Usually, by the time Christmas rolls around I'm exhausted and drained, desperately trying to ignore the guilt from all the money I've spent and the things I wanted to do, but couldn't fit in. I've over-spent and under-prepared. Pretty much having a mommy-breakdown ever night, whining to my husband about how much of a mommy failure I am.
This year, I vowed to get organized before December, so I could actually enjoy the holidays.
And guess what, I'm totally doing it!
I have all the kids' presents bought (yay for Amazon!). DONE!! I have a list of things I want to do, and when those things need to be done by. I have committed to keep my attitude in check with my clicker.
Do you want to commit to actually enjoying the holidays too? Lets do this!
1. Gifts: Get organized and get the shopping done by Thanksgiving!
I browsed Amazon and added a bunch of stuff to my cart that I thought my kids would like (here are some idea lists to get you started: gifts for little girls, gifts for little boys, gender neutral gifts). Then I took small sticky notes and wrote down the names of the items and the prices. Then I sat down at the kitchen table and started organizing it. I made a column for each child's Santa gifts, a column for each child's gifts from us, and a column for my daughter's birthday (which is the week before Christmas). It was easy for me to move things around and make sure it was reasonably fair, and toss items that didn't fit into the budget (we decided on around $150 per kid). Then I finalized my lists, compared prices one last time, and then just bit the bullet and bought it all! Lets be honest though, the challenge will be to not buy anything else...
Last year, I had everything ready to go in my Amazon cart, but I waited til after Black Friday, to see if the prices would go down on anything. And guess what? The prices went UP! So this year, everything will be bought well before Thanksgiving. I will watch the Black Friday ads and if anything that I already bought goes on sale for significantly less than what I paid for it, I'll just return the original purchase. Now is a great time to try Amazon Prime. Hello free shipping both ways!
I have a list of things I am thinking about buying for my husband and our extended family gifts, and will be finalizing and purchasing those before Thanksgiving. And I also made a list of other gifts we will need to buy for teachers and a couple friends. I'm committed!!
2. Make a list of all the things you want to do during December.
My list includes: decorate the tree, pictures with Santa, drive around and see the lights, make goodies for neighbors, decorate gingerbread houses, do Elf on the Shelf, holiday parties, my daughter's birthday party (which requires its own set of lists!), open/read a Christmas book every day til Christmas, take kids shopping to exchange gifts with each other.
Then I decided when each of those things need to be done by (example: Christmas books need to be wrapped and ready before Dec 1), and printed out a calender and start plugging things in. Which night we're going to decorate the tree, what night we have holiday parties, etc.
I put my calender on my fridge so I can see it and make sure nothing sneaks up on me.
3. Keep things in perspective.
Take a few minutes and ponder on what kind of December you want your family to have. Think about what you want your kids to remember, the feeling you want to have in your home. Think about what you want your kids to say if someone asked them what the true meaning of Christmas is. It might be helpful to write it down, or pick a short phrase and write it on your calender to help it stay fresh in your mind.
Personally, I want my kids to know the reason why we have Christmas is to celebrate the birth of the Savior. I want them to know the story, know what the symbols of the season mean (stars on top of the tree to represent the star the shepherds saw, etc.). I want them to focus on being grateful for what they have, and really get into the idea of giving and thinking of others. I want the holidays to be happy memories, with a good mix of old and new traditions.
We look forward to Christmas all year, I think its worth the bit of extra effort in November to make sure its a memorable holiday.