I like the idea of a composed Christmas.  Whether I think of composure as calm, peaceful, and tranquil or as crafting a masterpiece from various elements I want my Christmas to be composed.

You see, all to often I arrive in January bloated, exhausted, and feeling like I missed Christmas somehow.  Instead of spending time experiencing the peace Christ came to bring, I spent two months rushed, hurried, and agitated.

A few years ago I decided there had to be a better way, so I sat down with the kids and we set a vision for Christmas.  We decided what was important for us to include in the areas of traditions, diet, rest, parties, worship, and so on.  These became the elements we use to compose our Christmas (as in crafting a masterpiece from various elements).

The result has been a few years of composed Christmases (as in peaceful, calm, and tranquil).

In the summer I blogged about planning ahead for Christmas, and I mentioned I would start my own planning/preparing in September.

It’s September.  🙂

In July I encouraged you to sit down and think about what you wanted your Christmas to look like.  If you’ve done that, now is a great time to pull out those thoughts and put them into an actionable plan.  If not, and the idea of a restful, relaxed, meaningful Christmas appeals to you but often eludes you, please take a bit to read Christmas in July and then come back here.

Quick Note:

I have a great to-do app connecting my phone, iPad mini, and computers.  I use 2Do which syncs to all my devices through my *free*  Toodledo Account.  There are a lot of really good to-do apps out there, though, so don’t change from something that is already working for you.  And, of course, you can also use a paper calendar or pen-and-paper plan if that’s more your style.

Christmas To-DosThe point is to have a place to keep track of the things you want to do, when you want to do them, and if you have a feature where you can set things to repeat on a specified interval you’ll be able to plan once and work the plan forever (with easy ability to modify as needed!) it’s extra awesome.

I set my tasks to repeat every year, so although I adjust it every July & September (and as needed along the way), I don’t have to remember the tasks I need to schedule, I just need to check them against the calendar so I don’t end up trying to buy stamps on Sunday or expecting company for the third Thursday in November instead of the fourth.

Birthday Cake for Jesus

Your schedule may look quite different than ours because you may include different things, have different traditions, and travel rather than stay at home.  I still find it easier to edit than to create, so here’s what our schedule looks like – edit away!

July 25

Set Vision for Christmas, add/delete anything we want to change, review to-dos and make sure the timing is appropriate for the coming season (for instance, last year my husband was on a sabbatical for the month of September, so I either accelerated or delayed September tasks to allow us to truly rest.  This year we have a vacation scheduled in November, so I needed to adjust the schedule accordingly.)

September 1

Review tasks for upcoming months, adjust any dates as necessary

September 10

Choose Christmas Letter recipients

Verify addresses for Christmas Letter recipients

Check inventory on envelopes, paper, and labels for Christmas letter, add any needed supplies to shopping list

Make to-do task to buy postage for Christmas letter, including international stamps, on next trip to town

September 25

Print address and return-address labels for Christmas Letter

Address envelopes for Christmas Letter

Put postage on envelopes for Christmas Letter

Plan schedule for Christmas baking

October 1

Decide on people to whom we will give gifts

Decide on gifts for each person/family to whom we are giving gifts

Plan schedule for buying/making Christmas gifts

October 3 (well, in our case, this is a repeating task on Fridays Oct 3, 10, 17, & 24)

We will take different Friday’s to bake/make things like Fudge, truffles, caramels, mint-chocolate covered Oreos, chocolate covered pretzel rods, pretzel treats, snicker doodles, Oatmeal raisin cookies, gingerbread, sugar cookies, butter mints, cream eggs, hot cocoa mix, and peppermint syrup & rock candy.  Since it is not yet September 25, I have not yet assigned these treats to any given Friday.  Every year we have to decide which of these things we will make and we simply schedule a time to do it so that we have time set aside to relax and enjoy each other in the process.

November 3

Purchase a child friendly nativity set {we are doing this once per year until we have a different one for each of our kids (+ one for us) to take with them when they start their own families, eventually we won’t need this task}

November 7

Write Christmas Letter

November 10

Super Qs 2013Complete gift purchasing/making

Take picture for Christmas Letter (sometimes this happens later – like last year when we were “late” on a lot of things because we’d taken a sabbatical in September – it’s OK!  The schedule is there to help me master my tasks, not to become the master.)

Order copies of picture for Christmas Letter

Decide on date for Open House & get it on the church calendar

November 15

Operation Christmas Child shopping, packaging, letter writing

November 16

Take Operation Christmas Child boxes to collection location

November 17

Print Christmas Letter

Fold, stuff, seal Christmas letters/pictures in envelopes

Create invitation for Open House & write bulletin announcement & select dates to put in bulletin

November 19

E-mail church office with bulletin announcement for Open House with dates to include it in the bulletin

Print invitations for Open House

November 21

Buy annual ornament for each person in our family

November 22

Wrap all presents

Package all presents for shipping

November 23

Deliver/Mail invitations for Open House

Get Christmas decorations down from the attic

Review/Finalize menu for Thanksgiving

November 24

Grocery shopping for Thanksgiving

Clean house/set up guest quarters for Thanksgiving company

November 25-30

Enjoy Thanksgiving & company

Thanksgiving Memories

November 30/December 1

Decorate inside of house for Christmas (+ admire work with cocoa & Christmas music)

Set up Advent Calendars/Celebrations

December 1

Begin observing Advent

Mail Christmas Letters

Schedule: PopPop’s Crepes, Stargazing w/cocoa, lights drive, caroling, service projects, movies we want to watch, and decide how frequently we would like to attend parties/special events to maintain sanity & restfulness

December 4

Decorate outside of house for Christmas

Sometime in December (depending upon what we decided in November)

Host Open House

December 23

Make & decorate birthday cake for Jesus

December 24

Appetizer Dinner & watch Nativity Story

December 25

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast (invite friends who are alone at Christmas to join us)

Christmas Morning worship (we read the Christmas story & sing favorite hymns)

Presents

Connect with extended family

December 31

Fondue and sparkling sangria for dinner

January 2

Buy birthday cards for next year

Write in Christmas memories book

Re-read Christmas letters & update any addresses

Select & cut down Christmas cards/pictures for next year’s placemat

January 3

Un-decorate & move everything back into attic

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Photo Credit:
A Composed Christmas photo by christmasstockimages.com [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2Do App Screenshots by Julia Quillen