Alright guys. I really do not consider myself an overachiever, but when it comes to Christmas, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. When I was looking at the calendar recently I realized that we really only have a few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to shop for gifts, get Christmas cards out, decorate, and do all the fun Christmas things. So, I made a spreadsheet of all the to-do's and want-to's, and I think it's turning out to be the least stressful Christmas season yet. (I realize that the stress only comes from expectations I place on myself, but I want to make sure we have time to experience Christmas in the city AND extra time relaxing at home.) Here are the things we are prioritizing this year!
1. This Advent Calendar/Devotional. I just ordered it and I'm so excited to have a daily ritual with the boys that will point us back to Jesus.
2. Setting up Christmas Decorations. We settled in to the house for most of this weekend, and it's felt really nice to be setting up our Christmas decorations while the stores are extra crowded with people preparing for Thanksgiving. We set up early because we are heading out of town next weekend, but I think the weekend before Thanksgiving will be our official set up time. :)
3. Visit Santa. We love the Santa at 900 N Michigan and are planning to go this week (yes, before Thanksgiving, but it's worth beating the crowd!). While we didn't come up with a solid Santa plan for the kids, it's only felt natural to remind Atticus that Santa is pretend whenever he comes up in conversation. (We're also talking about how things like monsters and and the Abominable Snowman are pretend, but Jesus is real, and God is real.) Even so, we're excited to go visit Santa at the mall! :)
4. Get matching Christmas pajamas. It seems like Hanna Andersson made the whole matching family jammies thing a trend, and while this brand is goals for sure, they're a little pricey. So we are getting ours from Target.
5. Plan Christmas gifts. We don't go all out with gifts in any sense, but it's worth a spread sheet of it's own so I'm not buying random stuff at the last minute. Nobody needs random stuff!
6. Plan our family Christmas celebration. Since we will be traveling for the weeks surrounding Christmas, I wanted to be sure to calendar a weekend for the 4 of us to celebrate here, together.
7. Build a gingerbread house. Does anybody have any experience with something super low key (ha) and kid friendly? Has anyone successfully used graham crackers and canned icing? :)
8. See White Christmas at the Music Box Theater. I have yet to go, but I've heard such great things!
9. Ride the CTA Holiday Train. They don't have the schedule up for this year, but we missed it last year because each line only runs the holiday train for a few days! We're planning to take the green line holiday train to Shake Shack for the brownie batter hot chocolate.
10. (Yes, it's still going!) Take a family picture and order Christmas cards. We ended up taking our camera downtown before church this morning and set it on top of a bag balanced on the stroller (yikes) to get a family picture via the self timer. I really value getting professional photos of our family, but I didn't want to bog down our schedule anymore with trying to fit that in before Christmas.
11. Bake cookies and deliver them to the neighbors. Atticus loves helping in the kitchen and it's fun to deliver them to neighbors together. We always use this recipe (minus the walnuts).
12. Watch The Holiday. It's classic, and cheesy, and perfect for relaxing after the kids go to bed. (It's also currently on Hulu!)
... I'm planning to also add ice skating in Millennium Park to future lists when the kids are a little bit older.
... Also, the Christkindlmarket is a fun spot for AMAZING hot chocolate and lots of ornaments and trinkets to buy. Personally not my kind of shopping, but a fun experience.
Happy Christmas everyone! I hope it's a season defined by a healthy rhythm of speeding up and slowing down.