It’s mid November and my tree is up, holiday cards are in print, and the first batch of gingerbread cookies are being thrown in! I’m kidding.. kind of?
I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I always have, our family has a million of traditions, and as tiring as this season is I enjoy every minute of it. Preparing for the holiday brings me a lot of joy, but it wasn’t always like this. I was also one of those people that overly stressed about my decor, finding the perfect gift, and ended up sending New Year cards because getting anything mailed before December 25th seemed impossible. The to do lists were never ending all while my regular Mom duties, working a 9-5, and kids school projects commenced as usual.
I don’t remember having a “moment” where it all came to a screeching halt, or having some sort of revelation.. none of that. I think as the years went by I just made progressive changes that added up to a peaceful approach to the holiday season. Here are a couple of ways that I ensure my sanity is kept in tact and I am able to actually enjoy the season with my family;
“If you want Christmas to happen, you better help,” is the message I send to my kids loud and clear every year. I do not teach my kids about Santa for religious reasons, and also because I don’t want some fat guy getting credit for all my hard work. So because my kids love a decorated home (they ask for it earlier and earlier each year) and all the festivities that surround Christmas, they help me with extra chores so that I can make the magic happen. Now, if you have younger children, I get that they can’t help with laundry or doing the dishes. For everyone else, toddlers can put away toys and teenagers can clean toilets.. child labor laws don’t apply in December.
Santa (let’s pretend I believe in him) isn’t the only one checking his list twice. Things to do, parties to attend, and gifts I want to give are all written down to keep me on track. This strategy works especially well for keeping me on budget for gifts! I decide how much I am going to spend on each person, exactly what I am going to buy, and I go to the store knowing what I’m looking for, thus being efficient with my time. I prioritize my gift buying by writing the following;
- Primary List – those people I know I am going to see during the holidays and must get a gift for, in order of when I am going to see them.
- Secondary List – those that I know I am going to see AFTER the holidays and I have extra time to shop for their gifts
- “Mail by” List – those that live far away and I aim to mail their gifts out by the first week of December. You won’t catch me at the Post Office afterwards! If a retailer has a gift wrap option, I’ll order online and have it delivered straight to the recipient.
- Optional List – those that I hope to get gifts for, am not sure if I will see them, but if I finish all my other shopping I will MAKE time to see them.
After I make those lists.. I do a lot of crossing out! What my heart wants to do will always outweigh what I actually have time, or a budget, for so the process of elimination is necessary. You would think I would be disappointed that I don’t get to do all that I planned in my head, but it’s actually very relieving! My kids are also a part of this process because they can choose what activities they really want to do and parties they want to attend. I know whatever we decide to be a part of was an intentional choice, and I will enjoy it even more.
Bring out all the Mom hacks; meal plans, crockpot recipes, DoorDash, grocery delivery or pick up, and online shopping! Anything that will make your life easier during this time. I am especially a fan of WalMart’s grocery pick up and Target’s drive up options. Order exactly what you need online, drive to the store (saving you delivery fees), and an employee brings your items to your car! Utilizing this option is convenient, you don’t spend precious time walking around aimlessly, and you don’t overspend.
…to yourself! We all have forgotten a gift, missed a party, or fed our children cereal for dinner during this hectic time. It’s okay! That just means you need to go back to the “simplify” part because Rome wasn’t built in a day and Christmas isn’t about being insanely busy. Make yourself a cup of peppermint hot chocolate, put on ELF the movie, and let your kids indulge in too many marshmallows, because that is what they’re going to remember.. not whatever it was that you thought was going to ruin Christmas.
This post and my tips are in no way intended to come off as if my holiday isn’t hectic, because it is. I try to get an early start, stay organized, and save money but things happen. I can’t control the crowd at the mall or if the flu hits our home (please dear Lord not that!) and all we’re eating is chicken soup on Christmas Eve. The point is, do what you can but at the end of the day enjoy the season and the memories you’re making with your family. I hope to write more about our holidays on here and Instagram, but til then, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!