This year, the first of December marks a very special occasion in my life. In 2003, on the first of December, I started writing in a notebook, determined to take back my Christmas and make it just as magical and rich as my childhood memories, when it had become tarnished by rules and expectations and the work of grown-up life. I spent a short part of every day with that notebook, sorting through my Christmas memories from long ago and making sure I took the time to live that Christmas season and write all that down too. That December went from a holiday season I had dreaded to something that gave me an entirely new perspective on Christmas, on life, on celebration.
I’ve told this story in detail many times before (if it’s new to you, this covers most everything), and the basics are that one year after keeping that life-changing journal for myself, I offered an online class called Journal your Christmas right here at shimelle.com. It starts every year on the first of December, and changes a bit every year just to keep up with the times, but the ethos at the heart of JYC is always the same: to take back your Christmas and help you celebrate all the good, no matter what your circumstance may be this year.
2013 marks the tenth year of Journal your Christmas, and whether it’s your first or tenth year of this adventure, I hope you will join us!
What is Journal your Christmas?
Journal your Christmas is an online scrapbooking class to celebrate the holiday season. It starts on the first of December and finishes on the sixth of January, with thirty-seven daily prompts sent by email.
Each prompt is a full-colour PDF file you can view on your screen (on your computer, iPad, smart phone or anything else that lets you view such files) or print onto paper. Each daily prompt follows a specific theme of the day, with the thirty-seven days covering all sorts of holiday aspects, from food and decorations to music and gifts. Every day there is something for you to consider and ideas to make the writing come easily. It is not merely a list of different topics in the style of today, write about a Christmas song, but a more detailed composition aiming to take you through a variety of thoughts before you settle on something you might write for the day. The topics can be applied to this year for documenting the current Christmas or you can get nostalgic with your Christmas memories – and most crafters write a bit about both.
The daily prompts are delivered to you at the same time each day by email, so you don’t have to spend any time logging into a website to download each day’s content. Should you have the time to chat with other participants or share your work, there is a private message board for class participants, and you can spend as much or as little time there chatting to other crafters enjoying the holiday season. Each prompt includes several examples of pages created by Journal your Christmas class participants, so you can see a range of crafting styles (including paper and digital pages) on the same theme. You can gather ideas from any of them or go in your own unique way entirely. There is zero pressure to make anything in the same style as any of the examples, including mine. Everyone and every style welcome!
How much time do I have to devote to this project? Is this a page every day at the busiest time of year?
You can devote as much or as little time as you like. Some participants create a entry or a page every day, and that’s a fab way to follow the class prompts. However it’s certainly not required, and it really wasn’t what I envisioned on day one. My original notebook was writing a little every day but not completing a full scrapbook page. That part came later. Since the class has permanent membership, I encourage scrappers who don’t have the time or the desire to create something every day to just choose the prompts that speak to you (or your schedule) most. You can make a few pages this year, a few pages next year and so on to fill a whole album. Or you can make a mini album every year. Or something that falls in between. You can blog your writing (either to the world or just to yourself) and choose later to add something crafty or not. You can take pictures and put together a photobook at the end of the project. We’ll cover many ways to make this work, and you can choose the options that work best for you.
What if I don’t scrapbook?
You are still very welcome to join us. Reading each day’s prompt, you might choose to respond in the form of a blog post or a plain written journal. My original book was nothing more than penned words and a tiny bit of colour here and there, so this can certainly be useful! Some participants follow the class from a photography angle, and use it as their inspiration to take a series of meaningful photos throughout the holidays. And still others read each day’s prompts just to be more mindful and aware of Christmas and use the class purely to keep them in the right mindset for enjoying the season for its real merits rather than letting commercial pressures and the stress of a busy calendar overtake their Christmas magic.
Truly, anyone is welcome.
Do I have to prepare things in advance?
No. In the archives, you’ll find some notes on preparation if that’s useful. Later this week, you’ll also find a round-up of notes on this topic right here on the blog. But I’ve done this project many times now and I actually find the more I prepare in advance, the less useful this project is to that key goal that motivated me from the beginning: to relish the magic of Christmas. That means some days I take more pictures, some days I write more words, and pretty much every day I am more aware and reflective about all the holiday goodness. When I prepared all my pages in advance, it was so much work for me to try to take the real life of it all and commit it to a page I had made on a completely other day in a completely other mood. So I experimented with just gathering some supplies and not preparing all that much ahead of time. This is what works so very well for me. However, I realise there are different personality types in this world and what I just described sounds like chaos to those who like to prepare in advance. So that’s why I’ll share some tips for preparing pages here later this week, but just know if you are reading this at any time, ‘but I didn’t make a book already’ is definitely not a reason to hold back. Grab a pen and jump in.
What is included in Journal your Christmas?
Journal your Christmas includes permanent membership – so you sign up once and can join in as many years as you would like at no additional cost. That also means once you sign up, you can access the prompts and extras from earlier years at any time, via the class forum. Those extras include printable accents, digital kits and photography challenges. New participants can also watch the videos from last year at any time, for example.
In 2012, all the daily writing prompts were completely refreshed. Everyone who signs up has access to all the original prompts as well as these topics, so if there is something that just doesn’t work for the way you celebrate the holidays, there are additional topics you can find in the archives and apply whenever you like.
For 2013, Journal your Christmas includes:
…thirty-seven daily PDF prompts for writing and crafting
…thirty-seven daily PDF prompts for holiday photography (like getting an online photography workshop as a bonus)
…new videos to support the PDFs (there is not a video every single day but there are several, and they cover a variety of things, including writing, crafting and taking pictures)
…exclusive digital and printable designs for your pages
…private forum to chat and share your work
…online chat to start the project (of course your attendance is optional)
…bonus offers from some of my favourite websites
…£1 donation to The Girls’ Fund via Plan, helping provide education and well-being to girls in difficult circumstances around the world. If you’ve joined us in the past, there is no charge to join us again. If you feel it’s possible for you to give a little to someone you don’t know this Christmas, I encourage you to make a donation to a local charity you love or to consider the work Plan is currently helping with in the Phillippines to spread a little extra love this Christmas.
And I’m happy to say the class is the same price as the last three years.
How do I join Journal your Christmas?
Easy! Just choose your currency and click the button below for your choice of UK pounds or US dollars. If neither of those is your currency, you can still join us! Choose either and the payment will convert automatically when you make your payment.
You can pay by credit/debit card or Paypal account. If you would like your prompts to come to a different email address than the one on your Paypal account, please be sure to leave a note in the message to seller section with the email address you would like to use. Orders can take up to 24 hours to process, though we are usually quicker. If you haven’t received your class registration after 24 hours, just email me and we’ll make sure your registration is completed and ready for you to get started!
Can I give Journal your Christmas as a gift?
Yes! Just click to pay above as normal, then leave the email address for the gift recipient in the notes section. If you miss the notes, email me. If you’d like me to send an email explaining that the class is a gift, I’m happy to do so – just let me know your preference of being named or anonymous!
Is there a deadline for signing up?
No. You can sign up any day of the year. The class starts on the first of December, so if you want to be in on day one, that can be part of the fun, but if you sign up later, you’ll still have access to all the materials, and you can do them in order or skip around – there is thought to the order but it’s not so regimented that you can’t change it up!
If you participated last year, you don’t need to do anything to join us again. This week you will receive an email with some updated info and reminders for you. The only thing you might need to do is update your email address if it has changed over the past year. You can do that by signing into the forum and going to the User Control Panel at the top left of the screen. It’s under Profile – Account Settings. If you don’t remember your username, it is most likely the first half of your email address!
Any more Christmas stuff I should know?
This week you’ll find daily Christmas posts as well as the usual guests here at shimelle.com. There is a mix of reading material and video on a variety of different things that all relate to Journal your Christmas in some way. So whether you’re an alum with a stack of completed books or someone new to my work this year, I hope you’ll stop by throughout the week for some festive scrapbooking fun!