I’m often laughed at by my less structured family and friends because of my planning nature. I like to plan ahead. I enjoy the feeling of being able to relax, knowing that things are taken care of. So this year my goal is to finish my Christmas shopping before December 1. Now in fairness, some of those items are picked out but won’t actually be ordered that early. I usually make Shutterfly photo books for the grandparents and great-grandparents. I plan to have these completed, but probably won’t order them until mid-December. There are also a couple of homemade gifts that I will be working on for the next month or so, they may not be finished before December, although ideally they will be. However, I hope to have already purchased everything else.

If I shop earlier, I can shop more deliberately. That way I don’t find myself paying an outrageous price for an item I’m not really sure about because I have to give something. I abhor the Christmas shopping crowds. With the exception of shopping in the adorable downtown district of our small city, which specializes in Christmas, I find the experience stressful and tiring. If I finish my shopping earlier I can have more quality time with my family celebrating the true reasons for Christmas. My daughter will be two and half this year at Christmas. I’d rather spend time decorating the Christmas tree, listening to Christmas carols and letting her “help” make Christmas cookies, than dragging her through yet another store. My husband and I often have trouble finding time to spend together at the holidays. This year, I want to set aside days and times where there are no activities planned and we can just listen to our favorite Christmas CD’s and have quality conversation.

I know that perhaps my goals are too idealistic, so I won’t be really upset with myself if I fall short. But I’d rather shoot for an inspiring goal and fall short than just give in to the chaos and insanity, accepting in advance that Christmas will be a stressful and unpleasant time.

Any tips on how you keep the Christmas season fun but relaxing in your family?