The holidays are underway, and in our house that means a calendar filled with activities from late October through Christmas. I never used to give it much thought. We genuinely enjoyed the busy schedule, even amidst the bumps. But as summer turned into fall, I just kept dreading the chaos that would engulf our lives for the next two-and-a-half months. So I sat down with my calendar and made decision. I decided we would be more intentional with our holiday activities. So instead of feeling tired and stressed, our family would feel more holiday cheer!
In order to decide which holiday activities fit the bill for “intentional,” we first had to decide what intentional meant to us.
5 Ways to Create an Intentional Holiday Calendar
What time of day does this activity take place? We plan our days around nap time. I have read many articles against the thought of planning your day around naptime, but we need it. Nap time is our lifeline, and this family wouldn’t thrive without it. There will always be the occasional event that requires us to be more flexible or forgo nap time altogether. But as a generally rule, we make it a priority not to miss it.
Like many people, we have a fair amount of holiday activities that require some travel. Nothing more than a few hours’ drive, but with young children it can, at times, feel longer. But the joys of visiting family or taking part in fun activities is often well worth it.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I will hear about an event and think, “I wish I had done that as a child!” Sometimes that’s truly my motivation. Not that my children wouldn’t enjoy the activity, but I have to check in with myself and say, “Who am I really doing this for?”
Here is an example of that. A few years ago, I heard about the magical experience of Santaland at Macy’s in Chicago. Since then, I have wanted to experience Chicago at Christmas time. This year we have some flexibility and ease in which to do this. My husband and I discussed it seriously. It was through our discussion that I realized the trip would be more for me than the girls. The amount of travel time, including a long stretch on a train, would be far too much for a two- and five-year-old. Instead of fulfillment, our family would feel tired and stressed. For us, if the travel time is much longer than the activity itself, it just isn’t worth it.
Our family incorporates as many faith-based activities as possible into our holiday calendar. Pouring a foundation of faith for our children adds value to our family. I love the special holiday services and celebrations of fellowship, but that doesn’t mean they always add value.
For instance, there are a few weekday evening services on the calendar. As excited as I was by the thought of family-friendly fellowship, I realized pretty quickly that the time just won’t work for us. Expecting two very tired children to sit quietly during an evening service definitely won’t add value to our faith.
So instead, we can have some cozy nights in, doing faith-based activities of our own. Last year we made our own Advent wreath using a paper plate and some construction paper. The girls decorated Christmas cards and we dropped them off at our local nursing home. There are so many ways in which we can add value to our calendars without attending every event.
Who wants a calendar filled with activities that don’t bring them joy? Certainly not me. But I have learned that it isn’t always the biggest or shiniest activity on the calendar that gives our family the most joy. Sometimes it’s something completely unexpected.
Last year we decided to kick off December with our very first Grinch night, complete with a Who Feast and Grinchy games. Little did I know, that fun night at home would become a family favorite that our oldest can’t wait to do again!
We took our girls to see Christmas lights throughout the corridor last year, and on the drive home I remember thinking, “This was a complete disaster.” My youngest was crying about halfway through and our oldest kept asking when we could be done. After talking with my husband later that evening, I gained some perspective. I was expecting this magical night where we gazed at ALL the lights with amazement, and because that didn’t happen, I chalked it up as an epic fail.
Perspective. The truth is that we had MOMENTS of gazing at the lights in amazement. Including a stop at Hurts Donuts, where the girls danced to music as they happily ate their treats. It’s the little moments that add value to our busy, holiday calendar.
These five components make our holiday calendar more intentional, which truly makes the season more enjoyable.
Is your holiday calendar packed with activities? How do you decide which activities make the cut and which ones to miss?