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Simplify Your HolidaysSimplify Your Holidays (Thomas Nelson, 2008)


Founder, The Organizing Pro & Co., since 1985

Has been featured in magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, Woman’s Day, Real Simple, and others

Mother of 3 grown children Christmas Planning


Marcia Ramsland: Organize and Enjoy Christmas

By Mimi Elliott

Many people use the day after Thanksgiving as the day to trigger serious actions for Christmas. However, Marcia discovered that Thanksgiving is a “floating” holiday which means it could fall four and a half weeks before Christmas or as late as three and a half weeks. 

“That’s why some people say, Christmas came early this year. Because sometimes it does,” Marcia says. 

Her personal turning point came one year over 20 years ago when she had three young children and there was so much to do: children’s school parties, the neighborhood cookie exchange, church events, friends’ open houses and more! Marcia began reading about how to get organized, but the only thing out back then was written for businessmen. One thing was clear in all her research: make a list and check off what you get done. 

“The secret is to plan it out and not wait until the last three weeks before Christmas to get it all done,” Marcia says. 


In her book, Simplify Your Holidays, Marcia has a system set up for people who want to start eight weeks out, four weeks out and even 10 days out. The one important date to consider is November 1. That is exactly eight weeks before Christmas, so that is really the ideal time to get organized. Seventy-five percent of our stress falls into three areas: gifts, cards and decorations. Since that’s the case, Marcia says there are ways to make these seasonal activities more manageable:

Gift shopping: simplify gift-giving by shopping in one theme each year. For example, all the men on your list get sporting-related gifts like tickets to games. All the women get spa-related gifts. All the children get media items, like CDs, computer games, etc. Or shop in one mall, store or online store and stick to a theme to eliminate running around. Keep a list every year of what you give. It helps you for the next year. When mailing gifts, stick to restaurant certificates, gift cards, or CDs. 

Christmas cards: write them out on December 1 and mail them out by December 10. Choose one style each year to keep things simple. 

Decorations: Upgrade storage to the plastic containers that are clear. Label the top with a 3 x 5 card with the contents. Put up lights on Thanksgiving but don’t turn them on until December 1. You can enjoy your decorations which get stored 11 months out of the year. Why wait until two weeks before Christmas?

Event countdown: Seven to eight weeks before, get all of your events lined up in your calendar: cookie exchanges, dinners, Christmas pageants, etc. Also, it is one time of the year when you can get in touch with neighbors.

Keep the true meaning of Christmas: Read the Christmas story out of the Bible from Luke 2. 

“This is one way to prepare our hearts for Christmas – to read and think about the greatest gift in history which we celebrate on December 25,” Marcia says, “or have small children give a birthday card to Jesus.” Marcia says one thing is to ask God what He would have you give Him as a gift this year. 

A key is to make a plan, find easier ways to do things and enjoy the process and meaning of Christmas. To simplify your holidays, organize your activities, work with your calendar, and simplify your system of doing the activity. If you improve something each year, you will find the holidays are more of a joy and less of a chore. Remember, whenever you have to do something more than once, it saves time and stress if you organize and simplify the whole process each time you do it.


Instruction Sheet
(Check off the items as you do them. Fill in the blank 4-Week Plan with dates, and assign
the tasks to specific days. More explanation for each task is found in the related section of the book, Simplify Your Holidays.)

4 Weeks Before:
__ Review last year’s Gift List. then fill in this year’s Gift List with names and any gift
__ Stock your Gift-Wrapping Center with supplies, such as wrapping paper, bows,
tags, gift boxes, and the like.
__ Update your address list and write Christmas cards.
__ Other _____________________________________________________________

3 Weeks Before:
__ Sign, seal, and mail Christmas cards and holiday packages.
__ Decorate your Christmas tree and home for the holidays.
__ Shop for and wrap the first half of your total gifts.
__ Begin reading December 1–25 inspirational pages in section five of this notebook.
__ Other _____________________________________________________________

2 Weeks Before:
__ Shop for and wrap the last half of your total gifts.
__ Attend Christmas events for neighbors, coworkers, or charity.
__ Mail year-end contributions.
__ Other _____________________________________________________________

1 Week Before:
__ Donate time to charities that need extra help.
__ Deliver gifts to coworkers, neighbors, school, and others.
__ Bake favorite cookies and clean house.
__ Other _____________________________________________________________

Celebrate Christmas (“The” Week):
__ Celebrate with the gifts, food, and people you planned.
__ Spend time reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas and/or attending church.
__ Take pictures to capture the memories, and add them to this notebook.
__ Other _____________________________________________________________

Clean Up—New Year, New You! (Bonus Week):
__ Clean up, write thank-you notes, and put away decorations.
__ Fill in your journal page “The Best Things That Happened This Christmas.”
__ Get your home and office in order for the new year.
__ Other _____________________________________________________________

Reprinted with permission from Marcia Ramsland's book, Simplify Your Holidays, Thomas Nelson Publshers, 2008 Simplify Your Holidays may be purchased wherever books are sold and more free holiday Downloads and Tips are available at Marcia Ramsland's website

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