Here we are, well into the first week of November already. If you are like me, you had hoped to be a little further along with ‘holiday planning’ by now. We are just starting to think about Thanksgiving, let alone Christmas! I don’t know about you, but I like doing my holidays one at a time. I want to spend time reading good books with my children about these special days and why they are significant. I want time to bake for the neighbors, time to choose well-thought out personal gifts for family, time to make cards, time to do a lot of things… but in seven weeks Christmas will be here. Although this happens every year at the same time, somehow I am always surprised. Why is that?
In spite of the fact that I am running a bit behind normal this year, I am committing not to allow myself to go crazy and get drawn into the dreaded holiday vortex. I am going to share a few of my holiday strategies with you, and I hope you will share some of your own with the rest of us!
- Continue to have a regular, non-rushed quiet time with the Lord every morning. Since I no longer have babies, I have the luxury of getting up before everyone else and spending some precious time in the Word. Some things are more important than sleep!
- Make sure to follow a regular sleeping schedule. This applies to parents as well as children! It is tempting to stay up half the night to ‘catch up’ on holiday tasks, but it often leads to exhaustion, illness and short-tempers.
- Prioritize constantly and say no to some of the less important activities. Plan your time so that all of a sudden you are not looking at the calendar saying, “We have an activity every night this week—how did that happen?” (I say this from experience.) One of the tools I have come across to help with the planning is the Holiday Planner for the Christian Family– by Sheri Graham. This 140 + page e-book helps the reader focus on the Reason behind the season (including daily devotions in December) as well as offering MANY forms and ideas to assist us in completing the ample number of activities and tasks that need to be attended and completed without sacrificing the meanings behind them. (I am a form junkie; I admit it.)
- Make neighbor and friend gifts in quantity. Rather than making 10 different types of cookies, make a large quantity of homemade Mint Hot Chocolate Mix and/or Chocolate Truffle Pound Cake Mix and give that to everyone. Vary your gift year to year. My favorite resource for homemade gifts is a book I have had for years, The Perfect Mix: 90 Gift-giving Ideas for Bread, Soup, Dessert and Other Homemade Mixes, by Diane Philips. I have yet to find a recipe in it that is not outstanding! (Check book link below for more information.)
- Simplify gift-giving. Is it time to start drawing names instead of getting every niece and cousin a separate gift? How about setting a limit on gift prices? Alternatively, family gifts are fun and generally can be purchased more cheaply than individual gifts.
- Give to others who are less fortunate. Do you feel your family would benefit by receiving less and giving more? Go together to purchase something from the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog, participate in Project Angel Tree, serve at a soup kitchen, and/or take in a ‘single’ or two for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Holidays can be excruciatingly lonely for many people; look around your church and or neighborhood for those who could use some good food and fellowship.
- Bargain shop online. Ordering the bulk of your gifts at one or two places allows you to take advantage of lower or no shipping costs. (And remember there is no shipping at Amazon.com once you have hit $25.) And not only does Amazon offer books and music, but all kinds of products.
- Look for gifts that dovetail with your homeschooling efforts. Do you have a son interested in art? How about a gift of Prismacolor Color Pencils and fine quality drawing paper? A daughter who loves music? Perhaps she would enjoy listening to authentic Revolutionary/Civil War music or a sampler of classical music. How about a young engineer who is always asking how things work? One of my favorite books, HowThings Work, by David Maccauley, provides abundant, easy to understand information including detailed, informative illustrations.
We would love to hear YOUR strategies for keeping the main thing the main thing this Christmas! Additionally, we are going to be writing a short series of posts including some of our favorite books — beginning tomorrow! If you love books as we do and you are looking for educational gifts, we hope you will join us.
In His Grace,
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