Surviving the Holidays- Celebrating Without Stress

We all have a lot going on, and the pressure to make the holidays merry and bright for everyone can become overwhelming to mothers very quickly. In 8 years of marriage, I have had 4 children, and lived in 10 different houses. Yes, that said 10. In fact, we just moved again 2 weeks ago. I have learned first hand how to pull off the holidays without melting down, even during transitional times. There are ways to do this while keeping your whole family happy, and still giving kids memories to last a life-time.

Last week, I wrote about 10 easy Advent traditions that involve little to no prep work. Today, I’m writing a post about simple Christmas survival for mothers, and I’m going to share all my secrets with you.

What is the key to surviving holiday burn-out? Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

There’s always a hundred things going on, but if you can’t handle bringing cookies for your kid’s program, don’t volunteer. I know, I know, the guilt of not volunteering. It’s in my personality to sign up for everything. But sometimes, the answer just has to be “no”. Because sometimes saying “no” is actually saying “yes” to our bigger responsibilities. Yes to having the energy to be a good wife and mother. Yes to having time to do my own dishes. Yes to having time to get enough sleep. Mostly yes to having enough evergy at the end of the day to to be patient and loving to my family. These things are more important than having a house covered in Christmas lights, sewing matching outfits for all 8 of your kids to attend Christmas Mass in, or making 6 different flavors of Christmas fudge.

So, where can we say “no” and still achieve a holly jolly Christmas? Here are some of my stress-free secrets.

  • It doesn’t all have to be done before Christmas day. There are 12 days of Christmas- TWELVE! We keep celebrating for all of them. I use this time to do the fun-but-not-necessary things such as building gingerbread houses, making Christmas crafts, etc. Make yourself a bare bones list of what actually has to happen before Christmas day. For our family, these things are preparing for Christmas dinner, getting the tree up, going to confession, and getting the presents bought and wrapped. I’m not going to let these things fall through the cracks, but it’s actually nice and relaxing to do the “extras” after the big day during the Christmas season.
  • Buy your presents online. I ordered all of my presents this year, and they came straight to my door. I don’t have to hide them because they’re already in boxes. No shopping with kids and trying to hide things under coats in the cart. No standing in line. No going from store to store looking for something particular. Shopping online rocks! I personally love shopping on amazon, but to each his own.
  • Decorate the Living room only. Yes, it’s awesome to have all your halls totally decked out. Some years I have the energy for tons of decorating, but other years I don’t. You don’t have to put everything out every year. Just decorated the tree, put out at least 1 nativity set, and the rest of it will still be in your boxes for next year.
  • Pare down on the light display. It is a lot of work to string up outside lights. It involved ladders, staple guns, light bulb checking, and those co-pays for the ER visits are a real bummer. However, you don’t want to look like the neighborhood grinch with a heart that’s 2 sizes too small. We have some light up wreaths that hang on the inside of the windows. They’re super simple to hang, and plug in inside the house. It takes about 5 minutes to hang them as opposed to an entire afternoon. Even if this is too simple for you, consider some easy bush nets, or other “free standing” yard displays that are easier to put up. When in doubt, skip the outside lights all together and just make sure your tree is in front of a window that shows from the road.
  • Slice and bake cookies. I just lost a bunch of you, didn’t I? Seriously! There are years that I make homemede saffron buns with yeast and everything, and then there are other years. Years like these. Years where I buy the already-made sugar cookie dough in the tubes. If your’e feeling particulary energetic, you can roll them out and let your kids cut them with cookie cutters rather than just slicing them.  Go ahead and invest in some religious cookie cutter shapes and ditch your snowmen and penguin cutters. You only have a limited amount of energy, and you’re going to squeeze in the true meaning of Christmas everywhere you can. Skip the messy colored frosting and opt to decorate the lazy man’s way- with colored sugar. Serve on a paper plate.
  • Stress-free Christmas dinner. I may loose even more of you here than I did at the slice and bake cookies. lol. Here’s my confession. Soemtimes when I’m particulary overwhelmed, I make a very very simple holiday dinner. I’m trying to  help you guys out, so don’t judge. 😉 Here’s the list for Lacy’s easy holiday dinner: Turkey, boxed stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, instant gravy, can of cranberry sauce, beverage of choice (our family likes punch), and a 1 “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake that you’re welcome to make from a cake mix in a bread machine. And yes, I have made almost this exact meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter in the past, usually around times of moving or new babies. If I want to step it up I make the mashed potatoes from scratch and add a green bean casterole.
  • Ditch the homemade presents, or find a way to main-stream them. Yes, homemade gifts are from the heart, but you need to be honest with yourself as to what’s a reasonable amount to accomplish during this time. In stressful times, I fall back on ordering ornament kits from Oriental trading. Have the kids make a bunch of them, wrap ’em up, and voila! You don’t have to cut anyone from the “present” list. On super-duper crazy years, I’ve been known to make cuts from the present list. I try my best not to cut my own children or husband from the list. 😉 But on a really bad year, my friends are lucky to get a shout out on my blog as their Christmas present. Hi, ya’ll! There. Now I’m done.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify. Sometimes you have to let go of some of your grand Christmas plans. Last year I wanted to make hand-made stockings for my whole family with figures from the nativity embroidered on each one. Great idea, but again, I’m only 1 person. In the end, I bought stockings from the Dollar tree, and wrote our names on them with fabric paint. I find that my husband and children don’t mind when I cut these kinds of corners. I don’t think anyone enjoyed our Christmas stockings any less. In fact, we usually just hang actual socks. (And you wonder why I’ve never posted a picture of my Christmas mantle on here…)
  • Remember that kids are easily impressed! This goes along with the “simplify” thing. Kids are going to be just as happy with hot chocolate straight from the microwave as they are with a fancy hot chocolate bar from pinterest with marshmallows in the shape of snowmen.

At the end of the day, we all know what the Advent season is about- preparing for our Savior, Jesus Christ. So don’t forget what’s important. Slow down, take the time to pray, take the time to love, take the time to enjoy your family, and remember that you are not Martha Stewart. After all, Martha, you are worried about way too many things.

PS. As my husband was watching me type up this post over my shoulder, he told me that “do less” is not a tip. lol. I hope you guys think he’s wrong. Sometimes, us mommies just need to hear it, don’t we? 😉 I absolutely loved the chance to share some of my less-than-magazine-worthy-photos of my family with you today. Please share your tips on surviving the holidays without stress in the comments. I would love to hear them!

Comments

  1. RealMom4Life says

    Yes! Do less is a big help! hehe

    We had fortune cookies today and mine said….”Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” I laughed because now that I have been a mom for a number of years I think that sometimes my family is better served with ….put off for tomorrow what you don’t need to do today.

    Love the tips !

  2. I would say “plan ahead.” If you want to make your gifts, you can do so months in advance. If you’re looking into shopping for kids’ toys, you can always gauge by the suggested age on the box and buy in the summer.

    I like your idea of celebrating all 12 days. I tend to slowly decorate over the course of Advent. Put up the wreath at the beginning. Then put up the tree and use it to add Jesse Tree Ornaments. Stockings go up Dec 6 for St. Nicholas. Lights go up Dec. 13 for St. Lucy. That sort of thing. Eventually when Christmas rolls around you have all the stuff out.

  3. I am so with you. So many things can be enjoyed with very little planning. Put hot chocolate (cooled off) in sippy cups/cups and go look at lights on St. Lucy’s feast day, find live nativities near your house to visit, make applesauce cinnamon ornaments to hang instead of cookies to eat (super easy!)… We also simplify meals. This is our standard dinner fare on Christmas (served with fritos none-the-less): http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Mexican-Lasagna-2/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes
    For us it is all about time spent with family. 🙂 Nice post!

    BTW- I absolutely think “do less” is a tip. 😉

  4. Becky Price says

    GREAT blog! Lacy! We have really went a lot more simple this year. And to me it has made the Christmas season more enjoyable. And has forced us to pay more attention to the true meaning.

  5. Good job Lacy-another kindred spirit. Sometimes you just gotta let go of the big plans! Have a great Christmas!

  6. I think moms always need to hear “do less” because the rest of the world is always saying “do more”. I came from a family that definitely did NOT simplify Christmas and there are stories of all nighters finishing gifts for Christmas morning. My in-laws are actually great at simplifying Christmas. We get gifts for the kids but the adults all donate to charities in lieu of exchanging. Some years that means I just write a few checks and we all know it is so much better then getting a bunch of things we don’t really need. This year we adopted a poor family, wrapped the items, and dropped them off last friday for distribution.

    Even with the gift exchange for the kids, we’ve simplified. The parents get a few extra things that they know their kids would like and put aunts/uncles names on them. This avoids expensive shipping across the country. We still send out the list over email so people can select what they want to give but there is no stress on having to return things or wait in long lines at the post office.

    Thanks for all your tips! I’m typing this as my family of 4 recovers from the flu. Being sick really puts things in perspective!

  7. Monica @ Equipping Catholic Families says

    Great post, Lacy….so true and so timely. I love the point about saving some of the festivities for AFTER Christmas Day…the 12 days of Christmas: so liturgical and family friendly! Hey, I found boxes of clear acrylic ornaments at Walmart. The possibilities are endless for ‘homemade’ ornaments…stuffing them with Christmas-y things, photos or swirling paint. Not alot of effort or clean-up, but fun and cool-looking…my favorite. =)

    • I really do like to make ornaments as presents, and I usually do, but for sanity’s sake I’m letting it go this year. 😉

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. It is just what I needed to hear right now with my 3rd child only 4 months old and we’re doing Christmas at our house for the first time this year (instead of traveling).

    My only suggestion is something I read a few years ago and has gotten me through other Christmas’s with a little less stress: each person picks one thing they really want to do during the holidays (either during Advent or during the Christmas season) and make sure each of those things gets done. Don’t stress about anything else. If more gets done — bonus! If not, no sweat. One year I said I wanted to do caroling. One year I wanted to focus on Christmas baking. Since taking this attitude, we’ve given up on Christmas cards and outdoor lights, but we always seem to still have some sanity left on Dec 25.

    • Love the idea to let everyone pick one thing! I gave up on Christmas cards so long ago that I forgot to even mention not doing them in this post. lol.

  9. Melissa Buttry says

    I love what you said in Saying no is really saying yes. My family is my vocation and if I am spread to many places ( though good things), I can not fulfill my family. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. with two kids home sick with diarrhea for over a week now i love all your tips. i had expected to be able to get things done in the weeks leading up to Christmas but with the kids sick, that is impossible, i’m lucky just to be able to cook dinner, do the dishes and get laundry done.

    i especially like the ornament kits from Oriental trading that you suggested, i will order some after Christmas for next year!

  11. Thanks for your post. It’s refreshing to know that I’m not the only “slacker” this year. I had a baby 2 months ago and we’re in the middle of building a house. Not to mention that I’m prone to getting mastitis if I overdo it, which can easily knock me off my feet for 3 (or more) days. Another tip: if you miss a feast day, don’t feel guilty about celebrating it a few days late. We’re just celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas today. In between meeting with cabinet makers, calling electricians, and driving 4 hours to look at a tractor, I just couldn’t get it together enough to plan for a feast day. But for my kids, it really doesn’t matter. They will remember the celebration regardless of the date.

  12. Great reminders Lacy! I always struggle with being more Martha than Mary… Several years ago I thought about what stressed me out the most over Christmas and then made changes to fix those areas. For example, it was always such a big production to buy perfect Christmas clothes for my children and book the photographer etc. early enough and then send out all our Christmas cards (inevitably late). It became such a chore. So now I plan every year to send my cards electronically through Smilebox between Christmas and New Years. I use a photo taken after Christmas Mass (the church is beautifully decorated and truly represents Christ in Christmas) and at home around our tree or fireplace in Christmas morning pjs. So much more relaxed with that one change! The other big change I made was to think about what traditions really had meaning to me and I asked my kids to help prioritize as well…(my husband could care less about decorating and the rest as long as we cut down our tree together–“whatever makes you happy, makes me happy” ). My childhood memories center around making great grandma’s cinnamon rolls, special cakes, and sugar cookies. And my kids love those activities too. So those homemade foods are priorities and worth the time for us. It is really the shared time together that is so special. Reflecting on what activities had emotional significance for me and our family allowed me to let go of other time fillers that were really not that important to anyone. I love Christmas and truly enjoy the season now more than ever!

    • Everyone has their priorities. We always cut down a tree together as a family, and we’ve never let that go. I know what you mean about the pictures. I don’t make any attempt at all to send Christmas cards anymore.

  13. I love online shopping. I actually shop online before Thanksgiving so I can give some thought as to what to get the kids. This year I also baked 15 loaves of pumpkin bread in one and then froze 14 (had to test out one of them, lol) – then, I can just thaw a loaf from the freezer when I need a gift for the Sunday school teacher or I need to bring something to the potluck. Another time saver was making those cookie mixes in a jar and giving them to the kids on St. Nick’s day – it makes the family baking time easier if I don’t have to deal with the mess of flour, etc (my kids are nine and younger, so they’re messier cooks). But I like your idea of moving a lot of these activities to the 12 days of Christmas instead of doing them during Advent. And is it bad that my holiday dinners nearly always look like your simplified one?

  14. I LOVE YOU!!!! You are so awesome – you have just given me “permission” to do all those things that I feel super-guilty about doing just to survive!!! 🙂 Ok – seriously – now tell me how in the world you do the cake in a bread machine???? Really – I’m dying to know! That’s a totally new one to me!

  15. I love your Web site. Thanks so much for sharing!! This was a GREAT post. Fantastic. And SO true. Kids are amazing & they really do appreciate the little things when given a chance (cardboard boxes as evidence of that ;). Thanks too for your creativity. Yay.

  16. Dawn Kennedy says

    I was just thinking of celebrating the 12 days of Christmas to change it up with my boys (teen, tween and preschool). It may be next year’s project. We decorated the tree last night and the youngest had a blast and we pulled out old ornaments he could put up by himself. The only nativities that came out this year were little people and play mobile; I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy others later. Thanks for sharing!!

  17. We are simplifying big time this year. We have 3 kids and another on the way (and the morning/noon/night illness is slowing me down.) We have cut back a bit this year. I am embarrassed to say other than the Advent wreath there is nary an ornament out and about. This weekend – we will get to it. I hope. Plan is to continue our tradition to cut down a tree this weekend. The last two weeks were rainy – and the thought of traipsing about with 3 kids in mud for a tree was just too much for me.

    I like your suggestions. I too am in love with Amazon. I think it is the greatest thing ever. Thank you for your blog. And, I wish you a very happy and simple Christmas.

  18. Now you’re speaking my language! 🙂
    “Do Less” is great advice, but the part that really stood out from this post was: Remember that kids are easily impressed! That is so true and I wish I’d figured it out a lot earlier.

    This year for Advent I wanted to give them a different activity every day. After lunch they get a bag with a number on it (signifying which day of Advent we are in). I had grand plans for crafts, baking projects, Random Acts of Kindness for strangers, etc…but with a large family and a newborn, that just doesn’t happen without a lot of planning and the help (or at least presence) of my husband. One day I threw some Hershey’s kisses in the bag. They were thrilled. They didn’t care that it had nothing to do with Advent, or that the kisses were gone in thirty seconds – it was the highlight of their weekend! Same with the Christmas tree and decorations – they don’t need an amazing, beautifully decorated tree and light display. They get excited whenever we pull up to the house in the evening and they see the lights on, even if it’s just one strand wrapped around the banister on the porch.

  19. Great post! Although, I love taking and sending family pictures every year and I especially love receiving other families’ Christmas pictures. I may not be able to keep it up every year, we’ll see. We will be married four years this month and our fourth baby is due in May. God is good.

  20. As soon as my mom could afford it, she started having Christmas catered. She would pre-order all the food & pick it up Christmas Eve & heat it up to serve Christmas Day. It really is a genius idea!

  21. I decorate the tree, put lights in the windows, put holiday window clings on, put a few nativity scenes out, advent calendar, advent wreath (we pray…”Oh Jesus come, we wait for you, and everything, we say and do, prepares the way, until you come on Christmas day. Amen”) That’s all I do!

  22. Great post! Such great suggestions! One transition year, we just got out the tree with no ornaments. It was still a great Christmas! my traditional, easy meal ( so it can be ready when we get home from 4:00 mass): ham, baked potatoes in the crockpot, salad ( sometimes one of those kits), steamed broccoli… And the kids think it’s super- special if we have sparkling grape juice! 🙂

  23. Lacy, Love your thoughts! With 6 kids, 8 and under I’ve learned a little more every year how to simplify things so I get to enjoy the holidays too. Not just creating delightful memories and traditions for the kids with a side of very stressed mommy. We’ve found great joy in impromptu paper crafts – lots of paper, glue and tape has been used up 🙂

    And I’m right with you on holiday meals! Inspired by my sister’s MIL who makes tacos on Christmas, I revamped meal planning and decided that our traditional Christmas feast would be Loaded Potato Soup and a treat to celebrate Jesus’s birthday. Everyone loves the soup! Low stress, quiet kitchen time for mommy. We’ve done this now for 3 Christmas’ and I have to say it has been a huge stress reliever!!!!

  24. I love this post, Lacy! We decided this year to stay in for Christmas Eve all day and just be together as a family. We have four kids and quite honestly, going to the relatives on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is just too much. I love your ideas to slow down and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas-Jesus! We look forward to Midnight Mass-oh, and, by the way, my littles wear their pajamas to that Mass-gasp!

  25. For 25 years we have gotten a small potted (usually Colorado Blue Spruce) tree.
    The thinking is that Jesus came to us as a baby and our celebration should focus on His birth, therefore a small tree for a small baby.
    Our daughters are grown now with homes of their own and they are carrying on our small tree tradition.

    • I meant to add that we keep it until Pentecost and then plant it in the yard. It’s usually less than 30 inches tall, usually 12-15 inches, if we can find one that small.

  26. Thanks for this post!! I just turned up the stack of Christmas cards I began writing 3 years ago, that never got sent!! Guess it’s time to wave the white flag on the Christmas card tradition!!
    I’m usually wrapped up in school concerts at this time – and hubby’s second job as a parish Music Director has him hopping as well. I kinda feel sad for our son, cause Christmas morning he’s rushed through his presents so dad can get back to church, and dad often falls asleep early Christmas afternoon! But I’m hoping he sees that celebrating the birth of Christ is a priority for us, even if that entails sacrifice. Just wish they didn’t give homework packets over the school break so we could do more as a family….:-(
    As for cooking, our oven needs to be replaced, which will probably not happen till January – so I’m relegated to doing a turkey breast in the toaster oven, and ravioli in the pot instead of lasagne. Kinda makes things easier, in a way.
    Many of my students lost a lot during H. Sandy, so this Christmas will be especially poignant in our school community. We recently had a visit from our bishop, who reminded the kids of the difficulties faced by the Holy Family, as well as of the real meaning of the holyday. Hopefully I will be less likely to beat myself up for not having the perfect Christmas this year (I tend to go through a major crash after each Christmas, thinking of all the things I coulda/shoulda/woulda done better….)
    Sure puts things in perspective!
    Blessed Christmas to all! ((()))

    • Last year our oven was broken and I baked bread in the bread machine and I made our turkey in my giant crock pot. 😉

  27. Martha (Stewart) has a huge amount of people helping her pull off the “perfect” Christmas.

  28. Awesome! Thanks for helping with the guilt of not doing everything….just one year I would like to do iced sugar cookies, but with boys…that doesn’t get done.
    I just wanted to say….one year I let the boys decorate the tree by throwing shatterproof ornaments at it! They had a great time! They did much better this year….

  29. Your post came to my “inbox” as I was in confession and had much to say about my “Martha-ness” Like a big huge God wink! Thank you! We also limit decor to the nativity scene, tree, and advent wreath with just a handful of other candles or angels. This year we really simplified and I let go of another huge box of decorations rather than look at it again next year. Also gave up on cards, cookies, and homemade gifts being done every year. I get to one or the other of them because I do enjoy creating. We’ve actually lit the advent candles multiple nights each week which is a big feat as it seems in years past we hardly had a chance to share a family meal.

    Thank you again for a great blog!

  30. I thought you might like this Advent Calendar we use that my Mom gave us. It has a little book you read (or sing if it is a song) each day and hang up (we hang it on a little Christmas tree).

  31. Thank you for your site, your creative yet simple ideas are wonderful! Can you tell me how you made the light wreath for the window or where you got it?

    • These light wreaths came from Big Lots, but that was a long time ago. I know you can still get things like this at the store that are just free standing sort of light displays. I’d love to find something more religious like an angel or nativity people.

  32. Love it!!!! Yes “DO LESS!!” I love your first one on the list. I’m trying to convince some of my family members that it is better to not do early Christmas with them (since we are with my husbands family on the 25th this year), but instead do after the 25 which was still be during the 12 days of Christmas!
    I have realized that I wanted to be involved with kids activities and my own as well but I really love that laid back time at home where we can make SIMPLE ornaments (from HOBBY LOBBY! Just apply paint!) on the spur of the moment or something like that. Not volunteering is good advice for me.

    We are also doing slice and bake! They rock!!

    My advent calendar is very simple. I painted 4 weeks worth of envelopes purple (and a few pink). I glued them on a large poster board. I just wrote the numbers on each one in gold.

    Thanks for the great post!!!

    • I should have mentioned Hobby Lobby. They have cute stuff. In fact, thanks for reminding me! I should still go get some! 😉

  33. Lacey you are so right on! Thank you sharing your thoughts despite your husbands input -sorry guy- you knew what moms needed to hear. As for me and mine, our “little one” is gonna be 18 on the 23rd! Still, what you wrote holds true for our family. Only thing I’d like to add is how I’ve found that some Catholic sites actually have lower prices than Amazon on many religious gifts – for Christmas and any time of year- and that your readers might want to check them out before automatically buying & “saving with Amazon.”

  34. Thank-you so much for sharing these posts on stress free Christmas prep! I’ve just spent the last week
    at the hospital with my Mom and am continuing to care for her at home. Thus many of my grand Christmas plans aren’t working out. Simplify, simplify is my new motto for the month. Your posts came at just the right moment! Thank-you so much!

    God bless,

  35. I enjoy sending Christmas cards, but sometimes it just gets cut from the list. I have skipped years, I’ve sent New Year’s cards instead, and a couple times I have sent Easter cards instead! It all depends on the season of life. 🙂

  36. I’m still starting on the whole “I’m the adult now, I need to plan Christmas” thing. My husband and I got married two and a half years ago and we have a 1 1/2 year old daughter with baby #2 due in May. 🙂 Right now my plan is to start slowly and add things as I get used to it instead of trying to start by jumping in the deep end of “perfect Christmas”. My one big thing on the to-do list this year is making a stuffed nativity set so my daughter has one she can play with; I was even able to find the same kit as the one my Mom has that I grew up with. It’s nice knowing that I don’t have to worry about Christmas dinner for awhile as we’re going to go see our parents that evening. My mom’s tradition for Christmas dinner is fajitas- something that is a fun treat, doesn’t need started early and won’t sell out if you don’t grocery shop early enough.

  37. This is funny, because this is what I tend to do every Christmas anyway! I guess I’m just the lazy type. 🙂

    We haven’t done any Christmas lights outside in about 3 years and probably won’t ever again, and I’m okay with that. Decorating inside has also become much simpler; a Nativity Scene, a few wreaths and a Christmas tree. I try to make cookies but it doesn’t get done much around here. However, hot chocolate is always easy and is a big hit with the kids, so it makes up for the lack of cookies.

  38. I’m a working mama with 3 littles (littlest is 5 months) and I just relocated back to the US after 5 years in China. So, it’s been crazy transition to a ‘new’ country, new baby, new job, new home, new life altogether. I totally embraced the less is more attitude. We used tealights on a saucer for advent candles, kept our tree really simple (but went out and chopped down our own – a tradition we had to give up while in China!), did no pre-Christmas baking, and did a lot of shopping online. We made sure we got to confession. I do wish I’d had made more time for personal prayer.

    One thing that helped though: I let a lot of stuff just go. I did end up doing cards, but I did them and just got them in the mail New Year’s Eve :). We decorated Gingerbread men on New Year’s Eve too… and I still have a couple of presents to buy (insert sheepish grin 🙂 for godchildren.

    I still feel like it was pretty busy, but I totally took the attitude of: I am providing for my family, and we just moved across the world and had a baby – I’m pretty sure Jesus just wants us to take a breath and enjoy His birth.

    I LOVE do less – excellent advice. And I totally get the advice of “plan ahead” – but for me, right now, the other seasons of the year are also full. I am not sitting around in September twiddling my thumbs wondering what I can get done ahead of time for Christmas, if you know what I mean ;).

    I think advice I would give myself next year is do less of the season-y stuff – focus more on driving home the real reason for the season with my littles, and spend more time in prayer.

    Love your blog… this is my first visit!

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