Here come the holidays! Today I'm decorating my home for the Christmas season, making it clean and cozy for my house guests, and preparing it for the holiday entertaining I hope to do.
QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:
- Need to pick out your Christmas tree? Find a wreath for your front door? Hang some mistletoe?
- Pay bills, rent/mortgage.
- Look over your budget for the month. What do you need to put away for savings/emergencies, what can you spend on Christmas gifts, what bills/obligations do you have, what do you need to budget for food and entertainment?
- Peek at your list of upcoming birthdays this month. Write cards and mail now - it will get busier this month and you may forget later on. Order flowers, and send gifts if you're planning to.
- Make room on your calendar for at LEAST one night every week in December where you can stay home in your pajamas, de-stress, and spend time with family. Commit to this time, and keep it open no matter what. You'll enjoy spending your time at home, not running around busily to events or errands. Guard this time fiercely for yourself. It's an important gift to give yourself and your family.
- If you set out an Advent calendar or Advent house, it's time to get it out and stock it with small treats!
- If you're planning on throwing a holiday party, have you set the date firmly and let potential guests know? It's already December first - your guests very likely already have every weekend evening booked for the next month. Better send out a save-the-date or invitation immediately if you are hosting a holiday party this year.
- Do you need to make any doctor, dentist, haircut or salon, or veterinary appointments for the next busy 4 weeks? Any appointments you can put off until next month, to keep December saner?
- Check your inventory of firewood, starter logs, matches, and candles (if needed and if you have a wood fireplace)
- Bundle up and go for a quick, brisk walk if you didn't get any exercise earlier this week. You can always treat yourself to a hot bath or extra long shower when you get back to warm back up.
TODAY'S PROJECT: Holiday Preparations
This weekend, do whatever you think you want to do to prepare for the holidays you celebrate. (I'm pretty sure everyone who cares to read Lovely Living is pretty enthusiastic about the holidays!) You might have already put up your tree - if so, I bet you can still find some decorating projects to take care of.
Start planning your cooking for Hanukkah; go Christmas shopping; write holiday cards; shop for baking and entertaining foods and supplies; decorate your home or apartment; put up lights; bake goodies; get out your holiday china; decorate a gingerbread house with your kids or nieces/nephews; whatever you enjoy doing for the holidays.
Today I'll put on Christmas music, wrap a couple of gifts (and label them carefully), go through my candle cupboard looking for seasonal candles and holders, nibble on my Linzer cookies, and put up garlands indoors. I'll pick which of my two Christmas wreaths I want to put on the front door, and put the other on a wall inside.
Tomorrow I'll go outside, despite rain and cold, and put up our Christmas lights. I put up a lot, so it will take me almost all day. Inside, today, I will put colored light strands in all of my front windows, upstairs and down.
Later tonight I plan to email some friends and family members, to make sure I have their current addresses and information for my address book. That way I'll have everything ready for the evenings I'll be settling in by the fire to write my holiday newsletters and cards.
LOVELY BLOGS: I Should Be Mopping the Floor
Kristi's blog covers crafts, DIY projects, bento making, and holiday crafting. Check out her cute paper tabletop trees.
LOVELY HOLIDAY CHALLENGE: Avoid Being a Christmas Martyr
I challenge you (and myself) to enjoy the holiday season, but not get stressed about it and get upset if we don't get thank-you notes, verbal thanks, an engraved "Queen of Christmas" trophy, or other signs of appreciation. People don't owe us for our holiday efforts, and it's most likely our hard work will be noticed and enjoyed, but not thanked. That's ok.
All the work we do to get our homes ready for the holidays, entertain people and cook for them, give gifts and partake in holiday merriment should be fun for us. It shouldn't be an obligation. If it feels like something you should do or you're stressing about it, you shouldn't be doing this. Holidays should be something you enjoy, not dread or feel anxious about. If you start feeling overwhelmed, cut out some of the things you normally do. Forget about expectations or doing things the same way every year so the kids have a tradition. Only do what you can handle and what will bring you pleasure.
I'm tired of "holiday martyrs" who overdo everything, go crazy, work themselves to the point of exhaustion, then pout and cause drama when "nobody appreciates me" (for things nobody asked them to do in the first place). Or they loudly complain or enumerate a long list of how many chores, hours in the kitchen, gifts wrapped, etc. they performed for the holidays. (I bet you know someone like this). Let's be careful not to drone on and on about how many things we did, how busy we are, how hard we worked, etc. (A little whining to one's very best friend is ok for about five minutes though - catharsis is good). Nobody really wants to hear someone else's to-do list or complaints.
If you find yourself saying out loud to someone, "Oh, I'm exhausted. I had to cook dinner for 20 people!" stop and think about it later that day. Try to replace the word "had" with "got to." Change your vocabulary and the way you speak about the holidays, and you might change your attitude and improve your enjoyment. Try "I am really tired, but I had so much fun making dinner for family." No need to pretend you weren't tired out. That's realistic!
Do your holiday projects out of love and an enjoyment of festivity and celebration, or don't do them at all. Let other people help you, delegate, and don't be afraid to say "no" if your calendar is getting overwhelming.
Stop when enough is enough. If you've baked two dozen cookies and start feeling frazzled, that's enough cookies. Frankly, your friends, neighbors and co-workers don't need another couple dozen cookies brought in by you and everybody else they know who bakes. None of us here in America are going to experience a cookie shortage any time soon.