1.) Make out your gift list of things you want. (Yes, moms are allowed to want things!) I used to make my husband guess what it was he could buy me for Christmas-- and I always ended up disappointed. I wonder why?? And so, I learned that it helped him a lot to give him a list. Now, when I say a list, it isn't much, because we don't spend much on each other. My list might consist of books I want, or cd's, or a particular restaurant I would like to try, etc. Last year I sent him the link to a gorgeous handcrafted cross necklace I found online. With a few clicks, he had my Christmas gift bought without joining all the other aimless men in the mall-- and it was something I really wanted and was tickled to receive. Don't make your husband attempt to read your mind because he, ahem, can't. I can't predict what your husband will do, but mine was grateful that I didn't make him guess and made his shopping so much easier. Now I wouldn't have it any other way!
Here's my list of suggestions for this year. (I certainly don't expect to get all of it, it's just good to give lots of ideas in a variety of price ranges. Like everyone, we are tightening our belts around here, so a book or a cd might be all I get-- and that's fine!)
- Cd's by Chris Botti-- he is my current musical fave (and no, he's not bad to look at either!). But I really do just like him for his music. Really. The fact that he is good looking is just a bonus. I want Italia, To Love Again, and Midnight Without You. His music is great to listen to while cooking or cleaning or writing because there are no words, so you can concentrate and let the music serve as your muse. (Go here to see him perform with Sting-- a truly magical combination.) And I will probably have to splurge and buy his December cd before then!
- Books, plural: Martha Stewart's Cooking School, Marybeth (and yes, I do like her name AND the way she spells it) Hicks' book Bringing Up Geeks, Jon and Kate's new book Multiple Blessings and In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day are on my list, and I am sure that others will be added. Usually, Curt just gives me a giftcard so I can enjoy shopping for what I want.
- A large colander. I need one for the large amounts of pasta I find myself making these days.
- A photo bag I found here. It's expensive but I would love to have one!
- A new comforter for our bed-- we need one desperately, so that's a gift we will give to each other.
This list will go to my mom as well, come to think of it!2.) Start quizzing the kids and making their lists-- because if your house is anything like mine, grandparents and aunts are already asking for ideas. Make it easier on them and you by keeping a list, then noting who is giving who what. My lists get quite extensive at this time of year as I attempt to keep it all straight. Also, this is a good time to sit down with your spouse (if you haven't already) and discuss your Christmas budget. If money is tight this year (as it is for so many), decide now how you are going to handle it and begin praying that God would give you creative alternatives for gifts and that He would keep your heart focused where it needs to be, and not get distracted by the urge to buy, buy, buy.
3.) Start thinking about Thanksgiving. It's really not far away now! You can make shopping lists, figure out how and who you are going to celebrate the day with, what you are going to cook, gather recipes, etc. If you are homeschooling, it's time to be studying the first Thanksgiving and focusing on verses on gratitude. I am hoping to make our second lapbook on the subject of Thanksgiving. I already have lots of brown and natural and orange paper ready for our project.
4.) Buy my ebook! (Please excuse the shameless self promotion here.) I have included an entire holiday meal menu that is good at Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as a calendar of weekly goals to make your Christmas planning easier. Don't wait til December and then feel overwhelmed! Plus, reading through it will help get you in the spirit.
5.) Get your house cleaned and organized in anticipation of any guests or parties you might be hosting. Don't wait til the last minute. A little bit of work here and there in the coming weeks will keep you from rushing around all at once.
6.) Update your address book and begin looking at times to get a photo for the ole Christmas card, as well as some cute photo cards you might want to order. Lots of places offer discounts for ordering before a certain date, so it pays to think ahead.
7.) Buy doubles of certain things at the grocery store now so your budget isn't blown when it comes time to buy holiday food. Throw in an extra can of sweet potatoes or pumpkin or cranberry sauce, stock up on extra baking supplies like chocolate chips and flour.
8.) Double some recipes now and store stuff in your freezer to give as gifts or pull out for last minute guests. I make pumpkin bread that is delicious and makes three loaves at once. This is great cause you can eat one, give one, and freeze one for later! The recipe is in my ebook.
9.) Check your kids' school calendars if they are in school to see what their vacation time is, and how much time they will be home. Make plans for any trips or special activities you want to do during that time. Talk to your kids about what they would like to do so that everyone can get excited and have fun anticipating the extra family time.
10.) Make advent plans so you can gather supplies and talk with your family about a regular weekly time to do devotions. I learned of this great advent resource online, published by the folks at Veritas Press. I love Veritas' products-- and this one is no exception. (You might have to give it a few minutes to download.) Once you download it, you have a great Advent guide that is geared towards families. If you have never observed Advent before, this just might be the year to start!
Now it's your turn, what are some other ways that you are preparing your heart and home for the holidays? I would love to hear your ideas!