Halloween’s over; time to tackle Christmas.

I can see the eye rolling and hear the sighs and groans already.  “But what about Thanksgiving?!” y’all cry. I don’t ignore Thanksgiving.  In fact, it’s my favorite holiday of the year!  Food, family, giving thanks, counting blessings – that’s what I’m all about!

But seriously, does Thanksgiving preparation take up the entire month of November?  No.  And if it does for you, I’d suggest reevaluating your Thanksgiving plans!  We host my parents and brother for the Thanksgiving meal.  We all know what we’re having every year – turkey, stuffing, rolls, potatoes, veggies, gravy, desserts; we all know on what day it occurs; there are no presents to buy or wrap.  Not a whole lot to do.
This year we are actually going to New England to spend Thanksgiving with my dad’s side of the family.  My Nana is 96 years old and as much of the family that can is getting together to celebrate since we haven’t done that since before B was born.  But still, a little clothes packing and hotel reservation making is all that has been added to my Thanksgiving planning this year.
But Christmas?!  That’s a whole different ballgame!  Decorating, buying presents, wrapping presents, baking goodies to share with friends and neighbors, sending Christmas cards.  Then there’s the fun stuff to do – make sure all the traditional Christmas specials on TV are watched, go caroling, drive around and look at Christmas lights, visit Santa, attend our 1st office Christmas party in well over a decade!  And only 24 days in which to do it?  Not for me!
I want to make sure I can not only do all that fun stuff but also enjoy it without watching the clock, my mind racing over a long list of things to do.  That is why I start tackling Christmas on November 1st.  Actually, the hubs has been buying Christmas presents since the beginning of the Summer, not only spreading out the cost of Christmas, but also eliminating things off our “to do” list already.
I got the idea years ago from The Fly Lady.  She “Cruises Through The Holidays” every year.  She said to pretend that you are departing on December 1st for a 3-week cruise and you need to make sure everything is done for Christmas before you leave.  That year that I followed her cruising to a “T” we started around October 15th.  Each day there was a “mission” to do – planning, making lists, shopping, wrapping, writing cards, etc. – all spread out over 6.5 weeks.
By the time December 1st rolled around, I was finished!  Everything that needed to be done was and I got to relax during December!  Invitation to a holiday party?  I was there because I didn’t have to go shopping in the evenings after the hubs came home to watch B.  You want me to sit and watch the Grinch show with you, again, or you want to help me with my holiday baking?  Sure!  I had time to watch that show and plenty of time to have a baking helper, no need to stay up all night frantically baking and getting a half-assed result.
Now, I haven’t gotten everything done by December 1st since then, but it opened up my eyes that enjoying the month of December is a heck of a lot better than working through it for everyone else’s enjoyment.  Therefore, I start November 1st, I make a plan and I get as much done as I can.
First of all, the hubs and I sit down to make the gift list – who’s getting a gift and what ideas do we have for those gifts.  The more ideas the better because things tend to run out this time of year.
Secondly, I decide what I’m going to bake and/or make, who’s going to get something homemade and what supplies I need.  Each year that B gets older, he can help more and more with these items.
Thirdly, I set up my portable Christmas card station.  I get a box or a box lid and fill it with everything I need to send Christmas cards – cards, envelopes, stamps, address book, list of recipients, pens, lap desk.  Then each day, usually after dinner but anytime I find a few minutes in my day, I’ll work on the cards.
Some years I’ve done a few cards a day, from start to finish; some years I’ll do them in stages.  For example, I may go through the cards, pick out the appropriate card for each recipient (some are happy to receive a religious card, others prefer to receive a seasonal one), put it in an envelope and just write their name on the front of the envelope.  I may do some of them or I may do all of them in one sitting, depends on how much time I have or if I get interrupted.
Next time I sit down to work on the cards, I’ll decide what personal message I’m going to write inside.  I’ll come up with 1 – 3 appropriate messages and write them down so I don’t forget.
Each day I’ll do a little more.  Write my message and sign the inside of some cards or address some envelopes or do some cards all the way to sealing the envelope or some days all I have the energy to do is stick on return address labels.  I used to handwrite our return address on each envelope, but last year and this year, we’re receiving those free self-adhesive labels from a magazine to which the hubs subscribes.
By doing this, I usually have all of my Christmas cards signed, sealed and stamped by Thanksgiving and I mail them between December 10 – 15.
After getting the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving morning, the hubs gets the tree out of the basement and sets it up in the living room.  While I open up all the branches, he brings up the Christmas decorations.  After our meal, my parents, brother, the hubs, B and I go for a walk.  The fresh air and smells of all the meals are wonderful!  When we get back to our house we decorate the tree and house for Christmas.  Many hands make light work!  Once we’ve decorated, then we have dessert.
The weather gets colder and the days get shorter, so November is a perfect month for B and I to get our craft on and create our homemade presents.  Then our house stays festive in December with the aroma of baking.  This year, I intend to sign up for the 1 month free trial of Amazon Prime from Thanksgiving to Christmas and do as much shopping on there as possible.  The full, 1 year membership is on my Christmas list.  :o)
OK, I’ve gone on long enough!  I hope you give it a try this year and get whatever you can done early so you can enjoy December as much as possible.  Let me know how it goes!

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