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Christmas Countdown Planner by Jill Craft

Posted on Oct 26, 2013 by in CELEBRATE | 7 comments

Jill asks us “have you missed the joy of the Christmas season since you were a child due to stress, impulse spending and disorganization?



Christmas is without a doubt our most cherished family time together – and one we look forward to all year long.  But I’m not going to mince words, come early November I do start to get a little panicked:

  • we run our own business [HAPPYFISH DESIGN], and October through December is our busiest season of the year. Is a double whammy tackling those deadlines and yet being joyful and organized for all of our family holiday schedule and to-do’s.
  • December calendar is too full – which events to do pass up?
  • what would our loved ones like to receive for gifts?
  • who do we need to remember in our giving? ie. piano teachers, mail delivery person, vet etc.
  • what food items are people no longer eating for various reasons?
  • do we have enough money to buy the presents?
  • when are we going to have time to put up the tree, lights and decorations?
  • where are our treasured recipes that I LOSE EVERY YEAR?
  • where on earth did we ‘hide’ the gifts that we stashed?
  • who sent us cards last year who would appreciate a paper card VS e-card?
  • who do we send e-cards to and when do I send them out?
  • family is coming into town – where is everyone staying? if here, where will they sleep!?
  • what do we need to do to clean and prepare in advance of visitors – and not in a mad dash before they arrive in a few hours?
  • what did we learn last year, that we wish to change for this year?
  • what are our favorite traditions as a family – that is if we have time to halt for a moment to remember them?!?
  • how to we keep Christ in Christmas – and not let over-commercialism and greed destroy the peace, love, joy and hope – that is the reason why we celebrate Christmas?!

Well, thanks to a friend who told me about Jill Craft’s Christmas Countdown Planner I have some much needed organizational HELP – and in a much appreciated graphically adorable package. :)


It is an e-book PDF that you can print out yourself and pop into a 3-ring binder.  She has included cute spine and cover art… but she recommends that if you have sneaky little ones…. to keep it inconspicuous in a plain binder. 😉  She walks you through the quick steps to put your binder together – just print the pages, put them into your binder, add a ‘pocket’ or pencil case to keep your Christmas related receipts in… and you’re ready to roll ! (You can also buy three-hole punched ziplock pocket made specially for binders.)


  • 2013-2014 Calendar Pages for the months of November and December
  • Notebook Cover, Dividers, and Spine Covers
  • Budget Planner
  • Inventory List
  • Homemade Gift List
  • Advent and Tradition Ideas
  • Christmas Card List
  • Master Gift List
  • Individual Gift List
  • Cleaning List
  • Menu Plan
  • Recipe Section
  • and more !


So by now, you’ve already read my laundry list of challenges above – ones that we all share.

What I think is very cool about this planner is that it addresses our families’ issues all in one easy to find binder.  Additionally, I was surprised that Jill brought up things that I had never really thought about until I dove into her e-book.  I have taken it for granted all these years that the month of December, leading up to Christmas Eve and Day – is a hurried bit of mayhem.  I didn’t stop to think that it didn’t have to flow like that. That we could make changes.  Here’s the honest truth, somehow, when Christmas is over….. there is some nagging regrets, some guilt …. it sounds insane, but it’s true.

We spent too much. Never used a BUDGET PLANNER before… this is the year we start.  We forget how many items we bought for each family member, to keep the gifts fair and even in value and quanity, without a solid place to write them down every year keeping a mental list we just keep buying and buying – until there is an over indulgence.

The MASTER / INDIVIDUAL GIFT LIST will solve this problem. I’m a post-it note girl… this will also save me from having any secret lists uncovered from unsuspecting snoopers on my desk.  We have also LOST GIFTS that we’ve hidden in the house… only to find them a year later. I’m not joking here.  I’m sure we’re not alone in this.  One year I think we bought the same thing twice. CRAZY. Another great thing about this section, is you can hole punch and put in your kids’ wish lists… or magazine/ads that they have ripped out and circled etc.  I have misplaced many wishlists over the years only to have had Pebbles rewrite it over again. No more need with this binder!

In my dreams I would love to make homemade gifts. Maybe one day with all this free time I have left from not having to plan for future Christmases !! Pinterest here we come and I can put that HOMEMADE GIFT LIST to use.

We couldn’t find certain decorations AGAIN. We didn’t bother putting up certain things because they are lost somewhere in the garage.  In the INVENTORY LIST we can write down everything we have, and where it’s stored.  We have some things upstairs, some in the garage, some in our office….. it’s everywhere.  We have different locations for wrap and bows…. birthdays vs Christmas – and I continually forget which is where. When we moved from Hawaii, there was a box of precious ornaments

One of our favorite traditions are special cookies and recipes from my side and my husband’s side…. and most Christmases I’m stressing looking through unorganized cluttered folders of ‘saved clippings’ and notes and cookbooks trying to remember where on earth Grandma’s Nutmeg Log recipe is…. or Grandma’s Shortbread cookie recipe is…. and we go without.  Do you think I don’t feel that sad feeling deep down when come January hubby says, ‘ I wish we made those this year…..’  The RECIPE SECTION I can copy all of our favorites and keep there – always. Year after year. Be sure to check out Jill Craft’s ‘THE SASSY SLOWCOOKER’ site for gazillions of incredible recipes. These would be great not only during the holidays, but for the whole month of December frankly !!!!!!

Love having a MENU SECTION to plan those big meals ! Truth be told, we do the often serve the same familiar dishes every year and yet every year I go through the motions of making new post-it lists of ingredients needed, for how many etc. Sure would save time to just have it there ready !! Would be a great place to pop in other new recipes that you might discover to try to mix things up !

ADVENT and TRADITIONS – this is where we I would like to grow this year with our family.  We’re often too busy with our to-do and to-buy lists, that the traditions fall into the gaps when we think of them…. instead of planning for them as a priority.  This section would be a wonderful place to put print outs of great pinterest ideas, brochures or info on favorite annual events like the Polar Express, ZooLights, what different churches around town are doing – special nativity pageants, Bethlehem re-enactment walks etc.  also a place to write down wonderful ideas shared by friends – like the Giving Jar – where you save up coins and place it on a strangers random door to bless them. Possibly brainstorm ideas to server your community. Make new traditions! These are the memories that matter. Not what that they got that latest 3-D DSI or whatever. This is where it counts if we want to raise the next generation up to not be spoiled, entitled and devoid of care for others.  Jill has some WONDERFUL ideas on her site to check out …. I’m going to start adding these to my binder !! She has great links for devotions, printables and Jesse Tree advent activities.  If you buy (OR WIN!) the e-book planner she has lots of other great ideas and resources for you. In this section you can record your moved beloved activities that you did as a family, great movies, stories etc. serves as a great time capsule keepsake to look back on in later years ramping up for the next upcoming season of festivities.

CARDS – we have evolved from cards over the years since many of our friends and family live far away and is frankly expensive to buy cards and the postage adds up especially internationally. Not to mention slow. So we do e-cards that you can still personalize and add photos to – saves on fuel, paper etc… BUT I will admit that we love to receive paper cards. Is true. Nothing connects you to a person better than seeing their familiar hand written script that you would recognize anywhere. I miss that.  The CARD LIST feature is a great help in this regard to make sure that you’re not missing anyone you love and care for in your send-outs.

CLEANING LIST – now this is golden. We’re always rushing around decorating, cleaning before our family comes into town. Usually up to the last hour upon arrival. Yes Mum, it’s true! 😉  Having a list, a strategy, and a when to get X done by would sure be a help to make sure we’re done early so that we can be peaceful and relaxed to enjoy friends and family when the door bells rings.

This binder is worth putting some time into, so I hope to make some updates to this post with some photos of my binder ‘in action!!’ Excited to start !! I REALLY love putting spines and covers into binders…. but she certainly has a point about it being invisible…… can I restrain myself….. ? You know how I love nicely designed things….. ;D


Right here on her website!  It’s only $3.99 because it’s an e-book.  This project is the culmination of a decade of experience in trying to figure out how to make Christmas more joyful and less stressful.  This a tiny token of a thank you back to her for taking the time to figure this all out and present it to us.  This is less than a box of lights, or one ornament, or a spool of ribbon…. and much longer lasting.  Even though Halloween is next week, this is the perfect time to download this …. print it out, get your binder ready and you have plenty of time to start using it to prepare before December 1st arrives.   :)


WIN A FREE CHRISTMAS PLANNER for you and a friend !!!

Jill has allowed us to give away a free e-Book copy of her Christmas Countdown Planner not only for yourself, but you’ll get one for a friend as well !


  • you can enter on our FACEBOOK PAGE by putting your name in the comments feed under ‘CHRISTMAS PLANNER GIVE-AWAY’
  • you can enter by contacting us on our website with your name and email address – put in ‘CHRISTMAS PLANNER GIVE-AWAY’ in the comments box. (might be better than in the comments feed below to reduce risk of spammers !!!)
  • I will email the winner Friday night with instructions on how to receive their e-book PDF download !!
  • one entry per person
  • I will have my children do the drawing – blindfolded !! Exciting !!





DISCLAIMER:  HappyFish School is not responsible for the content in the e-book or it’s delivery.  I was given one copy of her e-book to honestly review and share my thoughts with you. She has given me an affiliate link to receive credit for anyone who finds her product through me – which is very kind… and totally unexpected when I said YES to doing this with her.  She is a fellow homeschool mom with a large family and I’m proud to help support her creativity – plus, you should check out her slow cooker recipes too … !! That is a WHOLE OTHER POST ! 😉


  1. Thank you so much for the awesome review and kind words. I appreciate you sharing my Christmas Planner!

  2. Teresa Moore Thomasson – Christmas Planner :-)

  3. I would love to win one for myself and I would give one to my sister. If I don’t win, it’s a great price, anyway!! :)

  4. CHRISTMAS PLANNER GIVE-AWAY – I’d love to win this!

  5. Tonight is the drawing !!!! Thank you all for entering here and on our FB page! A great turnout !! Good luck!

  6. Yipee! Can’t wait! :)

  7. Congratulations to FB entrant LANA ! Enjoy the planner Lana – and a very Merry Christmas to all participants here and on FB ! 😀 A big thank you of course to Jill Craft, creator of the planner, and the generous soul offering the prize! :)

    The contest is now officially closed.

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