Updated: Jun 12
Today I realized that Christmas is only 2 weeks away, so...
I decided to write a blog post rather than get on with my holiday preparations. Because, I sense that I’m not the only one feeling a bit frantic here. And because I know that this can be done, I will talk us through how we can pull off a great Christmas in the time that’s left. I have written this flexible guide to help you relax and keep the panic at bay. There are really only a few necessary (really necessary) things you need to make this wonderful season successful for your household. These are very simply: Decorations, A List, Gifts (buying), Fun Experiences, Cleaning, Gifts (wrapping), and Food. You can find plenty of guides on the web for getting ready for Christmas. Many of them have you starting in October or November. Wouldn’t that be great? But, I have found that those seasons have their own events, holidays and preparations. So, with Christmas following so close on the heels of school starting, Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, and everything in between, it can be pretty wild all along.
I’m going to walk you through the above 7 tasks and tell you how to keep it simple so that you can come through this with grace, simplicity and with your sanity intact. I’m not saying you won’t have some stress, but I want you to make memories, not a magazine article. A Christmas full of great memories may not be picture-perfect, but your family pictures don’t have to be perfect to bring back great memories of time spent together. Because this is what we all want, right? Great memories of time spent together. We want our kids to grow up and remember the fun and the little things, not how stressed out Mom was trying to get all of the decorations just so.
I will not be giving you a calendar or a count-down, or a job-a-day for this project. These are things you will have to find the time for in between everything else you have going on. But the good news is that none of them should take huge amounts of your time. Everything here can be accomplished fairly quickly once you start it (aside from your gift shopping, because only you and Santa know what you plan to buy and where you may need to go to find it)
This needs to be quick and to-the-point, so that we can all just get this started.
Start With Decorations: If you haven’t decorated yet pull out some of your favorite decorations ( I said some of them) and place one piece of Christmas decor in each room in a prominent place. For instance, a centerpiece on the table, an artificial pine garland on the mantel. You don’t need all the trimmings, just the impression of the correct holiday. More is less, and simple is beautiful. So leave the little doodads in the box and get out the big guns. You only need to decorate the rooms that people are in the most. Don’t worry about decorating the kids’ bedrooms or even the bathrooms, although a small touch of Christmas can easily be done there if you want.
When you have done this, which should take no more than an hour, put out something Christmas-scented, whether your family likes pine, baking scents, or orange and spice scents, this will permeate the house and make it feel like the season.
Make A List: I wouldn’t be able to function without a list to know what to buy or do. Keep it simple and don’t spend much time on it. If you use a notebook you can keep it to use next year too. Then you can know what worked and didn’t work this year, and what you bought for people, so you don’t repeat. Also, you should write down what food you are making, and the ingredients you need to buy. When you are out you can pick up a few things and save yourself a last-minute rush to the store.
Next Is The Gifts: Once you have your ideas written down, you can decide where to go that you can get the most items in one trip.You may want to give a gift card or an “experience” gift for the main gift and fill in with a smaller dollar amount for the rest. Don’t think that you must spend a ton of money. This is entirely up to you. For adults a gift card is always a nice idea. (One year we bought lots of gift cards and placed them on the tree, then had our adult children and their spouses take turns choosing a card. They loved this and have talked about it since. Someday we will do it again). Get the bulk of the gift buying out of the way as quickly as you can, and if you have a few straggling things you still need, you can pick them up as you run errands in the next 2 weeks.
Don’t Forget To Have Some Fun: Go on a ride to look at Christmas lights near you, print out some Christmas coloring sheets and spend an evening with hot chocolate and coloring, make Christmas cookies together, collapse on the couch and watch a classic Christmas movie. Play Christmas music as you decorate the tree, or make a game of adding several ornaments each day. Whatever you need to get done, you can enlist someone to help and it will make a memory.
There’s Some Cleaning That Needs Done: No organized “what to clean first” list for you here. Just clean the essentials and do it quickly. If you need to gather up clutter, put it in a large basket or tote and stick it in the closet. Remember it’s there, though, so that when someone is looking for something you can go right to it in the clutter tote. No more than one of these, please, or you will have chaos rather than order. Enlist everyone in the house to help with the cleaning. Most everyone can do something and the place can look and smell great all at once. If you are starting now, you may need another refresher just before company comes, but since you’ve done it once, it will be much easier.
Those Gifts Need Wrapped: Some people love to wrap, so this could be the most fun of all. But you can keep it simple no matter what. Purchase gift bags of all sizes, and wrap as few things as you can. A pretty gift bag and some colored or sparkly tissue works great. This year, I have also seen a lot of decorative boxes that can be used for wrapping with no wrapping paper at all - just tie on a ribbon and you’re done. Another idea is to use shrink wrap over a item with no lid. All you have to do is secure it in place and use the blow dryer on it for several seconds. Do you have cheaters who like to peek at their gifts before Christmas? You can wrap as soon as you buy for them, but don’t use tags. Designate in your mind which wrapping or ribbon color is for each child and separate their gifts in this way. They will have no idea which color is for them.
The Party Is About To Begin: It’s time to make the food. Whether this is a full meal, banquet, or just some appetizers and cookies, you can fit your cooking in whenever you have the time. Make things ahead that can be frozen. Make sure to wrap strong flavors away from the rest. There’s nearly nothing so disgusting as a peanut-butter-mint cookie…
And when it's time to serve up the meal, paper plates are a lifesaver. If there is anyone who is opposed to using paper, that's ok. Because you can clarify ahead to make sure they will be doing the dishes.
There you have it (almost) in a nutshell - how to survive the Christmas rush and come out unscathed, accomplishing this momentous thing in 2 weeks! You can alter, add or subtract. It's all in what's important to you.
Don't forget to do some things for others, too. Send the kids to the neighbor’s with cookies that you baked together, drop some money in the red bucket. Better yet - volunteer to be the merry collector at the red bucket. You can add in your own touches, the things that mean so much to you. Read the Christmas story under the tree on Christmas Eve or morning. Remind your family and friends of the real reason we celebrate.
I wish you a very Blessed and a very Merry Christmas!
This can be so much fun! I'd love to hear how your holiday preparations went, and any stories or experiences you have to share.