I’m participating in The Nester’s 31 Days Challenge, so for the month of October I’ll be writing each day about 31 Days of Christmas: plan a little now to enjoy it more later. You can see all of the posts here.
Yesterday I talked about creating a vision for Christmas and deciding ahead of time what the most important things are. The vision that Matt and I have for Christmas is:
- Focus on what’s most important – that Jesus came to earth to save us.
- Enjoy memorable time with loved ones.
- Share God’s love with others.
The next step in preparing for Christmas is to start a list of special traditions and activities – a “Don’t Miss” list, for lack of a better term. Don’t get me wrong… I know that Christmas isn’t really about doing any of these things. But we want every Christmas (not just this year but in the future, too) to be a special and meaningful time when we can create memories and give generously to people around us. We can start traditions now that we can participate in year after year as we create a wonderful season of love, laughter, and giving, reflecting on the Greatest Gift we have received.
Last year was our first Christmas as a married couple, and it was so much fun to discuss our childhood traditions. We talked about what we wanted to keep doing every year and what we were OK doing without. If you haven’t had conversations like this with your spouse (and kids, if you have any), I’d encourage you to start discussions about their favorite Christmas memories and which traditions are most important and meaningful to them.
So this is what we have on our list –
- Go to the Christmas Eve service at church
- Read the Nativity story from the Bible – You can find it in Luke 2:1-20.
- Start doing a Jesse tree, or at least read more about it
- Read Christmas Book(s) – I bought Ann Voskamp‘s new book and I can’t wait to read it!
- Listen to Christmas music
- Watch a Christmas movie – Maybe turn it into a fun movie night with PJ’s and hot chocolate? 🙂
- Spend time with family, including a trip to see my family in FL and a day trip in early December to see some of Matt’s family
- Pick out our a Christmas tree
- Decorate the tree
- Make ornaments and other decorations – This is an “if time permits” activity that I would enjoy…not a priority for Matt. 🙂
- Decorate – advent calendar, nativity scene, stockings, wreath, mistletoe, etc. – Nothing crazy. All of our ornaments and decorations fit in 3 boxes.
- Go see Christmas lights
- Go to a Christmas-y show like The Nutcracker – We got to see the Nutcracker last year. I don’t know if we’ll get to do similar this year, but I want to keep it on the list just in case.
- Take our picture in front of the tree
- Make/buy gifts
- Send out Christmas cards
- Go to work Christmas parties
- Give gifts to coworkers
- Give gifts to neighbors – Just something simple and easy.
- Buy Angel Tree gifts
- Fill a box for Operation Christmas Child
- Bake cookies and other goodies
- Make special meal(s)
- If it snows – build a snowman, go sledding, and make snow angels
I know that the list seems kind of long but we didn’t write this list to be a massive “to do” list that will hang over our heads. I made the list to help us be proactive and think through what we’re going to spend time doing during December so that we don’t look back and wish that our Christmas was more like the one we had envisioned. If you compare the list to the 3 keys that we outlined, you can see that most of the activities above will help us move toward a Christmas where we can focus on Christ, treasure time with family and friends, and give to others.
We realize that some of these activities are more expensive and time-consuming than others. For example, cooking/baking and sending out Christmas cards are more involved projects than listening to Christmas music or going to see Christmas lights. When we get a little bit closer to December, we will be able to attach dates to some of these activities and get more detailed in the planning. For me the goal of this stage in the planning is to discuss and be in agreement about our priorities; that way, those activities don’t get squeezed out and we don’t get stressed and miss spending time reflecting on the real reason that we celebrate on December 25th – Jesus.
What about you? What activities do you most look forward to every Christmas? What would be on your list? Here are a few things that didn’t make it onto our list but they might be on yours:
- Make decorations like paper snowflakes or a popcorn garland
- Go caroling
- Visit Santa Claus
- Go to a Christmas parade
- Go ice-skating
- Decorate a gingerbread house