Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner. It’s crazy. I just decorated for fall but am already stressing about December. How are we going to fit everything I want to do in to our crazy schedule? There is so much to do. There are all the regular activities, plus the big Christmas type activities like going to the Nutcracker and riding the Polar Express. Plus, all the fun things I want to do – like visiting Santa at the mall, shopping with the kids, baking cookies and making gingerbread houses. And I still want time for those idyllic relaxing evenings watching our favorite Christmas movies and sipping on hot chocolate. Really, December should be twice as long as it is. This was all so much easier before the kids started school and we could go visit Santa on a random Tuesday morning.
While everyone else in my family is dreaming about Halloween candy and planning the perfect carved pumpkin I’m already a season ahead. Unfortunately, magical holiday seasons don’t just happen. Someone has to plan them – and in my family that is me. Having done this for several years I have figured out the best way to plan our December. This is just our overall family schedule for the month – figuring out when I am going to cook, shop and wrap is a whole different story.
December Calendar with Scheduled Activities
First, I print off a monthly December calendar and add in the regularly scheduled activities and anything already scheduled – like the Polar Express tickets I bought in March! Then I make a note of any days the kids have off from school and the days I am not working. I always take a week of vacation in December so I have some extra time to bake, shop and wrap.
December Calendar with Family Visits
I coordinate with all the grandparents when they want to come visit for the holidays. If anyone can’t make it to us in December we plan a trip back home in January. It gives us something to look forward to once the excitement of Christmas is over. The last few years we have spent New Years with our cousins and I hope that is a tradition we can continue.
Schedule Time Sensitive Activities
Next I make a list of all the big activities I want to schedule – This year I think it Is just Nutcracker tickets and Photos with Santa. I fill those in on the calendar next. The mall near us allows use to make an appointment to see Santa so you don’t have to wait in line. They charge a nominal fee but I think it is completely worth it. Who wants to wait in line with excited and anxious children. I like to make an event of our visit and go out to eat AFTER the photos!
December Calendar with Family Activities
Finally, I make a list of all the little things we want to do – make gingerbread houses, bake cookies, family Christmas shopping, movie nights, and Christmas light drive thrus. Anything we want to do in the month of December gets written down.
If I don’t block time off on the calendar it won’t get done. Last year I forgot to schedule cookie baking and ended up decorating cookeis at 10 pm with four year olds. It was not ideal! So, here is what my final December calendar would look like.
Push Things Off to January
Just to add to the insanity, my twins have a birthday in December. Last year we did a birthday party one Saturday in December and I decided – never again! Anything I can push off until January I do. The kids were reasonable when I suggested we could have a party in January. Now I have something to look forward to planning once the holidays are over. I’ve also noticed that more and more work Holiday parties are scheduled in January. I love this – and am more likely to attend if it doesn’t interfere with my family activities.
Once I have everything on the calendar and I see how it will all fit together I am much more relaxed. I am certain I won’t forget anything and we can “get it all done”. I try to keep a few un-scheduled days just in case we have emergencies, snow or sick kids (it is December, after all!). Things do move around a bit as invitations for gatherings and parties start rolling in. I will turn down an invitation if I am supposed to be making gingerbread houses with my kids. This is another reason to put all these activities on the calendar – if you keep bumping your kids for other events you will run out of time. And at least for me – family time is the most important thing during this holiday season.