Monday, December 5, 2011


Have you ever gotten through the holidays and wished you had done more? Not BOUGHT more, but made more memories with the people who mean the most to you?
For the first 3 years of my youngest son’s life, I was fighting depression and anxiety. It was hard enough for me to get out and get a few gifts for under the tree. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the presence of mind to on-line shop until it was too late. I would deny Christmas was even happening until the 19th. Then, after Christmas I would go over the list of things and experiences I WISH I would have done with my family to create memories. 
Even today, virtually stress free, the thought of the Christmas season gives me anxiety. Knowing that my children deserve to grow up with great memories at Christmas, and being on a tight budget I came up with a solution. 
I would plan every single night of December out, and to insure that I follow through with what I plan I would write each thing on a small piece of paper and put it into an empty advent calendar for my kids to open every day. 
If you are at all like me, or are looking for some traditions to start I would love it if you use my idea.
Here are some tips and suggestions:

1) Get a blank calendar for the month of December

2) Start by adding the things that are already planned for you: Special Church services, Christmas parties, family gatherings, volunteering. 

       - If your kids aren’t involved in some of these things and you’re getting a sitter then make sure you add something from step (3 or 4) on those nights to their advent Calendar.

      - My kids are clueless as to when these events are happening so it is a complete surprise to them when they open their calendar and see that they are going to a party, or feeding the homeless. 

3) Then move to the things you would like to schedule as outings: Zoo lights, going to see a play, Ice Skating, Shopping (With Mom for Dad, or with Dad for Mom), Driving around looking at Christmas lights (with music and hot chocolate of course). 

     - I take the money out of the budget right away when planning for these things. If it’s not required to pay ahead of time, then I put the $ in the advent calendar and tell the kids that they will be responsible for paying for the family to go. That way they can start understanding about money early, and they can see if there is left over for hot chocolate or other treats they may want.

4) Then I add in Christmas television programming that can’t be missed: Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, How the Grinch stole Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas etc. 

      - As you are making out your schedule look up your favorite programs and see when they are airing. You can DVR these programs and watch them on any night and at any time. So if you need to start at 6:00 so bedtime isn’t missed…you can.  

5) Fill in the last spots with at home activities including things you normally wouldn’t let your kids do: Stay up an extra 30 minutes, Make a blanket fort and sleeping in it, Krispy Kreme Donut after dinner, Sleep in a tent on living room floor(we do this every Dec. 23), Making Gingerbread houses, Craft night, make cookies for neighbors and friends, Reading the Christmas story from the bible, or CANDY. 

     - Some of these things can be combined with other things like: eating dinner on the living room floor and watching Charlie Brown Christmas. (Unless you usually eat in the living room, then change it up and eat at the table together).

    -  Make a shopping list and get all activity items before December starts. This way, you just have to go to your closet and get what you need. 

     - I usually only add CANDY to a night where we have sports practice and homework we have to fit in…sometimes you don’t have an extra 30 minutes in the evening to do something cool. My kids don’t get candy a lot so this is a treat to see in their calendar.

The key to this is to be flexible! I put the slips of paper into the Advent calendar weekly in case I have to swap things around due to a sick kid or schedule change.
Keep a master list, and put everything into your personal calendar. I plan this stuff at the end of November, so about two weeks in, I can’t remember when we are doing what. It’s nice to look at the list when I need to.
This system has eliminated a lot of the stress that comes with the holidays for me because it’s all done ahead of time. It usually takes me an entire afternoon and a shopping trip to get this planned but its well worth it to not be feeling nuts when everyone is going nuts.
Make your calendar according to what memories you want to create with your family. 
Happy memory making!
Oh, this could easily be done for a husband too…I think this year I’m going to a make him his own advent calendar. 

Here is an example of a December Calendar:



New Christmas book

Make Blanket fort with TV inside – Watch Frosty and Frosty Returns

Shopping with Dad for Mom 

Gingerbread Houses with Big Bro Daniel and Cousins
Game Night

Take Dinner to Daniel at work 
Krispy Kreme after dinner

Eat dinner on living room floor and watch How the Grinch stole Christmas

Have Ty read Christmas story from his Bible

Dad’s X-mas Work Party – Kids to watch Santa Paws with sitter

Shopping with Mom for Dad
Zoo Lights

Crafts with Cousins

Watch Rudolph the red nosed reindeer

New Christmas book

Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
Game night

Spanaway Lights

Make Cookies for neighbors and friends

Deliver gifts to Salvation Army families.
Drive around look at Holiday Lights
Game Night
Fall asleep in Mom and Dad’s bed

Take dinner to Daniel at his work – Stay up an extra 30 minutes

Crafts with Neighbor Friends
Watch Santa clause is coming to town

Have Dad read X-mas story from bible
Deliver Holiday meal to adopted family

Sleep in tent on living room floor – Read night before X-mas
Xmas Eve Services – HPCC
Open One gift
Merry Christmas!

*PLEASE add to Adrian's list by sharing some of your favorite family activities with us!


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