Welcome to my "Countdown to Christmas" series where each week I would like to share about what we are doing in our home to prepare for this most wonderful time of the year. I find that the older I get, the more simplified I want things to become and most importantly, the more I want to reflect Christ to those around me. This is especially important to me at Christmas time.
I do not know about you, but for me, the holidays used to be overwhelming. There was SO MUCH TO DO and it seemed like everyone around me was in a frenetic hurry. I did not feel the joy of the season, in fact, it felt very opposite. People were grumpy in the stores. My friends talked about how exhausted they were by all that needed to be done and how they hadn't been able to get their shopping accomplished yet. Stress was palpable in my own home as I rushed about trying to gather up gifts, bake goodies, put on a memorable party, and also address Christmas cards, wrap gifts, and run to the post office in my free time. By the time the big day arrived I was a mix of emotions because I felt like I hadn't taken the time to enjoy the season leading up to Christmas day. I had lost sight of what is truly important about Christmas and my joy was greatly diminished.
Things are different now. Christmas is more drawn out in our household due to the fact that it is my favorite time of year and I LOVE to celebrate it for as long as realistically possible without driving my family nutty. Also, I like to take extra time to prepare so the days are enjoyable and not rushed. By planning our holiday season I am able to get things done early and have more down time with my family as we reflect on this beautiful time of year.
Here are a few simple things we do in our home to help the holiday be one of joy and not stress.
Sit down with your significant other and plan how much you want to spend on gifts this year. Start setting that money aside, the earlier the better. Keep things reasonable so you don't have to work overtime to pay for Christmas.
2. Have a gift list.
I keep a simple Google spreadsheet with a list of those I have to buy for and ideas. Having a list helps keep you organized and gives you a game plan. It also helps from overspending.
3. Take advantage of online shopping!
It saves so much time to just click and buy. The packages are either shipped directly to my house or the recipient... boom. Done!
4. Pick up a few gender neutral gifts to have on hand for Secret Santa's or hostess gifts.
5. If you do Advent, make sure you plan little items/activities for your calendar.
Sit down with your family and decide together what traditions you want to celebrate this year. There are some traditions that we celebrate each year because it wouldn't feel like Christmas without them. Other traditions come and go and sometimes, we ditch an old tradition and start a new one. Allow yourself the freedom to let go of things that are no longer important to you or not working for your family anymore. The fact is, regardless whether a tradition is special or not, they take up your time, so make sure you are spending your time on that which truly matters to you and yours.
7. Choose the spot where you want your Christmas tree!
Some people have their tree in the same spot each year. I am a special creature who enjoys rearranging furniture often (pray for my husband) therefore, our tree is rarely in the same place from year to year. To save stress, we choose our spot for our tree ahead of time so we can rearrange accordingly if needed.
8. Stock up on supplies early.
Wrapping paper, tape, gift bags, tissue paper and tags are necessities for gift giving. If you are like me, you want the cutest paper possible and ya'll know the paper that is available on Christmas Eve is just plain ol' ugly. So, buy early for the best selection and make sure you get plenty of tape!
9. Wrap as you buy!
It saves so much time if you wrap as you pick up gifts. This is another area where the spreadsheet comes in handy. I put a little note next to the recipient's name stating where I hid the gift. :) If a person has more than one gift I note that. Example: My children each receive three gifts under the tree. On my spreadsheet I label them gift #1, gift #2, and gift #3. When I wrap their gift I write which gift # it is on the tag and also discreetly on the back of the box (in case the tag falls off) that way I don't have to shake it and guess which present it is.
10. Plan your Christmas party date ahead of time and send out invites that way your family and friends can have your party on the calendar before the influx hits. I also like to plan the menu and games so I can buy supplies early.
11. Pick your menu for Christmas day.
Pinterest and allrecipes have awesome ideas. My goal is to keep it simple because I want to bask in the glory of the day. Keep your eyes out for my upcoming post on my favorite holiday recipes that keep me out of the kitchen but still creates a decadent feast.
12. Bake up some holiday cheer ahead of time and freeze it. It makes life easier in the long run. We do almost all of our cookie baking ahead of time.
14. Mail out your holiday cards and packages early. The lines just get longer as Christmas day gets closer.
15. If you are going to DIY then get your craft on NOW. Do not save it for last minute. Don't be the one who is crying over your sewing machine at 2am on Christmas Eve. (Been there, done that). You can find my post on the DIY hobby horse here.
16. Clean your home!
Zone cleaning has been a life saver for me. It makes it so my home is usually guest ready within minutes. It is easy to entertain when you clean a little bit each day.
Enjoy this magical season for as long as possible! As you are setting out your favorite decorations if there are things you no longer love then donate them or throw them away. No need to hang onto what no longer fills you with joy.
18. Take time for you!
Plan some down time for yourself in the midst of all the planning, cooking, cleaning, and wrapping. It is okay to say "no" to others in order to carve out some time for yourself. Take a bubble bath, ask your spouse to wrap the gifts you bought today, plan on going out to lunch with a friend before your holiday grocery shopping. :)
What are some ways you kick stress to the curb during the holiday season?
Each week I will be adding to our Countdown to Christmas by expanding on some of the above ideas. Please come back next Saturday to hear more about gift giving and how we plan, organize, wrap, etc.
So excited to be here with you,