August 29, 2016

Start Planning for a Stress-Free Holiday Season


Something in the air is different. Maybe it's the frenzy of the birds at the feeders, or the fact that now I'm getting up before the sun in the morning. We were out of town for a few days, and when we drove through the front gate I noticed right away that the bluebird plum tree is losing its leaves.


Whatever the reason, I'm aware that autumn is just around the corner, and the holidays won't be far behind. Usually Christmas takes me by surprise, but this year I'm going to be on top of things. (Thank you to the person who reminded me, because without you I'd be just as behind as usual.)

The holidays take planning though, so I'm putting some projects on my calendar and letting some ideas simmer in the back of my mind. Making homemade gifts takes time.

Traditions


Like all families, we have treasured traditions. For me, nothing says Christmas like a warm loaf of pumpkin bread. We set up a very old creche that belonged to my husband's family, and a special Advent wreath. Each year I put the Christmas "village" on top of my grandma's cedar chest.


The brown church on the far left reminds me of the first church my husband pastored.

I've collected these buildings over the course of many years; some were gifts, some came from places we've visited. I recently started buying one for our middle granddaughter each year so she'll have her own village.

Holiday Dinner


I've put together a section in my recipe notebook that makes my holiday dinners easier to prepare. I started out one year by writing down our menu for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners; I always make the same meals with possibly a few small changes. My secret weapon? I saved the menus!

The next year I wrote down where the recipes were for the dishes I always made: the name of the cookbook and page number. The year after that, I copied those cookbook pages and kept them with the menus in the front of my 3-ring recipe notebook.

One Christmas morning when I realized I'd forgotten to buy a roasting pan AND whipping cream, I typed up a shopping list. Now I just compare the list with what's already in the cupboard and I instantly know what I need to buy.

Here are the links to some of our favorite holiday dishes:
Crockpot Stuffing
What to Do With Your Thanksgiving Turkey
What to Do With Your Christmas Ham Bone
Harvard Beets
How to Make Pie Crust


Hubby's Perfect Gift


Three years ago I came across an idea for the perfect gift for my husband. Since he had to be involved in the making of it, it wasn't a surprise but it was still perfect. Our family is strung out across the country so getting a family portrait isn't feasible, but I really wanted to give him one.

Using this post from My Mix of Six as my inspiration, I started early and had each of our children's families hold a letter cut from white posterboard. I asked them to stand in front of trees so that the background would be relatively uniform. They sent me their photos via email and I converted them all to black and white, then put them together in a long strip to spell our last name. Hubby and I are holding the first letter. Matted and framed, my husband treasures it.

(I apologize for not showing you the finished product, 
but I don't show my grandchildren's faces online. I'm sure you understand.)

I want to do this again since we have some new family members to include. It takes some planning and coordination so I'll need to start early.


Have you started thinking about the holidays yet? 
What are your favorite holiday traditions? 
Leave a comment!



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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24 comments:

  1. Love this post. I did a Count Down to Christmas party couple of years ago. I'd love to feature your post on my blog! I am having a Fabulous Fall party.
    I'd love you to come and link your Fall theme posts!
    http://mychristmasjourney.blogspot.com/
    The party is at my new blog. The Count Down posts are over here
    myjourneyback-thejourneyback.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you, Grantham Lynn. I'll stop over when your linky goes live on September 1st, and yes, you may feature it on your blog if you'd like. I'll go read the count down posts too. :-)

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  2. Nooooooooo....it's way too early to think about Christmas! Actually, we will be having a relatively quiet Christmas this year, because we decided to have our big family gathering in July. It's far nicer, not to mention easier, for our family from Alberta to travel to Manitoba in the summer. But I will share with you a slideshow I made called Traditions. :) http://www.lyricdevotions.com/2015/12/traditions-2015.html

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    1. Deborah, I imagine the weather is nicer and it's easier to get together in July. I'll hop over and take a look at your slideshow; thank you for sharing.

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  3. I love that idea. This year will be easy since the family is getting together at my parents.

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  4. This is my first year as a blogger, I typically start my Christmas preparations early so at the end I have no rush. This year is even more important to do so, as the blogging at Christmas must be insanely busy and SO MUCH FUN. My friends shake their head at me trying to be ahead all the time. It is wonderful to note that I am not alone in this habit. Cheers Leanna

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    1. I love that you are so organized, Leanna. Good for you! I hope your first Christmas as a blogger is full of fun!

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  5. I have already been giving some thought into the holidays, and I would love to have you drop by and share your blog on the Oh My Heartsie Girls WW, Im sure my readers would enjoy! Have a great week! Karren

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    1. Thank you, Karren, I'll go do that.

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  6. I'll admit I'm excited about the upcoming holidays, and the cooler weather. What a great gift idea for your husband. That is so special!!

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    1. Thank you, Laura, he loved it! I agree with you, cooler weather can't come too soon.

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  7. Love this. Thanks for linking. Come back and link all your Fall Theme posts! The party will be up all the way to the end of Oct.
    November 1 we will focus on Thanksgiving but no problem with linking them before. You can always link again in Nov.
    Thanks for joining the party! Have a lovely Fall!

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  8. Each year I tell myself that I'm going to tone it down for the Holidays. I'm tired of feeling like the Grinch half way through December trying to make 'magic' with a list that is longer than I am tall. I've already been planning on how to take only the very best traditions, and simply leave the rest. I want to be able to feel the Spirit and have the time and sanity to enjoy my family.

    Here from Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop!

    Tammy
    www.simplypreparing.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You've got it figured out, Tammy! "Take only the very best traditions and simply leave the rest." We all need to do that. We don't want to be so busy that we can't feel the Spirit and remember the real meaning of the holiday. Good for you!

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  9. Love the family photo idea! I know someday my four will probably spread out, too.

    Visiting from the Fabulous Fall Party.

    Please drop by and say hello!
    ஐღLauraღஐ
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    ...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
    on a short shoestring budget!
    ~~~~~

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Laura.

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  10. What great ideas for getting ready for holiday dinners. You are so organized but that is such a good way to enjoy the time with friends and family.

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    1. Debra, I'm not really organized, not "naturally" anyway. I've just learned to use systems that anyone else can use too. I hope this is helpful to others!

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  11. This is awesome! I always start thinking about Christmas come August...sometimes July - it is so much easier to plan ahead, plus I try to do a lot of homemade things...and that definitely takes time!

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    1. You are way ahead of me, Heather!

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  12. It's never too early to start planning for Christmas. Thank you for sharing this helpful post with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop, Kathi. Love the recipe links, and especially your gift for your hubby. That is wonderful! Pinned!

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