Well, it is that time of year again – The Holidays! Thanksgiving is this week and I want to start by wishing all our AWN fans a very Happy Thanksgiving!! This month I want to help prepare all of you to take the holidays head on, particularly Christmas. I am sure you have asked yourself many times, “why does Christmas have to be such a stressful holiday?” Well here is the good news, it doesn’t have to be!!
Christmas should always be about family and special traditions and not stress and chaos. The first thing you should do is plan your Christmas! I know, you have heard me say it before, but yes you need to plan! It is always important to have a plan of action. This helps to keep things organized and it enables you to remember the tiny details as well. But before you plan your Christmas, think of all the things you want your Christmas to be. What memories do you want your children to have? Now get out your date books and get started.
Set up a timeline for yourself and stick to it. What do you want to get done and when do you want to have it done by. Some of the first things you can get done is your Christmas cards, decorating your home, and baking cookies – we know the kids love that one!! You will also have to plan out your holiday shopping. I have always said to start sooner rather than later. But one thing that I also do is break my Christmas shopping up into chunks.
Now that you have a plan you will need to set up a financial budget so you can tackle the holiday shopping. In my home the first thing I do is have my 10 year old make out a Christmas list. Yes, she does realize that mommy and daddy are Santa J. My youngest is 4 and he is still pretty easy to shop for and yes he still believes Santa does the shopping J ! I do tend to let him look at the “Toy Catalogs” that AAFES, Toys R Us, and other big chains put out around this time of year to help me get an idea of the things he gets excited about. I then take my daughter’s list and considering my budget, begin to dwindle it down to a more realistic list, concentrating on those things I know are special to her and she would really like to have. I also make a list of everyone that I am planning on buying for outside my family, such as friends and coworkers. Since we are a military household that gets paid twice a month I normally divide my budget between the paydays I have before Christmas. I typically start my shopping in October – and that gives me about 5 paydays to work with. Then I shop in chunks around those paydays. Typically my kids are finished by the middle or end of November and I use the last few paydays working on the rest of my list.
Now do remember this, gifts do not always have to be about money. Some of the best gifts I have ever received have had no monetary value to them. Some ideas are making holiday cookies and placing them in inexpensive tins and giving those as gifts with a nice note. Do not pressure yourself into thinking you have to spend all this money on Christmas gifts. There are other ways to show you care! Another great way to keep Christmas shopping stress free is to shop online. A lot of stores are offering great online deals around this time and some even offer free shipping so it is just like buying it in the store. Another reminder too – Christmas decorations don’t have to break the bank either. Get creative with your kids and make handmade Christmas decorations!
If you happen to be traveling this holiday season be sure you create a list of everything you will need to pack for your trip. Keeping a list helps keep you and your family organized and prevents you from leaving anything you might need behind. Mailing Christmas gifts ahead time also helps make for a lighter load rather than traveling with them all packed in the car J. Make sure you put down on your list those things you will need to remember such as holding your newspaper service and your mail.
This reminds me, make sure you also mark on your calendar the shipping deadlines from your local US Post Office, this way you know when you need to get your packages shipped by so they arrive before Christmas.
When it comes to your holiday menu make sure to plan your meal in advance and let people help. If you are expecting friends or company over and they ask what they can bring then let them know. Don’t be afraid to accept help. No one expects you to do everything! Do your grocery shopping in advance except for those items that spoil quickly, save those for a couple of days before Christmas, and be sure to stock up on pantry items so you don’t have to make any last minute trips, especially in the middle of cooking. Plan out not only what you will be serving but when you will be preparing your dishes. Are there certain dishes that can be prepared in advance? This will help save you time so you don’t spend your whole Christmas in the kitchen.
I do want to take a moment to remember those families who have a soldier deployed. The holidays can be a very hard time to be apart from those we love. I wanted to pass along some ideas on how you can stay connected with your soldier through the holidays. Create a holiday themed care package from you and your children and place on the box a label that says “Do Not Open ‘Til Christmas!”. This way daddy has something to open on Christmas. You can also send your soldier one of the miniature trees that you can find in almost any store. Send little ornaments that have your pictures in them so he can hang them on their tree. I know when my husband was away at Christmas we recorded our Christmas morning and then sent my husband the DVD so he was able to see our Christmas morning so he would not feel like he missed it. These are just a few of the things you can do to help you and your soldier feel connected at the holidays.
Last but not least I want to remind you not to forget about the most important person you should have on your Christmas list, YOU!!! That’s right – you!! Make sure you take the time to bask in the warmth of the holidays with your family and not let the hustle and bustle of the holidays get you down. Take time to relax and take care of you!! Remember that time spent together with family and friends and special tradition are most important!! Those are the memories you will remember for a lifetime!!
Well that wraps up my segment for this month. I hope I have helped you with these tips so that you and your family can have a beautiful Holiday season! Don’t forget to check out AWN’s Loving A Soldier blog at www.lovingasoldier.com for more helpful household tips and tricks, and if you have any household 6 questions you can always contact me at email@example.com.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!!!
Stress-Free Christmas: A Miracle?,