One of my early resolutions for next year is to approach our seasonal celebrations with more organization, thought, and planning. Planning fun little things for the current season has always been one of my very favorite things to do. But as our lives get busier it is harder for me to remember all of those little things that we "always" do. The kids don't seem to remember either...except when it's too late for me to do anything about it..."Hey! We didn't make gingerbread houses (or my favorite Christmas cookie ever etc.) this year and here it is January already!'.
Said with much anguish, naturally:).
So this year I am going to put it all down on paper - a plan for each month. Things we always do, things we need to do, things I would like to do, seasonal cleaning jobs, things to notice in nature...anything that seems relevant to that month. And I'm starting with December, which is fun.
Special Dates to Remember
- December 6th ~ St. Nicholas Day
- December 22nd ~ Winter Solstice
- December 24th ~ Christmas Eve
- December 25th ~ Christmas Day
- December 26th ~ Boxing Day
- December 31st ~ New Year's Eve
We have special traditions for each of these days, which I will write about in a separate Advent post to keep this one from getting too long. We also celebrate Grace's birthday this month.
Things to Notice & Do Outdoors
- Wait for the first real snow - this year is unseasonably warm, so we may be waiting a bit longer than normal!
- Mulch the garlic after the ground freezes.
- Do one last big clean-out of the chicken coop and goat shed before the really cold weather sets in.
- Clear away the sad pumpkins and put up the outdoor twinkly lights.
- Check snow shovels - we seem to need a new one each year.
- Look for Orion in the night sky and the full Cold moon (or Long Night's moon) on Christmas.
- Clip some springs of holly from the backyard to bring in.
- Get a poinsettia for the Christmas table.
- Pay attention to the coming solstice on December 22nd....and the daylight lengthening gradually afterwards.
- Walk in the woods whenever possible. Bring home bits of nature to decorate with.
Around the House
- Spend a bit of time deep cleaning each day. I plan to set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Put up the decorations - we usually do this in one mega session, and it can be quite chaotic.
- Make baskets of Christmas books, Christmas music, and Christmas movies.
- Set up a wrapping station in an out-of-the-way corner. I often set up a small table in the corner of our laundry room. Stock it with paper, scissors, gift bags and boxes, gift tags, and lots and lots of tape.
- Check to be sure we have lights for the tree and that they work....also check the ornament hook supply.
- Plant amaryllis bulbs to bloom indoors.
Food & Fun
- Plan menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve & Day.
- Plan crafts, cookies, treats, and other fun things to make and do...I try to plan for one or two fun things to do each day from the first Sunday in Advent though Boxing Day. I'll share this year's activities in my Advent post.
- Make pancakes on Sunday. Pancakes are traditional Sunday fare around here, but at Christmastime we go seasonal with cranberry-orange, gingerbread, eggnog, and Christmas-shaped pancakes (made with cookie cutters).
- Drive around to look at Christmas lights with cocoa and cookies.
- Work on Christmas cards and get them in the mail.
- Get the Christmas tree - we traditionally do this the first weekend in December and then we keep it up through the first week of January.
Gifts and Giving
- Finish Christmas shopping as early in the month as possible.
- Have the kids choose and purchase gifts for each other.
- Have the kids choose a gift to make for family members; set aside time to purchase supplies and work on the gifts. They usually pick one thing to make for everyone, like granola, fudge, or ornaments.
- Get small gifts together as needed for teachers, our mail carrier, the newspaper delivery person, etc..
- Shop for or make gifts for the pets. We do stockings for our pets; the kids get a kick out it every year.
- Buy everyone a new set of pajamas for Christmas Eve.
In December, we break from our normal routine. For the first two weeks we keep our normal school hours for the most part, but we take time to do a fun activity each day. I decide these ahead of time so I can be prepared. I also do a Christmas read-aloud for those that want to listen and read a few Christmas books with Rose each day.
About mid-month we start our Christmas break. If we are in the middle of any literature reading (either read-alouds or independent), we continue with those. If we are behind in something, we may also continue with that, but we don't work for more than an hour each day. This gives us plenty of time to do a Christmas activity each day, be outdoors, catch up on all those holiday to-do's, and have some breathing space during those last two weeks before Christmas.
I'm working on an Advent post detailing all of our planned holiday activities this season and I will be sharing that soon.
Till next time!