Today is July 25, which means Christmas is exactly 5 months away.
I know it’s hard to imagine singing carols and baking cookies right now (it’s been sweltering in Tennessee this past week), but I’ve always found that taking a couple of days so far removed from the bustle of the Christmas season help me plan ahead for a more meaningful holiday with my family.
I am eager to create traditions in our home that my kids will remember fondly when they are grown, but that also point them to the most important truth of Christmas: God with Us. But by the time December rolls around, everything that I see will seem so enticing that I’ll be tempted to try to do more than we are really able, and lose the meaning of the season in overscheduling.
So I’ll be taking the next week or so to look over my notes from last Christmas about what worked and didn’t for us as a family, and think about what gifts, crafts, events, and routines we might want to embrace this year.
If you’d like to join me, here are some of the things I’ll be thinking through:
- Who will I be giving Christmas gifts to this year?
- Do I have any ideas yet of what they might want?
- What’s my budget?
- Do I need to start saving money now?
- Are there any gifts I want to make for the people in my life?
Giving thoughtful gifts usually requires a little extra planning, but if you start thinking now about the people on your list, it will give you plenty of time to figure out what you want to get for them.
- What sorts of things will my family need to make time for in December?
- Are there school/work/church parties we’ll need to plan around?
- How and when will we celebrate with your extended family?
Taking a good long look at your calendar and the things you want to include might help you avoid becoming too busy, and make it easier to decide if you really have time to go to that last-minute cookie exchange, or if you’d be better off staying at home and making cookies with your kids.
Books and Movies
- What special stories do I want to share with my family this year?
- Does my local library carry them?
- Are there any books or movies you don’t already own that you want to add to your collection?
We have so many special books we love to read at Christmastime and several favorite Christmas movies we love to watch. Our collection has grown over the years, and every year, I buy a few new Christmas books or movies. If there are any new books or movies you are sure you’ll want to buy this year, consider getting them now so you don’t have one extra thing to have to buy at Christmastime.
Teaching our kids about the meaning of the season
- How are we planning to help our children understand what Christmas is all about?
- Will we light advent candles?
- Should we make a Jesse tree?
- Could we observe St. Nicholas day?
- When will we read the Christmas story, and what version will we use?
- Are there any special church services we will attend?
This is definitely the most important part of our Christmas planning, and it’s also where I struggle the most. This is where I’m most tempted to go overboard, to do too many things. But the truth is, we can’t do everything. There are a whole bunch of great ways to help your kids understand the truly important things about Christmas. Just do your best to figure out what’s right for your family, and if it doesn’t work, try something different next year.
I hope these suggestions help you think through having a fun and meaningful holiday with your kids. These kinds of traditions are a major part of what shapes our family culture, and thinking about it ahead of time is one way I am able to make sure that we have the time and resources to celebrate Christmas the way we want our kids to remember it.