The holidays are coming up fast (where has the year gone?), and we often have even more to-do’s each day! To help with the preparation, here are some practical to-do’s before the busy holidays arrive:
- Pray! It’s important to take a few minutes each day to spend with God to hear His voice and be filled up with Him. We can’t pour out to others if we’re empty ourselves. Don’t let yourself get distracted by all the commercialism, but take some time to center on Christ this holiday season. Everything is for His glory!
- Make lists – and check it twice. No, we’re not Santa Claus, but writing a to-do list will help you to stay on track and prioritize. Look over it to see what needs to be assigned Priority A, Priority B, etc. I use Manymoon to help me stay focused. You might prefer using your Ipad or laptop to writing on paper, although when I write things down I prefer writing on sticky (Post-it) notes and colorful pads that I find at Walmart and the grocery store. I also use my Franklin Covey Dayplanner® memo sheets. You can make a master list for all to-do’s, and separate lists for buying items for your big meals, gift shopping, chores, homeschooling lessons, deep cleaning, etc.
- Ask your family for creative ideas. So often we women think we need to do everything, which is really nothing more than pride and self-reliance. Talk to your family for input about how to make this holiday season special. Our oldest daughter Heather and her family are going to Florida this Christmas for a change. Her husband Kyle and their two girls Annabelle and Violet have never seen the ocean, so they’re renting a beach home with Kyle’s parents and a rental car, and driving there for Christmas. Maybe your family wants to do something different this year, too, visiting somewhere new, instead of having the usual big turkey or duck dinner. Maybe your kids might enjoy putting together a shoebox for needy kids with Operation Christmas Child or sending Christmas packages or cards to our troops. You might be pleasantly surprised at what great ideas your family comes up with for this holiday.
- Deep clean. When additional family and friends are coming over and your house is a mess, it can stress you out. Prepare ahead of time with deep cleaning: vacuum, dust, clean cabinets and closets, give old clothing and those boxes of books away to Good Will or other charities. Get your kids involved and assign chores, listening to fun, upbeat music while you’re doing them or setting a timer to see who can get through theirs the fastest. Reward everyone afterward with a good movie, a good book, or an ice cream treat. Having a pleasant, sweet-smelling home to welcome guests to is a great feeling!
- Downsize. We’re under more stress these days because we do more, eat more, buy more. Remember “Less is more!” Learn to downsize this holiday season. Do you really need that huge turkey or to buy those many gifts? Over the last several years, I have begun buying less gifts and less expensive gifts for our family and friends, because I realized that people really don’t want a bunch of stuff. They want your love and friendship. Prune activities this year. Set a firm budget for the holidays and stick to it. Make home-made gifts such as a scrapbook of photos, a power point slideshow, or baked chocolate chunk cookies. You will find yourself more relaxed, and your family will appreciate you not being so stressed out!
- Organize. One of the reasons we women get stressed out is because our homes are cluttered and in chaos. Do a walk-about in your home. Look at the piles, what’s just laying around, or shoved into cubby holes and closets. Begin organizing your space, room by room. Take one room at a time for one week. Get your kids and your husband to help. Does he really need all those papers and magazines and books piled up? Do your kids really need that collection of feathers or rocks from when they were 5 years old? Do you need to hang on to all those notes you took a couple years ago at that conference? Are 30 different pencils or pens from various local businesses and hotels necessary? If you can’t bear to part with things (or your family can’t), then at least find a system to organize them and neatly put them away to reduce your stress.
- Buy in bulk ahead of time. There’s nothing more stressful than running out of toilet paper or milk during the holidays with its rush and busyness (and visiting family!). Stock up on staples ahead of time, and buy in bulk to save. Use coupons to help, and look for bargains in the paper or online. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy staples, but fill your pantry ahead of time – before the crowds hit the stores! “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and be wise. Even though they have no prince, ruler, or governor, to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. ” (Proverbs 6: 6-7, NLT) One of my friends, Kim Weber, buys bargain gifts on sale throughout the year. By Christmas time, she has nearly all of her gifts for family and friends bought, without the stress of shopping in the crowds! You can also take advantage of “Christmas” accounts at banks, which offer special savings account for Christmas funds or other needs.
- Focus on what really matters. In the rush of the holidays, we often get so busy and stressed out, that we sometimes forget to focus on what really matters – our relationship with God and our loved ones. Take time this holiday season to enjoy spending time with God and your family and friends. This life is gone in a blink, and today is all that we have. Let’s cherish it now.
Here is a video by Celine Dion, Don’t Save it all for Christmas Day. I pray it blesses you as it did me.