8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Order Christmas Cards

christmas cards in mailbox

It’s about this time of year when I really start to get excited about the Christmas season.  I get a bit of an urge to turn on the Christmas carols and swap out my fall decor for some winter decorations.  Also, have you seen Pinterest lately?  This is the time of year when amazing Christmas stuff gets pinned!

Alas, it’s so easy to get carried away dreaming about all the projects you want to do.  Adding too many crafts, baking and activities can be overwhelming and the opposite of simplifying!

Every year I struggle with wanting to make all sorts of neat things to feature on Simply Frugal.  But the reality is, I have limited time with a very busy toddler underfoot and other responsibilities to deal with.  So any project I do accomplish has to be simple and quick.  Preferably something I can do in about an hour, including picture taking!

All this to say, you don’t have to pack your schedule full of Christmas activities, baking, crafting and shopping in order to have a festive and memorable season.

This is why I’m breaking down the steps to an organized Christmas by one task a week.  It’s good to have direction and a plan in place!  I know without a plan, I become quite scatterbrained! :P  8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas is about creating a more relaxed Christmas season with just the right amount of extra projects and activities.

Here’s this week’s task:

Order Christmas Cards

Now, I realize that many of you are not likely to order custom Christmas cards but for those of you that do, now is a great time to do so!  Custom Christmas cards can take a while to arrive in the mail and if you want them to be sent out to friends & family in a timely fashion, I’d get on it this week. :)

Here are a few designs I love, along with some deals!

vistaprint

Vistaprint Canada has a great selection and currently offering their Christmas cards at 50% off for a limited time with the coupon code BEMERRY.

snapfish

Snapfish.ca is offering free shipping on your $30 or more purchase with coupon code FSNOVA30 until November 27, 2014.  Also, get 20 free prints if this is your first time ordering from Snapfish.

shutterfly

Save up to 40% off cards from Shutterfly with the coupon code CARD40 for a limited time!

pinkdotdesign

Pink dot Design has a wonderful selection of Christmas cards!

etsy

Etsy also has a ton of shop owners who create beautiful custom cards and templates!

If you aren’t the type to order custom cards you can of course buy a set of boxed cards and add a photo and a letter if you wish!  That’s what I’ll be doing this year.  I bought a box of cards last year on clearance so I’ll be sticking in our family photo and hand delivering to friends and mailing to out of town family.

Oh, and I’ve got a post telling you how you can create your own FREE custom photo cards.  You won’t want to miss it!

This week along with ordering/buying Christmas cards, take care of these tasks as well:

  • buy stamps, envelopes, if necessary
  • write Christmas letter, if desired
  • put family photos inside, if desired

Do you send out Christmas cards each year?

Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Plan your Holiday Calendar

gingerbread house

There are a lot of fun things to do throughout the Christmas season.  Gingerbread house making, caroling, Christmas plays, cookie exchanges, dinner parties, Christmas light looking, craft making and even holiday movie watching.  There is so much to do, there may not be enough time to do it all!

Why won’t you be able to do everything you want to do?  Well, because there’s grocery shopping, laundry, dinner making and everyday life stuff that still has to happen!

This is where planning comes in really handy.  After all, life is busy, and it’ll be hard to get the fun things on the schedule if you don’t plan ahead.

Here are the steps to take if you want to do lots of fun holiday things this year:

Grab your Calendar

First of all, grab your calendar and mark down all the things you know will be happening regardless of the holidays.  Doctor’s appointments, school activities, office parties…etc.

Talk as a Family

Next, you’ll want to gather the family to discuss all the activities each of you want to do.  Sledding? Cookie decorating party? Christmas play watching?  Brainstorm to your heart’s content.  Make sure to write down all the Christmas movies you want to watch and even the crafts you want to do.

Prioritize

Since there are likely more ideas than time, take a look over the calendar again and plan for the activities you can realistically accomplish.  Even with the regular life stuff added in.

Back to the Budget

Before you get carried away with grandiose plans, go back to your budget.  What did you allot for fun?  The case may be that you’ll have to save some activities for future years.

Fill in your Calendar

Now fill in your calendar with all the activities that you can set in stone. Buy those concert tickets and finalize plans with friends, then make them on the calendar.  Make sure to allow for some quiet nights/days at home!

Holiday activities are supposed to be fun so don’t stress about doing everything.  Just make a point of doing the things you want to do instead of wishing they would happen. Planning in advance will make the season more relaxing.

I’d love to know, what’s one thing you’ll be adding to your calendar this year?

Here are the posts in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series so far:

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Do you want to know my secret for a stress-free Thanksgiving? (or any big family meal for that matter…)  Yeah? Okay. Just have your Dad, who loves to cook, prepare all the main dishes and Turkey, then all you have to do is bring along the dessert. ;)

While this is a realistic scenario for our Thanksgiving and special occasions, (my dad is the best!) I’m sure it’s not for most families.  We can get away with this because we usually have a maximum of 8 people to serve.

Since I know big family meals can be hectic (I’ve experienced many of my husband’s extended family get-togethers), I thought creating a checklist would be really helpful to those of you that want to cut back on some chaos.

This checklist doesn’t tell you what to cook (I trust you have your family favourites) but I’m hoping it will give you a guideline for when things can be completed.  Also, I realize that Canadian Thanksgiving is only a week away, but I think this checklist can be used for any holiday dinner. Simply click on the image below or click here to download your free Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving.

Checklist for a stress-free thanksgiving

How to you lessen the stress of big family meals?  Also, I’d love to hear what goes on your Thanksgiving menu in the comments!

DIY Recipe Binder (with Free Printables)

recipe-binder

Do you love to keep your favourite recipes in a binder?  You’ve got to check out this easy DIY recipe binder from SimplyKierste.com!  She’s got free printables for you so it’s easy to organize a recipe binder!

How to Meal Prep for a Week

How to meal prep for a week

Preparing meals ahead of time can be a big time and money saver. You’re doing all of your cooking on one day, and will be saving money because you’re only buying the ingredients you know you need.

Cooking all your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week, in one day, may seem daunting, but with these tips you’ll be able to meal prep for a week and not have to wonder, “What’s for dinner?” anymore!

Find your recipes. Before even starting the process, you should print out the recipes you will be using for the week. This means printing or writing down recipes for all meals for 7 days. If you will be making snacks, like homemade granola bars or protein bars, print those recipes as well. Now you have a master list of all the ingredients you will need.

Divide up your grocery store list. Go through each recipe and categorize each item. Your grocery list should have sections broken down into protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other. Doing this will make it much easier (and quicker) to find the things you need when you’re at the grocery store.

Buy the right containers. If this is something you will be doing on a regular basis, you want to make sure you have durable containers that are made to last. Don’t skimp out on this.

Cut your vegetables and fruits. Once you’re back from the grocery store, start by chopping up your vegetables and fruits. Organize them by whether you’re using them as a snack or will be using them as ingredients in a meal.

Use the oven. The oven is great for baking meats, potatoes, vegetables and more. Make a list of every item that needs to go in the oven and put it all in. If your oven is going to be on, you might as well cook everything at once!

Use your slow cooker. Many people who meal prep like to make freezer meals. This can be preparing something, like meatballs, and freezing them to cook at a later date, or preparing an entire meal which will then be thawed and cooked. If you have a slow cooker, doing this is especially easy. Take a look at my post 9 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals or you could Google slow cooker freezer meals to find recipes. Even if you don’t want to freeze your meals, you can still prepare all of the ingredients you’ll need and use your slow cooker to cook the meal. It will save you time all week!

Use different seasonings. One can only eat so much plain chicken. When you go grocery shopping, make sure to pick up different seasonings for each meal. Get creative with how you season or marinate your protein options.

Make one huge dish. If you don’t want to prepare 5 different dinner options, you can make enough of one recipe that will last you a few days. Find one you really like and cook it in bulk. If you have meals or items that will last longer than 3 days, put the leftovers in the freezer and cook it when you’re ready.

Make grab and go meals. The last step is to just divide everything up into your containers. Take each meal and put it in a container so it is ready to go for each day of the week.

Meal prep can be a great way to save time throughout the week. Although it may take a full day on the weekend, once you know what meals you’re making and what ingredients you’ll need, you’ll become more efficient at it. No more worrying about what’s for lunch or dinner!

Do you do any sort of meal prep at your home?  What does your current system look like?

Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning

NonPlanningMenuPlan

Do you like the idea of planning a regular menu, but have difficulty with actually making plans or sticking with them? Check out this Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning over at I Heart Planners.

150 Dollar Store Organizing Ideas

dollar store organizing

Organize your home on a budget!

DIY & Crafts has rounded up 150 dollar store organizing ideas and projects for the entire house!  What are your favourite things from the dollar store that you use for organizing?

14 Free Home Management Printables

Family-Management-Binder-Collage

Check out this great freebie!  Perfect for those that want to get more organized at home!

Amy from MomAdvice.com is offering 14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables when you sign up for her email newsletter!

Cozi: Free Family Organizer App

300x250 Free Email Registration Banner

Are you looking to get your family a bit more organized?  You should check out the Cozi app!  It’s FREE to sign up for!

Cozi is a free calendar app and website (that was named a must-have app by The Today Show!) that helps families stay organized and manage it all:

  • Everything in one place: calendar, shopping lists, to-do lists and more
  • One account the whole family can share
  • Accessible on any device (iPhone/iPad, Android, PC and Mac), at home and on the go

Sign up for Cozi today and you’ll finally have one place to manage school schedules, sports activities, meal plans, chores and more.

What do you use or do for family organization?

The Benefits of Being Intentional

Benefits of Being Intentional

I’m sharing a bit of my life with you today.  I hope to do this more often, because Simply Frugal is my “voice” and behind my voice there is more than coupons, freebies and sales! :)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  About life in general but also about being intentional.  Intentionality is something that has been lacking in my life to some degree for some time now.  Since becoming a mother just over two years ago, I’ve really noticed my need to be more intentional.  It’s taken me getting to some of my lowest points in my life to come to the realization that things aren’t just going to get better without some work and intentionality. Whining won’t fix it either ;)

Relationships, the website and other areas of my life have taken a hit.  I’m sad, because those things are important to me!  But I guess I needed the lesson of hitting bottom in order to wake up with a new zest for life.  While I’ll always be a work in progress, I feel as though I know some of the steps I need to take at this moment in order to gain traction.

Being intentional has many benefits:

  • Better relationships
  • Better grip on finances
  • Better time management
  • The creation of things that have impact
  • More rest
  • More happiness

Here’s how, I intend on implementing more intentionality into some areas of my life:

Relationships:  Speak kind and encouraging words to friends and family, especially my husband.  Less whining (especially in front of my husband.)

Finances: Create a budget and keep track of all spending and income, thus creating more intentional spending habits.

Time: Make to-do lists every day.  I flounder without a list and I’ve too often gone without a list and felt discouraged at the end of the day because I “didn’t get anything done”.

Menu planning: I plan on revamping my menu plan system to create something really easy to follow.  Stay tuned for details

Simply Frugal:  Along with the daily coupons, deals and freebies, I want to create helpful products for you that will help you be more intentional in your life.  I’ll roll out more details as they become clearer to me.

Myself: Take time to read Take naps on Sunday afternoon if I feel like it.  Take time away from the website to enjoy a morning out and not feel guilty “a certain number of posts” aren’t up.  Because it’s only me behind Simply Frugal, I feel a lot of pressure to do all.the.things. all.the.time.

Mothering: Take the time to talk and snuggle with Sienna.  Also take the time needed to implement some discipline even if it isn’t “convenient” for me at the time. (Does unruly behaviour ever come at a convenient time?)

Friends, how are you doing?  Are you struggling with any areas in your life?  Do you need to implement more intentionality into your life? How can I help?