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I wanted to share an article with you that I wrote a couple years ago about planning for the holidays. Enjoy!
Prepare your homes for the holidays
If you are like me, it can be very easy to allow the holidays to creep up on us. Before we know it we are in the midst of all the busyness and have failed to prepare our homes for the holidays. As a child, some of the things that I remember are the fun decorations we put up each year to prepare our home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is just something about getting out those decorations…those things that help us to get our focus on the wonderful celebration of Christ’s birth that is coming.
The Holiday Planner will help you by giving you tasks to complete each week so you can make each holiday season special. Because you are prepared, you will not be stressed out and can enjoy this special time of year with your family.
Prepare your hearts for the holidays
Not only do we need to prepare our home for the holidays…but more importantly our hearts! It can be very easy to fall into a wrong mindset as we head into the holidays. We get so wrapped up in all the “do-ing” and “go-ing” that we forget to prepare our hearts…prepare our hearts for Him.
The Holiday Planner will help keep your focus on Jesus, being much more intentional in all you do during the holiday season. I encourage you to slow down, take some time to spend with the Lord, reflect on His sacrifice, and determine to keep Him the center of all you do over the holidays.
Be intentional in planning memory-making activities with the family
While Thanksgiving and Christmas provide many memory-making opportunities, many of us find that the days and weeks fly by. When it is all over, we find that we have not done the things we would have liked to do as a family.
The Holiday Planner will help you in being intentional in planning memory-making activities for you to do as a family. You will grow closer as a family when you take the time to do special things together.
Share Christ’s love with others through giving.
Many times during the holidays, Christmas especially, we can be so focused on the “getting” that we neglect the true blessing of the “giving” that can bless us and others. Take some time now to plan out some projects you can do as a family to give of yourselves to others. There are many ideas…from service-type gifts (shoveling snow, raking leaves, etc.) to material gifts (cookies or other baked items, gifts in a jar, homemade cards, etc.)
One fun project that we have done as a family is The Christmas Cookie Plates Project. We start right after Thanksgiving and begin baking a variety of cookies for giving away. We then assemble cookie plates and some homemade cards to give away to neighbors, city offices, library, etc. If you are interested, you can find complete details, along with a schedule, recipes, and shopping list in my ebook, The Christmas Cookie Plates Project.
Another fun family project is to assemble some gifts in a jar. These are very easy to put together and make such a fun gift to give away with a homemade gift tag. You can find a ton of great recipes in my ebook, Homemade Gift Mixes-Sharing Love From Your Kitchen.
Give children the gift of making gifts for family.
When I was little, every year my parents helped us find some sort of homemade gift that we could make for family members. We would start working on them in the fall and tried to have them done around the first part of December. It was always fun to sit in the evenings working on our gifts. Over the years we did lots of different projects, and they increased in difficulty as we grew older. I have talked with others who think it would be so much fun to do that with their kids, but they didn’t think of it in time…and weren’t prepared ahead of time to get it done.
Planning ahead allows our kids time to make gifts. Use The Holiday Planner to jot down ideas for gift-making. Some ideas are included in The Holiday Planner, but you can find a lot more online. Start now choosing a project for each of your children, get the supplies you need, and designate some time each week to work on your gifts. Go ahead and put some Christmas music on as you work (yes we have done this!!!)…your kids will get in the spirit and will be so excited to share their homemade “treasures” with the family.
If you need some more gift ideas, check out these two ebooks: A Season for Giving and Homemade Gift Mixes-Sharing Love From Your Kitchen.
Family traditions are things that you do each year as a family. These are the things that “At Christmas we always….” “Christmas Eve we always go…” “Our Thanksgiving Dinner always includes…” You get the idea. Family traditions are those things that you “always do” as a family during special times of the year. While family traditions are not limited to Thanksgiving and Christmas, these holidays do provide many, many opportunities to start family traditions.
Start by getting out a piece of paper and jot down the months of the year. Write down under each month special days that you may want to celebrate as a family (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.). Next beside each special day, jot down some ideas of a few family traditions that you can continue or start. You can bring these ideas to the whole family if you want to discuss, then once you have decided on some things..put them on your calendar!
Be sure to put your “family traditions” list in your Holiday Planner! This will be helpful as you plan for the holidays and those other special times of year!
Develop thankful hearts that are focused on being thankful for what you have instead of wanting more and more.
As we prepare for the holidays, it can be easy to allow discontentment to creep into our hearts. The Christmas season usually includes making Christmas lists with ideas of things you would like. While that is not a bad thing in and of itself, if we are not careful we can fall into feeling discontent with what we have.
Quite a few years ago, I was looking for a way to help me and my children to cultivate grateful hearts heading into the Christmas season. I wanted to start in November so that when December came our hearts were full of thanksgiving for all that God has blessed us with. I also wanted my children to not only have grateful hearts, but giving hearts. That is when I created my ebook, A 30-Day Thanksgiving Journal. There are journal pages for each day of November to help cultivate a grateful and giving heart.