How to Plan for an Awesome Christmas

It’s that time of year! A common November goal, and one of mine, is to plan for a peaceful and lower-stress holiday season.

This is the big week, and we kicked it off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a fantastic, but low-key family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. We did something totally new and had 90% of the meal catered from Whole Foods, which we never thought we’d do.

This has been a crazier-than-normal year for both us and my in-laws, and it ended up being the best way to do it. I highly recommend it! The price was perfectly reasonable for the amount of food and quality we good (aka, the food tasted great and we had a ton of leftovers!)

We also aren’t doing any shopping for Black Friday (Actually, I take that back. I am not doing any Black Friday shopping. My husband is doing some online shopping for our new house.)

We’ve got our 2015 Christmas Bucket List done (keep reading, if you’re curious), know roughly where we’re going to be for each holiday, have thoughts on simple gifts, and have already decorated our gingerbread house!Christmas planning ideas, tips + my 2015 Christmas bucket list | strategysarah.com

So, how does one plan for an awesome Christmas?

1. Pick a Planning Resource

A few of my favorites:

2. Brainstorm activities & traditions to do at home

What have you done in past years that was special? What haven’t you tried that you would like to try?

I have fond memories of always doing an advent countdown, but haven’t done the best job of that in past years with my own kids (although, to be fair, they still are fairly young). Here are a few I’m considering for try this year:

(psst..a few of those links above are affiliate links)

3. Brainstorm activities & traditions to do away from home.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, check out the Pacific Northwest Christmas Family Fun Guide and the PDX Kids Calendar Holiday Events Guide.

If you’re not in the Portland area, google “holiday events guide” or “Christmas events” in your area.

4. Make your list – with “must do’s” and “hope to’s”

My general philosophy on the Christmas season is to make a list of all the things we hope to accomplish, as well as the essentials that we’ll feel like we missed out of we didn’t accomplish.

By including the “hope to’s” on the calendar, we know when we have opportunities if we feel like it. We also don’t pressure ourselves to do everything and end up stressed out. So why include them at all, you ask?

I didn’t for a few years, to keep things simple. But then we found that there were some date-specific things we missed out on because we didn’t realize when they were. So, the “hope-to’s” stay on the list to give us visibility to dates so we don’t miss out.


The Parsons Family 2015 Christmas Bucket List

And without further ado, here is the Parsons Family 2015 Christmas Bucket List.

The “hope to’s” are italicized in our list below. 

At Home

  • Decorate house
  • Decorate tree (this is typically done on separate days – live trees never last that long)
  • Decorate a gingerbread house Did this today!
  • Play Christmas music
  • Advent Countdown & Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Readings
  • Christmas baking
  • Watch Christmas movies
  • Celebrate Christmas as a family!

Out and About

  • Celebrate Christmas with our extended family
  • PIR lights – This is the one Christmas activity that has become a family tradition (aka, we’ve actually done it every year. My favorite parts: Tons of lights, viewed from the warmth of our car – which also means relatively contained children – with hot cocoa and snacks from home.)
  • Zoolights – Done also! There was a special members-only event the night before Thanksgiving. It was cold, but a perfect clear night.
  • Christmas Ships
  • Peacock Lane lights

What’s on your Christmas bucket list? Share in the comments below or on Facebook!

1 thought on “How to Plan for an Awesome Christmas”

  1. Love it! I made a Note on my phone for the first time with traditions I want to continue and new ones I want to start. It’s so easy to forget year to year!

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