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For those of you playing along...(if you've just joined us you can get caught up a bit here) we are on week 44 of the book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.
This week's chapter is titled "Planning Ahead for a More-Relaxed Christmas". We've all had crazy harried Christmas seasons I'm sure. I have had plenty to last me a lifetime. I started visiting Organized Christmas several years ago. (I'll explain the program in a minute.) The last few years, however, I didn't. Boy was my season busy...crazy busy. Like wrapping presents until 2 a.m. the day before Christmas Eve kind of crazy busy. Lynn, the author, suggests getting started ahead of time. Organized Christmas (a free online planner program) has several "programs" to get you organized....four to be exact. I chose the one that started in September. That's what I've done in the past and it's a great way to get started. Don't fret if you're just thinking about Christmas now...there's something for you, too!
Lynn has several tips for a happy and peaceful holiday season. I'll share a few here with you along with several of my own.
*Send out packages early and when choosing gifts to send make sure they are light ones and unbreakable. Think CDs, books, calendars (I like to make a picture calendar for our parents and hubby's grandma who lives far away. I also include some recent pics of the kiddos for her picture frames, too.
*Don't fret over the Christmas cards. Remember most people throw them away after the season is over so if you make them...one card should not take you an hour to complete. The point is to wish them a Merry Christmas. Maybe you'd like to throw in a letter letting folks know what's going on around your house? Maybe a picture? Remember KISS...Keep It Simple Sweeties! Oh, and Christmas stamps went on sale a few weeks ago.
*Make homemade gifts in advance. As yummy as they are DO NOT make chocolates and cookies a few days before Christmas! Besides being short on time, you have all sorts of little sweets beckoning you. Instead make jams or jellies in the summer when produce is ripe. Make bread or cookies and bake them ahead of time and freeze. Make gift mixes. Seasoning mixes, coffee mixes, or cookies mixes (you get the idea) can be made a month or so ahead and stored in a dry, cool closet or cupboard. Your hips will thank you!
*Make a list of gift recipients and a budget to go along with it and stick to it. Make sure to make extra gifts for unexpected people stopping by to bring you gifts as well. Oh...and don't forget your mail carrier, news carrier, and sanitation workers.
*Think about the season and traditions. Do you want to spend a lot of time at home with family? Do you want to entertain? Do you want to experience more of the peace of Christmas and how will you do that? Do you want to have a Ms. Stewart sense of decorating style this season or do you want to lay low and put up a tree and village instead? Priorities...you have to set your priorities before going crazy with the busyness of the season.
*Take a family vote. What is important to the immediate family to experience? Do they really like to go look at lights or do they find it boring? Maybe a few of you could go and the rest stay home and enjoy something else that light-lookers don't enjoy. What kind of holiday treats are a must? Our kiddos love baking and decorating Christmas cookies. I really don't care for making cutout cookie dough and then rolling, cutting and decorating so I buy a tube of the ready made dough to cut the time down. It's a win win for all!
*Check the holiday wardrobe. Make sure you and everyone else in the family are going to be fully clothed in holiday goodness for Aunt Sue's party way in advance. You don't want to show up in a sweater and black pants with white tennis shoes, do you?
*Stay focused on the reason for the season!
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"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14
Can I get an Amen?!