Christmas Planner and Survival Guide

Christmas Planner and Survival Guide

I began by creating a more conventional journal, full of nostalgic images of reds and greens, but found it wasn’t where I wanted to go. I restarted, this time with a more subdued color palette of pale greens, beiges, and less bright reds and greens. It felt calming and comfortable, but wasn’t sure who it would be for. In a conversation with my daughter, I realized that many women feel pressured by Christmas. They feel pressured by both external and internal expectations, plus family pressures, and by the amount of money they feel they need to spend.

Having been brought up in post-war England, money and resources still weren’t lavish, so family Christmasses were more about being together and having a lovely time than about spending money. Even though times have changed, I know it is easy to get caught up in the hoopla of Christmas, only to reach Christmas day hating myself and feeling very put upon. This journal is the antidote to those pressures.

It begins with a message of encouragement to be aware of the insanity and then to ignore it. Each set of tasks is broken down into smaller, doable steps, with words of encouragement and lists ready to use tucked in neat pockets. The journal owner is reminded to sit and be still, to doodle, color, or put in stickers – whatever brings pleasure and peace.

The journal comes with the lists mentioned in it, plus Christmas cards and gift tags for last minute use, plus the little notes of encouragement, a mini coloring book, stickers, prompts for lists not covered and pages to write on. It also encourages going outside to change the pace and energy if things get overwhelming. The goal is to look forward to Christmas Day and enjoy it, not to feel miserable or frazzled.

This book would make a lovely pre-Christmas gift for any woman you know who is facing her first Christmas in charge, or who has had some bad experiences and would like a guide to keeping Christmas more simple. Coming very soon!

Making a Journal

Making a Journal

I thought you might be interested to see how I create my journals. It is quite a lengthy process that occurs both on the computer and in the real world.

I begin by thinking about topics or themes I’d be interested in researching. Having got a theme, I create a color palette and if it requires specific fonts, than I source those. I create a digital cover design as I have the covers printed by Spoonflower, and it can take a week or so for the fabric to arrive. It is in the process of finding a photo or drawing and fonts that the concept for the journal really starts to solidify in my mind.

I look for sketches and public domain art that could possibly be incorporated, then start to lay out the pages. I often use drawings as brushes in Photoshop, so you may notice an image is used several times and in different ways. As these journals are intended to be used, I also look out for pieces of my own art and papers I’ve collected over the years that might fit in with the theme. I have created a number of templates for creating ephemera, so open those files and slide in designs and drawings behind to see which ones work best. Finally I print out all the pages on nice paper and trim them to size, then print the ephemera on card and cut that out and fold it as needed. Below you can see pages, words, cards and some tags I created for the black and white journal.

With the ephemera and pages cut out, I create the cover. The designs are printed on canvas, but to make them sturdier, iron on heavy interfacing and additionally reinforce the area where the pages will be sewn in. I add a loop of elastic to hold a pen, then sew the parts together, turn them right sides out and sew up the gap. Here you can see the finished cover before the pages are sewn in.





The next task is to create a pattern for sewing in the sets of pages, or signatures. I have decided to add 4 signatures, each holding 10-12 pages depending on the thickness of the paper and card. I punch the sewing pattern into each central page and also onto the cover. I use bookbinding thread to hold the pages securely and sew using five holes so each page is securely fastened inside the journal. Below you can see the journal when the pages are sewn in and also the view from the top:

Now comes the fun part, deciding what to add to the pages to create secret places to write or tuck in =notes, cards, or mementos of your own. I want you to make the journal your own so while I aim to add all kinds of elements for you to enjoy, I don’t want to set it up so you can only use it in one way. My goal is to create a journal that is personal to you. You may use the elements I add, but want you to choose how to sue them. This journal has a number of sketches and designs I created for coloring books, so if you like to do small colorings, there will be little treats scattered through the journal for you to find.

Next time I will show you how I add to the pages and create places to encourage you to write and preserve your memories. Since this book is all black and white – except for the beak and feet of the puffin on the cover – if you like color, there is plenty of space for you to add it!