Take notes as each person responds to that list of questions, but do not get your feelings hurt if the thing you love the best is not even on their radar. This is not a time to get defensive or to try to state your own case. Remember to ask yourself these questions too! This will be the starting point of your planning this year. This may be an eye-opening experience and may free you from some tasks you have always done—just because you thought it was necessary. When you eliminate the things that no one loves, you will find that you have more time and energy to devote to the things that really matter.

As you plan your events, try to focus more on the things that share the story of Christ and a desire to express thankfulness rather than focusing on activities that lead to consumerism and greed. Teach your children to share of themselves and to expect less. One of the ways we do this is to watch older movies and read books together that talk about a time when Christmas was more than just a reason to go to the mall. For example, the Little House on the Prairie books have stories of Christmases when times were simpler and when there was less emphasis on receiving tons of useless gifts and gadgets.

In order to have a more peaceful, focused holiday season, we must reduce some of the chaos that seems to be a part of many holidays. To do this, one thing that really helps is to reduce the sheer number of decisions to be made. Once a plan is in place, it is usually easy to follow the plan. Tired, busy people tend to make rushed decisions and are forced to live with the consequences. So, right now—before the “holiday rush” begins:

1. Get a little notebook you can carry in your purse or a binder and that you can easily grab and take with you. That is where you can record all of the little details that can be easily forgotten and cause stress later.

2. Start making some decisions ahead of time:

  • What is our total budget for gifts?
  • Where will we capture gift ideas?
  • What food will need to be prepared?
  • What schedule will we follow for our household duties and special events?
  • How will we conduct our homeschool? Will we set aside some subjects during the holidays?
  • Will we send Christmas cards this year, and if so, to whom?
  • Will we have a family photo made?
  • What traditions are important to our family?
  • How will we wrap our gifts this year?
  • What books/movies/CDs do I want to allow the children to enjoy this year during the holidays?

If you can’t make all your decisions right away, that is fine. Take little steps! Being organized, reducing unwanted traditions, and making decisions ahead of time will all go a long way toward a peaceful, Christ-filled Christmas. Once you have the answers you need, get out a calendar and schedule one or two small tasks to do each day. Doing this will help you complete your preparations well ahead of schedule. With a couple of months to go, you will have ample time to work peacefully and joyfully on those things that your family truly treasures.

Malia Russell is the blessed wife to Duncan, thankful mother to five children (newborn to 21), and an author, conference speaker and director of www.homemaking911.com and www.wheatnthings.com.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Publication date: December 6, 2013