We’ve been home every weekend in November thus far, and after a hectic second half of September and October, it has felt absurdly luxurious. It’s allowed me to take the holidays slow, as I wrote in my November goals post, which is just as I like it. For the most part, I try to keep Christmas in December, but there are a few things I like to do in November to set myself up for a peaceful and joyful Advent. If you’re curious, here they are!
Prettiest Christmas decor from one of my favorites, Sweet Shady Lane!
1. I order our Christmas cards. I usually save the stuffing, addressing, and stamping until the first week of December or so (it’s cozy to do in front of the fire with a Christmas movie on!), but I order our cards and send our newsletter to print in November so they’re ready when I am. Can’t wait for you to see this year’s choice! (From Minted, of course — little peek at our family session here!).
2. I plan our calendar. There are several pieces to this:
— I confirm any dates we’ll have houseguests, or that we’ll be traveling. I make sure we’re clear on holiday plans for both sides of the family.
— We decide where we’re going to go for our end-of-year celebration dinner and make a reservation. Weekends in December book up fast! So do babysitters!!
— I look up the dates of any “external” holiday activities we want to do and make sure they’re on our calendar. For us, this includes a concert we go to every year, our town’s Christmas parade, and often a Nutcracker performance. I have also been known to proactively text friends who usually host things in December (like a caroling party) to check on the dates so I can block them off, ha! I also make sure things like John’s and my work parties are on the calendar.
— With all of these top-tier things in place, I can see how full our month is and better judge what else we have room for. Finally, I’ll make a loose list of other things we want to fit in and tentatively schedule them, knowing they’re easy to flex (things like baking sugar cookies or an evening drive to look at lights).
3. I clear the decks. Before I add Christmas decor to the mix, I like to pare our home back to a clean slate. I clear surfaces and remove extra decor. I tuck away any furniture we don’t need for the month. I clean anything that needs it. If there are persistent trouble areas, like a particular closet or a spot on the counter that consistently attracts papers, I’ll try to tackle them now. I want the Christmas version of our home to be the most peaceful, lovely, and cozy, so a little extra effort in November goes a long way.
4. I choose a devotional or faith focus. This could be a book I’ll read, a study I’ll do, a journal I’ll complete, a podcast I’ll listen to – something that takes me deeper into my faith! I’ve heard good things about options from She Reads Truth, All Good Things Collective, Blessed is She, and IF Gathering. This year, I’m doing a study from Alexandra Kuykendall with my church.
5. We draw names. These days, we are doing “secret Santa”-esque gift exchanges amongst the siblings on both sides instead of everyone giving everyone a gift. (We still give gifts to parents and kiddos individually!) I like to have our picks nailed down in November, which leads me to my list to-do…
6. I make a gift plan – and do some shopping. As much as this flies in the face of certain circles of the internet, I actually like to do some of my Christmas shopping in December! It feels festive and celebratory and happy to me. However, I like to make a general plan for as many gifts as I can early in the season, and I particularly like to knock out the hardest gifts (and any custom gifts) in November. To me, the hardest gifts are usually my parents and in-laws (and they often end up getting custom gifts, so extra time is usually required!). Kid gifts are easy and fun, so I’ll often leave those til December, hitting up my favorite local spots to round things out. And then I get to wrap — whee!
For me, November boils down to taking the time to make a thoughtful plan — one that I can execute with joy in December! I’d love to hear: what holiday tasks have you been checking off lately? Or are you a December-all-the-way gal?
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