Ahh, the holidays.
There’s so much to do. So many people to visit. Countless traditions to keep up with. A whole stack of favorite recipes to bake.
And suddenly, what was supposed to be a family-focused time to be grateful for the important things in our lives has turned into a stressful, complicated circus.
It doesn’t have to be so crazy though. Instead of only sharing what I’ve learned about the holidays through the years, I’ve invited another 10 homemaking experts to help uncover exactly how to make the holidays the beautiful time of year they should be.
Be sure to check out the introductions post to read more about all of the homemaking experts and to visit their websites.
How do you prepare for the holiday season? What is your timeline / process like?
Emily Chapelle –
Every year, my husband and I start checking in with our families around October or November, to try to figure out everyone’s traveling and visiting timelines so that we can decide when to join in. Our siblings are scattered all over the country, but thankfully “home base” is in South Carolina for both of us, which makes visiting easier.
Other than that, we try to stay pretty in-the-moment. We enjoy the holidays as they come. I plan for Thanksgiving about a week in advance, so that we can do our grocery shopping on time.
I avoid the Christmas hubbub until after Thanksgiving is over. No Christmas music, no Christmas movies, no Christmas decorations, and ideally, no Christmas shopping until the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Keeping our plans simple and not planning too far ahead lets us focus on and enjoy what’s happening now.
Laura Wittmann –
Simplicity is the key to how I enjoy the holiday season. We don’t do a complicated season in our house. Gone are the days of trying to do it all. I gave that up long ago.
Each year I have to make some tough decisions about what we can and can’t do, and to be honest I say no a lot and it means some people aren’t happy with me. BUT my family is my first priority.
My two oldest are teenagers now and I’m constantly looking at them wondering where did the time go? Time goes so fast and I want these years with them at home to be special. But special doesn’t have to mean running here there and everywhere or spending large amounts of cash either. For us it simply means time together hanging out, enjoying each others’ company, relaxing and eating (we must not forget the eating). This is what is most important to us.
Knowing this bring so much clarity to the holiday decisions I have to make each year. Practically speaking, I order my photo cards in November and decorate December 1st. I don’t do much baking (it’s not something I enjoy and who needs the calories anyway!). Events are chosen very carefully together as a family.
Joshua Becker –
My wife handles most of the gift-buying for our extended family so she starts sooner than me. She is also the one that remakes the home around the holiday season. We don’t have much (we keep our Christmas decorations limited to one storage bin), but we do some. All of this starts after Thanksgiving. But for the actual holidays, we always travel home to be with family.
Courtney Carver –
More than anything, I get ready to slow down. I finally stopped saying yes to everything and discovered that the holidays are much more meaningful when you have time and space to notice tiny miracles and really enjoy the magic of the season.
Becky Rapinchuk –
I love entertaining and holiday preparations! I try to keep perspective and not plan too far in advance so I can enjoy each holiday separately without one morphing into the next.
That said, October and November are about fall and Thanksgiving and the weekend after Thanksgiving it’s about Christmas. Depending on if we’re staying home or traveling determines how much/how little preparing will happen.
If something is too stressful or overwhelming we just don’t do it. I give myself a lot of grace and flexibility – the holidays should be fun and enjoyable – when it isn’t, something gets cut out of the schedule.
I find that the best way to simplify the holidays is to write down everything that needs to get done and then put those tasks into a calendar. By doing that in advance I’m sure to keep the overwhelm to a minimum and maximize the time. I did a whole series (and some free printables) last year on how to Simplify the Season.
Jen Jones –
I will admit, I don’t think about Christmas until just before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving evening, I bring out my holiday planning binder and begin making all of my many holiday lists, including everything from planning parties to gift ideas for our friends and family.
I begin my Christmas shopping from the comfort of my home on Black Friday and then start a holiday countdown tradition with my kids beginning December 1st. Throughout the year I keep a Pinterest board full of holiday decor and entertaining ideas, so when December rolls around, I have a one stop spot for inspiration.
Andrew Mellen –
On a personal level, I don’t buy into a forced season of gift-giving and accumulation. I give gifts throughout the year, at any time, to acknowledge someone’s significance to me. I actively resist the feeding frenzy I see all around me beginning earlier and earlier, often now the day after Halloween.
My motto is “more love, less stuff.” I will sometimes bake things to share with friends and family near the holidays as a token but I won’t shop for purchased goods. It runs counter to my core values and my friends and family know how much they mean to me 24/7/365 — not once a year for 3 weeks.
On a professional level, I help many clients map out a timeline that allows them to gather their gifts and resources while preparing for gift exchanges in a way that is manageable and humane, not frantic or rushed.
Rachel Maser –
During the year, if a major gift someone has mentioned (and we know it will be treasured) goes on sale, I purchase at that time.
I have learned that everything (especially kids stuff) I bring into the home will require time & care from me. For this reason I am very picky about what I’m willing to let in.
By October I always have one or two very special items for each of my children already purchased. In December I purchase a few fun things for their Christmas Stockings, which fills my need for holiday shopping.
Danielle Smith –
I wish I could tell you that I was highly organized, but my main focus is always to extend the season.
We celebrate Christmas, so we like to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving so we can absorb as much of the holiday spirit as possible.
I do my best to create a master list for gift-giving and always prioritize holiday cards…. we send out a few hundred between personal and professional – and I can’t tell you how much joy it brings to see how each friend, each family changes and grows each year.
Though I do try to plan ahead and include baking, wrapping, time spent with friends, inevitably the last week before Christmas will always be a bit hectic as I try to cram lots of last-minute fun in to our days.
Beau Coffron –
My family has to plan well ahead during the holidays. Our work schedules and having multiple parents’ houses to visit makes it hectic.
We already have planned out much of Thanksgiving, and Christmas time schedules are coming soon. I have been married for 13 years so we have sort of settled in to a routine. The first few years were definitely an adjustment, however.
Thankfully, my extended family all works to divide food responsibilities, so everyone plays a part.
Jen Hadfield –
Designing home decor projects around holidays is really my passion. As a blogger, I have to get my projects made a month or two before the holidays. So I am usually working on Halloween projects in August and I usually have my Christmas tree up before Halloween.
It’s kind of a crazy life but I love it!