As I mentioned last week, my latest book has just been released (highlighted below, after the blog) and so for the weeks approaching Christmas, I thought I would share some tips from the book that hopefully will help you with this difficult and sometimes crazy season.
From the ‘12 Steps’ listed in the Christmas book, this week will emphasize steps 4, 5 and 6: Planning your buying, your decorating and your meals.
- Plan your buying. Needless to say, when we start talking about buying we obviously start thinking of how much money we are going to need. Please keep yourselves out of debt this year! 23% of people won’t be able to pay off their Christmas debt until March of the next year! So now is the time to sit down and review all those you want to buy a present for. And now is the time to think of constructive ways to reduce that list. Instead of buying for all the people in your office or family, set up a lottery system where you only buy for one person. If your funds are low this year then make the most of your presents.
If you are able, buy presents all year long. I keep a list in my wallet with the names of those I need to buy for and when I see a gift that is perfect for one of them; I buy it early, label it and record it on my list. When November comes around I am much less stressed.
And since Christmas continues to be so materialistic, you could start some traditions that don’t include buying. You could give your spouse, child or elderly parent the gift of time: give them the 12 Dates of Christmas! Select activities that you know they would love to do with you or work items you could help with.
You could also give handwritten notes; a personal story written for a grandchild; record singing or speaking on a CD or tape a video of your family for those who live far away; make a scrapbook; create your own photo calendar as a gift; transfer family videos onto DVDs; make clothes or household items if you can sew or knit. The list is as endless as your creativity and the meaning will be well appreciated.
- Plan your decorating and wrapping. Because of how busy women can become this time of year, and in order to have a more organized Christmas, planning the different aspects of the season really does make a difference. Even though you know you want to decorate, actually finding the time is what becomes difficult. So look at your calendar with your spouse and children and decide on a day when you can buy or set up your Christmas tree. (Of course, you do not have to have a tree!) Then, decide on another day to decorate the rest of the house.
As you decorate, make a list for next year: what works this year, what doesn’t, what you might like to have next year, etc. Each year I make changes by either adding or subtracting decorations. And my main goal is to keep it simple! I’ll be honest – I see my neighbor’s trees and decorations and I feel that I need to do the same! But in my heart, for me and my stress level, I need to keep it as simple as possible.
The hardest part of decorating for me, though, is packing it all back up! I highly suggest that you purchase plastic storage containers. Label these clearly with everything that is in them. And any decoration you don’t use any more, give to charity.
One tip that really helps me: I clear each room of the decorations and place them all in the dining room which is next to the stairs leading up to the attic. That way I can clear and clean the whole house quickly which reduces stress. Then as I have the time, I start repacking the items in the dining room until everything is back in the attic.
And for planning your wrapping, I suggest one area in the house where you have all the supplies are set up. That way, each family member can easily wrap their presents without taking the supplies to another room and then not returning them! Keep extra pens, tape, ribbon, name tags so you don’t have to make a mad dash to the store.
- Plan your meals. I don’t think a holiday could be a holiday without food! Christmas, for many people, means a time for cooking and eating. So this time of year is extra busy as you prepare for guests as well as those traditional cookies and baked goods your family loves. It also means finding time to just cook dinner! So planning is essential.
I suggest looking over your calendar and write down the different events you will need to bake for as well as when you will need to cook dinner. With a busy Christmas season many nights will be spent at an event and you will need to plan whether you will eat out or have a simple meal at home.
Especially if out-of-town company is coming to stay, you will need to plan three meals a day. I keep a pad of paper with the meals and dates written down along with the grocery list that is needed. I also ask my company what type of foods they would like to have on hand. Some people can’t start the day without juice and cereal. Others have to have that cup of coffee and eggs.
Make sure you talk with your family members concerning the Christmas dinner. Have everyone contribute to it so that one person doesn’t have the whole burden fall on them. You could also decide to go out to a restaurant if it works better for the whole group. What is important is to communicate and plan a holiday dinner that brings everyone together with love and joy, not stress and hurt feelings.
Manna From Heaven
“And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1: 34-38