Tis the Season! 5 tips for Intentional Planning This Christmas

Tis the Season! 5 tips for Intentional Planning This Christmas

“Let us keep Christmas beautiful
Without a thought of greed,
That it might live forevermore
To fill our ever need. 
That it shall not be just a day,
But last a lifetime through,
The miracle of Christmastime
That brings God close to you.”
~ Ann Schultz

1.    Budget Your Time

Christmas Planning app on a tablet
Christmas Planning app on a tablet
“When things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting.”
~ Unknown

Take inventory of what is important this Christmas season. 

Be realistic. 

  • What time and energy do you have? 
  • What resources do you have to work with?

Make a list of the essentials

What activities, traditions, and celebrations would you make time for no matter what? 

Ask each member of the family to name one thing they want to do for the Christmas season.  Then make those the non-negotiables.  Prioritize and plan for them from the beginning of the season. 

Make a list of “extras” that would be fun and meaningful but can easily be set aside for next year if your schedule is too full. 

With a list of activities in hand, you can now budget the most important things first, taking into account the time and resources that you have available. 

2.    Plan for Priorities

Baking Ingredients and "Family" written in flour
Baking Ingredients and "Family" written in flour
“Simplicity is power.  The power to do less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does.” 
~ Bill Jensen

As you prioritize, consider what memories you want to make and how you want to make them. 

Rush.  Stress.  Hurry.  These are all things to avoid. 

Don’t succumb to checking things off the list with the wrong motivation.  How you do it is often more important than what you do.

One year I wanted to make cookies for all of our neighbors with my son. I had enough time to plan for making the cookies. We even did a few different recipes, making sure to include some of my childhood favorites.   

But as we handed out the cookies, I quickly realized that I had tried to squeeze it in too tight.  It was getting dark, and I was in a rush.  We didn’t visit as much as we could have because we had something next on the schedule to rush off to. While my neighbors said thank you for the cookies, I am sure it would have meant a lot more if we weren’t so rushed. 

I am still learning the power of intentionally creating more give in the schedule, and being flexible enough to accommodate those authentic moments of connection with others. 

3.    Live in the present

Boy reaching toward brightly lit Christmas tree
Boy reaching toward brightly lit Christmas tree
“There is no moment more precious than the exact moment you are living now.”
~ Obert Skye

Some of the most heartfelt moments of communication cannot be planned.  

  • Smile at the grocery store clerk
  • Ask that friend you happen to run into how they are really doing and be prepared to spend the time really listening
  • Send a handwritten note to that friend you know is going through a hard time

Sometimes life happens, and all of your careful planning has to adapt to new and unforeseen circumstances.

Ironically, one of my hardest Christmas seasons was also one of the most meaningful. As we were about to celebrate our son’s first Christmas, we found ourselves in the hospital with a very sick baby.  Discharged from the hospital on Christmas Eve, it was all of a sudden necessary to adapt my priorities and expectations for what that Christmas day would hold. Suddenly the important things became handmade blankets and teddy bears given by strangers in the hospital, the prayers and visits from friends, the smile and care of a nurse, and moments with family on Christmas day. 

If your Christmas doesn’t go as planned, look for those precious moments in front of you.  Live in the now, and you just might find the joy of Christmas in the most unexpected places. 

4.    Periodic Regroup

Book pages curled in the shape of a heart and reflecting festive Christmas lights
Book pages curled in the shape of a heart and reflecting festive Christmas lights
“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” 
~ Winston Churchill

I love to make a plan!  I am a box checker, spreadsheet maker, and checklist scribbler to the very core.  I find great satisfaction in getting something done and checking it off the list.  But life so often gets in the way of my perfectly crafted plans. 

Or does it? 

In hindsight, I realize that spontaneous moments are often way more important than whatever the next thing on my list happens to be. 

I have learned that a periodic regroup is essential to my peace of mind.   We all have that tendency to underestimate the amount of time that an activity will take.  And who wants to cut short those surprise meaningful conversations or extra snuggles on the couch? 

When you take a moment to reassess priorities for the day, simply move any high priority tasks that didn’t get accomplished to a different day.   

It sounds simple, but it really works! 

Break the habit of cramming too much into one day.  Take this Christmas season to simplify and truly live with those you love. 

Last year we decided to make nighttime drives to look at neighborhood Christmas lights a priority.  Just a handful of nights with an early dinner, chores done, a simple hot cocoa, and cozy jammies made for relaxing family time that my son started asking for again by summer. 

Simple pause and moments together fill your time with the connection we all crave. 

5.    Enjoy the Ride!

A Christmas gift with "Thank You" tag and wooden reindeer
A Christmas gift with "Thank You" tag and wooden reindeer
“The smells of Christmas are the smells of childhood.”
~ Richard Paul Evans

To help get you started, here is a list of ideas for celebrating the Christmas season:

  • Christmas Greeting Cards or letters
  • Tree hunt
  • Home decorating
  • Handmade gifts
  • Ornament making
  • Shopping trips/orders
  • Goodies and treats
  • Make cookies to give away
  • Christmas books, movies, and music
  • Family traditions
  • Advent calendars and activities
  • Find a way to give to others
  • Volunteer time at a soup kitchen or other charity
  • Special performances or parades
  • Neighborhood lights
  • Caroling
  • Community activities
  • Celebrate Saint Nicholas (December 6)
  • Go see Santa
  • Holiday books
  • Christmas recipes from around the world
  • Christmas Eve traditions (special meals, gifts, or church services)
  • Holiday breakfast
  • Birthday cake for Jesus
  • Extended family get-togethers
A Christmas-y Greeting Card "Cozy Cabin" by Jeanne Warren
A Christmas-y Greeting Card "Cozy Cabin" by Jeanne Warren

If you're in the neighborhood, Find some Christmas Greeting Cards in our collection!

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