As a PMP (project management professional,) the 5 stages of a project have been pounded into my head:
- Planning and design
- Execution and construction
- Monitoring and controlling systems
No matter what I do, making a quilt, writing a book, hosting a Christmas party, I follow the steps for project management. Of course, my favorite stage is ‘completion.’ The satisfaction of completing a project on time and on (or under) budget is usually combined with shock when I review the lessons learned. Most PMP gaze in wonder at their completed project and smile. I look back at my completed projects and think WTF? How’d this damn thing get done without the insurance adjustor’s involvement?
Yesterday, as I recovered from my family’s visit on Sunday night, I reviewed the week-long preparations and jotted down lessons learned to be reviewed before the 2012 Christmas fiasco. I thought I’d share a few with you:
- Check the prime rib before time to bake it and ascertain if it is boneless or not. It takes about an hour longer to cook a 13# boneless prime rib than it does one with the bones. Fortunately, I discovered the roast was boneless in time to roast it and have it ready by 5, but if I’d waited 15 minutes longer, that wouldn’t have been the case.
- Check the rum supply! I thought I had a full bottle in the pantry. I didn’t. I’m pretty sure Ma sneaked up here in the middle of the night and appropriated the extra bottle. Fortunately, I was able to use bourbon and brandy in place of the rum, but that’s not the point. A rum-free Christmas is a Christmas without….well, rum!
- Do NOT trust Ma with the baked goods. Since she has a chest freezer, she had room to store the cookie sheets filled with cookies, toffee, fudge, truffles, etc. To be fair, it wasn’t the storage that was the problem. It was the transport of said items back to my house. In all the hustle and bustle, she forgot she left a bag in the front yard. I went outside to discover a group of dogs growling over something on the ground. Turned out, they were gathered around the bag of toffee (by far the best I’ve ever made!) They ate all the toffee, all the fudge and every single one of the ginger snaps. I was not happy!! (Short note to all my writer friends who are laughing. Let me put this into perspective for you. Consider losing 30,000 words of your current WIP. 30,000 words gone! No backup copy. No way to ever get them back. Ever! That’s how much work went into all those dog treats. Still laughing?!)
Count the number of guests who are attending, before buying groceries and setting up tables. We’re used to 18-20 guests. This year we only had 12. Of course, I realized this after I’d thawed out 2 prime ribs and set up the table to accommodate 20 guests. Counting is very important.
- This is a doozie and should be applied to every day use, not just Christmas: don’t curl your hair in the nude. I was rushing around, trying to get ready before the guests arrived. I dropped my curling iron and grabbed it by the cord. It landed my stomach and got stuck. Peeling skin off with a hot iron is not the best way to celebrate Christmas.
- And the most important lesson: heed the messages. Songs sent by Pops, the cats plopping on my lap so I’d slow down and chill out, and virtual hugs for the Great White North.
After all was said and done, the Christmas dinner was a success. No one missed the food that the dogs ate. The prime rib turned out perfectly. The table was beautiful and we had room to spread out. There was plenty of brandy to soak the flaming desserts and most importantly, there was plenty of laughter.
God, I love that motley group of misfits. Love them.
All in all. The perfect Christmas.