If you are anything like me, when someone asks, “How are you?” the answer is usually: “Busy!” There’s a lot on your plate. Free time is almost non-existent.
And then December shows up. You are expected to do all your normal stuff PLUS . . .
buy (and wrap and possibly ship) gifts for dozens of people,
produce a trendy photo card with all of your children looking well-dressed and filled with Christmas joy and mail it to everyone you’ve known since high school,
decorate your house and then try to keep your toddler from pulling the tree over on herself,
coordinate and execute a 3rd grade class Christmas party,
(what? you didn’t sign up for homeroom mom this year? good for you! but this one is on my list.)
and bake fabulous goodies and deliver them to your neighbors while singing Christmas carols with your kids in three-part harmony.
We all know this list (plus the rest of the Christmas trappings) takes HOURS to complete. Hours that you and I don’t have in our normal days, let alone the turbo-charged days of December. And yet we are expected to do all this while maintaining some semblance of peace and joy. We are celebrating the birth of our Savior, after all.
I have good news for you! There is another way! A few years ago, my sweet friend Karen introduced me to the idea of finishing all my Christmas preparations by December 1. (Click on the link on the left and you can read more.) Imagine a December with no shopping, no wrapping, no yelling at your kids to smile because if you don’t get this photo today you might as well send out valentines instead. Imagine spending December preparing your heart to celebrate the birth of your Savior and making memories with your family. (Last year, Karen also introduced me to a great way to spend the month of December: Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. But we’ll get to that later.)
How in the world can you finish all your Christmas preparations by December 1? All you need is a head start and some planing. I start by making a list of everything that I need to finish by Christmas: shopping, wrapping, Christmas cards, decorating, baking, etc. I list every step of the process and work backwards. For example, in order to ship gifts to out-of-state relatives, I need to wrap gifts, buy wrapping paper, buy gifts, and ask relatives for their wish lists. Then I plan out when I am going to do each of those things, working backwards to know when I need to star the first step: asking for wish lists. (My request is going out this weekend, by the way.)
I begin my checklist at the end of September, so don’t put this off! But if you feel overwhelmed, just remember that anything you complete now will save you time in December. This can be the year that you experience the joy of celebrating Christ’s birth rather than being weighed down by the burdens of the holiday season.
Click here to download my checklist and get started on your own. When you’re snuggling under the Christmas tree, reading “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” to your kids, you’ll be so glad you did.