A neighborhood cookie exchange. Christmas light looking. Your church’s annual Christmas production, nativity scene, or ministry event. Sitting on Santa’s lap. The Nutcracker. Watching your five favorite holiday movies. Making all those crafts you’ve pinned. Making jam as gifts for your kids’ teachers. Maybe even Christmas caroling. Giftshoppingcardaddressingcraftmakingsnowsledding.
There’s a lot of fun stuff to do throughout the Christmas season, and if you’re like me, you have grand ambitions post-Thanksgiving that fizzle to survival by the 23rd. December dawn, and it feels like you’ve got all kinds of time to do all the things on your list. One fun thing per day. What’s hard about that?
It’s frustrating to want to do festive things and to ultimately not do them.
Last week’s task was to plan your gift giving. This week’s Plan your holiday calendar, well in advance. Life gets busy, and it’ll be hard to get your fun things on the schedule if you don’t plan ahead.
1. Talk now.
Plan your calendar well in advance; start talking now. You don’t have to stress about it… Just discuss your Christmas priorities with your spouse after the kids are in bed, a bit at a time. Throw out any and all ideas—the sky’s the limit. Going to the actual North Pole? Sure, why not? At least for now.
Unless they’re teeny-tiny, ask the kids what they’d like to do during the holidays. Make sure you don’t accidentally promise anything. Choose words well.
2. Prioritize your ideas.
Alright, now make a list of those things, and mark the most important. Perhaps each family member can choose their number one item (now might be a good time to cross off the North Pole). You could also make an A, B, and C list—the must do, the maybe if we have time, and the not likely but it sure would be fun.
Photo by Pipnstuff
3. Dig up your calendar.
Look at the next few weeks, and give yourself a kind reality check. Including all your “regular life” stuff, how many holiday events can you actually do? Probably not as many as you’d like.
Jot down the set-in-stone events. School programs, Christmas Eve at the in-laws, office parties, anything not instigated by you yet necessary for you to attend, put it on the family calendar.
Don’t fill in the days with everything else yet.
4. Check the budget.
Go back to your holiday budget. What’s allotted for fun? Scrooge McDuck aside, most of us don’t have money to do everything. You might need to choose just one cash-heavy event, and save the others for future Christmases.
5. Now fill in your calendar.
Once you’ve settled on the money, plan the events. Buy those Rockettes tickets and scratch it on the calendar. Talk with your friends and finalize the cookie swap date.
As a couple, agree on how many nights out of the house rest on the right side of sanity. It’s different for everyone, so cater to the spouse most in need of home time. Kyle doesn’t like to be out of the house more than three nights a week, so we do our best to protect that.
6. Make the calendar fun.
Crazy as it sounds, but you may want to schedule smaller things, like movie or game nights at home. Time will fly by, and you’ll realize on Christmas Eve that you unintentionally skipped those little things that mean so much.
Enjoy the season! Make a point to spend an afternoon crafting a gingerbread house, or make popcorn garland while you watch Elf. Don’t’ stress over it, of course, but don’t just wish for more time to do those things. Make time for them. (If you can’t tell, I’m totally talking to myself here.)
Photo by Shim & Sons
Make these small holiday traditions more “official” by creating an advent wreath—count down to Christmas with one activity per day. It doesn’t have to be fancy. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest, from fabric to magnetic to paper. I love Mandi Ehman’s idea for an advent chain—tear off one chain per day, minimal calendar crafting required.
And while you’re nailing down your calendar, don’t forget to plan for the traditions that matter most to you. Every Thanksgiving I realize I still haven’t made the Jesse Tree ornaments I really want, so I settle for printed pictures the kids color minutes before they’re hung on the tree. It’s fine—but this year, I’d like to finally create some more permanent ornaments.
Holiday activities are meant to be fun—so let’s keep them fun. Don’t stress about doing everything—but make a point to do the things you really want to do, instead of just wishing they’d happen. Planning in advance will make the season more relaxing.
What’s one thing you’re going to add to your holiday calendar this year?