I was reading this post from Simple Mom about preparing financially for Christmas, and I LOVED it! I'm totally on board already with everything she mentions (take a look; it's a great article). The only thing I can't really do is take a seasonal job to earn more money and get a store discount - great idea, though. I think the idea of the article, though, is that you have bliss during Christmas and not stress! That's the way it should be!
The thing that I loved most about the article is: #5 "Make a bigger deal out of the little Christmas activities." That's such a great idea! We Hedgies tend to do this with Fall activities (festivals, pumpkin patches, etc.), but I'd like to be more intentional about doing it with Christmas activities as well. We all could use a little less emphasis on the material side of Christmas (you gotta admit our culture is a bit ridiculous about it). There's so much materialism and gluttony surrounding the holiday, and it just makes me feel guilty and gross, so why not try to minimize it!
So here are some ideas of things we've done or things I'd like to try out:
1) Last year we did karaoke at our family Christmas party. It was so much fun and brought such a light and festive mood to the house.
2) Last year we went to a fun Christmas tree lot that had lots of activities for the kids and was one of the highlights of our whole month. I think we'll go again this year but not buy a tree. (Is that ghetto? The tree last year died a few days later, so I want to use a fake one this year.)
3) I'd love to have Christmas movie night where we watch either one of those old, claymation, Christmas movies or Elf (my favorite) and string up popcorn for the Christmas tree. Or the kids can make those paper chains to put up on the tree.
4) When we put the kids to bed we always sing Christmas songs this time of year. I think we'll look back and remember it as a special time.
5) Visiting Santa at the mall is a great memory maker. We visited him three times last year and only bought the pictures once. If you go during the day on a weekday when there's no line, Santa is not rushed and totally doesn't mind chatting with your kids for a bit.
6) Hanging Christmas lights is a big event here. It's just such a nostalgic thing, and the kids LOVE seeing the lights up every night.
7) Going to the Christmas Eve service at church is a wonderful time for me. It puts my heart in a really warm, loving place and reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas.
8) Reading the Christmas account in the Bible on Christmas morning during our French toast or pancake breakfast has become a nice tradition for us that Michael started. I love it, and as our kids get older they can read it to us! Also, reading the Christmas verses (from the old and new testaments) during my own times of devotion throughout December helps keep me from losing sight of what it's all about.
9) I know this involves money, but we're going to go to the IMAX to see The Polar Express (my kids' favorite). We have passes, so it won't be that much money. Plus, Samuel is saving his chore money to pay for his own ticket. We're going to a Saturday showing that they invite all the kids to wear their pajamas to, and they serve hot cocoa.
10) This isn't an event, but it's a non-materialism mindset thing. Because I can't travel in December, we can't go to see my family in San Antonio. So to cut down on costs and the general materialistic spirit of Christmas that stresses me out, we're not going to do gifts for everyone down there this year (sometimes I feel obligated, but I'm just not going to this year.) We are going to mail photo books to my parents and sisters (I hope this isn't the one time they read my blog), but sorry nieces and nephews - you'll get enough gifts and won't miss the absence of ours.
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE giving and getting gifts during Christmas. But there is a line that can be crossed with everyone where it is stops being done out of an overflowing heart of love and joy and starts being done out of a bitter sense of obligation (to varying degrees, of course). I like to try to stay away from that line when I can.
Anyway, do you have anymore events or small things you like to do during December that don't involve a lot of money spending or sugar eating?