Friday, October 4, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 4: Planning

Today is the New Moon, the day of St. Francis of Assisi and four weeks to Samhain day. 

Again, I turn to "Organized Christmas" to be inspired, and it works every time :-D
Create a Sabbath Planning Center, if you don't already have one. You can dress it up following the seasons around you, giving you some Holiday Spirit a good time before it's time to party and share that spirit with your loved ones :-)

 It's very much the style I see when I think about the holiday planning center.
Just not in those colors... and not with a picture by her kid. :-)
It would be really nice to change the chair cover by seasons, and all the other colors too.

I also have a Sabbath binder. I am planning on getting myself 8 of these, one for each Sabbath and the 6 1/2 weeks around it (4 weeks before, 2 1/2 weeks after), and decorate them appropriately. Right now I have my Sabbath papers in a folder of appropriate color, and I change the innards of the binder as the year passes. But - I have already noticed that my binder is very small, too small for the purpose... :-D
I am a magpie, I collect things...

Another thing to think about is the gifts. People usually love birthdays and Christmas, and I imagine it's because of the gifts. Not just getting things, but gifts. The tokens of love and appreciation. At least, that's what gifts are to me. I love gifts, because they to me mean someone has thought of me. I don't much care about the prize tag, if the thing is something I would have bought for myself, if it fits my decor or style, if I need it... the main thing, the most important thing is that someone thought of me. 

There is a word in Finnish, "tuliainen". It means "a gift given at arriving from a journey". The journey could be a visit to a foreign country, or one relatives or friends make traveling from their home to yours. "Tupaantuliainen" is a homewarming gift. ("Gift given at entering the new home")

I think it would be nice to give gifts at every Sabbath. It surely would make people, especially kids, interested and enthusiastic about the holiday :-D (And remembering Oprah Show's give-away episodes and all the participants for every give-away on-line, I think people like getting things. :-D)

There's also some historical information to support the idea of giving gifts on Samhain:
"Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year. This was a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, "(Do not) make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom]." 
- New Year's Day, Wikipedia
It is also a habit in Asia to exchange gifts at New Year.

This would be a perfect opportunity to share your harvest bounty with your loved ones, and give food gifts. There's plenty of wild mushrooms in the woods at this time of the year, and those can be canned or dried.
One thing you need to do today is to decide if you want to give gifts on Samhain and what to give, to whom, when, where and how. 

Consider the following: 
- A purposeful, peaceful Christmas 
In their printables there are some questions to ponder:
* Family vision (on giving)
* To give as a family:
* Secret Giving:
* New Tradition:
* What it means? (time 2 give)
* "Can you think of a way to include your school, church, sports team, Sunday school class, or a group of friends in a special giving project?"
* With my friends (giving)

- "At Christmastime it's customary to give something to the people in our lives who perform services for us during the year." Like postman, firemen, policemen, teachers, hairdressers, nurses and coaches. Maybe you could start giving already at Samhain, so that all those people got a little bit more in their pockets BEFORE Christmas? It doesn't need to be much, or a big gift, just a little token of your appreciation. But find out the rules and preferences before you give anything to anyone. Some people are not allowed to accept any gifts, some not money, some nothing but money... and the amount might be restricted as well.   

- Immediate family gifts
- Extended family gifts
- Adopted family/friends gifts
- Other gifts (teachers, neighbors, co-workers...) 

* Also, don't forget the October birthdays, namedays, or other special dates!

You need to decide if you will be sending cards, to whom, and if you buy the cards or make them yourself.

Write a Samhain card list. 
-People's names
-Addresses (check the addresses in good time before)
-Telephone number
- email? If you plan on sending electric cards, then you need this
-A square to cross when you have sent the cards, and another to cross, if you receive a card.

Buy cards or buy supplies for handmade cards (including thank you cards).

Think about labeling: nice pen, address labels, stamping?

Get stamps.

 A cute card made by "I am... Dreaming of Castles"

Make a holiday budget. There's plenty of free printable available on-line. Go through some of them to remind yourself of all the things you need to remember to put some money aside for.

- holiday budget sheets - gift giving budget, and all holiday expenses budget sheet

* Write the menu. I think this is a really nice walk-through on how to plan dinner parties. And holiday dinners are exactly that. Whether you plan to feed only you and your familiar, or the whole extended family, the same rules apply. If you plan on inviting the whole family, or all your friends, write the guest list and send invitations with RSVP. And then start hunting the responses people will not send... :-D

On a guest list should be
- name
- address and email
- telephone number / mobile number
- food allergies and other such details
- room for other notes
- gifts received, given, and thank you notes

and here's also a very nice "ultimate party planner" printable, with very good reminders.

This is very nice as well: Holiday Menu Planning

Here's some worthy ideas as well: Menu Planning for Holidays, and so is here: 10 tips on how to plan a holiday menu

I prefer to serve all vegetarian for harvest feasts (Lammas, Mabon and Samhain), but Samhain is also the meat harvest feast, as it's beginning to be very cold outside at this time of the year, so animals can be slaughtered without the meat spoiling so quickly. 
Also, 11.11 is St. Martin's day, and Mortensaften is a Danish tradition, so I wish to serve goose on Samhain.

You need to plan the holiday menu, not only the dinner, but every meal you plan on eating on Samhain; breakfasts, snacks, dinner, supper, lunch and elevensies included. 
Because you should be able to take care of as much of preparing, baking and shopping as you can before the last week. 

You can freeze cookie dough and many baked goods manage freezing well. I think the Finnish Christmas caseroles (carrot casserole or kugel, swede casserole and others) are very nice Samhain sidedishes, and can be made in good time beforehand, and then just warmed for the dinner. So is Danish red cabbage or Swedish brown cabbage. All these are very nice with fatty meats like pork or goose.
You should also be able to buy most of the non-perishables needed for holiday cooking now, so that you can spread the budget more, and not need to buy everything with one salary.

(Also, if you plan on serving food for several guests, you need to go through your table setting and dishes, serving dishes, cutlery and table linen, and decide what you are going to hire, if you need to borrow some dishes from someone etc.)

Other things you need to plan:

- Activities. Are you planning on going to see some concerts or plays or other events? You need to get the tickets, now. Are you planning on going to pumpkin picking or hayrides? Get your spot, now. Make all the necessary arrangements, call people, see that everything is prepared and ready and just waiting for the time to come. 

- Parties and entertaining at other people's homes. Visits to make. Are you going to spend the holiday at someone else? You should still remember host/hostess gift and weekend bag packing lists. What else?

- Look at October schedule and find things that can be done in advance. Draft October schedule, day by day. Plan doing 15 minutes every day, be prepared to update your schedule according to unexpected problems. See when, where, why, how, with whom and with what. What can you do beforehand, and how much beforehand?

- Costumes - other clothes. Do you have appropriate underwear, all the necessary corsets, underskirts and hoops and whatnots? Do you have all the necessary accessories, the belts, pouches, wings and glasses? Do you have nice clothes for every event you have planned? Does your family? Is everything clean and patched and mended (if something was broken)? Batteries for lights? Lamps all fixed and working? Hair and makeup? Masks?

- Write a long-term shopping list divided into: canned foods, perishables for each holiday, linens and dishes, decorations, etc.

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