Category Archives: Holidays

10 Steps to Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

Christmas should be a time of peace, love, and goodwill. However, the stress and commotion of the season leaves many of us feeling more like the Grinch than Santa Claus. If you find it difficult to get into the holiday spirit, here are some ideas that can help:

  1. Shop early: Fighting for parking and struggling through crowds really saps your Christmas spirit.
  2. Share the spirit: Wish people a happy holiday. Say it with a smile.
  3. Give: Place money in a Salvation Army kettle or donate to some other Christmas service.
  4. Do something nice: Offer to baby-sit so a friend can Christmas shop; bake cookies for neighbours or co-workers; shovel an elderly neighbour’s walk.
  5. Volunteer: Even if you are busy, you can spare an hour or two to help people less fortunate than yourself.
  6. Organize a food or gift drive: Collect food and personal items and donate them to a local shelter for the homeless or for battered women.
  7. Play Christmas music: Break out the Boney M.
  8. Watch Christmas movies: The oldies, “A Christmas Carol”, “White Christmas”, etc. and newer efforts, “Elf”, “The Santa Clause”, “Love Actually”, etc.
  9. Read: “A Christmas Carol”
  10. Decorate: Your home, your office, even your car.

Holiday Time Tips

  • Get together and write a list of what everyone wants to do – decide what is really important, and if possible prioritise
  • Make a list of who needs to see who – particularly important with extended stepfamilies.
  • Use a calendar – make a note of which family members are doing what and when.
  • Schedule in some time to recharge your own batteries – if you’re well rested you’ll be able to enjoy your family more.
  • Don’t try and do everything yourself – make a list of jobs which need to be done and allocate them between the whole family.
  • Don’t try and keep everyone happy all the time – you’ll collapse under the pressure.
  • If this is your first Christmas as a stepfamily your child may feel confused and maybe even angry – try to allocate some time that you can spend alone together to reassure them that your love for them has not changed.
  • Adults don’t have to enjoy being with children all the time – allow some time for you to be alone with your partner, other family members or friends.
  • Don’t assume that everyone else is having a wonderful time – everyone else is muddling through just like you, so try not to put pressure on yourself.

How to Plan Ahead for Christmas

It’s early October. You barely have the children back at school; Halloween stuff is all over the place and I’m already writing about Christmas.

If you want to reduce the stress associated with the holiday season, get an early start on holiday planning. Christmas is associated with love, joy and goodwill toward men. Then December comes along, and your stress level is higher than a mountain climber hanging off a cliff by his fingertips. To reduce holiday stress this year, create a holiday checklist to make the season go smoothly.

Shop for Christmas Year Round

Anytime you are out shopping keep an eye open for Christmas gifts. You may be able to take advantage of sales or clearance items at off-peak times. At the least, you spread the cost of buying gifts over twelve months rather than breaking the bank at the end of the year.

Other shopping ideas:

  1. Store all the items in a specific place so that you don’t forget you have them.
  2. Keep a written inventory of what you buy throughout the year, so you know what you have and what you might still need to buy.
  3. Order Christmas gifts online to save time and avoid the local shopping crowds.
  4. If ordering online, order in advance to ensure delivery before Christmas.

Organize Your Gift List

Sit down and review your gift list at the beginning of November. Figure out which gifts you will send through the mail and put those at the top of the list. Once your list is complete, match the gifts you bought throughout the year to the appropriate people on your list.

If you bought some of your gifts “on spec”, don’t worry. Put them aside for last minute gift needs: office party, school event, etc. Worse case, you can carry them over until next year.

Organize Your Christmas Card List

The Christmas gift list will be like the Christmas card list. In late November, you should take the first list and add the names that need Christmas cards. Take your list and divide it by five 5. Spend five days preparing the assigned number of Christmas cards until the list is complete.

Get Them Wrapped

Buy your Christmas wrap early and keep it accessible. Every time you return from Christmas shopping, wrap the gifts immediately. Tag them, so you know who gets what and put them away. It will save time in the long run and you won’t have to devote a day to completing this task.

Organize Your Food

If you plan on entertaining during the holiday season, plan your meals and every time you go shopping, stock up on any non-perishable items or frozen items you will need. Take stock of your pantry and fill it up with necessary items.

Before shopping, plan the quantities of food you will need based on the number of people you are expecting to come over. Even if you over-buy, you can add the extras to your leftovers inventory.

Prepare Your Home

Take a tour of your home and note things to be fixed or added. Figure out how you want to decorate for the season. Check the condition or number of your decorations: replace or add as needed. Check electrical decorations: lights, ornaments, etc. Make sure they are working and repair or replace, if desired.

Now is the time to check any household equipment that will get used and overused during the holidays. Make sure that nothing will break down at a critical moment in your celebration.

These ideas are simple, but they can free up extra time and help you to enjoy a smooth holiday season. With fewer tasks to be accomplished in such a short amount of time, you can focus on the important aspects of your holiday celebration.


Celebrate the Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming…

We come to the last day of the Christmas celebration and ideas for ending Christmas slowly. You could if you chose, bang a lot of things, including drums. Or maybe, get twelve drummers together and make an unholy racket.

However, there is a traditional celebration for this day, Twelfth Night.

In medieval times, Twelfth Night was celebrated with balls and parties, complete with Twelfth Night cakes with a trinket hidden inside to choose the “king” to preside over the night’s revelries.

In Elizabethan times, a Lord of Misrule presided over the partying while the nobility acted as servants – a world deliberately turned upside down for a night. You could try crowning a Lord of Misrule at your Twelfth Night Party, or you could just have a nice afternoon or evening where you open your house to friends and family to come together one last time for the holidays.

A customary practice on the Twelfth Night is taking down the Christmas decorations, including the tree. Make a party of this and have everyone help take down the tree and Christmas décor. It’s a fun activity that will keep everyone busy. Plus, your guests will be cleaning up your house at the same time!

Celebrate the Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, 11 pipers piping

Okay, maybe bagpipes aren’t your thing. (Though, as a Scot, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t love them.) Most people appreciate music in some form or another. Make today about the music.

  • Have one last listen to your favourite seasonal music before putting it all away for another year.
  • Break out your favourite playlists and accompany your New Year’s Day activities.
  • Maybe dust off a musical instrument and see how much your remember how to play.
  • Make a resolution to learn to play a new instrument.
  • Find community music groups that are looking for new members. There are many that don’t require “professional level” skill, just a desire to make music.

William Congreve wrote, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast.” It can lift you up, energize, relax, calm, inspire and much more, depending on your choice. Choose to make music an intentional part of your life.