The holiday season is a hectic, stressful time for a lot of us. I’ve certainly had years when I was overwhelmed by holiday parties, gift shopping and failed attempts at trying to send out Christmas cards. I generally look forward to the week after Christmas when things actually slow down.
But this year, I’m setting an intention to make things different. I think what I’ve lacked most in the past year is a clear game plan for how I want to enjoy and soak up the goodness of the holiday season. In essence, I want to feel more in control of the holiday season instead of feeling like it has control over me.
So I’ve put together a list which includes the must-haves and the want-to-do’s, along with activities that will help remind me of the reason for the season. And I started putting everything on the calendar, spreading things out across the next 30 days, so it suddenly feels very manageable, and even exciting.
Here’s my list, in case it provides a little inspo…
1. Snap a family photo, and order Christmas cards by December 3. This one is so easy to get away from me and always takes way more time than I anticipate. I’m not a we-must-send-cards-every-year type gal, which is best exemplified by the fact that we’ve never sent a Christmas card, lol. So anything that hits mailboxes before Dec. 25 without me paying rush fees is a major success. My plan is to pick out something from here.
2. Make a simple Advent calendar. I’m thinking of making something like this, with a different passage of scripture for each day and some suggested fun activities (mainly things from this list). I’m also planning to read along with the She Reads Truth app, but the YouVersion Bible app has a ton of options to follow.
3. Visit the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden (runs through January 15, 2018). Also pray that Jameson doesn’t try to climb into the exhibits like he did last year. 4. Sip a warm beverage while walking through an outdoor holiday market. NYC has tons of choices for this, like the huge one that surrounds ice skaters in Bryant Park (my top pick!) or the markets in Union Square or Columbus Circle.
5. Complete my Christmas shopping by mid-December. This might be the hardest one on the list, because I’m famous for shopping right up until Christmas. But with the magic of online shopping and a false deadline, I’m hoping to significantly reduce stress this year.
6. Wrap presents while watching a classic Christmas movie. My preferred wrapping paper tends to be brown craft paper (“brown paper packages tied up with striiiiing…”), which can be used/customized for gifts at any point in the year and works great for when Jameson is in the mood for an arts project. And my movie will likely be The Preacher’s Wife or Home Alone.
7. Visit Santa at ABC Carpet & Home. He’s simply the realest Santa in the land, with the chicest backdrop, because, duh – he’s at ABC Carpet & Home. (Saturdays and Sundays up until Dec 17). 8. Bake Christmas cookies. Slowing down to bake is super soothing, and the thought of Jameson being old enough to understand decorating some cookies this year is super exciting. Here’s one of my favorite cookies to make (beware: many people report they are crazy addictive).
9. See the New York Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker (through December 31). My mom took me to see The Nutcracker as a little girl, and it’s still some of my favorite music to listen to at Christmas time. I’m looking forward to watching it on one of the biggest stages with my mom this year.
10. See the tree at Rockefeller Center (official tree lighting is November 29; through January 7). The tree is always swarming with tourists, but instead of those crowds annoying me, they somehow make me feel even more grateful that we live in NYC, and things like the tree are just a 15 min train ride away.
11. Get a tree for our apartment. And perhaps get it a little later into December, so that the tree is still alive and well by the time Christmas arrives. Our tree last year was looking pitiful come Christmas day, ha! Also taking all your tips for keeping your trees alive. :-)12. Make wreaths with some girlfriends. I’m planning to recreate what I did last year.
13. Take Jameson to the holiday puppet show in Central Park (through December 30). In my mind, this will be amazing. Let’s hope he isn’t freaked out by the puppets.
14. Sing carols in Washington Square Park (December 24). Because the holiday season is so much about togetherness (and Christmas about how the birth of a son would reconcile us to God), I can’t think of many things more inspiring than singing Christmas carols with hundreds of New York strangers.
What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? Special activities? Movies? Traditions?