
You're such an organization genius - and I'm not quite.... (yet!)
Thanks so much for the tutorial. I can't wait to try it out. Hopefully this will put some order in my messy, but inspiration-laden mind :)

erikabeckwith said...

This is an execellent idea. Now my husband can stop fussing about me holding on to my favorite magazines! I can just remove those articles/pages that give me inspiration and put them in nice binders. I see a weekend project in the works!

erikabeckwith said...

This is an execellent idea. Now my husband can stop fussing about me holding on to my favorite magazines! I can just remove those articles/pages that give me inspiration and put them in nice binders. I see a weekend project in the works!

Jen said...

Just read this post. This idea is right up my alley! I even have the perfect binder!

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