It was the year that I decided that I was going to be absolutely intentional about keeping it a sacred Christmas. I had my Bible readings focused on the Christ story, I bought an Advent devotional, and I carefully selected a play list that was filled with songs that kept my heart focused on our Savior.
I was doing great.
Until I realized I was all out of Scotch tape.
The night before our Bible Study Christmas ornament exchange.
And that’s when I lost my Jesus.
You are going to get a lot of great advice about keeping your heart in the right place when it comes to preparing for Christmas. Which is great.
But I’ve come to find if I also keep my head in the right space, and make some smart decisions as early as possible, that goes a long way to giving my heart some protection. So here are a few practical things to think through now before Christmas hits you in the face.
- Talk to friends and family early.
The earlier you make plans, the easier it is to see potential problems and family conflicts. (This is especially important with in-laws and step-families.)
Set up and send out the dates and times of when you will be celebrating early so everyone has the information. You may even consider sending a “Save the Date” if you have a larger family (or a forgetful family.)
- Let other people help – no really – let them help.
There are no awards for people who pull off a holiday with no help (only sore feet and bitter attitudes.) If you are the one who is hosting the holiday, let others help (and if you are shy on offers, feel free to ask!) Here are a couple of ways to make it a family – and friends – affair.
- What Can I Bring?
Use www.signupgenius.com to create a list of all the dishes you need that others can bring. Be specific. (You don’t want to say “Salad” and have three people bring chicken salad.) Think of it this way – when people choose what they can bring, they will bring their “specialty”. Having a table of everyone’s best foods is a GREAT way have the best meal of the year.
- Create a Help List
For years, I would have people show up at my house for a holiday, and the first question they would ask is “How can I help?” The problem? All the things that could have been done with little prep were already done.
Now, I think backwards.
When I create the holiday to do list, I purposely think of tasks that guests who are just showing up can do. As I’m listing all the things that need to get accomplished, I put the word “Help” next to anything that is easy for someone else to do. Here are some examples:
- Set up cheese and cracker plate (cheese is in the fridge and crackers are on the red hutch. Feel free to slice the cheese or leave it in blocks with a cheese knife.)
- Set the table (everything is on there!)
- Set up the kids table
- Walk the dog (yes – I put this on the list. We’ve had several more introverted guests volunteer. And Jake our puggle? Loves it!)
- Fill the cooler with drinks and ice (can you tell we’re pretty informal around here)
- Be in charge of the group photo
- Mash the potatoes
- Take the trash out
- Take the recycling out
- Find Christmas music on Pandora
- Cut up veggies for the veggie tray
- Build Limits
Talk to your family early about limits. Do you want to put a limit on the number of gifts? The amount of the gifts? Do a gift exchange? Maybe not exchanging at all?
We have a lot of young adults in the family and they can’t all afford gifts for everyone, so we use www.elfster.com (a virtual way of choosing names from a hat), and keep it affordable for everyone.
- Don’t go to the Store (unless you really love to!)
My anxiety level goes up several notches whenever I need to go to the mall between October 15th and December 31st. I know that I’ll probably have to make one trip there (holding my breath until I can get away from the crowds –I don’t like crowds..) but for everything else, I’ve found ways around it.
- Amazon – Nuff’ said. I have Amazon Prime (one of the best investments I’ve made,) that I use to purchase many of our gifts, and use Prime Pantry to get non-perishables for cooking delivered right to my door.
- Google Express – this is how I order all my perishables for the big day. (Who are we kidding? We end up celebrating for three days…)
- Etsy – I have bought the best, thoughtful, gifts here. If your child (or parent) is into it, someone on Etsy is into it. A couple of years ago, I bought my mom a rock that was shaped and painted like a VW Bug. (OK – it sounds weird, but my mom had a Bug for thirty years, and the rock was super cute.) My mom loved it. Just loved it. That is not something that you could pick up on Amazon… Plus, supporting artists. Double win in my book.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Get Yourself Organized for Christmas. You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Kathi’s blog. PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Kathi Lipp is a national speaker and the author of fifteen books including Clutter Free, Hot Mama:12 Secrets to a Sizzling Hot Marriage, The Get Yourself Organized Project, The Husband Project and The Cure for the Perfect Life. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV and has been named Focus on the Family radio’s “Best of Broadcast”. She is the host of the popular podcast You’ve Got This with Kathi Lipp.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of young adults in San Jose, CA. Kathi speaks at conference across the country.