Top Five Wednesday-Holiday Edition

Top 5 Wednesday image

There are a lot of great blog posts floating around the blogosphere right now focused on what people are doing this holiday season.  Whether it’s new holiday traditions or new ways to save money, many of you are doing fabulous things to celebrate the holidays.  I applaud you and your enthusiasm.  And so I sat down to write about all my new holiday craft projects, but quickly realized that I haven’t crafted anything.  Then I thought about sharing stories of new family holiday traditions, but then I realized that we haven’t started any new traditions either.  And that’s when it hit me!  Instead of sharing all the things I’m doing this Holiday Season, maybe you would be interested to know all the things I’m NOT doing this Holiday Season!  And so…

 Top Five Wednesday:  Top Five Things I’m Not Doing this Holiday Season

1)    Mailing Christmas Cards early.  You know those Christmas Cards I mentioned in my list of lessons learned in November.  Yeah, they are still sitting on my desk.  The good news?  I’m almost finished addressing them.  The bad news?  I still haven’t made it to the post office to buy stamps.  At this rate, my family and friends will be lucky to get those cards by Valentine’s Day.

2)    Dieting.  Now let me be clear…I’ve never deluded myself into thinking that I could actually LOSE weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  But in the past, I’ve felt guilty about every cookie, glass of eggnog, and plate of turkey and stuffing consumed during the holiday season.  Not this year!  I’ve decided that guilt and holiday celebrations don’t mix.  And so I will eat that delicious cookie with the Hershey kiss on top and I will not feel bad about it.  At least not until January 2nd.

3)    All those cute holiday craft and decorating ideas I pinned on Pinterest.  Back in the fall, I may have had delusions of being Martha Stewart this year.  I pinned many cute craft ideas and DIY projects that looked simple yet fabulous.  I pinned pictures of beautifully decorated homes showcasing fabulous holiday décor on mantles, in entryways, and wrapped around staircase railings.  I happily pinned idea…after idea…after idea.  And do you know how many of those ideas I’ve even tried to execute?  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  And I predict that it will stay that way for the rest of the holiday season.

4)    Beautifully wrapped holiday gifts.  I hate gift-wrapping.  Really and truly.  I don’t have the patience for it.  It’s not that I don’t try, because I do…at least for the first gift or two.  But gift-wrapping takes FOREVER!  The paper rips while I’m cutting it.  The tape gets stuck to the wrong part of the paper.  The corners of the gift box tear through the wrapping paper just as I’m putting the finishing touches on the bow.  (And by finishing touches, I mean pulling that adhesive paper off the back of those store bought bows—you know, those bows that come in the big bag of 40 and always look like Santa sat on them for a few hours in his sleigh before they arrived at the store.)  I still wrap gifts and I try as best I can to make them look half-way decent.  But I am bad at wrapping gifts.  And this year will be no different.

5)    Elf on the Shelf.  I know, I know.  Kids love The Elf.  The Elf is fun!  The Elf is a holiday tradition the whole family will love!  And you know what?  I agree…in theory.  I know my kids would love having an Elf at our house.  They would wake up every morning, joyfully search throughout the house for him, and laugh happily when they discover the antics he’s been up to all night.  But here’s the reality…I would go to bed at night and completely forget to move The Elf.  The kids would wake up the next morning, find The Elf in the exact same location he’s been in for a week, and then cry because their Elf is defective and clearly isn’t telling Santa how good they’ve been behaving and how many wonderful toys they deserve for Christmas.  It would be a Christmas Tragedy.  And so there is no Elf at our house.  Do I feel a little guilty about this?  Yes, yes I do.  Do I feel guilty enough to run out and purchase The Elf?  No, No I do not.

I would love to hear what things you AREN’T doing this Holiday Season!  And if you have The Elf at your house, how do you remember to move him every night?!?

Eight Things I Learned in November


November has been a whirlwind of activity and holiday preparations at our house.  In a few short weeks, Christmas will be here.  Are you ready?  No? Neither am I.

Before turning the calendar page from November to December, I am once again sharing what I’ve learned over the last month.  So here are eight things I discovered during the month of November, in no particular order…

1)    Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a lot of work, but I still really enjoy doing it. This could be because I like to cook.  But it also could be that cooking Thanksgiving dinner myself means that we get to enjoy time at home instead of dealing with the stress of traveling during the busy holiday weekend.

2)    Being flexible with plans doesn’t come easy for me.  I don’t particularly like surprises, which leads me to be organized and structured concerning my time, especially when making plans and scheduling appointments.  But despite my best efforts, everything this month seemed to require a greater amount of flexibility.  All this constant flux has left me tired and stressed.  I would like to think that December will be better…but who am I kidding!  

3)    A cup of hot tea before bed relaxes me.  Coffee is my hot beverage of choice, but that one mug of hot tea before bed really makes me happy.

4)    I can’t get all my Christmas shopping done in one month.  I decided that this year would be the year when I would complete ALL my Christmas shopping by the end of November.  But the truth is that I hadn’t done any Christmas shopping prior toNovember 1st. So my simple plan actually meant that I thought I could get ALL my Christmas shopping in 30 days.  Sounded great in theory, and I gave it my best shot, but I just couldn’t make it happen.  While I may not be done yet, I have made a huge dent in my shopping list.  So all in all, not a complete failure.

5)    I can’t get all my Christmas cards addressed in one month either.  Besides finishing my Christmas shopping in one month, I was also convinced that I could get my Christmas cards addressed and ready to mail by the end of November.  Well, that didn’t happen either.  I started them, quickly finished addressing about half of them, and then put them away in my desk drawer for the rest of the month.  I hope to get them finished next week, but we’ll see what happens.

6)    A haircut always makes me feel better.  And I need to remember that the next time I think about putting off a much-needed haircut for a few more weeks.

7)    I waste too much time overthinking things.  I’m a horrible decision maker.  Sad, but true.  I tend to think obsess over every possible outcome for any given situation.  I worry so much about making the wrong decision that I wind up making no decision at all.  Or I procrastinate in making the decision for so long that either time or someone else makes the decision for me.  I’m very good at making a mountain out of a molehill and this month was no different.  I wish I knew how to break myself of this habit, but I don’t.  Any suggestions?

8)    The Blacklist is my favorite new fall show.  When I first saw the previews for this show, I wasn’t sure I would like it.  But James Spader is fantastic and I love all the twists and turns.  I’m definitely going to keep watching this one!

So there you have it!  You can read other bloggers’ reflections about what they’ve leaned during the month of November by checking out Emily Freeman’s blog, Chatting at the Sky.

31 Days of Simple Change {day 26 and day 27} – Traditions

31 Days of Simple Change

We had Family Movie Night a few days ago.  The kids absolutely love Family Movie Night!  I love it too, because it’s a simple way of spending time together as a family.  We started the tradition on a whim a few years ago and it was an instant success.  Every month or two, we pick a movie, make some popcorn, and pile onto the couch for two hours of entertainment.

There’s something so comforting about traditions.  Part of what makes a tradition so wonderful is the anticipation leading up to the event.  Our college friends have a tradition of meeting at our favorite restaurant every year on the day after Christmas.  We started it while we were still in college and have continued it long after.  A few weeks before Christmas, a flurry of email activity always occurs.  It’s kicked off with talk of making plans for the event, but it always turns into weeks of lighthearted teasing, jokes, and general fun.  The anticipation and preparation is almost as much fun as the actual event.

I know a lot of people create traditions around the holidays, but traditions can happen anytime of the year.  I have a friend who decided to skip sending Christmas cards one year and instead sent St. Patrick’s Day cards.  He’s been doing it every year since.

Traditions don’t have to be fancy or time consuming.  They can be as simple as having pizza night every Friday or watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on the weekend before Christmas.  In the end, traditions are less about what you’re specifically doing and more about just spending time with the people who matter most to you.

Throughout the month of October, I’ll be sharing some ideas for simple changes you can make to improve your life.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.


31 Days of Simple Change {Day 20} Prepare for the Holidays

31 Days of Simple Change

I was looking at my calendar yesterday and realized that we are only 11 days away from Halloween.  And that means that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner!  If you are the type of person who has already made a big dent in their Christmas shopping, the one who has everything wrapped and ready by Thanksgiving weekend…I congratulate you and urge you to save time and just skip this post.  But, if you are anything like me, then you probably haven’t bought any Christmas gifts yet and you’ll be lucky to have them all wrapped by Christmas Eve.  If this sounds familiar, then this post is for you and for me.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am very good at procrastinating.  And I have always been especially good about procrastinating around the holidays.  It’s not that I don’t like the Holiday season…it’s actually one of my favorite times of the year.  But I quickly become overwhelmed by all the gift buying, cookie baking, gift wrapping and tree trimming, which leads me to procrastinate on everything.  But just like with any other procrastinating, putting everything off just makes for more stress and less enjoyment of the Holiday Season.

One of my very best friends is the complete opposite of me.  I’ve known her to start buying Christmas gifts in August, and she’ll have all her gifts wrapped long before I’ve even finished my shopping.  Her house is decorated by the end of Thanksgiving weekend, leaving her ready to enjoy the entire month of December without stress.  We joke about this every year, but this year I’ve decided to emulate her just a little bit.

I’ve put together my budget for the holiday season and I’ve even bought one gift already (that’s a HUGE step for me).  I even ordered our Christmas Photo cards…two weeks ago! And you know what?  It feels good to have started my holiday preparations early.  I’ll probably still be buying gifts on December 22nd, because honestly I’m not a miracle maker!  But every plan I make now and every gift I purchase ahead of time is one step closer to a happier holiday season.

Have you started planning for the holidays yet?  Are you a last minute shopper and decorator or will you have all your preparations done before the first week of December?  Do you have any tips for getting your holiday shopping done early?  Leave your comments below…

Throughout the month of October, I’ll be sharing some ideas for simple changes you can make to improve your life.  Did you miss a day?  Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.