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Have you ever been frustrated with the stress of Christmas? I know I have.
There are so many wonderful activities and festivities to enjoy during the holiday season. There is nothing bad about many of the fun traditions we enjoy in November and December. But when they just add stress and take away from the reason for the season, there is reason to step back.
The Christmas season shouldn’t be so hectic. The holiday schedule shouldn’t feel so packed that we are more overwhelmed and less joyous.
I took a big step back while pregnant with our second daughter, due in November. (I wrote more on this here.) Which direction did I want to go? Did I want to fill my already exhausted state of life with distracting to-dos? Did I want to wear myself down so when I showed up to worship the baby Jesus on Christmas I would be too tired to think? Too tired to worship the Savior?
I planned ahead and did some Christmas shopping before our baby girl arrived, but then gave myself complete freedom to enjoy the quiet of the season. I could enjoy snuggling my little one without having a long shopping list clutter my mind. I could give myself freedom from all the “must-do” activities.
I withdrew from the worldly expectations of what Christmas should look like. I withdrew from the shopping malls and from the pressure of holiday festivities. Yes, I was tired from being up at night with a newborn, but getting rid of the man-made pressure of the season gave way to a peaceful celebration of the newborn King.
I have continued with this mindset in the years since. I try to reduce holiday stress. I keep realistic expectations and do not strive to do it all. I (this is key!) plan ahead as best as I can, so I don’t feel all crazy and stressed the days leading up to Christmas. No, this is not done perfectly, but taking time to work ahead eliminates a fair share of the stress.
As a bonus, planning ahead (and shopping ahead) can definitely make the holiday season a less expensive time.
Think about a time you have felt more stress than joy at Christmas. Taking a little time now can help you enjoy the Christmas season.
You will be able to worship the Savior while being less distracted about everything you still have to get done.
You will be able to take time diving into an Advent devotional in front of your beautifully lit tree, instead of telling yourself you don’t have even a few minutes to sit down.
Wouldn’t taking time to think and plan make that so worth it?
I want to share a few tips on how you can plan and work ahead (and ENJOY!) this holiday season.
Here is how to Organize and Plan Ahead for the Holidays:
List out what is important and what is NOT important this holiday season.
Once you figure out where you want to spend your time and energy over the next two months, it may motivate you to plan ahead and work ahead where you can.
Find an Advent devotional to focus your heart on the reason for Christmas
- Good News of Great Joy by John Piper (free)
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper
- A Savior for the Broken: a 14 Day Advent Devotional for Moms (includes 5 coloring sheets for your little ones, 4 printable verse sheets, and 14 audio versions of each devotional)
Take a few minutes to look at your November & December calendars.
Write out the parties and events you have. Include any family activities or traditions you may have, such as decorating the tree or driving around to see the lights. Make sure you have plenty of margin for slow Christmas movie nights with your family and evenings to sit around the tree reading your Advent devotional.
My printable Christmas Planner includes November and December calendars. It’s been updated for 2021.
Make Decor Easy
I just came across Decocrated and I am so excited to check it out! Decocrated offers home décor subscription boxes and they send you seasonal items that you can use for years to come. You receive 6-9 full-size items. Items may include an assortment of products, such as decorative trays, tabletop décor, throw pillow covers, table runner, small DIY projects, printed art, and more. They also share inspiration, how-to’s, and pro decorating tips. I checked out the Winter 2020 box and it looks so great. (The wooden sled would look amazing on the wall of any home!)
As I declutter and get rid of the extras in my home, I plan to have more places to decorate for the season. To have a box of winter home decor show up at my door??? Sign me up!
The Winter Box would be an amazing gift to send someone. What a day brightener to get a few fun winter decor items. It sounds more fun to me than going out to the store.
Plan out your Christmas gifts early.
Figure out who you need to buy for and set your amount prior to shopping for the gifts. Taking the time to plan out your gift list and gift budget will save you both money and it will save you the headache and stress of last-minute shopping.
Use this FREE Christmas Gift List printable to help get your plan.
Buy your gifts early.
This cuts back on time and can save money. If you are dashing out to pick up gifts at the last minute, you may end up spending more money than if you planned ahead.
Buying ahead also spreads the expense out, which may be important if you don’t have a Christmas budget and want to pay off that credit card each month!
Shop with Rakuten (formerly ebates) to get cash back when you shopping online. In just a few extra seconds you can get cash back on your purchases. It’s the easiest way to make a few extra bucks or a lot if you are making a big purchase. I got $19.17 cash back in October, mainly because I logged into Rakuten before I purchased my contacts from Walgreens.
Before I make ANY purchase online I log into ebates first. I search for the website and find out if there is cash back available. There often is! (I often see 8% cash back on Old Navy, Gap, Macy’s, Lands’ End, Carter’s, Amazon, Children’s Place, and Hanna Andersson.)
If you shop online often in November and December, your cash back will add up quickly! Some sites give you 1%, 6%, 10%, or even 12% cash back just for going through the ebates site before you shop! You can get $10 to start you off here.
Buy Hostess Gifts or other Gifts you want on hand.
If you find yourself giving hostess gifts or last minute gifts out, get a few items to keep on hand. If you have a small stash that you purchased on clearance (or regifts!), this may be less expensive than going out last minute to pick up a hostess gift. Only have a gift stash if you know you’ll use the items though!
There is still time to get the free Mrs. Meyers Holiday bundle of products from Grove!
use your crockpot, stock your freezer Or just get ahead and meal plan each week!
Whenever I take the time to throw dinner in the crockpot, I am ready to give myself a high-five at dinner time! Just a little time earlier in the day makes dinner time go so much smoother.
Grab this Slow Cooker Menu Plan that includes 12 weeks of slow cooker meals and desserts. (It will take you into January!)
The greatest thing about it is that there is an option to grab the Slow Cooker Menu Plans Pack, which includes the recipes actually printed out for you. You get them in a cute recipe box. No more finding a tasty-looking recipe, only to pin it for later and never come back to it.
The Slow Cooker Menu Plan includes:
– 12 Weeks of Slow Cooker Recipes
– 12 Slow Cooker Desserts
– Weekly Shopping Lists
– Editable Recipe Cards
– Daily Family Grace
– PPP Supper Club Community Membership – (You’ll get encouragement and tips to keep you going!)
You have 2 options:
– Slow Cooker Menu Plans Pack Recipe Box (printed for you) or
– Slow Cooker Menu Plans (PDF Download)
12 weeks of recipes all ready to go? A calmer kitchen at 5 PM? Sign me up. ;)
Don’t disregard your health & get enough sleep!
Sleep is so important! It took me years to realize that I should actually prioritize sleep and it’s worth making a few changes.
If you have trouble making sleep a priority, check out these helpful resources:
- Sleep It Does a Family Good
- Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success
- Make Over Your Mornings
- How to Create a Morning Routine (includes printable worksheets that I created)
- Your Morning Manual: A Guide & Workbook for Resetting & Maximizing Your Mornings
Keep exercise a priority around the holidays. It will help your stress level!
Try Grokker to get on-demand access to yoga, HIIT, pilates, cardio, and healthy eating videos. Get a free trial to Grokker here!
You can also check out a list of free online resources here.
Consider vitamins or supplements based on your needs. Consider trying Ritual’s vitamins! if you just want them shipped directly to your home each month. Ritual contains no weird fillers, colorants, or other toxic stuff. Ritual is vegan, non-GMO, and allergen-free. Ritual also has a new prenatal vitamin as of October 2018.
Plan Ahead, Slow Down & Cherish the Season!
Do you Organize and Plan Ahead for the Holidays?
I hope that you spend some time now, so you can enjoy a peaceful and meaningful holiday season.
What joy we have in worshiping the newborn babe! What peace we have knowing that our Savior was sent to save us from death and sin!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6