We all know that Christmas
Be organised: Buy Christmas wrap, and decorations, and cards the year beforehand when they're marked down. Put them away, and you will be so glad you did when the next year's Christmas rolls around. Buy gifts when you see things that you know will suit, OR, keep a list with ideas as they come to you throughout the year. I like to keep lists like that in my list book. Create a Christmas budget in the New Year, so that you have time to think through expenses and what's necessary and what's not, as well as time to save up. You might want to consider saving receipts/writing down expenses this year to give a handle on the figures.
Be intentional: Part of the joy of Christmas is tradition and ritual. The things I remember most about our childhood holidays are the things that were repeated year after year. It's sad to me that families have begun to neglect this creation of ritual, as it's one of the easiest and strongest ways to bond and create beautiful memories for children. I spoke to a family recently who don't have any special foods that they eat at Christmas - they just eat as if it was a normal day. How sad! If you don't have Christmas traditions, or you have neglected them, spend some time considering how you can amend this. You won't regret it: there's nothing better than hearing a particular sound, smelling a particular smell, tasting a particular dish and realised, "It's Christmas!". The senses are powerful things.
Be reasonable: I need to be honest with myself about what I can and can't accomplish. This year, I have a toddler, and my ability to do things is more limited than previous years. I've chosen to cook just three special recipes in the lead up to Christmas, and to make just two crafts. We sat down together and picked a few special Christmas activities that we want to make a priority (going to see the lights, reading the Christmas story with our daughter on Christmas Eve, and attending one Carols service in the park). The addiction to blogs and Pinterest would have us believe that we need to be crafting every day, to be making every delicious recipe we see ... but I'd prefer to be restful and enjoy the season. When I was 18, I realised the wisdom in saying to myself, "The need is not the call". Just because there is a need, doesn't mean I am called to fill that need. I need to consider carefully. I think this year, I have had to amend this to, "The appreciation for a craft/recipe/tradition/activity is not the sign that this is the right fit for me or my family".
Be joyful: Consider what activities will bring joy into your home. Building a gingerbread house will not bring joy to my home this Christmas and I know it. Tangled Christmas lights don't bring joy, so we carefully store them each year to prevent frustration on what should be a precious memory. Christmas carols bring me joy, so I make sure I have a good collection.
Be responsible: As far as possible, try to buy less, buy local, buy handmade, buy fair-trade, buy small-business, buy quality. Why? Because the way we spend our dollars determines the market we shop in. By spending our money on these sorts of products, we send a message to stores about what sort of things we value, and what they should be investing in. When you buy the plastic, bulk-manufactured, made in China stocking filled with junky toys, you are contributing to the market for that sort of product. It's bad for our environment, bad for human rights, and bad for the creative community.
Be generous: Christmas is a time for giving. Consider how you can give to others less fortunate at Christmas, instead of selfishly pursuing your perfect holiday. A few ideas? Most sponsor children organisations have the option of giving an extra amount for a Christmas present; the KMart Wishing Tree Appeal is an easy way to give, the Salvation Army Christmas appeal or even donating to one of the charities that are sponsored by televised Christmas carols.
Be clear: Whatever decisions you make about Christmas should involve your partner. Take just 10 minutes over a cup of tea or coffee to discuss what's on the calendar, what's really important to you both, and what you might need to cut out. If your husband knows that it means a lot to you that everyone watches Elf together, he's more likely to make it a priority than to spend that time washing the car because, 'it's a kid's movie'. Tell him what you need to make Christmas happen, whether that is time to shop on your own, help with assembling big presents, or uninterrupted time on Christmas Day to make the impossible recipe happen without little people under your feet. Christmas should be a team effort.
Be reflective: Take a few minutes after Christmas is over and write down what you really enjoyed and what was too much. Use those reflections to improve for next year. When you add new traditions or activities, you often need to take away others.
I want to turn the calendar over to December with glee, not an inward groan. Each year, that gets a little more complicated - I can't imagine what it will be like with multiple children, all in school, with their own Christmas activities. How do you mums do it!? Please, share your wisdom with me; I need it!