Monday, October 28, 2013

31 Days to Bless Your Home, Day 27: Making a List and Checking It Twice

31 Days to Bless Your Home: Easy Tips for the Domestically Challenged


Week 5 – Preparing Ahead of Time for the Holidays


Day 27 – Making A List and Checking It Twice


“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor,
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 KJV

This week’s challenge: Incorporate ideas ahead of time to make Thanksgiving and Christmas more meaningful and memorable for your family, and to keep you from losing your mind!

Today’s challenge:  Put together a holiday notebook to keep all of your lists and plans in one place.

Is there anything that can wreck your Christmas spirit like the stress of rushing around at the last minute?  Who has time to treasure those special moments with your family when you have last minute presents to buy and wrap, cards to mail, cookies to bake, plays to rehearse, parties to host, children to taxi to all their holiday activities, and at the same time you have a house to clean and meals to prepare for out of town guests.  While strolling through the crowded malls full of grumpy people just as stressed as you are, trying to find the perfect gift amongst the picked over merchandise, your stomach churns in knots because of your drained bank account and limited time.  You’re out of money, out of time, and out of patience!

Yeah, that sounds like the ideal way to commemorate the coming of our Lord and Savior into the world in human flesh to redeem us from our sins and give us eternal victory over sin and death!  Yeah, that sounds like a fun way to bond with our families and provide precious holiday memories for our children!

Unfortunately, that is Christmas for far too many people.  The greed of commercialism and the loss of focus on what we are actually celebrating has robbed many of us of a meaningful and joyful holiday.  Lack of planning and expending massive amounts of money and energy on all the unnecessary fluff can distract us from enjoying the “good tidings of great joy” and “peace on earth and good will to men” as proclaimed by the angels on the night Christ was born.

There is hope!  We will spend the next several days learning how to prepare for a blessed and joyful holiday season without collapsing into a withered pool of exhaustion by December 26th

My first bit of advice is to plan early and thoroughly.  I like to use a notebook with a separate page or section for such things as a calendar with parties and activities written in, gift lists, a card list, budget, meals and baking plans with shopping lists, and other plans and lists that would be meaningful to your family. 

It is so easy to become overwhelmed and feel like you must do it all to have the “perfect Christmas.”  No, you don’t!  Don’t make yourself miserable!  As a family, decide which activities mean the most to you, and focus on those.  Just leave out the rest!  Keep it simple, and then you can truly enjoy the things that mean the most to you. 

Calendar:  Start filing in your calendar, and be sure to plan some free nights to enjoy driving to see the Christmas lights, watching Christmas specials, baking, and family game nights.  Planning activities ahead of time will help you choose what you really want to do and to ensure no conflicts.  If you or your family chooses to be involved in a Christmas play or musical, be sure to write in all rehearsals into your calendar so you can be faithful to your commitment yet not miss out on favorite holiday events.  Have a family meeting and discuss what each person’s favorite holiday tradition is, and be sure to include those on your calendar.

Activities:  Besides planned events on the calendar, I like to make a list of every activity I want to be sure to include, such as crafts, reading books, lights, movies, caroling, serving in soup kitchens, visiting the ill and the elderly, family togetherness, etc. I especially make a point to include spiritual emphasis.  To me, Christmas is all about worship and being reminded of the purpose of Christ’s advent to the earth, and I make a point to plan a special night in reminder and special devotionals throughout the season.  We have always had communion as a family at Christmas as well because I want to remind them that Christmas is only the beginning of the story.

Christmas Specials:  One of my favorite traditions during the Christmas season is to watch my favorite Christmas movies.  I check the TV listings and circle the ones I want to be sure not to miss.  You might want to include this in your Christmas notebook as well.

Shopping Lists:  A huge time saver is to shop online for Christmas presents.  If you do not trust having presents shipped, browsing online will still save you a heap of time before trekking to the stores. Make a thorough list of everyone to whom you will be buying gifts, and check each off as you complete the purchase.  Please begin early and try to finish as early as possible.  The only way to avoid the last minute rush is to plan and get busy ahead of time, and then pace yourself.  Besides, the sooner the presents are wrapped and under the tree, the more you can torture your kids with anticipation! 

Budget:  Be sure to plan your budget ahead of time and stay within the confines.  You may have to settle for a little less than you hoped, but managing your finances well during the holidays will reduce your stress level by leaps and bounds.  Money is one of the biggest sources of stress and arguments at Christmas, but it is not worth it. Christmas is not about spending money you do not have to give presents that people do not really want.  Plan well, and you can make it work.  You can save money by shopping flea markets, auctions, and yard sales, using free gifts from purchases throughout the year, and taking advantage of holiday sales. 

Christmas card list:  A good idea that my mother did every year as long as I can remember is that she did her Christmas cards on Thanksgiving night.  While we all watched a holiday special, she sat there and got it all done.  One stressor checked off the list before the season was fully underway!

Baking and cooking:  Way ahead of time, I like to have my menus written down in detail for every holiday meal, including the shopping lists.  This makes it so much easier when the time comes!  I also like to buy a few things at a time for my holiday baking and cooking for weeks beforehand to keep my budget intact.  Be sure to include baking in your calendar so you don’t become stressed trying to get it all done at the last minute. 

Cleaning house for out of town company:  I usually have out of town family visiting during the holidays, and I perpetually fight the temptation to knock myself out trying to clean my entire house just before they arrive.  One thing that has helped me is to include a house cleaning list in my holiday notebook.  I organize my cleaning according to what can be done ahead of time and what needs to be done at the last minute.  I go so far as to write down exactly what I need to do each day for several days before they arrive.  For example, I always clean floors last because if I do them ahead of time, they are dirty again before my family arrives.  However, I can thoroughly clean the guest room ahead of time, and it will stay clean. 

Here are some things you can do now to make next year’s Christmas season even more smooth and enjoyable:

  • Set up a Christmas club account so that money will be in the bank collecting interest rather than making credit card payments in which you are paying interest.  Having a nice chunk of cash available by next Thanksgiving will launch next year’s holiday season off to a more peaceful start.

  • Store ornaments and decorations neatly and grouped by room so that next year’s decorating will be easier to do one room at a time.  You can even store colors separately in case you like to alternate color themes throughout the years.

  • When you finish addressing Christmas cards, go ahead and update your list before putting it away for next year.

  • Shop clearance specials after Christmas to stock up on wrapping materials, cards, and decorations.  You’ll be set way ahead of time and save tons of money!

I know it is still October, but it is never too early to plan well before the holidays sneak upon you and you are thrust into a whirlwind of stress and misery.  Please do not let this happen to you this Christmas.  Begin planning now so that you will not be caught off guard.  You will begin the holiday season armed and ready for action!

I hope this puts you in the mood to enjoy the most wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas memories this year with your family! 

Join me tomorrow for some stress-free decorating tips, and get ready for a holly-jolly Christmas!

Thank you, and God bless you and your home!
Shari Lewis


  1. I liked the task list for Christmas most although all the things are quite important but this is most important for the per-preparation for this festive season.

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