Setting Up for the Holidays

Hello Readers!  Can you believe that October is almost over?  In just a matter of weeks we will be opening Christmas gifts and ringing in the new year!  There are only ten weeks left of this year, and it doesn’t seem like that’s enough time to do everything you need to do for the rest of the year, much less celebrate the holidays.

Now, while it may seem too early to think about setting up for the holidays, this is a great time to do so in order to avoid the mad dash rush when the holidays are upon us.  This is also a good time to finalize your holiday plans and prepare for any holiday parties you want to attend or want to throw in order to make the season festive and fun rather than rushed and stressful.

First, let’s think of the kiddos.  Growing up, we always had Advent Calendars for each of us.  My husband Ryan has revealed that they, too, had Advent Calendars in their household.  But, what I also remember from the holiday season is the amount of food and sweets we received.  Every year, we would receive homemade cookies and candies, pastries and breads, boxes of sweets, cans of popcorn, and much much more.  It was overwhelming, and it was enough to send anyone into a sugar coma!  As a kid I loved it; I spend most of the colder months on a sugar high.  But now that I have a kid of my own, I want to focus on cutting back on some of that sugar while still celebrating the holidays.

So, instead of just buying an Advent Calendar full of chocolate, I’m opting to do an activity Advent Calendar.  Each day of the calendar contains a holiday-centered activity, like “Build a Snowman” or “Visit Santa’s Village” or “Ride the Polar Express”.  There are some tasks that involve food like “Make Santa Cookies” or “Have Hot Chocolate”, but most of the Advent Calendar activities are geared more toward doing something to celebrate the season rather than eat through it.  My mom and I are actually looking at making a calendar out of fabric or quilting one, but you can make one out of felt, paper, wood (Michael’s sells a reusable wooden Advent Calendar that you can paint and decorate), or paper chains.  We are also planning to add in a couple of charitable activities, like “Adopt an Angel from the Tree” and “Volunteer at the Food Bank/Soup Kitchen”.  This means that the entire month of December becomes more about the experiences and traditions instead of the food and the sweets.

While starting this Advent calendar may be time consuming, over the years it becomes easier because it can be filled with family favorites and traditions rather than having to create new ideas.  But, I will caution with this:  Keep a master list of each day’s activities and have a couple of back ups just in case.  For example, for three years running, we received almost no snow before Christmas.  But last year we had a couple of larger storms.  There may be days that you had plans for leaving the house, such as to visit Santa or go see the Christmas lights, but you may be stuck due to the weather.  Have some back ups, such as “Color Santa pictures” or “Sing Christmas Carols” and plan on other days for the original tasks.  Or, you may have no snow on the day you want to build a snowman, so keep a backup activity or two around just in case.

This is also a great time to start thinking about where you will be for each holiday.  In our family, we spend Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with Ryan’s family.  This is also the time that I check with my family on our Thanksgiving plans, such as what food to bring and what activities we want to do.  This year I want to begin a family Turkey Trot through the neighborhood, and I have to coordinate this with them.  I also find out about this time what we are planning to do for our annual Black Friday shopping expedition.  And I start planning on my own holiday traditions in our home; we start talking about what to get each family member, what parties we have to attend, what events are coming up, if we want to have a party, and so on.  This helps us begin to plan for the busy season and it makes everything so much easier for us as the days continue on.

So, Readers, how do you plan for the holidays?  I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

-BBM

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