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October 12, 2007 - by Sheri Graham

Let's Get Organized!

This Holiday Season
For this season ahead! I have asked my friend Sheri Graham, who is organized (I'm not especially gifted in this area!), to share with us some holiday organizational tips and other inspirational ideas so we can prepare for the holidays and season ahead.  Then I have shared a few ideas of my own in conclusion.

Here's Sheri:

I am beginning to think through and do some holiday planning….yes, in October! I am finding that when I plan ahead I am less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter. That goes for meal planning, school planning, house cleaning…and yes, holiday planning! As the seasons are changing and shifting gears to cooler weather and falling leaves, so my focus is beginning to shift towards preparing for His Coming celebration ~ Christmas! I don't want my holidays to be so full and busy that I don't have time to enjoy my children…to minister and spread the Gospel to others…to focus especially on preparing our hearts for His Coming! It was with this in mind that I began putting together my own holiday planner.

Check out the 12 Week Holiday Planner here

I recently finished up my newest ebook, The 12-Week Holiday Planner for the Christian Family, and have eagerly plunged into the beginning stages of planning for the holidays using this resource. My desire in putting together this eBook was to provide a tangible way for me to plan out our holidays so they are enjoyable, less stressful, and more filled with the things that really matter.

I thought others may also benefit from such a planner. Many have enjoyed Marilyn Moll's (www.urbanhomemaker.com) holiday timetable over the years, helping to plan out the holidays. What I have done in this eBook is provide dozens of forms to go along with Marilyn's timetable, some holiday tips, "To Do" lists for each of the 12 weeks, craft ideas, favorite recipes and MORE! Also included are Jesse Tree devotionals by Ann Voskamp (www.holyexperience.blogspot.com) for the month of December! These devotionals will lead you and your family in true worship as you anticipate the celebration of His Coming! This eBook includes EVERYTHING you will need to plan out your holidays…giving you instructions and all the forms you will need to set up your very own Holiday Planner!

Below is one of my "tips" included in the Holiday Planner:

"When making your Gift Ideas List for your kids, please take some time to evaluate what kinds of gifts you want to buy or recommend for your children. In a day and age where materialism is rampant, it is so easy for our children to get caught up in all the "things" they want. I was listening to a radio show last holiday season and the speaker was giving some advice on Christmas shopping for our children. He said that their family has chosen to only get their children three gifts: one item that they need (such as clothing), one educational item (such as a book, educational game, etc.), and one item just for fun (this is what most children end up getting the most of). The speaker said that it has provided balance so that their children receive gifts that are "good" for them and not just all for fun. Plus, this helps prevent parents from overspending on their children when it is really not necessary…thus keeping our focus on what Christmas is REALLY about ~ Jesus!"


I would like to share a few things that the Lord laid on my heart as I prepared this holiday planner. These are the "heart and soul" you might say of why I put this planner together.

1. Prepare Your Heart For His Coming

Will you have room for Jesus this holiday season? Amidst the busyness, the concerts, the family get-togethers, the gift giving…will there be room for Jesus? Prepare your heart NOW for Him. Set yourself apart for Him…set time apart for Him… I am reminded of an old song sung by Evie:

"Have you any room for Jesus, He who bore your load of sin.
As He knocks and asks admission, sinner won't you let Him in.
Room for Jesus, King of Glory. Hasten now His Word obey.
Swing your heart's door widely open…bid Him enter while you may."

2. Evaluate What The Lord Wants Your Holiday Celebrations To Look Like For Your Family

Take some time to sit down as a family and talk through what you want your holidays to be like. Pray together asking the Lord to show you what you should and should not participate in. He will guide your family into a very special holiday season…one that is focused on Him!

3. Plan Ahead

Even with our focus on Him during the holidays, there still will be some planning to do. This is where the holiday planner comes in. By starting in October, you will have things to do each week so that when December comes you have the bulk of your planning and shopping done. This will relieve much of the stress that comes from a lack of planning. You will be able to enjoy the holidays, knowing that you have made time for Him first, time for your family, and then time for others.

4. Share His Coming With Others

One of the benefits of planning ahead is being prepared to minister to others. Christmas is one of the best times to share Christ with your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors. Gather the children around in the kitchen, bake up some plates of treats, then attach a homemade Christmas card with the message of Christ's coming…His coming to seek and to save that which was lost!

I pray that as we head into the holiday season that you and your family will keep your focus on Jesus…for He truly is the "Reason for the Season!"

5 Holiday Tips from Terri:

The holiday season of 2009 is now upon us and I wanted to share a few ideas and tips of my own.  (Note: these are the lazy mom's ideas because I'm definitely not a type A personality.)

1. Decide which days you will take off from school.  If you homeschool, you do NOT need to follow the public school calendar.  If you have a large crowd coming over for Thanksgiving, perhaps you would like to take that whole week off.  Guess what, that's okay!  Maybe you would rather take time off 2 weeks leading up to Christmas and start school back up before the New Year.  That's okay too!  Maybe you'd like to take the whole month of December off.  You can make up for it later most likely or double up on some school assignments in January.

2. Ask your children for help.  They can help you clean the house, make decorations, supervise the little ones, and roll up their sleeves in the kitchen.  You don't need to be a lone ranger and do it everything yourself.  Even if your kids aren't great helpers yet (if they are small), your husband sure can be.  Tap into his help in getting everything done.  Divide and conquer.

3. Simplify your baking by coordinating a cookie exchange with your friends, family or homeschool co-op.  No reason to bake a dozen different kinds of cookies when you can get away with only baking one kind!  However, if you love to bake, have at it!

4. Simplify your gift giving by purchasing family gifts instead of individual gifts.  Not only can you spend less per family, but it looks and feels like more.  What's better - 5 gifts at $5 a piece or a family gift of $25?  Something to consider...  You can put together a family basket with a theme such as movie night, game night, snow day, etc.  If "movie night" is your theme, you can include popcorn (unpopped or popped), movie candy, a family DVD, all wrapped up in a soft throw.  A "snow day" theme might include gloves and/or scarves, hot chocolate, cookies and maybe even a plastic slide!  Let your creativity guide you.

5. Schedule daily Advent readings into your holiday plans.  This is the best way I know to slow down and enjoy the season for what it is.  We have a new favorite Advent book.  It is called Jotham's Journey.  You can pick it up at Timberdoodle (that's where we bought ours) or Amazon.com.

And if holiday preparations or activities ever begin to feel overwhelming or cause you to panic, I suggest that you stop and pray.  Refocus, reprioritize, reconsider... is this important or should we just not do it?

Here's to a sane holiday season!  May you and yours truly delight in the meaning of the holidays we celebrate by simplifying and working together as a team.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and joyous Christmas!

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Source: http://www.school4jesus.com

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