If you look at blogs and Pinterest it seems it is all about getting ready for Christmas. Over the years I have used several planners – pre-organised weekly lists that tells me all the little tasks that I need to do in order to have an organised, peaceful, fun, Christ-centered Christmas. The problem with these planners, is that they list so many tasks, that I either get overwhelmed trying to get them all done, or I spend so much time tweaking their list to make it doable, the list isn’t recognisable as theirs by the time I’m done. I also find that to achieve all that I set out to do I need to spend about 2-3 hours a day, even the list that tells me 1 hour a day – never worked for me. So this year, I’m doing it my way. Planning Christmas my way means creating my own to-do list leading up to Christmas making the things that are important to us as my priority.
Here are my thoughts I’ve had (it really is a note to myself) as I’ve reflected on the whats and whyfors in planning Christmas.
Know my Purpose for this Christmas
The first step in planning my own Christmas is knowing my purpose, my goals. Though culturally we may have the same goals as the next person, what that looks like in my house is going to be different than what that looks like in your house. When my kids were younger Christmas time was a focus to teach about Jesus; of course we talked about Jesus all the time, but Christmas is a season where our culture makes a specific opportunity and we used that. These days, it is more about remembering and being thankful for God’s gift. This is why I used to tweak someone else’s list so much – what I needed to do to prepare for my type of celebration was different.
- I don’t want Christmas to be such a big event that it takes me a lot of time – I don’t want my life to be about preparing for 1-2 days of family celebrations.
- I want Christmas time to be a time where our family enjoys being together, that we are a blessing to other people, and that we take time to remember God’s blessing of sending His Son, Jesus.
What will we do this Christmas?
Second step – Now that I have those goals, I can list how I am going to achieve them; this is where I start imagining what my celebrations are actually going to look like, it is where I start thinking through the traditions we hold to and the new things I want to add (and check that they all serve my purpose/goals).
My personalised to-do list
Third – I create my to-do list – listing all the actions that need to happen to make those things really happen. This is the overwhelming stage – the rubber meets the road stage – this is the reality stage. This is when we start to see if it is do-able, or if there is too much to do.
Our intentions are always honourable (usually!) And there is nothing wrong with making a creative wonderland of memories for our kids. But at what cost? If you have the time, energy, money and all of life is in balance – ie, your kids still have your attention throughout the day, your husband has your ear and heart when he is home, your friends remember who you are, your house is maintained etc…. then fine – go for it, but if life gets left behind so you can achieve your Christmas to-do list, something is out of order.
Celebrating Christmas is just one event in our life – our celebrations may last for a week, or only 1-2 days, and we need to keep that in perspective. I still have homeschooling to oversee, I have a house to manage, projects to complete, a family holiday/vacation to organise, a few church driven projects to get involved in – the list keeps growing!
If getting ready for Christmas takes up all my time, and there is no time to do normal life, then I have dreamed too high, I have unrealistic goals and I have to reconsider.
[Tweet “If getting ready for Christmas takes all my time, then I am planning to do too much”]
This is so important – and the step that we often overlook – we jump in with elaborate plans, trying to squeeze in more hours to our day, ignoring our kids which usually backfires, all because we have seen some amazing, creative, clever, meaningful ideas on Pinterest which we want to bless our family with.
So they are the things I am reminding myself of – the point that I am highlighting for myself is: Don’t let Christmas take over your life!
[Tweet “Don’t let Christmas plans take over your life!”]
To enjoy family time together – we will do this by:
- Sharing gifts – thoughtful gifts that tell the other person we love you and know your interests, passions, and needs.
- Encourage my children in making gifts where they can
- Doing things we’ve always done (traditions – memory building) – family photo session, tree decorating night, movie night Christmas Eve, Christmas carols,
- Play Christmas music during the day, and in the car
To be a blessing to others
- Share gifts – thoughtful gifts that tell our extended family and close friends that we love them and know their interests, passions and needs.
- Invite people into our home – specifically Open House Christmas Day for those who don’t have people to celebrate with
- Boxing Day Cricket and Craft day with friends (men watch cricket – it’s an Australian thing to do! Ladies watch a movie and enjoy some creative time)
- Participate in a drive that shows Jesus’ love to other kids (last year it was a local initiative, this year we did Christmas Shoeboxes)
- Participate in the Christmas Carols evening
- Deliver gifts of baking to our neighbours
To celebrate God’s gift to us
Every day is a celebration of Jesus, we live with him day by day, 365 days of the year, we are aware of his gift of love and grace that enables us to be free of having to do anything… and yet, we are people who enjoy intentionally learning more about God. So with the idea that we don’t have to… we will do a few things
- Put out the decorations – specifically the ones that point to Jesus: word art and a nativity scene
- We continue to read the Bible account of the birth of Jesus before we open gifts on Christmas morning – when the kids were young this was a key setting the stage for the day part of our celebrations – not taking away the joy of gifts, but about reminding the kids, that today isn’t all about you and stuff. As the kids are older, we still do it, as it gives us a moment to pause as a family, at the beginning of what is going to be a busy day, to say thank you to God.
- We have a basket of picture books which will sit in the lounge room for us to browse, remember the stories and reflect on the messages. We probably won’t read them as a family any more – but they are a part of our Christmas memories.
When my children were younger and we used the Christmas season to focus on learning about God’s plan for redemption I also had to prep Bible study lessons and activities that gave us teachable moments. We don’t do that now as the kids have moved on in their understanding about God’s purposes.
So … my To-Do
- Take a family photo
- Buy a DVD for our Christmas Eve movie night, get our Christmas books out and ‘strew’ them around, get Christmas music out and create playlist for our devices
- Decide on a table setting (this is my treat to myself) purchase what is needed. Note to self – you don’t need any more house decorations. Look into lights as Daniel wanted to learn how to put up outdoor lights.
- Set aside a day for decorating the house
- Creating a gift list, purchasing and making gifts. Determine my cut-off date so I can have gifts in the mail for family who live away.
- Send out invitations for Christmas Day Open House
- Planning menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day (this isn’t too hard as we generally eat the same thing each year!)
- Cooking and Baking – edible gifts, Christmas cake and nibbles
- Have a few ideas for our quick holiday if we end up doing this
The one thing that is not on my to-do list is cleaning my house – my house gets cleaned (good enough) on a regular basis, I will not be cleaning deeper just because it is Christmas, even if the neighbours do come over for our Open House.
This to-do list is doable. It is doable to me – it may not look do-able to you. And this is exactly my point – don’t use someone else’s list – create your own; your own to-do list that reflects your family’s goals and your family’s situation.
This is a repost of an older post. My plans are slightly different this year as we are travelling and sharing Christmas with family – but I have left my list as it was to help people see what my Christmas would be like, had we been home. Instead on top of my to-do list for this year is to talk to my mother in law and talk about our Christmas day and how we can help her prepare for the day.
Gift buying this year is being done online – being mailed directly over to Peter’s parents – this will save me time and money as we have to get them over there somehow! To be honest I’m tossing up how many decorations to put up – I guess that will be a family discussion over the next few days.
Our family is involved in the Community Christmas Carols. And as for heart focused stuff in our family this year I have a list of intentional conversation prompts that I’ll be bringing to the table for us to talk about and focus on the gift of Jesus.
Like I said, it is important that we make our to-do list based on what our plans are – not someone else’s’ list.
Over to you
How are you going with your Christmas plans? Are there things on your to-do list that are just not important – cross them off today and focus on what is important to you and your family.
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