Wednesday Wellness: Planning Ahead for the Holidays and Gift-Giving

Happy Wednesday Wellness, Friends! I started writing about wellness as I noted that so many of my friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey!

I haven’t always liked to plan. I’d been spontaneous all my life, until becoming a mom.  Then I started seeing the value of planning, researching and mapping out. I discovered the crafty stickering planning community. I still love the shiny sparkles of whatever whims, though, and the stickers really help!  (Read more about my planning here.) Yes, organized chaos is a too a thing.

I just dusted off my 12 year historical gift giving spreadsheet, as I do every September.  I review the prior year for completeness, copy and paste a new year, and clear the contents.  I also add any new recipients, and sadly, hide anyone necessary. I don’t actually delete anyone, I just hide the row.  I may need to check what I got beloved Aunt Barbara before she passed away, as it may be a good idea for somebody else in the future. I also study last years budget vs. spend.  If I spent less for somebody, maybe that’s my new budget.  If I spent more on somebody, maybe that’s my new budget!  My niece became a teen this year, so her new budget is now the same as her older brother.  See?

This is a gift-giving list, reference, and budget, all in one. My own family has a ton of birthdays September through January, so I track those here, too. Many times as my own children approached certain ages, I’d scroll back and look at what I got my godson when he turned 12, for instance. Or, where did I get that musical teapot that all two year old girls seem to love?  Scroll back- and I see the store and the price.  Have I already given so-and-so my favorite book?  Scroll back to that year I gave most everybody the same book… oh look, so-and-so wasn’t on my list yet at that time.   See what I mean? Super helpful.

Here is a snapshot of a clean year.  I started on Excel, but I moved it to Google Sheets last year.  (I blacked out my budget so that my dear family members won’t see what I’ve budgeted for them.) But you can see from this template what I’m doing.  Many of my family members have two entries for their two occasions.  So I start shopping in September, and spread my shopping budget over ten paychecks (through January).

Pro-Tip: Enter your spouse and children’s gifts in white font, so they won’t see it on the printout.


Nota Bene: Creative Gifts. Two years ago I made necklaces for my best friends and sweet cousins. So last year I made a different kind of necklace for them.  Earlier this year, my daughter and I made her a memory quilt using her favorite t shirts that she had outgrown.


We made this Memory Quilt together!

As my godson approaches college age, its something I’d consider doing for him.  But I may outsource such a big project.  This may change my budget.  Or, I may bookmark that for his Graduation. I’m learning how to knit, maybe I will knit scarves and give some out as gifts!  Oh hey, I WROTE A BOOK THIS YEAR! maybe I can give somebody on my list a copy of my book.   (Maybe I can afford to outsource that quilt after all.)

I hope you enjoyed learning about my planning tool.  Let me know if you try it this gift-giving season!

How do YOU organize your shopping?




Wednesday Wellness: Planning to Plan

Good Afternoon, Friends! I started writing on wellness topics on Wednesdays as I noted so many of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my journey of mishaps, happy mistakes, and discovery.

You’ve heard the lyric “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” from Disney’s Cinderella, right?  Well here’s the thing.

A dream is a wish your heart makes, but a goal is a plan your mind makes.

Are you with me?

I love dreaming, but I have not always loved planning.   I’ve sort of just figured it out.  There’s a certain magic in writing things down. Lists, steps, contacts, appointments, plans. Call it the Law of Attraction, or whatever you like.  Writing it MAKES IT HAPPEN. you’ll see.


I’m planning to start my son doing his own bullet journaling.  He’s got lists and a phone, but I think the writing in his own bullet journal is going to be key.  I already bought him special micron pens.  You gotta have the tools.

I think my young daughter is also ready for her own planning journal.  She’s got a collage journal and a story-writing journal already, but the listing of dreams and goals could also be good for her.  Right now my favorite Leonie Dawson Shining Year planner is 50% off. Again, tools.

Another way to get things done is by finding support.  It’s free to find likeminded souls in groups on the internet.  Just following inspiring instagram and pinterest users can jumpstart or reignite your own creative ambition. There are an infinite amount of webinars and podcasts available for you.


“Someone is staring at you in Personal Growth.” – Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally, 1989.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was a night owl and a late sleeper.  And now, thanks to Zero Period, I’m allergic to sleeping in. Thanks to planning, I’m more productive.

In addition to mapping out all the family’s activities, I am planning my reading and writing time.

What are you doing this summer? Are you planning to have fun?



Plan, to Have Fun

As a child, I was happy frolicking around with no schedule.   In college, I resisted organization to the point of refusing to use my dorm desk for study, rather it housed my awesome keyboard. I celebrated being an INFP on the Myers Briggs. (That’s Introverted  Intuitive Feeling Perceiver, which basically means I didn’t even own one of those trendy organizer-planner thingees, whatever.)  College was great for spontaneity. Feeling like driving into San Francisco?  Cool! Feel like seeing Beach Blanket Babylon?  Cool!  Whoops, it’s sold out.  Want to see Phantom of the Opera instead?  Cool!  I did seem to have a knack for planning which courses to take and when to take them, it seemed.  (I knew the one finite math class was offered in  alternate years and would steer my liberal arts friends toward it.)

Eventually I learned how to marry my spontaneous nature with the necessity of responsibility.  You have to plan (at least a little), in order to have fun.  Fortunately, I am drawn to research.  I don’t always enjoy the coordination with others that planning sometime requires.  I find there are more people who resist planning than I thought.  Some people like to think of themselves as spontaneous, but they aren’t really.  And there are others  who always seem to want to change the plan to tailor their own individual needs, not of the group.  Those are the ones who accuse you of Not Deviating “the Plan.”

Here’s what I have learned:  Plan, to Have Fun.

In order to manage our family’s activities and household needs, I have to pretty much map out the weekends.  Then we have everything we need, and nobody’s late.

Disneyland.  Disneyworld.  Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure. There are places you can’t go without having a plan.  Otherwise you end up standing in line all day like the Heck Family did in the television show, the Middle. I raced through US:IOA in Spring Break 2012 with a 103* fever because I wanted to get into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first thing.  As you do.  (But be flexible, a ride could shut down and then you might have to adjust accordingly.)

I have plotted and outlined whole novels.  I even assigned myself scenes to write on certain days.  That hasn’t totally panned out, as sometimes my characters tell me they had other plans!  Also, halfway through November, Life interrupts and we have to take a road trip, start Christmas shopping, order holiday cards, etc. You know. Remember this photo of my Advent Calendar?

Tis the Season

Tis the Season

I research our vacation destinations with pleasure.  I study the airline entertainment options.  I study the cruise ship’s entertainment.  I pin packing tips on Pinterest. I have chargers for all devices and a mini powerstrip.  I make lists and lists and lists. I pre-purchase museum tickets (or show tickets) online prior to our departure. I plan my outfits and the kids’, so that we pack minimal items and do a wash halfway through the trip. Myself, I chose two accent colors and basic neturals, so anything can be switched.  For my kids, I choose brightly colored clothing for the days when we will be in busy crowds, so that I can easily spot them.

Because then, I can relax, knowing all this was already planned.  Sure there are some details that we figure out when we get there, but generally, I have an idea of what we are doing and when before we even get there.

Sometimes plans change.  Like when we missed our ship excursion due to having overslept.  (Whoops !) So we improvised, enjoying a delightful afternoon in Sicily, and it was perfect. Also, our reserved tour was cancelled in Barcelona, so after a quick consult of a handy guidebook, I suggested a fun tram ride with sweeping views and a walk along the beach in Barceloneta, and tapas, before heading to visit La Familia Sagrada.  One of the best afternoons of our trip, for sure. (Stay tuned for my Mediterranean Cruise travel journals!)

Tapas Tapas

Tapa Tapa

What are some ways that you plan to have fun?