Guest post from Lauren Mirecki
With the arrival of December comes the flurry of activity which takes over our every waking thought. There are lists to be checked, plans to be finalized, dinner parties to be scheduled and attended, gifts to shop for then wrap, groceries to buy and children and guests to entertain.
Before you get all wrapped up in the hustle and bustle, why don’t you take a few minutes to sit down with your family and plan out a purpose for your Christmas this year?
It doesn’t have to be anything complicated or time consuming, and you will absolutely be more focused, relaxed, and working as a team if you do.
Who doesn’t like to receive gifts? We all love getting! But for some of us, giving doesn’t come as naturally. One of the most important lessons and characters we can learn during the Christmas season is generosity.
Although you may already have some gifts purchased, it is important to budget very carefully for Christmas gifts. With all the sales going on from Black Friday, to Cyber Monday, to pre-Boxing Day Sales (in Canada), it can be very tempting to over-spend the budget to the detriment of the whole family. Decide on an amount for each person, planning ahead even now for next year, to make the best of the sales that come your way. Discourage extra-long Christmas lists, and challenge your family members to limit them to 4 or 5 items (and don’t feel you have to buy them all!).
Hold each other accountable for the amount you’re spending. If the budget is tight, consider drawing names to purchase just one gift for each person in the family (this works well for extended family also). Shop online to avoid the massive amounts of people in the stores, spend some time making gifts (check out the great series we are in the middle of doing, called “12 Days of Handmade Christmas”!), or decide this year to forego gifts altogether and instead make a donation to a ministry like Gospel for Asia, Compassion, or Trafficking Hope.
This year our 2 boys (6 1/2 and 4 1/2) donated their hard earned chore money (which they were saving up for some specific toys) to purchase rabbits, pigs, Bibles, VBS programs and fishing nets from Gospel for Asia’s Christmas catalogue. I couldn’t have been more proud and moved to see their hearts so willing and ready to give what they had worked so hard for. There are many other ways to help – donating toys to a family who may otherwise go without, or preparing meals for others, among other ideas.
The main thing is you want to keep the main thing the main thing – Christmas is about GIVING, not receiving. Our emphasis should be on how we can bless others with what we have been given.
Gatherings and Entertaining
The food, the candles, the laughter and company: Christmas parties are just so much fun! And so very hard to say no to. I recall one year where we had a Christmas party 2 nights of every week for almost 5 weeks straight! By the time we were done and had arrived at Christmas, we were all partied out and had little energy left for our own family.
Christmas parties are a great opportunity to fellowship and meet with those we know and love. But the danger of them is attending TOO many. We all love to feel loved, and when we get invited to one of those parties, we find it very difficult to say no!
Plan carefully how many and which parties you will attend. Don’t just say yes to a party because an invitation comes along. If you receive a last-minute invite, don’t feel obligated to attend if you’ve already met your limit. Resist the temptation to attend the “popular” Christmas parties just for the sake of going. Just between family we have 3 parties to attend, not to mention church and homeschool group! See how quickly it adds up?
If you are planning on hosting a party, plan out with your family who to invite and how you can bless those who attend. Think about having a themed party, maybe inviting your friends with kids, and making some treats or gifts you can give away to others. I have a friend in our church who has a Christmas party every year and always has us leaving with a gift and some baked goods. She has a very generous and giving heart and I hope that we too, as a family, can be a blessing to others as they have blessed us.
Busyness is a given with this time of year. However, we need to guard against the busyness of everything taking away from our time as a family. One of the most important things you need to plan for as a family is rest and family time. Figure out what traditions you would like to continue and new ones you would like to try. We always have cinnamon buns and sausages Christmas morning (carried on from my mom!).
If you are able, plan a “holiday” away from it all, either before or after Christmas. The important thing is that you plan some “away” time as a family. It doesn’t have to be physically going away. Here are some ideas to include:
- no cell/smart phones
- no computers/laptops/ipods/ipads/touchpads/etc.
- games and puzzles, etc.
- camp-out (indoors or out) with marshmallows and hot dogs (we all like a little summer in the winter :D)
- snow angels or swimming pools
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