By guest author Marcia Washburn
The workload of a wife and mother more than doubles during December. In addition to all of her normal duties, she may add writing Christmas cards or letters; decorating the house; additional cooking and entertaining; shopping for and wrapping gifts; attending musical rehearsals and programs; arranging for special clothes or photography sessions; hosting overnight guests; and many others. I once estimated that I added 60-80 hours of work during December, in addition to my regular homemaking and homeschooling responsibilities. No wonder I breathed a sigh of relief when school routines returned in January.
This year, determine that you won’t fall into the too-much-of-everything trap. Discuss with your family members what they feel are the most important things you do during the holidays. (1) You may find that a tradition you’ve maintained for years is no longer especially important to any of you. Change is okay.
Try to narrow down your list to just three activities. What would you really miss if you didn’t do it this year? Decorating? Baking? Would you rather stay home more instead of running around to lots of programs, concerts, and community events? Would you rather donate time and/or money to a local charity than to spend lots of both while shopping in the crowds? Maybe you would rather give a birthday present to Jesus by purchasing a goat, steer, or chickens for a poor family in a developing country. (2)
Browse through these ideas to simplify your season.
Before the Holidays
- Set a budget. Seek creative ways to stick to it. (3)
- Cards. If you send cards or letters, send them before Thanksgiving. Your children can address them as part of English class.
- Gift exchange alternatives. Large extended family but a small budget? Draw names for an exchange, limit gifts to a certain amount, or decide to enjoy a big family outing together instead of gifts. Perhaps you could do a white elephant exchange. Each person brings any odd item, beautifully wrapped. Draw names to see who selects first. The next person may “steal” anyone’s opened gift or select from the unopened gifts. A teen boy may get Grandma’s canning jars and Mom may get after-shave—all part of the fun.
- Wrap it up. Wrap gifts as soon as possible after you purchase them. Use them as decorations, placing them in small groups throughout the house.
- Work ahead. Bake and freeze goodies ahead of time. Do your deep cleaning in November. Iron tablecloths and hang them in your closet.
- Baking. Ask each family member to select one favorite treat and then only prepare those instead of endless platters of sweets. Tip: If you have a large family, don’t allow them to consult with each other on their choices. I caught my boys plotting to be sure they each selected a different cookie so there would be more sweets. 🙂
- Hospitality. Hosting a get-together? Plan these events well in advance: How many guests? Consider including friends with no local families. Select your menu and service style: Appetizers? A meal? A cookie exchange? A buffet? Any entertainment such as singing carols or sledding?
Houseguests. Hosting houseguests? Plan where everyone will sleep in advance and check for bedding and towels. (4)
Meals. Plan menus and do as much advance preparation as possible. (5)
Relax. If you have a newborn, have just moved, or are remodeling, go easy on yourself. Let someone else do the traditional open house this year.
(1) I say “holidays” to include both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of the same strategies work for both.
(2) See www.samaritanspurse.org and click on Gift Catalog.
(3) Request Marcia’s free article, No Debts, No Regrets Holiday Celebrations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(4) For tips, request Marcia’s free article, Cramped Hospitality, at email@example.com.
(5) See “Homemade Convenience Foods” for great ways to have meals on the table in less than 15 minutes. Available at www.marciawashburn.com.
©2011-2019 by Marcia K. Washburn who homeschooled five sons for nineteen years. Visit www.marciawashburn.com for more articles, her newsletter, and to view her time-saving book, Homemade Convenience Foods.