If you know anything about The Salvation Army, you know that they do a LOT of social service ministries, especially around the holidays. With all the planning and work that goes into ministries like bell ringing and angel trees, Christmas really gets going by the beginning of October for many Salvation Army officers. The most important thing to me during this time is that my children not grow up feeling that the season was "ruined" for them by how busy their parents were and the lack of time spent together. I know many families see an increase in activities during this time of year, however, whether they are in "the ministry" or not. I'd like to share some tools that may help cut down on some of the craziness, and even help keep the focus where it should be - Jesus!
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- A tool I just discovered last year was The 12-Week Holiday Planner by Sheri Graham and Marilyn Moll. It starts October 1st (whoops!), and has all kinds of goodies in it like check lists (shopping, cards, gifts, etc), menus, recipes, schedules, gifts to make, and more! I'm excited to try it out this year! You can also sign up to be notified of updates to the planner if you choose to buy it!
- On a tight budget? There are free ones available, too. The FlyLady has a holiday control journal, which starts before Thanksgiving, that you can print out and pop in a binder. Organized Home has tips on how to create your own Christmas planner, as well as forms you can print out.
- I haven't tried it, but the Springpad app sounds like a useful thing. I'm a list-maker (I'm making one right now!), and this seems like just the thing for me - if I had a phone that used apps... I often have pieces of paper floating around with lists of things I wanted to remember or look into later. I'm definitely trying Springpad out!
- Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam has a list of quite a few Christmas traditions to try with your family. I really want to do some of them with mine. I'd love to try out something she mentions in the "Candy Cane Trail" post - only opening a few presents per hour. I'd love to slow down the whole morning, and make the kids really focus on what they just opened, rather than flinging off the paper and then moving on to the next present. It just sounds so peaceful! And, lastly...
- Do you read A Holy Experience? If not, YOU SHOULD! Ann Voskamp has a way of connecting EVERY. LITTLE. THING. to living a more full relationship with God. One post was about the power going out in their pig barn and her sons working together to keep the pigs from overheating. Somehow, she found a spiritual application in it! And, it touched me! Anyhow, if you sign up for email updates from her blog, there is a link at the bottom of each one for her Jesse Tree Journey, which she wrote with Nancy Rodden. If I do nothing else this Christmas season, I want to make sure I do this advent series with my family. We need it.
**Note: The link to The 12-Week Holiday Planner is my affiliate link.