Today is the first day of the 2010 Holiday Grand Plan. The HGP is a simple system. You start now, and each week you have assignments for cleaning your house and making holiday preparations. You spend about 15 minutes a day following orders, and when the holidays come (Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, Christmas…), you have a tidy house and all your preparations made, without stress. I’ve done this for years, with a few slacker years here and there, and I can vouch for it.

So this week, List Week, has two things going on. First, you clean your porch. If you don’t have a porch, just clean your front door and windows, wash the welcome mat, trim the hedges by the door — whatever is in the place where your porch would be.

Second, you make a bunch of lists:

  • Gifts to be given, amount to spend (include family, friends, school, church, etc)
  • Christmas card list (computerize it!) Print list and update it, if needed. Decide how many cards are needed.
  • Visits to make
  • Parties/Entertaining
  • Menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, other parties
  • Goodies for Sharing/Gifts. Decide how much needs to be made and divide it between the weeks from now through December 1.
  • Favorite Meals of Family members for freezing ahead.
  • Long-term shopping list divided into: canned foods, perishables for each holiday, linens and dishes, decorations, etc.

Some people find this fun, and spend the whole week getting all excited about it. For others, it’s the burst of tedious effort that makes the plan work, so they get it over with. I plan to make it fun. I’m going to get out my holiday books and spend the afternoon on the sofa — after I go to church and clean the porch, natch — and make all these lists.

Once you’ve done this initial thinking, you don’t have to think about it any more. As your friends burble on about how they can’t believe it’s only four months till Christmas and then only two months and then only a week and they just aren’t going to be able to send cards this year or they don’t know how they’re going to find the time to bake those pies for Thanksgiving and they had really meant to do more volunteer work this year, you can enjoy the fall and end up serene on New Year’s Eve.