Making the holiday season memorable (and more relaxed) + our Christmas Bucket List

by Melody on December 13, 2012

This is my absolute favorite time of year.  I love the holidays.  I love watching my kids learn and enjoy the holiday, the sights, smells, sounds, (mostly) joyful people, movies, music, food.  You name it.

I always thoroughly enjoy the holiday season, but generally get to the day after Christmas and can’t remember a darn thing we did over the month of December.  It flies by in a flurry of shopping, gift wrapping, parties and anything else you can cram in to your days.  I find myself wishing that I had done more fun, relaxing things with my kids or spent a night out with just my husband.

What I’ve found is that if it doesn’t make it on the calendar at the beginning of the month, it just doesn’t happen.

There’s part of me that wishes I was super crafty and could make an adorable Advent calendar with all sorts of fun projects, but I’ve decided to admit to myself that it’s just not me.  I feel far less stressed out and guilty when I don’t expect Martha Stewart crafts out of myself.

What’s working for me this year is to add all of our scheduled events to my Google calendar (which sends me updates, basically smacking me in the forehead so I don’t forget things).  I’m going to add the fun crafts, baking or other miscellaneous things we want to do to my new planner.  This way we aren’t tied down to a specific day to bake some magical cookie recipe, which would just cause me anxiety.  Generally, things don’t ever go as planned with a 4 and 2 year old.

What I’m adding to my calendar and planner:

Pre-scheduled eventsI sat down and wrote out a list of all the things that were already scheduled for the month of December.  We have parties (adult and kids), preschool Christmas program, gym stuff and more.  With this, I also think about lining up people to watch our kids when needed and what (if any) treats or appetizers I may need to make.

Events we want to attend – The next thing I did was add in things that aren’t exactly scheduled, but that we want to do as a family.  For example, we went to Bill’s Berry Farm and got our tree and they were only open certain days.  We want to go see the reindeer at Beaver Bark Nursery and the Senske Light Show.  You could add church services/programs to this list as well or any other local events you want to attend.

Cooking and baking – I’m going to pick 4 or 5 new fun recipes to try this month and shoot for 1-2 per week.  I apologize in advance to my husband’s coworkers.  I love to bake, but quickly pass my goods off on everyone else so I won’t eat them all.  Baked goods are a great way to meet your neighbors!

I’m also trying to have friends over for dinner each weekend, just so I can see their faces occasionally, amid all the hustle and bustle.  Every year, we do a fun breakfast with just our little family and Christmas Eve dinner with my mother and sister-in-law.  I start planning those menus really early, so I can make sure to not spend the entire day in the kitchen.

Miscellaneous fun – These are going to be the activities that are pretty fluid.  I’m going to be ambitious and shoot for 1 or 2 fun crafts from Pinterest.  We have already made homemade cinnamon ornaments and will definitely make these handprint ornaments again (hoping to make it a tradition!). For more ideas on what I find fun at Christmas time, check out my Christmas Pinterest board.

Advent calendars – Instead of something adorable and crafty, we have $1 chocolate advent calendars from Rite Aid.  This is what I had as a kid and loved every single day of chocolate.  I figure my kids probably won’t resent me if I don’t come up with something more elaborate.

This may sound like a fairly micro-managed holiday season to some of you, but I’ve definitely found with young kids like ours, things generally have to be scheduled to be relaxed.  I have low expectations of the actual amount of stuff we are going to get done, but I also don’t want to stress out because I have forgotten about an event that was planned several months ago or something else important.  I like to know what to expect.

I’d love to hear how you manage your holiday season?  Are you a go-with-the-flow type person or more of a planner like me?  I’d also love to hear some of your favorite holiday traditions, recipes or crafts that you do with your kids or families!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

lynn December 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Melody, you amaze me! Your little guys are so lucky to have a mom who has figured out the important things in life, which are spending wonderful moments with them and making special memories, all year long!!! You are a wonderful mother and wife! Love you! Mom


Kathy December 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Well, four years ago I had to scale back the holiday activities as my husband’s depression and anxiety got the best of him and he jumped off our 2nd story on Dec. 11, yeah, didn’t make for a fun Christmas that year. He’s good now but I try not to schedule too much around the holidays. I quit baking cookies for the neighbors, which really stressed me out, and instead buy extra Girl Scout chocolates or Frangos. and give those instead. My daughters advent calendar is 25 Christmas socks hung above the fireplace, that the elves delivered fun things into on the night of Nov. 30th and she gets one each day. We always make a Saturday or Sunday night to go see Snowflake Lane a local fun thing with drummers and Christmas characters. We cut our own tree at a local tree farm. We drive around one weekend evening to see the lights in neighborhoods and try to go caroling with friends at least once. We keep it much more simple now and we are all a lot less stressed.


Amanda December 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm

We have a pretty serious Advent calendar with a family activity for each day. It came with them though, I only had to decide which order. But, today some one told me about this…
and I thought of your family. Free, quick and entertaining for little ones. A little late for this year, but maybe next year! =)


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