De-Stress Checklist: Christmas Preparation

It’s not a coincidence that I decided to focus on minimizing stress in the month of December. I love Christmas. In particular, I love snow days…

and I love getting to see my family for the holidays. It’s the one time of year I’m guaranteed to see my darling baby sister:

She’s not actually a baby. She’s taller than me. But she’ll always be my baby sister. So there are many things to love about the holiday season. Pies, potlucks, the smell of Christmas trees…but I have a hard time getting ready. Handmade gifts take a fair amount of preparation, and so do travel arrangements, and as the big day approaches, I find myself getting pretty stressed out. (I also hate bad Christmas music, the commercialization of the holiday, final exams…let’s be honest. This would be a fun time of year if we didn’t load it up with unrealistic expectations and financial stress). So this year, I’m taking a deep breath, planning ahead, and letting go. For today at least, I’m every bit as relaxed as Santa on Boxing Day.

I’ve got a plan, and I’ve broken it down into a few things I need to do to get ready.Some of them are mostly done:

  1. Christmas cards: An old fashioned tradition, but such a lovely way to keep in touch. I’ve already had our photo cards printed (I keep thinking about switching to e-cards because they’re more eco-friendly, but it’s still photo cards this year.) I’ve gotten the stamps, and updated my whole list of addresses, and I plan to mail them this week.
  2. Christmas giving: This is a time of year to live generously, and I like to make it meaningful. My husband and I had the same favorite book as kids (Frog and Toad are Friends), so we donated a copy to a local nonprofit to be given to a child for Christmas, and we donated a toy as well (Playmobil, one of my own childhood favorites). We also donated money to a nonprofit in Uganda to go toward food, healthcare, education and holiday gifts for children in an area particularly affected by the AIDS crisis.
  3. Christmas shopping: (No, I don’t mean the mall!) Today and over the past few months, I’ve gone to local shops that sell works by North Carolina artisans, and got handcrafted gifts for some of the folks on my list (we’re doing a combination of gifts handmade by us and by others this year). That takes some of the pressure off for hand-making the rest and supports the work of local artists. The ones I bought from today are incredibly talented – we’re blessed to live in such a neat part of the country with such a rich arts scene.

Still to do:

  1. set travel dates to see my parents and my husband’s grandparents (the dates we had planned just fell through, so it’s back to the drawing board!)
  2. figure out a petsitter and book their services
  3. plan out the handmade gifts (look forward to those posts in the weeks to come!)
  4. decorate the house (I put up handmade paper chains, but I’m still thinking about cracking out the thrift store tree to go along with them. It’s such a festive, tacky old thing).

And that’s it – we’re keeping the holidays very simple this year. But even now in the midst of finals, I feel like this is going to be a fun, rather than stressful, holiday season! I’ve finished one class and have two more to go this week, plus the things on this list, and then I can relax, drink some eggnog, put up the ridiculous thrifted tree, and enjoy the Christmas spirit!

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